Drone Systems

Frequently asked questions

Q: What is the difference between the DJI Phantom, DJI M100/M200 and Storm Pro?

A: The DJI Phantom series are smaller and cheaper drones that are very capable as a entry level system for agriculture, they can do RGB mapping and are very easy to fly.

The M100 series is larger and can carry more advanced cameras and sensors, we used to supply these systems until we replaced them with our Storm systems.

The M200 series from DJI is designed for high-end inspection applications, it is a very capable drone system that provides a lot of advanced features and camera options, it is also DJIs most expensive system. As a DJI Enterprise dealer, our parent company Drone Aerial Ops can supply these systems.

The Storm Agri Pro drone system is slightly larger than the M100. It has been developed by us (farmers, agronomists and drone geeks) as a very capable drone system for agricultural applications, it is as easy to fly as a DJI Phantom, it is tough and weather tolerant and carries multi-spectral sensors for advanced crop analysis.

Q: Is a case included with your drone systems?

A: Yes, we supply all our drones systems with travel cases chosen and customized to securely transport them. The case comes with enough space to fit 6 batteries, 2 sets of spare propellers, one controller, one charger and charger hub, an Apple iPad and storage case.

Q: Do your drones need to be regularly checked when flying in dirty, dusty farm environments?

A: The Storm Agri Pro is designed to tolerate use in farm environments, it can get wet and dirty and still function without issue, however it should still be maintained and cleaned when possible. Especially camera lenses, which need to be clean and dry to capture accurate imagery.

When flying in dusty environments such as at harvest time, pilots should regularly check their drone after flying as the closed-shell body is not completely protected against fine particles. Specifically, pilots should check the motors, battery compartments and cameras for loose particles that could potentially harm the aircrafts’ internals, these can easily be cleaned with air spray.

Q: Can I carry the batteries on a commercial airplane?

A: Most airlines allow TB47 batteries to be carried onto the airplane. You are likely to encounter issues when carrying TB48 batteries (supplied) as they exceed allotted size for many airlines. Before planning a project, we suggest checking with your airline in advance. When transporting batteries please discharge them to below 30% maximum capacity for maximum safety. We can supply TB47 batteries if you need to travel with them.

Q: What happens if one battery fails?

A: The Storm Pro uses dual batteries and so can still fly if one fails, voltage is continuously monitored and will notify you through the DJI GO app if this falls too low, at which point please land the aircraft immediately. Below a certain voltage threshold the aircraft will auto-land.

Q: For RTK systems, is there any extra setup required for this unit?

A: Since the RTK unit is built into the drone, the only extra step is to position and turn on the ground unit and wait for it to get GPS-lock before powering on the drone system.

Q: We have land near to electricity pylons and/or cell phone towers, should we worry about interference affecting the system?

A: For operators that expect to experience electrical or signal interference during flight we suggest using the RTK systems for optimal safety. The built-in RTK unit enables the drone to hover with centimeter-level accuracy due to the improved GPS data, making slight interferences to the transmission system less potentially dangerous. It is also hardened against magnetic interference.

If the RTK option is out-of budget, careful flight planning will still allow you to cover the majority of your land.

Q: How long does it take to charge the batteries? How long do they last on a full charge?

A: You can fly for up to 25mins with TB47 batteries and 30mins with TB48 batteries in ideal conditions, wind and temperature will affect flight time, the drone can cover about 1 Ha per minute on average at 80m altitude. When connecting the standard Battery Charger to the Battery Charging Hub, it takes about 30 minutes to charge 2 batteries and 60 minutes to charge 4 batteries.

The optional Power Pack provides a 6 battery parallel charger that will charge 6 batteries in 60mins from 20% to full.

The remote controller is equipped with a 6,000mAh LiPo 2S battery. Fully charging the controller takes approximately 3 hours. It can be used for approximately 4 hours after being fully charged.

Q: Do your drones have a RTH function?

A: Yes. During RTH, the system will climb to a pre-set altitude above any obstacles and fly directly to its ‘home-point’ (usually its take-off location). It will then descend and land. This can be overridden at any time by the pilot.

Q: What kind of weather can your drones fly in?

A: Our Storm Pro has been designed to be weather tolerant. This means that while it is not fully waterproof, it can fly without issue in wet conditions, we recommend not flying in heavy rain, or landing immediately should light rain get heavier. Care should be taken to keep the camera lens clean and dry, and the system should be left to dry overnight in a warm, non humid environment.

The system can handle winds up to 30mph. Care should be take in gusty wind conditions, wind speed increases with altitude. A simple test flight before mapping can help to ascertain if conditions are unsafe to continue. This is covered in the training included with all our systems.

Q: Do I need any licenses or insurance to use your drones?

A: This depends if you are planning to operate drones for commercial purposes. In the UK, the CAA require that any drone operators that are operating for ‘commercial gain’ obtain a PFCO (Permission For Commercial Operations) from them, this involves a course, written and flight tests. We can arrange this through our partners at The Aerial Academy as either private courses at our base or public courses at a number of locations across the UK.

Courses cost £950 per person and the CAA application £190.

Public liability insurance is also a requirement and we can help you to obtain this.

There is a grey area in terms of flying drone systems for development, training/testing and demonstration purposes where alternative public liability insurance can be arranged with needing a CAA PFCO through the BMFA (British Model Flying Association).

Q: What are the specifications of the Storm Pro?

AIRFRAME

Custom Quadcopter. 710 X 710mm motor to motor. Up to 5.8kg total weight. 17″ folding propellers. Fits into custom SKB case.

PAYLOAD

Z3 3.5x optical zoom camera as standard. Optional – Z30, DUO, XT, Sequoia or X4S (late 2017). Custom on request.

POWER

Dual TB47 or TB48 smart batteries. 6S / 22V. Endurance 20-30mins.

CONTROL

2.4Ghz Lightbridge 2 with 1km + range. Dual or triple redundant DJI FC. Optional RTK.

Cameras and Sensors

Frequently asked questions

Q: What cameras and gimbals can your drones use?

A: Our Storm Agri Pro currently supports the Zenmuse X3, Z3, XT Thermal, Z30, Parrot Sequoia, Flir Duo and SlantRange 3P cameras.

Q: Can you fly with multiple cameras and sensors at the same time?

A: Yes, the Storm Pro is designed to carry two camera systems at once allowing for simultaneous capture of multiple image formats. It carries a gimballed Z3 DJI camera that provides a live video feed, RGB image capture for mapping, filming and zoom capability or thermal imaging with the Zenmuse XT. The second mounting position is designed for multi-spectral imaging sensors though in theory other cameras could be fitted here too.

Q: What is the difference between NDVI, NIR, Multi-spectral and Thermal/IR cameras?

A: There is a lot of confusing terminology thrown around by companies trying to sell drones and camera for agricultural mapping, here are the facts:

  • NDVI is not a type of camera – it is a formula, it stands for Normalized Difference Vegetation Index and is a way to use near infrared (NIR) images to show differences in vegetation health, any properly calibrated near infrared camera provides the data needed for this – more info here (Wikipedia).
  • NIR stands for Near-infrared – it is a wavelength of light that we cannot see, and helps to show how healthy or not a plant might be by looking at how much of it is reflected. There are many standard RGB cameras available that have been modified to record this wavelength – or so they say, most if not all are not properly calibrated and results vary wildly, giving different readings and data that is therefore not reliable.
  • Multi-spectral is another term that is thrown around, some even call modified NIR cameras as mentioned above ‘multi-spectral’ which is just not true. A proper multi-spectral camera such as the Parrot Sequoia or  SlantRange 3P has two or more individual sensors and lenses that each sense only one band of light, typically these include a dedicated green sensor, red sensor and NIR sensor and possible others like Red-Edge. These individual bands are properly calibrated and each record to a separate image, these can then be combined with various software and algorithms (such as NDVI) to identify many different factors about a plant or area.
  • Infrared or IR or Thermal cameras are not to be confused with NIR or Multi-spectral cameras. These measure heat and are typically much more expensive. They can be useful for agri applications such as looking at irrigation and soft fruits.

Q: What is a sunlight sensor for?

A: Sunlight sensors are used to calibrate multi-spectral data by measuring the levels of incoming light in the band that the sensor detects.

This allows for a true and accurate reading of the light levels reflected by the ground/plants/vegetation, it means that data is repeatable under a variety of lighting conditions and therefore we can compare the same data captured on different dates.

These are another feature that make multi-spectral sensors such as the Sequoia and Slant Range 3P much more suitable than modified NIR cameras and standard RGB cameras lack.

Q: What kind of resolution and accuracy can I expect from your systems?

A: The standard Z3 RGB camera has a 12MP sensor that will provide 2.5cm/pixel resolution when flying at 80m altitude, sub 1cm resolution is achievable by flying lower, though mapping time is significantly increased.

The Storm Agri Pro Sequoia Multi-spectral camera can produce a resolution of 10cm/pixel at 80m.

Accuracy of the imagery produced in terms of location is based on the GPS accuracy of the system. The standard system will therefore produce a horizontal accuracy of +/- 1m and a vertical accuracy (for terrain and elevation maps) of +/- 0.5m. This is more than enough for most agri-mapping scenarios.

Where increased accuracy is required, for tasks like margin or tramline routed generation or accurately measuring ground distances, our RTK systems will increase horizontal accuracy to +/- 10cm and vertical to +/- 5cm.

Q: What are the specifications of the Parrot Sequoia?

GENERAL

Size: 5.9 x 4.1 x 3cm

Weight: 135g

Power: 5.0 V DC, 8-12W external

FEATURES

Wifi Interface, USB PTP Interface

IMU + Magnetometer

Internal Memory and External SD card

CAMERA

4 Spectral Cameras: Red, Green, Red Edge, Near IR

1280 x 960 Global shutter, Narrowband

Green 530-570nm, Red 640-680nm, Red Edge 730-740 nm, NIR 770-810nm

16MP Rolling Shutter RGB Camera

Max 1 capture per second (all bands)

SUNSHINE SENSOR

4 Spectral Sensors: Red, Green, Red Edge, Near IR

Same filters as used in camera

GPS, IMU and Magnetometer

35g, 1W power consumption

Software

Frequently asked questions

Q: What software are your drones compatible with?

A: Our drones systems are compatible with all DJI software (DJI GO, DJI GS Pro), as well as many third party apps for flying and mapping with drones, such as DroneDeploy, Autopilot and Litchi.

For post flight Analysis we have partnered with Aerobotics to provide their Aeroview solution which is perfect for precision agriculture applications.

We are also a dealer for DroneDeploy and Pix4D, and can provide these solutions and training if required.

Q: Can the data be imported into farm management software packages and machinery?

A: Yes all the data can be exported as a shapefile, which is the most common file format for use with farm management software packages. Prescription files generated can also be imported into variable rate machinery via shapefiles.

Q: Is there any software available that will help me plan operations and keep flight records?

A: There are a good few apps that will help you plan flight with integrated airspace monitoring to help you plan safe flights. Some will also help you to maintain flight logs (required by the CAA for commercial operations) and even manage multiple drone teams, here’s our recommended list:

Flyte – for flight planning – Contact Us for a free trial and discounts.

Airdata – Flight logging and metrics – syncs directly with DJI and Dronedeploy.

NATS Drone Assit App – Very useful tool for checking airspace before you fly. Free

More Coming Soon Ask us a question

Drone Training

Frequently asked questions
Coming Soon Ask us a question

On-going Support

Frequently asked questions
Coming Soon Ask us a question

Drone-based Spraying

Frequently asked questions
Coming Soon Ask us a question
Can’t find your question? Contact Us