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Oct 07 2010

Back in the air and doing great!

One week after a nasty crash at one of our suburban forest study sites, we are back in the air and *hopefully* back on track for a great collection of vegetation dynamics this month.

More on the crash and the rebuild on the Weekly are forthcoming, the team has mid-terms right now, but I wanted to post about the recovery and success today.  We had two Hexas on order and they arrived on Thursday of last week.  Nisarg and Garrett put in the time this past weekend to get the two new birds up and running and we had a few great tests in a parking garage and in an empty gymnasium, inside because of a cold autumn rain.

On Monday we calibrated the receivers to the units and everything appeared ready for great flights once the weather broke.  The forecast called for rain until Thursday and then becoming beautiful.  The forecast for today included rain but the morning and midday had light winds and mostly overcast skies so we decided to go for it.  I knew the gear was ready and I pulled out some of my new pre-flight checklists to prepare the field kit.  Garrett showed up and helped with the packing while I prepped the official flight path in ArcGIS.

Here is the breakdown of field work by time:

  • 10:30 – Arrive at site and unload (leave note on car begging not to be ticketed)
  • 11:30 – All markers are placed with position recorded in GPS
  • 12:00 – Back to site and ready to go after realizing I left camera battery in lab
  • 12:05 – Garrett has arrived and we are powering up Hexa
  • 12:30 – Updated and verified Mikrotool settings, unit has GPS lock, ready to go…
  • 12:33 – Take off!
  • 12:48 – Jonathan grabs Hexa as it makes its descent. Touchdown.
  • 13:05 – Gear is packed up; Depart site
  • 13:30 – All gear has been unloaded and we are back in lab downloading data

In sum, about 2 hours on-site for what appears to be a perfect 15 minute data acquisition.  I expect that we can take off at least one hour from this as we get better at making acquisitions.  A Photosynth of the photos is running now and I will update with a link when it is ready.  I have also attached below the KML file of the track downloaded from the MicroSD card on board the Hexa’s navigation control board.

HR_20101006_Mikrokopter_GPS_telemetry.KML (49.45 kb)

UPDATE: The Photosynth run is finished, http://photosynth.net/view.aspx?cid=011796ed-ed9e-43d5-bc0a-f5a80bcae7d6 . This was based off of every other photo in the set, amazing.  I can't wait to get some seasonal change in the canopy, it will look beautiful.


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