How many platforms/systems do you own


Juggernaught
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I have been networking of late and keep getting more and more interest which is great, but the jobs that people are thinking of are all over the map.  My setup now is for agriculture which can be quickly switched to just RGB, but its a larger platform being the m100.  How many different drones do you own and do you use some for special cases only?  I'd rather not use this larger system for small tight area inspections so just seeing if ROI on more platforms is worth it in the end.

 

What are your thoughts for multiple platforms specifically for their own jobs i.e. mavic or inspire for inspections etc.

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There is no one size fits all drone and it seems rather cost prohibitive to have a drone for every mission. Probably the best of all worlds would be a drone that you could easily and quickly reconfigure for multiple missions.

It also depends on the kind of commercial business your talking about.  Most people asking about this in the US are very "DJI" centric.  Trouble is its a closed, vertically oriented product line so there's no real way to reconfigure DJI drones to do anything other than what DJI designed them for.  You can't even use DJI accessories from one model to another.

If your a single operator and your doing NDVI w/DroneDeply, small industrial inspections or situational awareness for local first responders where your flying the drone, sure you might be profitable with an Inspire.  But keep in mind, these are toy's, there's no barrier to entry, they are not considered accurate so how much do you think you can charge per day for those types of services?

But if your building a business to collect data with a certain level of precision or you need some economy of scale which would require a high level of autonomous mission capability your not going to find and "App" for that.  You need a platform that is open and extensible, with hardware, software and communication redundancy.  Its expensive but you can charge $3K to $6K or more per day.   

Its not so much about the drone as it is the quality of data from a particular payload that provides a specific type of data.  How can you integrate such a payload on a drone that you can't even use the batteries from a P3 with a P4 or from an M200 with an M600?

I know this isn't what most people want to hear.  But if the question is which is better an Inspire2 or a MavicPro?  Niether.

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"But keep in mind, these are toy's, " I've just had about enough of your anti DJI CRAP.  Try a little honesty when you answer these questions and tell posters you are hustling your own drone and bad mouthing every other drone.  This is not your forum, stop attacking manufacturers in order to advance your hidden agenda. Juggernaught, I've been in the commercial UAS  business since 2015; if you want honest, non biased answers feel free to PM me (I don't sell drones :D). I am done with this guy....Sorry Alan, it had to be said.

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Well, just home from dinner out and a few glasses of wine to boot!  But I must agree with @Uaviator53 on this.  I'm new to this whole arena over the last few years, but I have found this forum to be open, honest , and non threatening.  Like it or not, DJI is a force to be reckoned with.   Make no mistake about it, the United States DOD is not using DJI Phantoms for intel collection but there is a place for these "toys".  But to Luis' point, I'm sick and tired of being told that all the folks that spent their hard earned money to buy a DJI model they thought was pretty sophisticated, actually bought a toy.  And wait, there's more!  How about the newbies that just bought one and found this site only to hear @Av8Chuck get on a soapbox about how bad there selection was!  That's not what Alan envisioned when he started this site.  Chuck, you clearly have a lot of information and experience to share with all, but can we all get along?

 

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1 hour ago, Uaviator53 said:

"But keep in mind, these are toy's, " I've just had about enough of your anti DJI CRAP.  Try a little honesty when you answer these questions and tell posters you are hustling your own drone and bad mouthing every other drone.  This is not your forum, stop attacking manufacturers in order to advance your hidden agenda. Juggernaught, I've been in the commercial UAS  business since 2015; if you want honest, non biased answers feel free to PM me (I don't sell drones :D). I am done with this guy....Sorry Alan, it had to be said.

You might not like it but DJI is the industry leader in Consumer drones, they are NOT the industry leader in the commercial market.  For that you should consider Ascending Technologies, MicroDrones, Aerialtronics, Lieca, Aeryon, among others.

Secondly, can you tell me how much I'm selling my hidden agenda for?  You can't because I'm not selling drones.  We consume all the drones we manufacture because like a lot of people asking questions about using drones in commercial applications we started with DJI only to discover they were not adequate.

So its OK with you that DJI markets the crap out of consumer drones to unsuspecting "newbies."  All of the advice I have given on this forum generally starts with a question about what problem is the person asking the question trying to solve.  You had as much opportunity to inform the OP what kind of ROI you make with your DJI's.  You didn't have to make it personal.  

Do you own DJI?  Did you design their drones?  Did you do anything other than order a DJI online? And yet, you somehow take it personally because I'm trying to provide a little reality of what it takes to be successful in the world of commercial drones.  Can you use the batteries from a P3 in a P4?  Can you use the X5S Camera from the I2 on the M600? Can you use any DJI accessories from one DJI drone on another?  Can you use DJI accessories on non DJI platforms?  So can you please explain to the OP what part of what I'm talking about is incorrect?  I'm interested.  I have owned EVERY DJI that has been produced, so its not like I don't have the experience with them.

Do you make a living in the commercial drone market?  Pay your mortgage, feed your family, put your kids through college kind of living?  I do.  Buying into the marketing hype and talking people into using a DJI just because that's what you own, do you really think that's good advice for people who might be seriously considering this as a profession?

Would you mind pointing out what part of my reply was so incorrect?  You do realize that the commercial drone industry is moving very quickly beyond YouTube, wedding and property videos and that young people are spending tens of thousands of dollars to go to college to be a part of it.  And the best advice you can muster is buy a DJI?

Personally I couldn't care less that your "done" with me.  If your offended about my comments that DJI is a toy drone manufacturer, get over it.  They are the biggest toy manufacturer and I certainly didn't make them that.

Can their drones be used commercially, sure I never said they couldn't, I just pointed out that they have a very narrow mission profile that would make it difficult to be profitable.  But hey, you've been doing this since 2015, a whole two years, enlighten us.  Tell the OP how's he's going to get rich with that MAVIC.  

 

 

     

 

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1 hour ago, Ed O'Grady said:

Well, just home from dinner out and a few glasses of wine to boot!  But I must agree with @Uaviator53 on this.  I'm new to this whole arena over the last few years, but I have found this forum to be open, honest , and non threatening.  Like it or not, DJI is a force to be reckoned with.   Make no mistake about it, the United States DOD is not using DJI Phantoms for intel collection but there is a place for these "toys".  But to Luis' point, I'm sick and tired of being told that all the folks that spent their hard earned money to buy a DJI model they thought was pretty sophisticated, actually bought a toy.  And wait, there's more!  How about the newbies that just bought one and found this site only to hear @Av8Chuck get on a soapbox about how bad there selection was!  That's not what Alan envisioned when he started this site.  Chuck, you clearly have a lot of information and experience to share with all, but can we all get along?

 

Sorry Ed that you think taking the commercial drone industry seriously is getting on a soapbox.  

Make no mistake about it, in the US its not about the DoD and intel collection.  At AUVSI the DHS announced that no DJI drone can be used in any federally funded program, or as part of any SBIR grant.  How long do you think it will take the reasons for this policy to have an adverse effect on the rest of the industry?  

I own a lot of "sophisticated" toy drones and enjoy flying them much more than our professional drones. But when people ask about drone platforms why do people who own DJI's take it so personally when anyone shares a different perspective about the commercial drone industry?  Your right, I do have a lot of experience, I've been doing this since 2008, and I don't mind sharing my experience but I'm not doing it to justify anyone's purchase decision.  I do it because hopefully they won't make the same mistakes I did.    

I have spent several hundreds of thousand of dollars building a commercial drone company  and I have waisted more than I care to admit on DJI equipment.  That's not to say that some haven't used DJI profitably and they are certainly entitled to explain how they have accomplished that.  Its funny, DJI owners love to talk about this feature or that but very few have much to say about how profitable they are.

There's a lot of serious engineering happening that is good for this burgeoning industry that has nothing to do with DJI that is underrepresented on forums like this.  I found this forum because I have a lot of employees who could benefit from Alan's training and once I started I thought, unlike other forums that are haven's for DJI fanboys, this one was focused more on the commercial application of drones.  

I guess not.

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So it appears that this got off topic a bit.  I understand that there is more out there than DJI equipment and yes...eventually I will purchase something like the ebee RTK, but this is a "side" business not my full time job as of yet.  

I am just seeing if its worth the "investment" on something like the inspire along with my m100 so that one can be used strictly for ag as my multispectral camera was pricey and a pain to change out.  For thermal and other inspections type I would want something a little smaller just seeing if something like the mavic and inspire would be worth doing that way I have a "go bag" for that type of mission.  

When I can afford to purchase a 30,000 UAV with sensors I won't be looking to DJI, but when i need a spare or extra piece of equipment at 1,500 I can afford that at this time with my limited client count.

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11 hours ago, Juggernaught said:

So it appears that this got off topic a bit.  I understand that there is more out there than DJI equipment and yes...eventually I will purchase something like the ebee RTK, but this is a "side" business not my full time job as of yet.  

I am just seeing if its worth the "investment" on something like the inspire along with my m100 so that one can be used strictly for ag as my multispectral camera was pricey and a pain to change out.  For thermal and other inspections type I would want something a little smaller just seeing if something like the mavic and inspire would be worth doing that way I have a "go bag" for that type of mission.  

When I can afford to purchase a 30,000 UAV with sensors I won't be looking to DJI, but when i need a spare or extra piece of equipment at 1,500 I can afford that at this time with my limited client count.

We are using an Inspire 1 v2.0 for trials to map (not survey) construction sites and a very early attempt at orthomosaic work on campus. For a starter platform, it gets the job done but a FirePro 6 (https://www.birdseyeview.aero/) with the RTK base station certainly deserves a serious look for a production machine.

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2 hours ago, R Martin said:

We are using an Inspire 1 v2.0 for trials to map (not survey) construction sites and a very early attempt at orthomosaic work on campus. For a starter platform, it gets the job done but a FirePro 6 (https://www.birdseyeview.aero/) with the RTK base station certainly deserves a serious look for a production machine.

Seems like a nice unit, I wonder how easy it will be to change between the different imagery systems?  See if I can't find a dealer nearby as even with RTK it's cheaper than the ebee RTK and it has vertical takeoff and landing.

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13 minutes ago, Juggernaught said:

Seems like a nice unit, I wonder how easy it will be to change between the different imagery systems?  See if I can't find a dealer nearby as even with RTK it's cheaper than the ebee RTK and it has vertical takeoff and landing.

I think @Uaviator53 has one if I am not mistaken. I spoke with our Trimble rep a few months back and he was telling me that the foam core units, while accurate, were rather fragile because they are mostly landing via controlled crashes which was damaging the airframes. Convinced me that I didn't need to spend $50,000 to $55,000 for a UAS that had a limited shelf life or high maintenance cost.

When I saw the VTOL config of the FireFly 6 Pro, that really caught my interest and the price is not that much more than the config I currently fly (which includes the software side as well in the total).For around $21,000 you can have the best of both worlds in a Sony RGB with excellent resolution as well as a FLIR capability, AND an excellent range for larger area coverages.

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At the risk of evoking the ire of @Uaviator53, we have been using a couple of these for almost two years.  We're big proponents of it in part because its based on a Y6.  I also agree with the Trimble rep regarding the eBee.  

This is a great drone, but like all things in aviation it has limitations and tradeoffs.  I'm guessing your asking about this because your seriously considering it and would like some insight from people who have used it. Like I said we've had ours a while, the first version and there might be some differences with newer versions.  

Its a Y6 with wings that rotates the front props and shuts off the trailing pops for horizontal flight.  Its a PX4 based flight controller and the transition from vertical to horizontal is smooth and uneventful, but sometimes the transition back to vertical can be a bit exciting.  We've never had a crash and this is a result of the weight and CG of the payload.  Since its PX4 based it uses MissionPlanner as the GCS which can be a bit challenging to learn, in part because its a very capable GCS.  There was talk about using Q-GroundControl [a newer PX4 GCS] but we know MP really well so we have not checked to see if its available.  Either way these are very capable GCS's.

In the versions that we have there is very little room for electronics.  The rotating mechanism for the front motors, FC, Rx, and power distribution takes up the majority of the space inside the fuselage.  Also the PDB throws off a lot of RF, when we first starting using it we were constantly getting GPS dropouts and compass errors.  We moved the GPS and magnetometer and that solve the problem.

I was surprised at how big it is. Its not huge, but sizable.  Large enough that we needed to break it down to transport it.  Its easy to breakdown and setup but it is a foamy.  I wouldn't characterize it as a fragile drone, once its setup and in the air its fine.  But most foamy's suffer more from hanger rash than crashes. They use magnets to keep parts in place and over time the magnets would pull out of the foam etc.  

Regarding the flight characteristics and payloads.  The batteries are in the wings which limits the size you can use.  I think we've stuffed about 5K total maH into it and never got the kinds of flight times that a lot of people claim to get.  However, the flight times for us were never so restrictive that they were an issue.  Plus there are a ton of variables, the percentage of vertical vs horizontal flight, the payload, wind etc..  As I mentioned, internal space is at a premium and they designed it so that you attach a GoPro directly on the bottom.  We modified it a bit and could mound the GoPro with a 3-axis gimbal.  We tried doing the same with a Sony a5100 and gimbal but the transition back to vertical flight got a bit too exciting.  Although it pitched a lot and made a ton of noise, it never came close to crashing but our customers were becoming a bit alarmed at it so we stopped using that configuration.  Its a wing, it flies like a wing.  Its a rocket and as long as your flying it fast its pretty stable. Depending on how high your flying speed can be problematic, at 90' with the shutter at 1000 on the a5100 rolling shutter and motion blur were evident.  Higher altitude solved that issue but obviously you lose resolution and slowing it down to 7-meters per second (or thereabouts I don't remember the exact speed) it became much less stable and efficient.

Its a great piece of kit.  We learned a lot from using it.  Its a lot of fun to fly.

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