Map tall, round watertower


Is there a way to automatically fly a circular flight around a watertower, that repeats at various elevations, so that I can end up with a 3D model of the 150’ tall structure. If not, and I try to do it manually, should I aim the camera horizontally at the tower, or aim diagonally down towards the center?


Unfortunately DroneDeploy doesn’t have any circular patterns, but you should be able to do a POI flight in DJI Go and manually upload the images. You could also use structure mode and make something like an octagon, but you would be eye-balling the symmetry. Shouldn’t have to be perfect though. Structure mode does do the lawnmower pattern overhead first so make sure to give yourself some room from the top of the tower. I would probably measure the top anyway just to know exactly how tall the tower is. You might do both just to see how they come out and maybe process it a third time with all the images from both flights. Your camera angle should be anywhere from 45 to 60 degrees.

Please share your results!


Thanks! If I try DJI’s POI flight, do you have advice about how to set the camera - Horizontal or angled?

Do you have advice about how far from the watertower I should be?

How many times I should do it (ie, every 10’ of elevation, every 50’ of elevation?)

Here’s a photo, for fun:


There is going to be a bit of detail that is nearly impossible to catch like the ladder and small guy wires, but the more angles you can catch the better it will be. It’s not necessarily the quantity of photos, but fully you can cover all sides. Gimbal tilt should be less than 60deg, but make sure not to get too much background or horizon.
The number of levels is up to you, but I would run at least 3. You can use the 2-sec interval to let the program take the pictures with consistency. Maybe let it orbit twice on each level to make sure you get coverage.
The distance from the tower should allow the width of the area you are shooting to take up a third of the frame. Think about a tic-tac-toe grid and the width of the tower is in the middle column. It may be a good idea to get one orbit far enough up and back to capture the entire tower.


I don’t know if you prefer ios or android and what craft you have. But there is an app called FPV Camera for ios only. It is one of the pioneer dji sdk apps that was one of the first available. It is a solid app but it looks like it hasn’t been updated in almost a year.

It has a nice 3D Model capture mode that makes it very easy to set up a scan like you are wanting. If you are not interested in the app, you could still have a look at their demonstration and perhaps it will help guide you in programming something similar in Litchi or some other app. DD is not the tool for this.


If I were going to purchase something it would be Litchi. Their orbit mode is dynamic so you can set it and after a rotation simply increase your altitude and let it continue to take 2-sec interval images. Then there’s the other 5 flight modes…


FPV Camera has a lot of other modes as well, and is quite good. But I agree that Litchi is a better package even though it will take a few more minutes to set up in this particular case.

If Litchi were to put their efforts into an orth capture module, then all the rest could probably retire. :thinking:


I’ve been trying to beta test with them, but they don’t seem to have many opportunities. I think they like where they’re at? It doesn’t make sense they don’t have a lawnmower pattern at least.
For the Orbit, all you have to do is set a pin, radius, height and let it orbit. Increase the altitude after each level and you’re done.


I just hit them up with another email on the subject. Maybe you can to and they’ll feel all ganged up on ! :slightly_smiling_face:


They sent me one test flight, but it was good for like two days and expired. Let’s do it!


Thank you! I see that FPV sends you to to build the model, which is a separate cost. Litchi doesn’t say anything about building a 3d model – am I right to assume I need to find an external resource to do that? Is Aerial3d360
the best (reasonably priced) one?


You can upload the photos that you take from either of those flight planning apps into DroneDeploy if you like.


I’ve never used that service so I can’t comment. You could try a free account at Sketchfab for model processing.