The job that only took 6 years....

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Hi Harleydude, DJI have used several different methods for capturing the GPS data. On the P4 I own it does produce the extra data file.
Ahhhh....well, in the context of this thread I did specify I was using the Phantom 4 Pro (See my reply to Bernie C.). I've never owned a Phantom 4 that wasn't the Pro, so that's interesting information.



Personally, I would say that this is a better system than embedding the data within the video file because it makes it easy for the user to choose whether to superimpose the GPS data or not.
Sort of. I think what you mean to say is that it's easy to strip the on-screen data from the video by simply renaming or removing the .srt file. And I couldn't agree more. In addition, an .srt file is easily editable. For instance, if one wants JUST the GPS data, one can remove the other extraneous barometer data and other superfluous data. While I concede that there may be a way to edit the embedded subtitle, I haven't tried to figure that out yet. I'm sure it's not as straight forward as editing an .srt file.




Have both video and data file in the same folder if you want to display co-ordinates.
Yessir. I've been flying Inspire 1's for years. I'm very well aware...<;^)



Remove the data file from the folder if you just want to display the video. The beauty of the 2 file system is that you can turn on the option and just leave it on. Then later if you want GPS co-ordinates they are always available.
All the best, Martin
Yep. I couldn't agree more. At this point I have been okay with the embedded data. But should it ever become an issue, I imagine I'll have to dive down the hacking rabbit hole. Then again, it might be super easy. I don't know, as it's never been an issue.

D
 
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Great workflow narrative, Harleydude. Always appreciate detailed field reports by professionals in our business. Particularly liked "I've always maintained that "droning" is the perfect balance of technology and nature. It's one of the reasons I like it so much." Me too - you've captured it well. To your "technology and nature," I would add aviation and photovideography to the blend.
 
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View attachment 122290

I use the drone's GPS data for obvious reasons. In this photo we were standing outside the UTV, but this is the one and only time we shot this way. We were always 1 pole behind the drone so that I could see the drone clearly out the UTV window. The poles are about 320' apart.

D
Hey doods!

In 2015 an Electrical Contractor friend of mine, Drew, came to me and asked about elevated utility inspections, and how that would work out with a drone. By sheer coincidence, my next door neighbor, Anthony - an engineer for our local electric company - made roughly the same inquiry. Intuitively, it made sense to me that a drone should be able to make quick work of inspecting elevated utilities. At the time the only way to inspect these elevated utilities was to hire a crew with a bucket truck, block the road, take down notes on a piece of paper and file that paper into a cabinet somewhere. Even worse, some poles have to be physically climbed, as not all poles are accessible with a bucket truck. In addition, because some inspections take place BELOW the arrestors and other components, inspectors would often miss "top rot," which is corrosion from the top down due to rain, hail, birds and other anomalies. This was not only expensive, but archaic. It seemed to me that "drone inspections" was an easy sale. I could not only save them thousands, but I wouldn't block traffic and I could produce data that could be digitally archived, accessed and shared among peers. To demonstrate this, I made a video. Remember, this was 2015. So my equipment was a Phantom 1 with a GoPro camera.


While both Anthony and Drew appreciated my video, which answered all their questions, Anthony told me that at his end bureaucracy was going to be my worst enemy. "New technology" moves slowly through the wheels of our local electrical utility provider. And needless to say, the IBEW wasn't very pleased at losing those lucrative inspection jobs.

Conversely, Drew, an independent contractor, was interested. He told me that he had an upcoming job at the New Mexico Spaceport. He asked me to draw up a proposal. This was tough for me, as I honestly hadn't a clue how close we could get to the electrical poles (called "Structures" in the industry) or how long it would take, and on and on. Like a babe in the woods, I took a "best guess" at what this job would entail, and drew up this proposal. Please notice the date:

View attachment 122277

So on Thursday June 3rd - more than 6 years after drawing up my proposal - my phone rings. It's Drew. He says, "I got the contract for the Spaceport. How quickly can you be ready? Can you be ready by next week?" By sheer dumb luck, the week of the 7th was light. I checked wind reports, and Sunday the 6th looked very good, with the rest of the week coming in as "doable" all before 2 PM (when wind would pick up past 30 mph). Being an independent businessman, I knew Drew would be good with leaving Sunday.

Worth noting here is a very predictable clash in workflow styles. While I'm like most of you; very OCD about understanding the job, getting equipment ready, understanding deliverables, etc., Drew is more of a "giterdone" kind of guy - working mostly "from the cuff." I was prepared to make my case. Fortunately, Drew is a smart individual and deferred to my expertise.

Drew indicated that "a couple photos" will do. But I didn't like that idea. I pushed for 4K video because I could circle the top of the utility, grab frames and digitally zoom. Done right, this would allow inspection of every nut, bolt and wire. In addition, the metadata - which is in the form of a subtitle - would net GPS coordinates, which I could then use to plot each individual structure in Google Earth, and then export to a .kml file. Drew didn't seem to care about the .kml file, but he indicated that other entities would be looking at these files, including Spaceport personnel. Drew is a "low-tech" guy, but I know others would appreciate the clarity a .kml "map" would lend to the project.

In this screen shot, you can see that I have labeled every 5th structure and some other structures.

View attachment 122278

Worth noting, the red pins indicate a glitch I had in one of my MicroSD cards. Fortunately, I caught the glitch early and switched cards. I will never use that brand of card again. I'm sticking with SanDisk.

Here's a wider shot of the entire jobsite.

View attachment 122279

Each labeled structure corresponds to a video file:

View attachment 122281

Here's Drew's rig. Note that the Can-Am UTV is brand new. It has air conditioning, power steering and a stereo. $32K. Purchased for this job.

View attachment 122280

Here's a screen shot of the first pole (Structure 1). Note the GPS data...very important.

View attachment 122282

And finally, here's a screen shot demonstrating the zoomability of these videos:

View attachment 122283

View attachment 122284

Here's my wind report notes:


View attachment 122286
As of this writing I'm delivering a thumb drive to Drew in about an hour. In turn, he will share the data with the Spaceport people. We'll see how this goes.

Job spec's:

* 94 structures
* 5.5 miles
* Roughly 6 hours total Can-Am time over 2 days (Sunday and Monday)
* I flew the drone from inside the cab
* Though air conditioned, it was still fairly warm inside the cab
* 26GB of data
* Used 5 batteries the first day and 5 batteries the second day. I had 9 batteries with me.
* My homemade battery charger failed, as it simply got too hot in the direct sunlight in the bed. Good thing we didn't need it.
* Due to little or no cell service, we had no Internet. Fortunately, I planned for this and cached all maps and made hand notes for wind.


Oh....here's the brand new Can-Am post inspection. As you can see, it ain't new any more!

View attachment 122285

I ended up billing this out at $2500. Drew was more than happy with this because he had budgeted 5 days for this job. We got it done in 2.

D
Thanks for sharing all the details HD. Really Appreciated.
I have Questions…:

- On the whole are you still basically charging 100/hr plus expenses for flying?
-What were the different factors for the increase in final bill from your estimate- aside from it being 6 Years later…
-All the shots above were extracted still from 4K video? (Excellent results and way efficient!)
- Still using the P4P or have you upgraded to a different drone these days?
- In your proposal reel you talk about “customizing” your drones to protect them and using “Radio frequencies that are impervious to cell tower transmissions”- was that just marketing- or are there actually things we can do to lesson interference?
-How close in real practice can you safely fly to the tops of the towers and lines?

Again, thanks for sharing!!!
-one more… are there instances you switch to raw full res stills for increased resolution, and if so, what’s the determining factors to choose that?
 
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Harleydude…Excellent initial approach to your end result, I like some great planning!! I really hope you get the gig, Well Done!! I’d like to know how it turns out…Thanks
 
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Hey doods!

In 2015 an Electrical Contractor friend of mine, Drew, came to me and asked about elevated utility inspections, and how that would work out with a drone. By sheer coincidence, my next door neighbor, Anthony - an engineer for our local electric company - made roughly the same inquiry. Intuitively, it made sense to me that a drone should be able to make quick work of inspecting elevated utilities. At the time the only way to inspect these elevated utilities was to hire a crew with a bucket truck, block the road, take down notes on a piece of paper and file that paper into a cabinet somewhere. Even worse, some poles have to be physically climbed, as not all poles are accessible with a bucket truck. In addition, because some inspections take place BELOW the arrestors and other components, inspectors would often miss "top rot," which is corrosion from the top down due to rain, hail, birds and other anomalies. This was not only expensive, but archaic. It seemed to me that "drone inspections" was an easy sale. I could not only save them thousands, but I wouldn't block traffic and I could produce data that could be digitally archived, accessed and shared among peers. To demonstrate this, I made a video. Remember, this was 2015. So my equipment was a Phantom 1 with a GoPro camera.


While both Anthony and Drew appreciated my video, which answered all their questions, Anthony told me that at his end bureaucracy was going to be my worst enemy. "New technology" moves slowly through the wheels of our local electrical utility provider. And needless to say, the IBEW wasn't very pleased at losing those lucrative inspection jobs.

Conversely, Drew, an independent contractor, was interested. He told me that he had an upcoming job at the New Mexico Spaceport. He asked me to draw up a proposal. This was tough for me, as I honestly hadn't a clue how close we could get to the electrical poles (called "Structures" in the industry) or how long it would take, and on and on. Like a babe in the woods, I took a "best guess" at what this job would entail, and drew up this proposal. Please notice the date:

View attachment 122277

So on Thursday June 3rd - more than 6 years after drawing up my proposal - my phone rings. It's Drew. He says, "I got the contract for the Spaceport. How quickly can you be ready? Can you be ready by next week?" By sheer dumb luck, the week of the 7th was light. I checked wind reports, and Sunday the 6th looked very good, with the rest of the week coming in as "doable" all before 2 PM (when wind would pick up past 30 mph). Being an independent businessman, I knew Drew would be good with leaving Sunday.

Worth noting here is a very predictable clash in workflow styles. While I'm like most of you; very OCD about understanding the job, getting equipment ready, understanding deliverables, etc., Drew is more of a "giterdone" kind of guy - working mostly "from the cuff." I was prepared to make my case. Fortunately, Drew is a smart individual and deferred to my expertise.

Drew indicated that "a couple photos" will do. But I didn't like that idea. I pushed for 4K video because I could circle the top of the utility, grab frames and digitally zoom. Done right, this would allow inspection of every nut, bolt and wire. In addition, the metadata - which is in the form of a subtitle - would net GPS coordinates, which I could then use to plot each individual structure in Google Earth, and then export to a .kml file. Drew didn't seem to care about the .kml file, but he indicated that other entities would be looking at these files, including Spaceport personnel. Drew is a "low-tech" guy, but I know others would appreciate the clarity a .kml "map" would lend to the project.

In this screen shot, you can see that I have labeled every 5th structure and some other structures.

View attachment 122278

Worth noting, the red pins indicate a glitch I had in one of my MicroSD cards. Fortunately, I caught the glitch early and switched cards. I will never use that brand of card again. I'm sticking with SanDisk.

Here's a wider shot of the entire jobsite.

View attachment 122279

Each labeled structure corresponds to a video file:

View attachment 122281

Here's Drew's rig. Note that the Can-Am UTV is brand new. It has air conditioning, power steering and a stereo. $32K. Purchased for this job.

View attachment 122280

Here's a screen shot of the first pole (Structure 1). Note the GPS data...very important.

View attachment 122282

And finally, here's a screen shot demonstrating the zoomability of these videos:

View attachment 122283

View attachment 122284

Here's my wind report notes:


View attachment 122286
As of this writing I'm delivering a thumb drive to Drew in about an hour. In turn, he will share the data with the Spaceport people. We'll see how this goes.

Job spec's:

* 94 structures
* 5.5 miles
* Roughly 6 hours total Can-Am time over 2 days (Sunday and Monday)
* I flew the drone from inside the cab
* Though air conditioned, it was still fairly warm inside the cab
* 26GB of data
* Used 5 batteries the first day and 5 batteries the second day. I had 9 batteries with me.
* My homemade battery charger failed, as it simply got too hot in the direct sunlight in the bed. Good thing we didn't need it.
* Due to little or no cell service, we had no Internet. Fortunately, I planned for this and cached all maps and made hand notes for wind.


Oh....here's the brand new Can-Am post inspection. As you can see, it ain't new any more!

View attachment 122285

I ended up billing this out at $2500. Drew was more than happy with this because he had budgeted 5 days for this job. We got it done in 2.

D
As usual your work is an inspiration to others just wish I could do legacy like you. Thanks for sharing
 
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Hi Harleydude, DJI have used several different methods for capturing the GPS data. On the P4 I own it does produce the extra data file. Personally, I would say that this is a better system than embedding the data within the video file because it makes it easy for the user to choose whether to superimpose the GPS data or not. Have both video and data file in the same folder if you want to display co-ordinates. Remove the data file from the folder if you just want to display the video. The beauty of the 2 file system is that you can turn on the option and just leave it on. Then later if you want GPS co-ordinates they are always available.
All the best, Martin
Thanks for this. I've just experimented with that setting. Like Harleydude's drone, my own P4P embeds this data into the video file. Interestingly, I can turn it off or on when viewing with my video player, but I haven't yet discovered how to display it in my video editor - PowerDirector.

I'm more interested in extracting the data in .kml format to use with third party software. Harleydude - did you extract this data as a separate file when you used it to display those locations on Google Earth?
 

RBP

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Power companies in my area are already hiring drone pilots for inspections. Primarily in the Sierra mountains. I assume you have your 107 license and insurance. I use the Inspire 2 with the X5 camera and 15mm lens and it is fantastic for high quality photos. Another options is Mapping and Drone Deploy is great for that. What that allows you to do is do several structures and fast. It allows you to not only the structures but the lines as well and each photo has your GPS co-ordinates and elevations. Some of these structures are in some pretty rough places to get to. You can get 0.5 inch per pixel detail with mapping.
 

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