Mavic Air Contours


I am planning to buy the original first generation DJI MAVIC AIR. It is compatible with drone deploy. However, is it compatible with contour lines?

I hoping that drone deploy software will show live contour videos when the mavic air is in the air?

This is for earthworks; building swales which are basically ditches along contour lines.

I plan to have a person operating the machine that digs the swales along contour lines and while I operate the DJI mavic air with live viewing of contour lines can direct the machine operator.

Does this make sense?

Traditionally, we would use A-frame or laser levels and peg out at 2m increments but would be far more easier and kinder to use drone.

Thanks so much for your support!!! :slight_smile:

You could connect to the drone while on the Explore tab with an overlay of the CAD/Plan and follow the contours, but if you are just trying to give the operator general line on the centerline of the swale then why not just give him an iPad and he can eyeball where he is at on the DroneDeploy map in relation to the overlay? You could do it on a Mini and figure out a way to mount it in the cab like we do with our machine control.

yes, that sounds good.

so just to confirm this is possible with mavic air 1 and drone deploy? i am home based user, so i am hoping to function is available for their home user plan $99/month ?

thanks so much for your reply.

I don’t think the Pro ($99) Plan can do overlays. You would have to be on the Business plan or similar Pix4D Cloud Advanced. I won’t recommend Propeller, but you could “request a price” since they won’t share it online. These are the only 3 flight, processing and mobile viewing solutions that can do overlays.

For machine control/guidance there are several other options depending on what kind of data you have access to. What is providing the contour linework?

Oh I’m not sure…thought it was built into the software here: Contours

Like the app used a website like to find contours ?

I figured, the drone would reach the appropriate height and then forecast a contour overlay over the area, and the machine operator would just follow the line?

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In my mind you are wanting to cut swales that are already designed, but the more I reread it sounds like you may want determine and cut the swales in according to the terrain that the drones locates? As in you are wanting to use the contours from the drone survey to decide where you want the swale?

You can get contours in the CAD DXF format or a GIS Shapefile with the Business or Pix4D Cloud Advanced plans which could then be put into something like QField which is a companion app to the free QGIS program. There are ways to get this kind of data into a Google Earth KML which can be displayed on a mobile device.

There are many ways to approach this, but I guess the short answer to your original post is that you would need a higher level plan of pretty much any drone software that is out there to do it the “easy” way. Otherwise we almost have to develop a custom workflow. If this is something you do for business often you might think about a more formal GNSS system meant to handle this kind of data and provides better indicators to the operator. As system could be built with an Emlid RS2 base, rover and data collector software for around $5k. The Emlid forum is a good resource for inexpensive tractor/machine control.

Thanks for your detailed responses, Michael. And I apologise for lack of clarity, even in my own mind, I’m trying to work out how to convey want I want.
So here is a screenshot of using the contour creator. If you can imagine that is a picture I can see on my tablet/iphone that the drone overhead is conveying.
And along those contour lines I will be able to see the operator (or see himself) walking along those contour lines.
I think you’re right for this I may need something more advanced.
It’s basically using a GPS map to follow where to cut the swales is what I desire.

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Ok I thought the contour creator was just an example of the data. The contours that the creator uses are generated from the Google Earth SRTM which has a resolution of 1-arc second so there is only guaranteed 1 point approximately every 90ft and spot elevations shouldn’t be expected to be any better than +/- 1 meter. I thought you were trying to capture a new map with the drone and then go back out at a later time and use the contours from that drone flight to determine where you want the swales. Is that not correct?

Are you saying the contours from contour creator is reliable or…?

I was hoping for a live-view overlay of contour lines. So as the drone moves around, when using my tablet controlling the drone I would see the contours.

I’m thinking maybe it’s not possible and I should stick to old school A-Frame or Laser Level.

This is sort of the thing I am doing but not sure how this person mapped out the contours on ground. I think he just used it to get an idea. But he seems to use the software you mentioned above.

The contours from creator are very sparsely generated so even by showing 1ft contours it is generated off of a 90ft grid so there is allot of missing data in between wherever their topo shots happened to have been located. It the same thing between on the ground surveying and the drone. When we do a topo on the ground it’s usually a 25ft grid, but the drone is capturing points about every 2 inches so whatever happened in between the shots on that 25ft grid is unknown.

After thinking about it a bit I think the best way would be to fly the drone, make a map and then download the SHP shapefile of the elevation contours and then make a KML of it that you can open on a mobile device. Then they can have it in their cab and you and the drone don’t have to be there. If you want to test it out fly a map, send me a download link for the photos and I will send you a KML that you can send to the iPad or whatever mobile device you want to use.

You could definitely use the creator app, but you just have to understand that it is probably not going to have grade breaks that occur in shorter distances. Just look at the Google Earth in 3D and you will see how undefined their model is. All you have to do is define you area, generate the contours and then download the KML at the bottom of the screen.

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ok that makes sense. cool. thanks again for your time and support. this forum needs a tipping service.

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Here’s an example. This is an area right outside my window that has a 2.5ft drop between the red lines, but in the Google Earth model it appears almost flat. When I use the Geoid12B plugin to get more precise elevations than what you read on the bottom toolbar it only shows 0.9ft.

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