Map Pilot Alternative?

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Exactly! I hate that it runs the whole flight at mission speed.
Yep. Very vexing, wasteful and time consuming. I usually set up my missions so the start point is at the furthest waypoint so the drone works its way towards me so the drone is closer as the battery wears. So it's that first waypoint that takes the longest. In retrospect, since the drone flies back @ full speed, maybe I should rethink that.


There appears to be support for two different flight speeds in this new version, but I haven't played with or figured it out yet (far be it for me to actually read the documentation...)
LOL....I know, right? I will have to do more test flights tomorrow or Wed. I have a slow week, so best to take advantage of the down time for R&D.



I think in MP Business I tried the upload, fly out to start point, & execute mission method and it didn't work.
I'm going to try this with the new version. I'll keep you in the loop.



If memory serves me correctly, the first "waypoint" in the mission is the start of the 'blue line' intended flight path that shows after pressing the upload button. When I tried it, I flew it to the start point of my mission only to have it auto-fly back to the launch point.
That's a drag.



I'll have to try again in new version if I get some time.
Yep...maybe they "fixed" that.



I didn't realize that. Good to know. I never bother with RTH, as I prefer to manually fly it home.
For me it's 6 of one, half dozen of the other. I usually toss the bird in ATTI mode as soon as I have eyes on. The kewl thing about RTH is that I keep the camera tilted up and then pull the altitude stick back. This makes for a very efficient return to home. Once I see the drone (usually about 1200' out), I can bring the drone in on an efficient glide slope so she's about 10' AGL by the time she hits the home point.



Sometimes I'll stop along the way and grab a few scenery-type photos for future marketing purposes or to share with the client if it's something useful to them (i.e. overall view of construction in progress).
Well...the other kewl thing about RTH is you can lower your altitude to like 20' AGL and take video (hafta use the button on the controller). Because the drone is essentially in autopilot, you can keep an eye on the terrain and come close to trees and other obstacles while the drone flies full bore around 33 mph. It makes for some kewl video. I haven't published any yet, but I probably should.



I have a pickup truck & launch out of the bed if I need to for wind or off the tailgate to avoid a dust cloud.
I bet the compass loves that.....<:^0




Most of my reason for manual takeoff though besides flight controls check is to avoid overhead obstructions. I will say though, the compass is really not happy sitting in the truck bed...
Yep.




I firmly believe that other than for obvious safety reasons, a consistent pre-flight routine & the 6 P's is what differentiates the professionals.
Yep. I've maintained that the chain between getting the job and delivering the product is wrought with logistical and technical hurdles. Getting it right every time is a true value. My partner, who is the "survey guy," appreciates the consistency of that product very much, and is reflected in my invoices.




I'm pretty much always running connectionless now for all missions and I always have terrain aware active.
I only run Connectionless for Linear missions. Grid missions I'm alway connected. There's a reason why, and I can't think of it right now.




I'll typically run with overlaps at 80 along the course / 75 side overlap, no camera tilt. Height depends on the subject area. I'll fly 200' AGL to keep the GSD low if I'm able. Some missions of course require higher altitude depending on size of the subject area or other limitations. One recent job was over a local 6-8 lane highway w/o a median. No flights over traffic kept me on the shoulders flying at 325' AGL to get the overlap. Lately though everything has been in the 10-25 acre range so the flights don't take very long even at 200' AGL.
Yep...I like those small jobs. My biggest job was 2000 acres with over 400' of elevation. This was when MP first incorporated Terrain Awareness into their app. Without TA, I never would've been able to complete that job. It took over a week of flying all day every day (as light permitted).




To be honest, placing the GCP's is the most time consuming part of these jobs for me (although obviously I would need less of them if I flew higher).
We use a crew for that now. I just show up and fly like some kind of lazy bastage. My business partner and I set GCP's for those small jobs. But anything over 20 or 30 acres and we have a crew do it.

Also, we use Aeropoints, which gather GPS data, store it, and then upload it once back at the office. It's accurate as heck and very convenient. I think we're up to 20 Aeropoints right now.



My flying is done separate from the survey crew so I handle placing/painting targets & fly and they follow afterwards to survey the GCP locations.
Check out Aeropoints, my friend. I think they're like 200 bucks each, but they pay for themselves quickly.



I do also pickup the GCP locations myself using a pair of Emlid Reach RS2 GPS units though just in case a point gets lost before the crew acquires it. That also enables me to provide them the exact point location so they should have no excuse for not finding a ground spike (nevermind the marking paint, wooden stake, & survey flagging...some people just like to complain).
I hear ya.



I haven't bothered with Maps Made Easy processing other than for custom terrain purposes. I guess there is some workflow there for incorporating GCPs but I'm not a fan of automatic processing services for anything more than a quick/cheap orthomosaic anyway.
Yep...same here. Honestly, we don't have any "quick / cheap" clients. They are all expecting balls-on accurate maps.



Thank you. I used Civil 3D to export the proposed topo & QGIS to merge with other source data & produce the final raster.

The drone business is my side hustle (at least for now, it's also part of my possible exit strategy..) I work full time for a Civil Engineering & Surveying firm (on the engineering side primarily) and subcontract for them when they decide to use me. Their failure to bother with a drone program despite my numerous suggestions is what pushed me to start the side hustle...(their other failures is what will eventually push me to make the jump & work the side hustle into my own full-time operation).
They have no idea what they're missing out on. Especially since they have a guy in house who understands all this stuff and collects good data.



Anyway, it's been a pleasure swapping knowledge with you. I look forward to talking more. Keep up the good work!
Ditto! I'll chime in again Wed. after I do some experimenting.

D
 

Hammer Missions

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I looked at Hammer briefly but it appears their linear mission is just a single line as opposed to providing an offset feature for multiple passes along a corridor. Their support looks like it would be extremely friendly and willing to explore creating new mission types/features but at the end of the day their cheapest plan at $40/mo. is just too much, compared to $15 on Map Pilot.
@Elevantage we're happy to broaden the scope of our linear missions - could you share what an ideal linear mission looks like for you?
 
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@Elevantage we're happy to broaden the scope of our linear missions - could you share what an ideal linear mission looks like for you?
Because linear flights are typically farther out than grid mapping, linear missions need to be conducted with connectionless ability along with the ability to carry multiple flight lines along the same corridor. Typically, I use 2 flight lines; out and back. But sometimes 4 flight lines comes in handy. It should be user defininable up to say 10 flight lines. Side-to-side overlap and front-to-back overlap need to be user defineable. I typically run 70/80 overlap on linear missions.

D
 
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@Elevantage we're happy to broaden the scope of our linear missions - could you share what an ideal linear mission looks like for you?

Because linear flights are typically farther out than grid mapping, linear missions need to be conducted with connectionless ability along with the ability to carry multiple flight lines along the same corridor. Typically, I use 2 flight lines; out and back. But sometimes 4 flight lines comes in handy. It should be user defininable up to say 10 flight lines. Side-to-side overlap and front-to-back overlap need to be user defineable.
@Hammer Missions
I agree with pretty much everything @Harleydude said.
The majority of my linear missions are road mapping + adjacent area where I need to avoid / eliminate flying over traffic. I adjust the flight path to fly along the road side and add as many parallel offsets as needed to capture the road from both sides + the adjacent areas. Wide multi-lane roads = higher flight to widen the spacing between flight lines.

Also, many times I am flying the road and an adjacent site. I fly the site as a separate single grid mapping mission only up to the limits of the linear road mission. It's helpful to be able to see the saved linear mission flight lines while planning the on-site portion so I don't waste time with flying more photo coverage than is needed.

And finally since we're on the subject of wishing & hoping for things, @Hammer Missions in my application we are handling photo processing ourselves and don't need the processing services. I'm sure that's a big ask, but as you likely have read, this thread started with another company changing their business model of offering a one-time purchase app & selling processing services separately in favor of all-in subscription model. I would love a one-time modest app purchase option that does not include any cloud processing services but would allow perpetual full use of a flight planning / control app with unlimited missions/flights, ability to save mission plans on the device and/or to dropbox or similar service, with terrain aware from SRTM & custom terrain following uploaded from user supplied surface files. An accompanying desktop planning app with file export for opening on the flight device would be icing on the cake although now I'm probably really pushing the limits of what could be included for a modest purchase price...

Thanks for listening though! Cheers.
 
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I honestly am coming up empty on alternatives that aren't going to cost a monthly subscription (or one more than Map Pilot). In short, I've reviewed features of several flight apps and none have quite matched everything I'm looking for.

I looked at Hammer briefly but it appears their linear mission is just a single line as opposed to providing an offset feature for multiple passes along a corridor. Their support looks like it would be extremely friendly and willing to explore creating new mission types/features but at the end of the day their cheapest plan at $40/mo. is just too much, compared to $15 on Map Pilot.

I'm running iOS exclusively (no android apps) I found these but they're missing features (assuming I didn't miss something when I was messing around with them):
3Dsurvey Pilot - doesn't have terrain aware feature.
Measure Ground Control - no linear corridor plan, no terrain following
Datufly - No terrain aware
Pix4dCapture - no linear corridor, no terrain
DroneDeploy - no linear corridor

It PAINS me to send more money to Map Pilot every month after...well you know. But right now in the middle of my busy season, I unfortunately have reserved myself to finish out the year paying for the pro level subscription until something better comes along.

I hate this monthly subscription business model that every software company uses now. If UgCS developed a solution for flight plan modification directly on the iPad, I'd pay the $600 perpetual license and call it a day even though $600 = 40 months on Map Pilot (at today's rate, assuming they don't jack their prices).

Like you, I don't want to be forced into buying new hardware to support the same missions & equipment I've been flying all along. I don't own a laptop but one might be in my future if UgCS is my only other option after testing it out.
Does anyone have suggestions of alternate flight control software for photogrammetry that can handle terrain following & perform automated linear missions in addition to standard grid/lawnmower pattern?

Up until now I've been a user of Map Pilot Business but I don't want to adopt their new subscription model (my experience is the same as already posted by HarleyDude "Map Pilot extortion"). I did email them about it and their response was basically "too bad" and they had to make the change because 3rd party data suppliers are charging significantly more to provide SRTM data.

In an attempt to follow forum rules, I'm not looking to get into the disgruntlement with Map Pilot, rather I just want to know what else is out there to accomplish the same tasks.
Again I need terrain follow + grid/lawnmower pattern + linear corridor mapping.

I did find UgCS which offers a perpetual license for $600 and can import custom terrain -but it appears to be a desktop planning on a computer & then upload to the ipad. It doesn't look like you can mission plan directly on the ipad (a pain if you need to change something in the field). I haven't tried the trial yet.

Any other suggestions?
Thank you in advance.
3DSurvey pilot A complete digital suite for survey-grade mapping and image processing
 
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Thanx for the link. Far too expensive. The problem I'm finding with all this drone mapping software (including MapPilot) is that they're migrating to an all-in-one complete soup to nuts mapping suite. I don't need that. And beyond that, I don't see how ANYBODY could use that in any kind of professional setting. I just need a program to fly the drone and snap photos only (no post-production). I just need to fly a grid or a double grid with terrain awareness and the occasional corridor mission. I require zero processing. But it seems all these mapping companies focus heavy on the processing and then charge you for THAT. I don't need that. I just need essentially a basic waypoint program that snaps photos and is terrain aware.

And here's the thing...

Even at its very best, none of these stand alone mapping "suites" can meet the kind of accuracy specifications required by my clients (and most clients I assume). My business partner and I create architectural grade maps for use in construction planning and architecture. These maps are extremely accurate, typically to within 1.2 to 1.5 inches (depending on GSD (Ground Sample Distance) and if processed properly). Typically we fly 250' AGL for smaller plots < 50 acres and increase altitude up to 400' for larger plots. The only way to achieve this kind of accuracy is to tie into known GCP's (Ground Control Points). Without GPC's, one's "map" is just a big 3D mosaic with a lot of bells and whistles that looks impressive. I guess this may be "good enough" for some projects (preliminary planning?), but definitely not good enough for construction or architecture. Even RTK on its own is not nearly accurate enough. All mapping photos have to be tied down to GCP's whose GPS data is accurate to within a few 100ths of an inch (just confirmed this with my business partner who is a survey engineer and does all the processing).

It would be nice if someone made an inexpensive waypoint software solution that could just fly the drone in a grid (or double grid), snap the photos and remain terrain aware while in flight. "Terrain awareness" seems to be the deal-breaker for cheaper waypoint programs (like DJI's Ground Station Pro). I liked it better when drone mapping companies parsed the service side of mapping out and sold the drone half as a separate package away from all the post production crap I don't want or need.

Yet, ANOTHER "change" in this world that is NOT good.

D
 
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If you find a cheap or free mapping app, let me know please. I just want to play, but I’m not paying the high prices. Thanks.
 
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If you find a cheap or free mapping app, let me know please. I just want to play, but I’m not paying the high prices. Thanks.
Depending upon what type of playing you want to do, many of the mapping apps do offer a free tier with a bit less functionality relative to the paid tiers. For professional use, the paid functions add features like linear flight plans or terrain awareness.

A lot of apps offer a free trial period too if your just wanting to do a map of one or two places for fun.

What drone & flight device you are using? (Phantom 4 / ipad ?) that might help focus some suggestions for you.
 
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Depending upon what type of playing you want to do, many of the mapping apps do offer a free tier with a bit less functionality relative to the paid tiers. For professional use, the paid functions add features like linear flight plans or terrain awareness.

A lot of apps offer a free trial period too if your just wanting to do a map of one or two places for fun.

What drone & flight device you are using? (Phantom 4 / ipad ?) that might help focus some suggestions for you.
Flying a DJI phantom 3 standard and a pro. I also have a yuneec typhoon H.
 
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Flying a DJI phantom 3 standard and a pro. I also have a yuneec typhoon H.
If you’re using an ipad, you could try “DJI GS PRO”
The free features will probably cover your flight needs.
For processing try Mapsmadeeasy .com
Depending upon the map area, you may even be able to process (a small map) for free there -or they offer on-demand pricing.
 

Hammer Missions

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@Hammer Missions
I agree with pretty much everything @Harleydude said.
The majority of my linear missions are road mapping + adjacent area where I need to avoid / eliminate flying over traffic. I adjust the flight path to fly along the road side and add as many parallel offsets as needed to capture the road from both sides + the adjacent areas. Wide multi-lane roads = higher flight to widen the spacing between flight lines.

Also, many times I am flying the road and an adjacent site. I fly the site as a separate single grid mapping mission only up to the limits of the linear road mission. It's helpful to be able to see the saved linear mission flight lines while planning the on-site portion so I don't waste time with flying more photo coverage than is needed.

And finally since we're on the subject of wishing & hoping for things, @Hammer Missions in my application we are handling photo processing ourselves and don't need the processing services. I'm sure that's a big ask, but as you likely have read, this thread started with another company changing their business model of offering a one-time purchase app & selling processing services separately in favor of all-in subscription model. I would love a one-time modest app purchase option that does not include any cloud processing services but would allow perpetual full use of a flight planning / control app with unlimited missions/flights, ability to save mission plans on the device and/or to dropbox or similar service, with terrain aware from SRTM & custom terrain following uploaded from user supplied surface files. An accompanying desktop planning app with file export for opening on the flight device would be icing on the cake although now I'm probably really pushing the limits of what could be included for a modest purchase price...

Thanks for listening though! Cheers.
Hi all,

We have now upgraded our Linear Missions to include a 'width mode':

 

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