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What I've learned thanks to many of you.

chasco

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I use the 15mm lens for mapping and normally do a cross hatch flight. If my clients are happy, I'm happy.
Personally I find the lower altitude with the 23mm lens very low, but I guess is is based on what you need to capture.
If I flew that low on most of my jobs I would be flying below the cranes, not a good idea for an autonomous flight. I have flown videos under the crane booms though.
Here is one of the examples of my early videos.


I also mapped this site once a week for two and half years during construction. The mapping site is about 160 acres. Needless to say it would have been impossible to map this site much lower than 250 feet, I normally mapped at 300 feet and that gave me a .7 inch per pixel.
There's no doubt that everyone has different approaches which tends allot to do with what hardware is being used. We fly P4's and Yuneec H520E RTK's which are very similar camera wise but they do fly differently so obviously an Inspire with an 11mm is going to be an entirely different mindset. From my calcs the I2 with x4s at 300ft has a GSD of 1.06in/px which is not acceptable for our work.

At 175ft 160 acres is 3 batteries for one of our drones and 2 for the other. The only time we ever fly over 250ft is because of obstructions like cranes and buildings so you don't have much of a choice there. When you do have the choice though don't you fly as low as efficiently possible? If I can map 160ac with one battery but I have to fly at 300ft to do it i'll fly two batteries every time. Just for clarification I would never fly nadir at less than 150ft unless it was a really small project. Even with RTK you can see an increasing pattern of warping as the tiles get smaller and ends of the jobsites get further apart.
 

R.Perry

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First of all your numbers or wrong. At 300 feet with the inspire 2, 15mm lens the resolution is 0.7 and 250 feet is 0.5. If I'm flying a cross hatch it requires three to four batteries depending on wind. I don't know where you are coming up with 11mm
Since I don't have a RTK drone I'm not competing with surveyors nor could I. I do you use the surveyors GCPs to increase accuracy though.
It is all about what the client wants and needs. If you can do 160 acres with three batteries that is amazing to me, first of all at that altitude the inspire would be slowed down to about 14 to 16 mph and that would increase battery usage significantly. So what need would there be for less than 0.7 accuracy?
 

chasco

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First of all your numbers or wrong. At 300 feet with the inspire 2, 15mm lens the resolution is 0.7 and 250 feet is 0.5. If I'm flying a cross hatch it requires three to four batteries depending on wind. I don't know where you are coming up with 11mm
Since I don't have a RTK drone I'm not competing with surveyors nor could I. I do you use the surveyors GCPs to increase accuracy though.
It is all about what the client wants and needs. If you can do 160 acres with three batteries that is amazing to me, first of all at that altitude the inspire would be slowed down to about 14 to 16 mph and that would increase battery usage significantly. So what need would there be for less than 0.7 accuracy?
Sorry that was based on an X4S so I misread what you said you were using.


So what need would there be for less than 0.7 accuracy?
Mostly grade control for civil infrastructure. Things like paving sections, moisture conditioning lifts, pond liner verifications.
 

Midsky8778

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Speaking of RTK, where does that fit into mapping for construction? This discussion has me thinking orthos are valued mostly for their “overview” value, but wouldn’t connecting to an RTK network for increased accuracy be helpful in marketing the service? Being able to tell prospects that they can zoom in anywhere to check progress like a typical mapping deliverable, but ALSO take accurate measurements anywhere on that map seems like a great selling point.

My own experience is limited to an ongoing ortho capture of a ~20 acre site. The P4RTK is provided by the client and I connect to my state-run RTK network (Missouri). I don’t get to see the final product as I deliver raw assets for this job, but the collection workflow is fairly simple - which has me considering a P4RTK of my own.
 

R Martin

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Speaking of RTK, where does that fit into mapping for construction? This discussion has me thinking orthos are valued mostly for their “overview” value, but wouldn’t connecting to an RTK network for increased accuracy be helpful in marketing the service? Being able to tell prospects that they can zoom in anywhere to check progress like a typical mapping deliverable, but ALSO take accurate measurements anywhere on that map seems like a great selling point.

My own experience is limited to an ongoing ortho capture of a ~20 acre site. The P4RTK is provided by the client and I connect to my state-run RTK network (Missouri). I don’t get to see the final product as I deliver raw assets for this job, but the collection workflow is fairly simple - which has me considering a P4RTK of my own.

We connect to Allterra's network for our flights. There are some times that it is just not practical to shoot in subsurface utilities with a GPS, so we set our control and fly it. As long as the control is set and you are connected to the network, you can pretty safely digitize from that and not put people at risk. It isn't practical everywhere, but it is another tool in the box that we can whip out if needed.
 
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chasco

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Speaking of RTK, where does that fit into mapping for construction? This discussion has me thinking orthos are valued mostly for their “overview” value, but wouldn’t connecting to an RTK network for increased accuracy be helpful in marketing the service? Being able to tell prospects that they can zoom in anywhere to check progress like a typical mapping deliverable, but ALSO take accurate measurements anywhere on that map seems like a great selling point.

My own experience is limited to an ongoing ortho capture of a ~20 acre site. The P4RTK is provided by the client and I connect to my state-run RTK network (Missouri). I don’t get to see the final product as I deliver raw assets for this job, but the collection workflow is fairly simple - which has me considering a P4RTK of my own.
RTK is all about positional accuracy not only in navigation but in the geotag entered into exif data. This means that more weight can be given to the images which also limits the amount of guesses processing has to make which in turn reduces distortion. All that said yes it is more accurate. We are making maps and models so yes that is obviously a huge selling point when you can market RTK functionality. It was the same thing with marketing GCP's as part of the service so it just keeps us on the edge of curve. We still use GCP's when doing grade sensitive work but the number of targets needed has greatly reduced which in turn saves us more time.
 

WildDoktor

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Hey guys, another (possibly stupid) question about construction progress jobs: Is it the owner, or the contractor, that normally wants construction progress documentation? And I guess a followup question would be: when going out to drum up business, is it owners or contractors that you want to go talk to?
 
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chasco

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Hey guys, another (possibly stupid) question about construction progress jobs: Is it the owner, or the contractor, that normally wants construction progress documentation? And I guess a followup question would be: when going out to drum up business, is it owners or contractors that you want to go talk to?
Owners/Developers like progress photos and video. I have recently gotten them into 360 panos and I think that is becoming their preferred media as long as it is easy to get to and navigate. Navigation has always been a learning curve for folks who do not work with 3D data often. Large home builders are starting to require weekly progress photos but we have also done asbuilt maps for them even though we were not the contractor. We as a contractor have project managers that are similar to owners but our main analysis is just the ortho and the LAS point cloud. When we work with other contractors we give them the whole shebang. As far as who to contact I am not really sure for someone that is unfamiliar with the AEC industry but if you are you will know contacts in the industry to get a direction. The main reasons it is hard to get on with contractors is 10 Because most of us have or are going to start drone programs and 2) because they really don't have corporate contacts for this type of thing and you would need to know who the project manager is to get a foot in the door. Anyone else will probably just put you on the goose chase. You can just visit a jobsite trailer and leave a card but make sure you have on PPE if you go on the site. You will get more respect when you walk in the door. They get allot of salesman so don't get offended, lol. Sometimes it is good to do a pro-bono flight.
 

R.Perry

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Chasco, gave some good advice. What I found once I got my first job, (that was UC Merced), I received referrals and that has been keeping me as busy as I want to be. I was a home inspector so I also had basic understanding of construction, however the UC Merced was a tremendous learning experience.
What I have found is on major projects the superintendent is extremely busy so they aren't open to walk-ins. If you can, make an appointment with them. Look for jobs that haven't broke ground yet, you can get the information from the county building department. See if you can get your foot in the door prior to ground breaking.
Best of luck to all of you.
 

WildDoktor

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Partial success story to share, thanks to what I've learned from many of you here! :)

A construction site near where I work (I'm a full-time IT Professional) has been moving forward. I've taken 4 sets of progress photos, 360 panos, and videos from before ground breaking until a couple weeks ago...just in case! I've been trying to figure out who to contact about a progress package, and everybody I've contacted has either said "that's not me" or just ignored me. :)

Earlier this week a mobile office showed up on the site, with a big ol' sign out front with the general contractor's name on it. Bingo! I looked them up on facebook and saw that they had a couple drone videos of a few job sites from a couple years ago. For grins, I messaged the generic company facebook page contact, introduced myself, and said "I see you have some drone progress photos / videos on your page; are you interested in hiring a drone guy to get progress documentation of the new site? I'm a Part 107 Remote Pilot (certified in Feb 2017), and I actually work as a full-time IT Professional just down the road from the site...so I could easily go out and fly the site at lunchtime as often as you'd like! Of course there's much more to talk about, but I wanted to at least introduce myself and see if you have any interest in this. Looking forward to hearing from you!"

I immediately got a reply: "I'm interested; call my cell" and gave me a first name. o_Oo_O Not what I was expecting!!

I called him at lunch. He's interested, but can't quite wrap his head around how this could benefit him other than the fact that it's super cool, and may provide a marketing photo or two. I talked about "counting piles"; he has no need for that. I talked about 360 panos; he's not sure how that would help.

BUT: he wants me to meet him and his superintendent next week onsite at lunchtime, and I told him I'd love to let them pick a few different shots that I would then fly, which he's cool with and even willing to pay for!

Near the end of the conversation, I asked him "So, what's your role in the company?"

He said "Um, well...I own the company."

BaM!

I sent him a link to 4 of the 360 panos I've already taken, but I let him know I took these a) late in the evening, after everybody was gone and b) in the horrible, orange / dirty smoky light, so they aren't going to be "pretty", but are still "functional". And I also told him I'd
send him some bullet points about the benefits of "drone construction progress documentation" this weekend.

So, yeah; I get my first chance to attempt to impress somebody next week. Woo Hoo!

Once again...thanks to all of you who have been willing to share your wisdom; I'm sure I'll be back here next week in a panic, asking questions, because at this point I don't know yet what I don't know! :)
 

chasco

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Partial success story to share, thanks to what I've learned from many of you here! :)

A construction site near where I work (I'm a full-time IT Professional) has been moving forward. I've taken 4 sets of progress photos, 360 panos, and videos from before ground breaking until a couple weeks ago...just in case! I've been trying to figure out who to contact about a progress package, and everybody I've contacted has either said "that's not me" or just ignored me. :)

Earlier this week a mobile office showed up on the site, with a big ol' sign out front with the general contractor's name on it. Bingo! I looked them up on facebook and saw that they had a couple drone videos of a few job sites from a couple years ago. For grins, I messaged the generic company facebook page contact, introduced myself, and said "I see you have some drone progress photos / videos on your page; are you interested in hiring a drone guy to get progress documentation of the new site? I'm a Part 107 Remote Pilot (certified in Feb 2017), and I actually work as a full-time IT Professional just down the road from the site...so I could easily go out and fly the site at lunchtime as often as you'd like! Of course there's much more to talk about, but I wanted to at least introduce myself and see if you have any interest in this. Looking forward to hearing from you!"

I immediately got a reply: "I'm interested; call my cell" and gave me a first name. o_Oo_O Not what I was expecting!!

I called him at lunch. He's interested, but can't quite wrap his head around how this could benefit him other than the fact that it's super cool, and may provide a marketing photo or two. I talked about "counting piles"; he has no need for that. I talked about 360 panos; he's not sure how that would help.

BUT: he wants me to meet him and his superintendent next week onsite at lunchtime, and I told him I'd love to let them pick a few different shots that I would then fly, which he's cool with and even willing to pay for!

Near the end of the conversation, I asked him "So, what's your role in the company?"

He said "Um, well...I own the company."

BaM!

I sent him a link to 4 of the 360 panos I've already taken, but I let him know I took these a) late in the evening, after everybody was gone and b) in the horrible, orange / dirty smoky light, so they aren't going to be "pretty", but are still "functional". And I also told him I'd
send him some bullet points about the benefits of "drone construction progress documentation" this weekend.

So, yeah; I get my first chance to attempt to impress somebody next week. Woo Hoo!

Once again...thanks to all of you who have been willing to share your wisdom; I'm sure I'll be back here next week in a panic, asking questions, because at this point I don't know yet what I don't know! :)
Amazing my friend! That's all it takes. Thanks for sharing. We are here if you need backup.
 

R.Perry

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Interesting, and good for you. How large is the site, reason I ask many times on large sites the engineers and management uses the panos for inspecting progress where they would normally need to walk the site.
What I found is once you do the shoot, getting the finished product up quickly is critically important. It's like I was told, "A mapping a week old isn't much good". Same with panos. At UC Merced I found the engineers were using the mappings more than the superintendent, he was primarily using the panos.
Biggest issue I had was timing when I could fly without flying over people and many times that just didn't work.
 
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chasco

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I was told, "A mapping a week old isn't much good".
...and for excavation and stockpiles two days old is just a footnote. I did a test one day as I was mapping I noticed two excavators and three Volvo haulers attacking one pile so I did a quick orbit flight before I left and they had moved almost 1,500cy just in the time I was there. Problem with that is volumetrics takes interaction whereas everything can be an auto-export in our system. The downside to auto-exports is that sometimes they send out before I want them to.
 

R Martin

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Hey guys, another (possibly stupid) question about construction progress jobs: Is it the owner, or the contractor, that normally wants construction progress documentation? And I guess a followup question would be: when going out to drum up business, is it owners or contractors that you want to go talk to?
Both from the owners side. Contractors want updates on the site frequently. And now, a lot of places have their own in-house people to do that for them.
 
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R.Perry

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With the large construction firms many times the owners aren't in the same state as the job. The owners of the UC Merced project were in New York, their closest office was San Francisco. To get your foot in the door with these companies is not easy from what I understand. The company I was contracted to was Multivista. They are a world wide company that does nothing but construction documentation. They can supply the rapid processing, and visual platform for the client as well as a professional sales force, and tremendous support for their clients. Basically it isn't a one person operation, nor could one person compete with them. The other side of it Multivista services cost the construction company over a half a million dollars for the two and half year project, and we did no interior documentation on that job.
Yes they could have hired a drone pilot, or trained had one of their people trained to fly the missions, but they wouldn't have had the platform and support that Multivista supplied.
One of the jobs I had was mapping a job site in Sacramento, the contractor had his own drown pilot. What he didn't have was a enterprise account with Drone Deploy. It was cheaper from him to hire us once a month to do the mapping than pay for the DD account. There is always two sides to the coin.
 
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