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Drone Question

Old 03-30-2017, 03:24 AM
  #1  
dereckbc
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OK I cannot believe I am asking this because I do not care much for Drones, but money talks. I still do consulting work for phone companies, wel cellular phone companies, the two big ones, Verizon and ATT. Dallas area got hit hard last night with storms, and just with Verizon alone has 8 damaged towers. All 8 had basically the same damage, wind caught the antennas and tilted them down. The antennas are highly directional operating from as low as 750 Mhz up to 2.1 Ghz.

Ok from the ground with binoculars about all you can tell is the antenna is tilting down. What you cannot see is the details like broken hardware, bent pipe stand, of the azimuth adjustable bracket just gave way and needs reset. It cost $2000 or more just for the Tower Crew to show up and say Hello. They then have to climb, inspect the damage, and in a lot of cases have to come back down and come back the next day with parts and materials. So by the time it gets fixed is over $10,000 and a delay in restoring service.

OK you get the picture, and a couple of Directors asked me today about Drones and getting one to be used exclusively for them. I smell big bucks. I can inspect the antennas from all angles and be able to tell Tower Crews exactly what to bring.

What I do not know is what is a Toy Drones are from the real commercial Drones used for commercial and Industrial aerial photography Most towers are 300 foot or less, and the Drone would need to be able to stay up long enough, say 30 minutes, have a good GPS Stabilized Gimbal for a good camera, and made to do commercial work.

Can someone give me an idea of what I am looking for and where to find it?
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Old 03-30-2017, 03:52 AM
  #2  
dahawk
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Dereck,
I know a few guys who actually do these type of inspections for a living. Right here in DFW. Not toy type drones rather Top of line DJI's and others with top notch camera gear. Typically a 3-5k investment for professional grade gear. Some rigs are much more. But for inspections versus filming a movie or commercial, that's the going cost of entry.

But more than that, to even do this for pay, you need the Far-107 ticket. We have one member, an AA pilot who teaches a Far-107 prep course. I can connect you if you're interested. The Far-107 test has a lot of GA questions found on the the part 61 test. Weather, charts, etc. the test costs $150.00 to take . Hell, they should give a SEL certificate for that.

I can connect you with a couple of guys here who already have the FAR-107 certificate. Since they need a spotter, maybe you can work a deal You bring them the opportunity and give them a cut for their services. That way, you don't have to buy anything or take any test. Just be the broker / cell tower expert so to speak. Direct them on what to film and be the guy who analyzes the results.

Hawk
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Old 03-30-2017, 05:29 AM
  #3  
dereckbc
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THX. I found DJI. I will send you my contact info via PM
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Old 03-30-2017, 08:06 AM
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Hawk is right - maybe better yo sub it and have a profit by organizing.

If you want to do it yourself - then a good DJI or Yuneec drone will do the job. Forget all the lesser stuff - they are just not stable enough.
With DJI - the Inspire is looked upon as the commercial unit, but the Phantom 3 or 4 Professional will give a very good result. I would not look at the Mavic - it just doesn't have the size / weight for real steady work. We have one in our club and I was surprised how 'jittery' it was.

One aspect though which as a DJI user - you get good video / photo's but lacks reference point or line to tell angles / deflection. I assume the tower construction around the antenna can do that.

Nigel
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Old 03-30-2017, 04:47 PM
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dereckbc
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I have not looked into FAA Part 107 as of yet, but me thinks since I am already a Private Pilot, getting the certificate should be a formality, easy, or maybe exempt and I can already do it. Question is do I want to spend $2000+ on a Drone, and how much I could charge. Me thinks $500/hr 1 hour minimum is about right. In TX this time of year would be the season. Not a lot of demand, not enough to make a living anyway.
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Old 03-30-2017, 05:09 PM
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Yeah, I don't think they exempt Private Pilots from the FAR-107 ticket. After all, they want money. LOL But you would be sure to breeze the $150 test.
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Old 03-31-2017, 01:26 AM
  #7  
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I would say inspire 1 at minimum. P4P would work but you have to get pretty close.
If there is enough work to warrant the expenditure. I would use a Z30 cam on matrice. That way you can zoom in from a distance and prevent possible interference/collision issues.

107 is a must as well as insurance. For PPt it's a ticket sign off by a CFI. I know that 'hawk passed on my contact info, so feel free to reach out.

Scott

Hope this helps

Forgot to mention airspace is the biggie. If towers are in controlled airspace waivers are a must. The present system is tedious but waivers can happen in a few weeks. This caused me pain in a potential job on new facebook center job in class C. Had to end up passing it on due to scheduling.

Last edited by waytooslow; 03-31-2017 at 01:50 AM.
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Old 03-31-2017, 01:27 AM
  #8  
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Plus you need insurance another $1K
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Old 03-31-2017, 01:40 AM
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Originally Posted by dahawk View Post
Plus you need insurance another $1K
That is correct. Average is a g. Can run as high as 1600.
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Old 03-31-2017, 03:12 AM
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dereckbc
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Originally Posted by waytooslow View Post
I would say inspire 1 at minimum. P4P would work but you have to get pretty close.
If there is enough work to warrant the expenditure. I would use a Z30 cam on matrice. That way you can zoom in from a distance and prevent possible interference/collision issues.

107 is a must as well as insurance. For PPt it's a ticket sign off by a CFI. I know that 'hawk passed on my contact info, so feel free to reach out.

Scott

Hope this helps

Forgot to mention airspace is the biggie. If towers are in controlled airspace waivers are a must. The present system is tedious but waivers can happen in a few weeks. This caused me pain in a potential job on new facebook center job in class C. Had to end up passing it on due to scheduling.
Hey Scott thanks. I figured for a PPT would just be a sign-off and a fee. No problem. I know there are some Drone pilots for hire in DFW region that do tower work. I know for fact because a few weeks ago I was out at the Fair Grounds and one was working a ATT Tower. Did not get a chance to talk to them, but gave me the idea, and last night storms drove it home.

Having a camera that does movies or motion is not the ticket in practice. Tower Crews and Engineers need good pictures from different angles to see what damage is done and what materials are needed. So you hit the nerve with still photos, zoom, and detail.

Maybe I am all wet here but in my mind I would need a drone that can fly at least 30 minutes. than can hover and hold position, and a 12 to 16 mega pixel camera with good Optical zoom on a stabilized gyro gimbal. Honestly I do not know if a drone can stay stable enough 150 to 500 feet up near a tower. Winds at those altitudes are stiff, but not usually gusty like on the ground. I wil shoot you a PM with my contact info.
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Old 03-31-2017, 03:42 AM
  #11  
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Anyway here is a photo I made to a damaged tower yesterday from about 1 mile away on a 450 foot tower that clearly shows the damage and exactly what a Tower crew needs to know

If you look you see 3 tiers of antennas. Top is AWS, Middle is CDMA and bottom is LTE on a Verizon Tower. If you look at the right side on the Top and Middle Tower is the damage. Those antennas are not suppose to be looking at dirt, or angled pointing toward the ground. The cows below do not need service. Thi sis in Howe TX about 50 miles north of Dallas along US Hwy 75, and the leaning antennas are the south face (Beta) shooting south down US Hwy 75. That lean causes a 95% reduction in traffic because it is beaming the RF energy down into the ground.

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Old 03-31-2017, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by dereckbc View Post
Hey Scott thanks.........
Having a camera that does movies or motion is not the ticket in practice. Tower Crews and Engineers need good pictures from different angles to see what damage is done and what materials are needed. So you hit the nerve with still photos, zoom, and detail.

Maybe I am all wet here but in my mind I would need a drone that can fly at least 30 minutes. than can hover and hold position, and a 12 to 16 mega pixel camera with good Optical zoom on a stabilized gyro gimbal. Honestly I do not know if a drone can stay stable enough 150 to 500 feet up near a tower. Winds at those altitudes are stiff, but not usually gusty like on the ground. I wil shoot you a PM with my contact info.

30 minutes in one stretch is really streeeetch .. maybe 15-20 depending on winds -- but land, simple battery swap and your back up in seconds.

... the X5 and other dji cams can take stills - Its just not about motion . I have a friend in Cali that makes a tidy living doing industrial inspection work with a inspire 1 pro - same as mine . I have a zoom for the x5, its really good for stills, not so much for motion.

will look for your PM. Thanks Scott
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Old 03-31-2017, 05:13 PM
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dereckbc
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30 minutes was just something that flew out of my mouth. I assume climb rate is fast enough as not to eat into a lot of run time. Thanks Scott, check your PM
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Old 03-31-2017, 06:29 PM
  #14  
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dereckbc........

I'm not sure how serious or how invested you'd like to become, since the initial start-up cost and training is quite steep for professional UAV quality and interface equipment that also includes real-time support packages (a must if commercial use is steady and on-going) through the licensed vendors.

The licensing requirements (for your interests) are similar (a couple differences here in California), but what "waytooslow" has provided is very accurate.

I'm in the "biz" and one of the companies I consult for (land surveying and civil engineering) related to land development, agriculture and law enforcement forensic ground data collection.

Since we are a long time established firm who has a strong client base, (something you'll have to establish or partner with to make it economically feasible), we market our services here in SoCal to include mapping and inspection services related natural disasters and construction.......we have, on occasion, aerially inspected microwave facilities in conjunction with ground based personnel and equipment.......with very good results and very quick turn-a-round times.

The "base" equipment we currently use for aerial observation, data collection and 3D rendering is....:

SenseFly eBee RTK
eMotion 3 software
Auto Desk CAD
Topcon ground based GPS full station theodolites
Topcon Falcon 8, Nikon 5.2 lenses and Topcon firmware (not Sony)

http://www.rdoic.com/products/uav#.WN6L6m_ytdg

In Texas, here are a couple of vendors that supply and support the very same equipment we use.....:

https://www.sensefly.com/about/where-to-buy.html

Our contact is the California RDO distributor.

The initial investment and support package we started with about 2yrs ago (just UAV related) was around $12K....... the equipment cost's now are variable depending on the packages (excluding the licenses).........we own Topcon ground based equipment and several coordinated CAD, GIS and GPS systems, so we went with RDO because the product (with a little training) folded seamlessly with our knowledge and equipment......... like I've mentioned a number of times here at WF, one of my buddies is a retired commercial pilot/RC guru/licensed Civil and I'm the flight mechanic/spotter and ground based surveyor/coordinator for a number of projects we've done.

What I've provided here may be a bit bigger than what you're looking for, but check out the product sources I've provided to get a taste for what we, who perform this application, for a living, have at our disposal......!

Last edited by pizzano; 03-31-2017 at 07:04 PM.
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