Question about GCP's and using Drone Deploy with other programs

I have some questions regarding drone deploy.

I am getting a Phantom 4 Pro drone soon, I work at a surveying company and am about to go to school for GIS, so my main concern is learning how to create accurate maps maps.

Does the Pro version of Drone Deploy allow the use of GCP’s? I have not worked with GCPs yet but I am in the future, and from what I have seen I won’t be able to afford $250 a month just to learn mapping with GCPs.

Which brings me to this question: Can I use drone deploy just to fly the drone, capture the data, then download that data to Agisoft Photoscan Pro on my PC? Photoscan allows the use of GCPs and everything else Drone Deploy can do except I can do it on my PC (more than likely faster and cheaper when internet is taken into account). However if I do this then it negates the point of even using drone deploy…

Yes, you can fly the flight with Drone Deploy and download the data to process it wherever you want.

Depending on how often you plan on flying you need to take into account that your computer is only going to be able to process one job at a time and that you need to manually search for select the photos that have the gcp in them. With DroneDeploy you can process several maps at the same time. All you have to do is upload them and your coordinate file then there self-serve gcp solution finds the photos for you and you pick the points. Don’t get me wrong, photoscan is an awesome program if you want to spend your days processing your own data. Exactly the reason why I went from Pix4d to DroneDeploy.

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With an Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti card in your PC, the Photoscan processing goes quickly. Its 11 teraflops of performance really tears thru the data. Missions of 20 acres with 400 photos that take 2-4 hours to process thru DD are done in 20 min. Up to 1000 photos can be processed at the highest resolution setting on a PC with 64 GB of memory ($640 for 3200 MHz DDR4). Now that the bitcoin mining craze has died down and new cards are coming out, the 1080 Ti card can be had for $670 at B&H Photo. I recommend using this with a 12-core lntel i9-7920X CPU at $999 and a Corsair CW-9060031-WW cooler at $170 on an ASRock K6 LGA 2066 motherboard at $240 with Samsung M.2 1TB 960 EVO SSD at $438 with Seasonic SSR-850PD power supply at $180 in a Cooler Master HAF X computer case at $175 with a LG 43UD79-B 43" 4K display at $700 for a total PC cost of 4.2K.

In Photoscan you can tune the processing to match your mission requirements. The best settings are quite different for structures, construction sites and forest cover. There is an initial learning curve but the payoff has been great for my applications. Especially when coupled with Rhino post-processing of the model to generate better & faster 3D colored elevation, contour and slope maps along with measurement of distance, height at a point, 2D profiles, 2D & 3D perimeters, 2D & 3D areas, volumes and something not native to DD, automatic identification of evergreen/deciduous trees with height tags. The latest Rhino 6 version has a one-time cost of 1K.


That’s a pretty beefy computer, how much does that cost? What size of sites are taking 2 to 4 hours? I guess it depends on the size of the sites that Easton is doing. Besides that, drone deploy does every one of those other things.

See update of my original post above for answers and refinements. The computer cost is 4.2K or 38 cents a gigaflop.

What is the best source for GCP’s?

That’s a pretty wide-open question, but the best source is to locate them on the ground with an L1/L2 survey GPS setup. I am testing a base/rover kit from Emlid that is only $1500 (versus $30k for Topcon/Trimble) and will share my results once I have completed a full survey. They actually have a DroneDeploy export function that outputs the coordinate file already formatted correctly. Trimble Catalyst is a little more expensive, but also a good option. I don’t like Trimble for the fact that its best workflow is through their software. All we need is a txt/csv file.

GCPs can be anything (preferably permanent) that you can locate a point on with accuracy. I traditionally shoot whatever existing infrastructure I can around the site like manholes and corners of paving, but sometimes there isn’t anything there so I use Home Depot bucket lids. Once you have the base perimeter network just throw two or three more in the middle. I have to do this because they do not stay while construction is going on so each time I come out I just shoot another two or three points, but the base network remains.

Depending on what your use-case is GCPs can be tied to site control or just GPS GEOID. GPS GEOID will not match a surveyor’s or engineer’s grade in most cases, but it will give you a base so all of your maps will be precisely relative to each other and can be used for flight to flight comparisons. Localized GPS allows you to compare directly to the project coordinates and vertical datum so you can integrate your drone data with the project design data.

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I couldn’t have asked for a better reply. Thank you so much. This is a big focus of mine for the conference next month and you gave me a nice head start.

For sure. We will cover this and I would be happy to sit down with you before or after.

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I’ll be available all day Wednesday Oct 10th

I have a question about pricing. I currently only need drone deploy for quantity calculations at the end of the quarters. Does it cost an additional $49/map to use ground control points? So basically I need the business level at 399 month and then an additional $49 for the two sites I need to fly?

Yes it is 399 + 2x49 for 2 maps. If you do an annual Business Plan its 249/month.


But with the annual plan you are still tied to the $49/month for GCP’s correct? There is no getting around that

Correct from what I read at:

This is correct! $49 per map for GCP processing.