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Drone Mapping
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Posted 1/14/2023 22:33 (#10040466 - in reply to #10039924)
Subject: RE: Drone Mapping

DroneDeploy lists the Air 2S as compatible but doesn't say anything about the 2, so I don't know how good the software options would be. If you can figure out a software workflow, I think 2500 acres every other week would be a tall order for that model, it would probably be a full time job to get it done and processed. Maybe someone here has done it though. Proximity of the acres and travel time would be a major factor as well. 2500 acres contiguous would be much more doable than 2500 acres divided in 80 acre farms over 5 counties. Also, what kind of imagery are they wanting? Just aerial photo-based maps or some kind of vegetative index? If it's the second, you usually need either a camera conversion or something like a separate NDVI camera mounted on the drone. I'm pretty sure the Air 2 couldn't carry a separate camera and I don't know if anyone converts the onboard cameras on that model. Plus, once you convert, it's dedicated to that type of imagery.
My suggestions would be:
1. Get a used Phantom 4 or even a 3. Good flight time, stable in winds, lots of software support for planning and processing. A used P3P could probably be had for under $500 with several batteries, a P4P would put you closer to $1k. A 1st gen Mavic Pro would be similar in price and compatibility to a P3P and would have similar software support. Not the best camera but plenty good in my opinion for mapping. I typically use an old P3P for mapping, just to keep wear and tear off of my newer drones., If I need better imagery, for example a 3-d model, I use my P4P. Despite advances in Drone tech, the P4P is still one of the best mapping cameras (mechanical shutter being a major part of that) I think the only other model available with a mechanical shutter is the Mavic 3 series.
2.Spend $2k and get a Mavic 3 new, which would be a really good mapping drone, or spend about double that and get a Mavic 3 Enterprise, which would be even better.
3.For a whole let less time and work (and probably cheaper to boot), get a subscription to Climate Fieldview, which gives you typically weekly or every-other-week satellite imagery with a pseudo NDVI type of imagery. If you buy enough seed from a Bayer brand, you can get it free. I believe Pioneer offers a similar service as well.

In terms of software, I like the DroneDeploy app for planning and flying (which is free for planning and flying, but a subscription for processing), but I use MapsMadeEasy (which is pay as you go) for processing and stitching. However, if you are covering 2500 acres twice a month, a DroneDeploy subscription would probably be cheaper. If you want top of the line processing, I think Pix4D is still the best, but is much more expensive. WebODM is free for processing but very slow in my experience. I don't think I could process 2500 acres in two weeks time with it, not even counting the actual time required to fly it.
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