Posted on June 21, 2013 by Greg Hosilyk
Today I went to the study area again. I continued to get photos of the cliff walls surrounding the valley in an attempt to demonstrate how to map the cliffs. By taking photos with the quadcopters, I can put the images into some software called PhotoScan and it eventually builds a 3D model out of your photos. So, since the cliffs vary widely in angles, it’s important for me to get photos of the cliffs from a lot of different angles. To that end, I flew the quadcopter imaging the cliff walls even more today. For our first few flights, we had the camera mounted the same as yesterday which was basically on the back of the quad, so it was really difficult to fly because I had to fly backwards, which means when I pushed forward on the stick, the quad would go back, and left the quad would go right. Flying backward next to the cliffs just added that much more difficulty, but I liked the challenge. However, in the afternoon today, another group took our quad and camera to work on another part of the valley, so we had to rig up another quad. This time we were able to figure out a way to mount the camera on the front of the quad. I took the opportunity to take a quick video of the base camp area.
After that, we headed out to get more imagery of the cliffs. Everything seemed to be going really well, I wasn’t flying backwards anymore and I thought we got a lot of good pictures. However, after returning to base camp, I checked the images and a lot of them were blurry. I thought about it and we had the camera mounted very tightly to the quad, which seems like a good idea, but it causes a lot of vibration and I think that contributed to our blurry pictures. Next time we’ll try to mount the camera with some more foam and more loosely.
Just when I thought it was time to leave the study area and head back to the barn, I got the opportunity to fly a different quadcopter. This one is called the InstantEye. It has three cameras built in and a screen on the remote that lets you view any of the cameras. So, it’s like playing a video game, you watch the screen on the remote instead of watching the copter. It’s designed for the military and the company is trying to make them available to the public or at least academic institutions. You can tell it’s military, it’s very utilitarian, as it has altitude hold and a number of other useful features. We used it to get really close to one of the caves on the cliff wall, this cave is rumored to have a burial in it. We got right up close and got some good pictures, but we still couldn’t tell if there was a burial or not. Either way, it was fun flying it that close to the cliffs.