Surveying ChimnyPots

I have had a request to photograph 246 Chimney pots on a residential estate. It’s about 21 acres. I thought to do a low sweep using Drone Deploy and produce a 3D plot and use that to examine the individual pots. Any thoughts, ideas. Has anyone done this before? I have looked at a previous Drone deploy I did for a single building roof. I wasn’t too happy with the output as the pictures had bits missing and in parts was blurry. But I’m happy to concede user inexperience. Any thoughts, tips


I forgot to add, I will be using a Phantom 4 V2 as the UAV


Are they on structures or is it a specific place where they a grouped together? How large is the area?


You could try using the planning tools built into DroneDeploy. I took a shot at your case and got the following. You have to click on the image to see the whole thing.


As you make adjustments you can see the results in the Overlap Optimizer and Auto Flight Modes. For example, if you choose too low of a height a red warning will appear in Auto Flight Modes.

I am not familiar with the dimensions of the chimney pots or their location. Maybe Structures mode should also be considered and you could try that in the tool by clicking on Structures next to the Blue Terrain dot.


I agree. I would run two structure Mode plans at different elevations depending on the size of the encompassing area…

It’s a residential estate and each house has a chimney stack

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Got it. Can you provide a view or Google Earth file? My recommendation will vary depending on the shape of the subject area.


Although you can’t see it on here, the grid marks the extent of the development site.

Perfect. With that configuration I agree with your use of the cross-hatch. AGL at 70m and 70/70 overlaps. Alternatively you could run a standard lawnmower and take 5-6 obliques around each stack from 20-30m. This should take less time and will probably produce better 3D models of the chimneys, but the overall 3D map will not be as nice.

Don’t understand that Micheal, I have 246 chimney stacks to photograph that would make for just under 1000 stills

I think if you are inspecting then it is what it is. Otherwise I would use DroneDeploy to run the standard lawnmower and something like Litchi to automate the capture of the stacks.

Are the stacks visible in Google Earth or Maps? I can make you a plan in Litchi if you like?

A hack I have used would be to fly a Live Map, download it, put it in Google Earth and then make the Litchi plan.

The issue is that the latest version of Google Earth doesn’t have the estate on it. I’ve overlaid the plan on the area it now occupies
See image below

Could you message me a link to download the image? Also, is this about 100 properties?

To analyze the chimneys, you would need to do what @MichaelLhas recommended and take orbitals of each chimney. The Nadir images may produce a good 2D model, but as far as 3D, orbitals are key. @Deemanwings

For inspections, don’t forget about video. 4k actually makes for pretty good screenshots or images if needed.


I was flying down that way a few weeks ago, development site closer to Swindon.

I have to say that I have found flying “Chimney pots” to get a good 3D model quite tricky, especially when you have a lot to capture. I would fly the site to capture an orthomosaic so that you can identify each house/chimney. I would then take a number of stills of each chimney to be used as stills and not for the 3D model. Video is good as well but remember how large all the files will be.

I had one site fly last week for a construction update where the client also wanted some detail of the as built properties captured as well. Many of the houses sold and occupied. Getting the consent of the householders took some time to organise. 21 acres of houses will keep you busy, that is assuming they have been sold off.


This is why I have stickers on the back of my business cards to explain why our drone is in the air.