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Parrot Disco for crop survey & forestry, any actual user experiences? Anyone tried it?

Lady Rover

Jan 16, 2019
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I have a client who has 200ha (Hectar) of (Conifer-) forest and approached me for a survey. My location is in Germany.
The purpose is on one side to check storm damages and remeasure newly planted areas, but as well checking on sick trees.
Currently I have only a Mavic Air available, which is clearly not up to the job. The flight time is to short and even with 3 batteries it would be cumbersome at least.

As this is an important client to me, I am considering to get a fixed wing drone even if its just for this job (As long as I make enough from it to pay for the drone & camera).
If the job is completed sucessfully, there may be other jobs. But this is very uncertain as of yet.
Due to this I need a low budget system capable to do the job. Take off weight needs to be below 2kg.

Over here there are a number of Parrot Disco airframes available for low cost and I consider to buy one of those and then going down the path outlined here:
Cheap Fixed Wing Mapping
To my knowledge the airframe of the consumer Disco is the same as the one on the agricultural system.
My main concern with using the Disco is how the rolling & pitching affect images taken. I guess that pictures from a GoPro 7 would be pretty stable&sharp, but my main concern is that the rolling could result in uneven picture coverage & distortions.
I am planning to use Pix4D or Opendronemap for post processing and would fly a double grid mission on a consistent height above ground.

Now my questions to this community are:

Is anyone actually sucessfully using the Disco for this kind of stuff and/or field surveys.
What are your experiences regarding the rolling issue?
On the web I find primarely info from folks selling the equipment. I need user experiences as well.

Do I absolutely need a Sequoia sensor for the check on bark beetles?
Is the Sequoia creating good enough results for checking on sick trees and/or bark beetle infestation?
Alternatively could infestations be spotted from the true color images by looking on the level of green the canopy shows?
My client has a tree expert who could take a close look at the imagery taken.

No matter where you are located, what kind of prices would you charge for that kind of survey (ex tax)?

As this is a fixed wing aircraft, I plan to fly on a fairly calm day, still, does the fact that the wind could come on one leg from the front and on the return leg from the back pose a problem?

Thanks for any additional input,

I can't answer any of your questions but have you looked into one of these cameras that can be fitted on different UAV's? Not even sure if they will produce what you are looking for.
And welcome to the forum.
Hey Agustine, thanks. Thats interesting. They also do near InfraRed which I might need for this job. Prices seem much better then the Sequoia....
I don't have experience with the disco but have flown fixed wing rc for about 30 years off an on. The idea of using a disco makes sense to me but seems the commercial version that is designed for that role would be the best tool albeit pretty expensive. To get an idea of what a consumer grade disco is capable of, check out the many videos online. They are certainly good enough to do general surveys and look for storm damage. Not sure the consumer version would be great at spotting sick trees very well. Maybe you pitch doing the survey strictly to evaluate storm damage using the low cost consumer grade disco. Then you tell them you will attempt to spot sick trees too but no guarantee on that aspect of it? Might be great way for you and customer to test the waters and see how a disco performs.
Thanks Ufo,

as far as I know, the consumer&commercial Disco airframe are identical except for the sensors.
So I think what you suggest is a good idea.
Sensors can be changed or retrofitted. The Mapir cameras mentioned above look definetly interesting. I need to detail compare these with the Sequoia. Maybe I'll try to post in some forestry forums as well.
Now I need some feedback about flight stability.

The youtube videos of the front camer look wavy, but maybe someone has results of surveys (looking down) done with a Disco to view?
The front camera will not be my image source. A GoPro and Near Infrared camera will be.

Have to see.

Dustin Dunnill has great disco long autonomous flight videos on You Tube. He flies between the islands in Hawaii and it amazes me how stable the video is. He is low to the ground/water. He has several videos with the disco using battery mod.

PARROT DISCO - Review - Part 4 - [Inter Island Autonomous Flight! / Battery Mod]

I was planning on mounting my Flir camera to the bottom and do some autonomous testing using PIX4D capture because of the flight time the disco has just unsure on stability issues as you mention. I also am adding a EVO Gimbal on the back of my DJI Inspire however, only 10-15mins flight time. I do not think the Disco will lift a EVO gimbals weight. I do not think there is any real difference between the two DIsco versions.

Good Luck keep us posted. Mapir looks interesting wonder how well it works compared to Sequoia sensors
I remember NatGeo used it for special.
Hey IronSky1,

looks like LithiumIon (like the small Tesla batteriy cells) give huge flighttime improvements up to 150minutes.

Some folks on the Ardupilot forum suggested that slight roll ange shifts are automatically corrected in Pix4D by the overlaps on the flight.

Sequoia is definately the better choice as it monitors and calibrates for the amount of incoming sunlight all the time.
On Mapir you do this once per flight...

Who is NatGeo?


I use a 5300mAh battery in my disco from turnigy, gives me about an hour and a half up from 45 min of flight time. I’ve flown a few hour+ missions. Disco certainly has the legs for the job, though I find the constant speed sometimes leaves me wondering about things I just flew past. Not sure if I’d want pics or video to review, perhaps one video of flight then refly the same plan taking the wide angle pics the whole way for detail view.

I’ve seen other people post about flying with up to 500 g extra easily.

You get good level footage from the disco nose cam even when banking.

I don’t know how much it’s going to screw up the footage from a camera like a gopro slung under the disco, you might need something like a gimbal to get usable footage. The disco crops a super wide angle down to 1080 to get that stable footage.

The sequioa sensor itself isn’t too expensive, but I don’t know how it plugs into chuck on the regular disco, presumably it doesn’t straight off, but I think the added expense of the disco ag is actually the software that comes with it to interpret the data you get, and support which I presume is better than what we get as regular consumers.

I have used a few services to generate models from just taking pictures straight down with the built in camera, the main thing is it needs good strong light to take pictures with enough detail to have a detailed finished product.

I bought a small point and shoot cannon camera that I loaded up with custom firmware to have an intervalometer, so it would take pictures every x seconds, but haven’t attached and flown with it yet. Plan was to make a lightweight undercarriage to keep the camera from hitting the ground when landing, but other projects have taken precedence, most of my flying has been anafi around home lately.

When flying into a crosswind the disco will point upwind to stay on course, and fly slower into the wind and much faster on the return with it. I’ve had to refly missions with slight adjustments to get the angle right for the subject I want, but where you’re covering an area you’ll probably end up flying past it on the next leg of the plan.
I have a EVO SS gimbal(will handle any GoPro style camera) with GoPro Hero weighs in at 325g no problems on DJI Inspire however not sure on disco(have to check multi sensor camera weight). If Disco can really handle 500g this might be a good choice since it is self contained. I will have to design a mount to hang under Disco behind sensor and cut out battery area and design new one. This may just be and option. Has anyone verified that a disco can handle 500g?

Have you had any issues with disconnect on flights that long . Does FlightPlan load data in at take off so if you loose control bird has a return home point. I know Litchi does for DJI. That would be a major concern don t want a byebyebirdie..
LadyRover - Nat Geo National Geographic had special on monitoring the Sequias in Calif they were using that multisensor camera. I believe on BB2
It does load the plan, you can retake control if you’re in range, but it can be completely automated, including the landing without controller interaction once the plan is started, although I like to resume control and manually land, as gps landing needs a lot of extra space above and beyond the normal amount.

325 will be no problem, 500 is a fair bit of weight, you’ll start to notice on takeoff. I saw people testing up to 1kg, you start to risk motor error and very difficult takeoff. Your stall speed will be higher up and control will get sketchy depending on how it’s loaded relative to cog, hard to get it in the exact center with the ultrasonic sensor close to the middle. Chuck will adapt quite well to smallish weights though.
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Have you ever had a FP were it did not comeback to home area? I live in the middle of a golf course and want to do some tests in 1/2 mile square we are in. I used FP on BB2 and Anafi many times however could always see bird was a little unsure to let it get out of site. Thanks for input.
Have you ever had a FP were it did not comeback to home area? I live in the middle of a golf course and want to do some tests in 1/2 mile square we are in. I used FP on BB2 and Anafi many times however could always see bird was a little unsure to let it get out of site. Thanks for input.

Have not had any issues with flightplan failing, but I also have a secondary bluetooth tracker in case the main battery dies. I’ve seen it estimate under an hour and take an extra twenty minutes to make it back, so don’t rely on the flight time estimate too heavily.

With the disco you’ve got more flight time, you can build confidence having it do laps where you can see it.

I had plenty of practice going up and down the coastline here before I sent it off to the island across the harbour where I had family at the cottage able to see it.

Still get nervous sending it over bodies of water or places I can still see it but it would be hard to get to.
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Thanks will try around golf course when weather is more adaptable to humans. I have Trackimo I use on my DJI Inspire will move to disco. Disco should float well on the water traps.

great info. Thanks.

I did also some more research.

Guess I try a GoPro Hero 6 or 7 first without gimbal. If that does not work, the EVO SS sounds like a great idea.
Regarding batteries I asked this guy:

He suggested "...13800mAh battery weight 590g, its 3 times more than stock I think :D Btw you can use smaller one 6900mAh, enought for 2h flights and can fit easy Gopro as well ...".

Two hours flying should be plenty for mapping. I guess I will not need the 4G hack, as my long flighttime will be used up in a gridded mission over a small area.
So a FrSky Taranis should be ok for starting and landing. The mission should be fully auto.

The Sequoia has its own GPS for geotagging, so it looks like a connection with CHUCK would not be mandatory.

Thanks again,

Can anyone confirm that there is no relationship between CHUCK and seqoia, so does the sequia work independently?
I do not see how there would be. Chuck controller works with front camera only. Sequia is a stand alone device that will work any drone that can lift it. My question would be what type of software integration is there
in the Sequia. What do you connect to for processing is it realtime FPV and write to camera or do you need to plug camera into a computer to view and post process (that is what my best guess is).

This is why I like the BB2 Pro Thermal everything is integrated. Granted it does not have high res however plenty to good spot small mammals from 100 ft in the air.

Keep everyone post on your progress.
The package sold for about 4k us and it says it is integrated try to find manual if one exsits. I had a heck of a time finding one for the bb2 thermal

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