Orbital flights with PrecisionFlight can be used to collect Oblique imagery on your area of interest for improved 3 Dimensional outputs. Typically an orbital flight will be paired with Nadir images collected in the Grid flight mode. The key to capturing quality data in this orbital process is variation. To create a good looking 3D model from these flight methods you must vary your flight altitudes and camera angles according to the structure you are focusing on for the survey. Here we will discuss the general flight process and settings of the Orbital Flight Mode. For further details on quality data collection for 3 Dimensional outputs check out our Guidelines of Quality 3D outputs section of the knowledge base. 

Make sure to download our Pre-Flight Checklist to inspect equipment before leaving to the field location as well as preflight checks on the drone. This will include physical checks of the equipment as well as necessary steps to take in the DJI Go software before a PrecisionFlight survey.

For information on flying orbital flights with the PrecisionFlight app in video format see our Orbital Flight Mode Video.

1. Choose an ideal takeoff location at your area of interest. The spot that you turn on the drone will be your designated Home point through the entire flight. Account for takeoff, landing, and any emergency procedures that may be necessary.

We typically recommend an area that is free of obstacles and obstructions for at least 20 meters in all directions of the drone’s takeoff location.

You should also be within Visual Line of Sight of the drone throughout the survey.

2. With any necessary sensor already connected, setup the drone with charged battery installed. Have RC controller and tablet ready. Power on the Drone and then the RC controller by tapping the power button once quickly and holding down on the second push until the drone powers up. Wait for the green light to illuminate on the controller signifying a successful connection between RC and drone. 

 Where you power the drone will be the takeoff and landing point of the mission. 

3. Close out of all other applications before running the PrecisionFlight app. Prepare to connect the RC to your mobile device using the provided USB cable.

  • If you are using Android, connect the tablet to the RC, then select “PrecisionFlight” from the pop up bar and tap “Just Once”. This will ensure that you can use DJI GO when required.
  • If you are using an iOS device open the PrecisionFlight app on your device and connect the tablet to the RC.

4. When ready select "Create Flight Plan" and select "Orbit" survey type. This will program a circular pattern for the drone to fly while the sensor focuses towards the middle of the plan triggering oblique images throughout the flight. For flight process using the "Grid" Survey type see our Capturing Data with the PrecisionFlight App article of the knowledge base. 

5. In the first two planning steps choose a unique flight plan name and set a designated flight altitude or the survey. 

6. Next you will have the chose to draw your flight plan on the screen or enter flight plans manually using the GPS coordinate of the Orbit center point and radius of the Orbit. To draw the flight plan on the screen drop the center point and stretch the circle to the desired radius of the flight plan. 

7. Before saving the mission select "Advanced" in the upper right corner to fine tune the parameters of your mission.  The Camera Mode section of these settings will be the same as any other flight mode. For further details on this see the Camera Settings section of the knowledge base. The Mission Settings section will differ from the standard Grid flight. Here you will find- Overlap, Gimbal Pitch, and Flight Speed

  • Overlap is going to distinguish how quickly the drone is taking pictures throughout the orbit. The default value for this is 70% but you may consider increasing to improve processing results on the side walls of the structure. 
  • Gimbal Pitch will decide where the camera is looking throughout the orbit. The smaller the radius of your orbit the greater this angle should be to keep the sensor focused on the center point. The default value for this field is 60 degrees. This angle is in terms of 0 degrees= camera facing straight forward and 90 degrees= camera facing directly downward. 
  • Flight Speed will decide how quickly the drone will finish the mission. If you try to set this to high for the overlap setting it may slow itself down. 

8. Once the flight plan is complete "Save" the mission. From there you can either fly the mission right away or save it and return to the flight planning menu. 

9. Once you have chosen to fly the mission it will then upload to the drone. All flight patterns and mission parameters are uploaded to the drone in this segment so be patient. When the drone is ready to take off the icon will turn red. As soon as you swipe up the flight will begin and the drone will takeoff to survey altitude. 

10. Just like the Grid mission, the drone will fly directly up to survey altitude before heading out to the first way point. 

11. The drone will cycle through the plan until it finishes or runs to low battery. Once complete it will return to the home position at survey altitude and begin its decent for landing. 

12. During all segments of flight follow necessary emergency procedures if the drone begins acting strangely or flies off the planned course of flight. Throughout the flight you should be within visual line of sight of the drone in case of an emergency. See Emergency Procedures section of knowledge base for more information.

13. At the end of the flight let the drone land and wait for the propellers to stop spinning before approaching the drone. Power off the the drone and RC controller before carrying it anywhere. Remove your Micro SD card from the drone or sensor, and review the images on your computer. Follow the steps of the In-Field Data Verification article for more information on this.