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Desktop flight planning and RTH issue

I’m a potential new customer for Pix4d and am looking at several areas including Fields, Survey and Mapper.

Presently I’m evaluating different vendors and simply cannot believe that there is no desktop mission planning!

I have tried Capture (clunky, would be my word of choice) but why is that not on PC?

Reading the forum I found this post, going back years: Desktop flight plan tool

The dismissive arrogance in the answer is shocking. People are angry that a key feature is not available, and there seem to be no plans to add it. For goodness sake, it’s 2020 and we’re in the world of platform-agnostic software.

Other vendors provide this facility and they are successful, even if their product is not so capable. I wonder why that may be…

Right now, Pix4D is falling down my list of suitable vendors with whom to spend my money. Not very impressed, at all!

Hi Steve,
First of all, tell you that in this forum we use another tone of voice.

On the other hand, I’m not agree with you for several reasons:

  • The first is that Pix4D it’s photogrammetry software, not flight planning, although it has an application and it is for free. If what you want is to plan your flights from your computer, I think the first thing would be to ask the drone manufacturer for explanations, what do I know!
  • the second is that most commercial drones have their own remote control. This should be compatible with the desktop flight planning software of the computer. Again, this depends on the manufacturer of the drone.
  • the third thing is that there are already drones like senseFly’s that have their own desktop flight planning software.

Well, in my opinion it is the manufacturer of the drone that should be concerned about having a desktop flight planning software.

Cheers,
Joan

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Clearly criticism of your product is not welcome here. I am a potential customer and expressing my views on your product versus your competitors and how I’m making my decision. It may be that my decision is made once and once only so a lost stream of revenue. You have no idea of how many seats I may be looking at buying, yet you display the same dismissive tone as your colleagues in the post I linked to.

You have your opinion, but you are not a user. Not someone that has to pay for these tools as we do. May I suggest that you speak to your sales team for two reasons.

  1. To advise them as to what customers actually want (regardless of your own opinion, because, Sir, you are wrong).

  2. To learn how to speak to potential customers without being patronising.

I’m a user Steve, with multiple licenses.

Cheers,
Joan

My apologies. I had assumed, incorrectly, that you were part of the support team.

That said, your tone was patronising and, I maintain that your opinion incorrect.

Mission planning is one part, execution another, and uploading another. Packages, like DroneDeploy as an example, include all three and they sync across platforms and, whether you agree or not, customers like that capability.

There are many standalone stitching packages around and, so far I’m struggling to see how Pix4D justifies its costs.

Tomorrow, today now, I intended giving it a fair trial but am wholly unimpressed right now. I tried to program a grid mission in Capture on my iPad but cannot see how to change the shape to avoid overflying neighbouring properties. It looks like I have to use a polygon, which doesn’t appear to have a grid pattern.

I’m also interested in Fields but I tabled a question about a requirement. A week later I received a pointless email from support which stated the obvious and was oblivious of the real problem. The issue is regarding one of the biggest problems facing cereal crops in Northern Europe yet she had not a clue.

It doesn’t engender a feeling of confidence in the tool or the support.

Hi Steve,
I’m glad we have different opinions. This is a forum and as such we debate :slight_smile:

I’m agree that mission planning is one part, execution another, and uploading another, in fact it is the workflow that is done with the Pix4D Capture application.

Since you mention DroneDeploy, the workflow is the same, and all from a mobile device, not from a PC. It is probably because brands like DJI, Parrot, etc. develop mobile applications to control drones through mobile devices. It is at the moment when the SDKs are released that platforms such as Pix4D or DroneDeploy adapt their applications with their SDKs, for that reason I think there is no desktop software for this kind of drones…

If you need to avoid neighboring properties, it is better to try planning a polygonal mission.

If you want, I can try to help you with your question about Fields.

Cheers,
Joan

Joan,
Today I flew purely using Pix4D. here are my findings, not opinions, findings:

  1. I wanted to create a 3D model, which means using a double-grid mission (perhaps two poly missions at 90 degrees may work. I had insufficient time). The grid mission means a rectangle, which meant a lot of unnecessary images and battery life was consumed.

  2. Battery RTH was set at 20%.

  3. Aircraft returned at 38%. No indication as to why it returned. I changed the battery and resumed

  4. Aircraft returned again at 56%. No indication as to why it returned. I resumed. At 20% I manually returned to change the battery.

  5. Aircraft returned again at 51%. No indication as to why it returned. I resumed. at 19% I manually returned to change the battery.

  6. All images appear to be desaturated, perhaps in D-Log mode. I have yet to assess them.

  7. Attempted to locate flight logs. Nothing found. Shared the .P4d files (three of them). Looked through the files and cannot see any flight log data, which are needed for compliance.

Opinion: Software did the job but several issues about RTH without explanation. Unimpressed with no obvious way of synchronising flight logs to something like Airdata. Perhaps there is, but I’ve not found it yet.

Edit: I forgot to add that at the end of the mission the drone began the RTH, as expected, then paused about halfway. It was stationary for 30s or so until I pressed PAUSE and then GO TO HOME. It then got itself to approximately the Home point, though still at RTH height (60m) and Paused again for about 20s before, finally, descending to land.

Yes, indeed i have been asking same question 4or 5 years ago already . forget it …

Thank you everyone for your contribution to our Community and your constructive feedback.

@steve3 I am really sorry to hear you are not satisfied with our support service. Please send me a link to your community post or the ticket number of your personal request related to Pix4Dfields and I will have a look at it. I hope my team and I can improve your experience!

Regarding the feature request for Pix4Dcapture (desktop flight planning), our development team has decided to not prioritize this feature.
If Pix4Dcapture is not the best app for you, you could use almost any app in the market with our products:

Regarding your questions about the Battery RTH issues, I checked with our developers who would like to have a look at your log files:

Please upload the log files here and I will share them with our developers

Are you flying in safe mode (drone stopping to trigger at every waypoint)? There is a maximum of 99 waypoints after which the drone automatically RTH.

Looking forward to receiving news from you.

Thanks @joan.cano for your help and thanks @Xavier_Bouan for your constructive feedback.

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Any reason, any explanation why desktop fllght plan software is not a priority for so many years?. It migh be a financial big deal with other drone developpers. I cannot imagine another reason.

Christina Gkintzou Christina Technical Support Manager
November 9

Thank you everyone for your contribution to our Community and your constructive feedback.

@steve3 I am really sorry to hear you are not satisfied with our support service. Please send me a link to your community post or the ticket number of your personal request related to Pix4Dfields and I will have a look at it. I hope my team and I can improve your experience!

Regarding the feature request for Pix4Dcapture (desktop flight planning), our development team has decided to not prioritize this feature.
If Pix4Dcapture is not the best app for you, you could use almost any app in the market with our products:

Support

Which image acquisition app can I use with Pix4D’s software?

Pix4D’s software is image acquisition app agnostic. That means Pix4Dmapper, Pix4Dcloud, Pix4Dmatic, Pix4Dreact, and Pix4Dfields can process images taken virtually from any application as long as th…

Regarding your questions about the Battery RTH issues, I checked with our developers who would like to have a look at your log files:

Support

(Android, iOS) How to extract the log files

The log files are helpful to diagnose problems related to the app. It can be accessed following the procedure described below. Procedure with Android In Android, the log files are located in the…

Please upload the log files here and I will share them with our developers

Are you flying in safe mode (drone stopping to trigger at every waypoint)? There is a maximum of 99 waypoints after which the drone automatically RTH.

Looking forward to receiving news from you.

Thanks @joan.cano for your help and thanks @Xavier_Bouan for your constructive feedback.

What drone are you using? Most professional mapping drones come with flight planning software. In my opinion, P4DCapture is intended for consumer drones where the manufacturer does not have their own flight planning software, ie DJI Phantom. If you are selecting photogrammetry software based on its mission planning app, you’ll be missing out on the most important features of the software - fast and accurate photogrammetry results.

However, I agree that P4DCapture is not the best. I stopped using it with my Phantom 4 Pro long ago. I use Drone Deploy for my flight app. However, now that I’ve upgraded to a Wingtra professional mapping drone, it has its own flight planning app.

Andrew, I’m using a P4Pv2.

I’m not basing my decision on just the planning software, of course. If I were to do that I’d use Hammer Missions as the control options are streets ahead of the competition.

DroneDeploy has significant shortcomings in planning and flying, too.

As for the rendered results… This afternoon I processed a flight that I did yesterday (391 images) in Pix4DDiscovery and it has huge holes in the rendered output due to ‘uncalibrated camera’.

The EXIF states that it is the same camera and one image follows another in the flight plan. Where’s the ‘intelligence’ to determine it’s the same thing, at the same height and angle, just a few metres to the west… as expected?

Granted, it is 20+ acre glasshouse on a misty afternoon, but the clues are in the EXIF to be found!

I’ve uploaded exactly the same images to DroneDeploy to see what they can do.

The #1 most important factor in photogrammetry is high-quality images. That means in-focus, good exposure, and high contrast / texture. If your images are missing any of these three items, then your output will suffer, no matter what software is used. A 20 acre glass house on a misty afternoon sounds difficult to obtain good imagery for photogrammetry. Focus and exposure should be ok, but I bet it is tough to get good contrast / texture. And without that, it will be hard to calibrate the images. Now, Pix4DMapper has numerous settings that can help with poor contrast / texture, but there’s only so much it can do. Also, just because you end up with a results, doesn’t mean it’s accurate. You may be able to tweak some settings and get more calibrated images, but you will likely end up with a noisy point cloud that requires manual editing.

Photogrammetry software should not be viewed as a black box process. It is a science unto itself and if you want great results you need to really understand the theory behind the software. Then plan your hardware and mission parameters for optimum success. The Phantom 4 Pro is a good multi-purpose drone (I have one). But there is a reason it only costs $1,500. The camera quickly becomes a limiting factor when shooting in non-optimal conditions. There is no comparison between the Phantom images and the Sony RX1RII images from my Wingtra, especially in marginal conditions.

My $0.02.

Not patronising in the slightest…

I’m not buying a new drone, I’m evaluating software. I flew the mission once with DD, and again with Px4D so I could assess that element. DD convenience wins on this.

I uploaded identical data to both packages and compared the outputs. DD won hands-down on the first mission and again today. Default settings for both.

This one is from Pix4D

This one is from DD

There’s no point asking the software to map a black-box on white concrete… far too easy. This is something from the real world and, remember, identical data for both.

So drone deploy created more data. Great, but that data sure looks distorted to me. So what’s the point?

Pretty obvious to me. when the object of the task was to assess the ability to create a model. What looks distorted to you? If you mean the white streaks under the glass roof, they are not an artefact, they are actually like that IRL.

On this task, Pix4D failed to out-perform a competitor that I am evaluating. That’s not to say it would fail on all tasks, but with 391 images of this type would place a reasonable demand, but the uniformity combined with the EXIF data should have given the clues needed.

What’s the point? This location represents a real-world trial for me. Maybe not for you, but for me. I don’t fly fixed-wing so there is no point evangelising about Wingtra and Sony cameras because they are irrelevant to my business.

Ok Steve, clearly you have an axe to grind with everyone that is offering feedback. You can’t be serious if you say the drone deploy output doesn’t look distorted in the area that Pix4D failed to produce anything. Also, you can get multi-rotors with better cameras than the Phantom. Doesn’t have to be a VTOL.

Good luck with your project.

Not clearly, at all.

I have no axe to grind… not my style.

I now see the distortion to which you refer (to the right of the unrendered patch), I hadn’t zoomed-in that close. It attempted and accepted the data but should have flagged-up an issue. In fairness to Pix4D, it didn’t provide a misleading output.

I have a background in machine learning automated optical inspection of printed circuit assemblies, so understand a thing or two about cameras and lenses, working a lot with telecentric optics.

As for the vehicle, I have to balance budget with need. The P4Pv2 is very capable. Had I had more time available in both flights I would have flown lower. Indeed, the mission for the above had an estimated flight time of over two hours if flown at the height I wanted. For a paying client it would have been worthwhile, but as my intention was to provide identical data to both platforms flying higher would provide an equal challenge.

My primary concern is with Pix4Dfields and I have tabled offline questions (due to confidentiality issues). Pix4D seems to offer a good level of interrogation and assessment; however, the issue I need to address is not covered in any of the literature.

If Fields can do what I need I will have to look at a different planning tool and supply the data to Fields. Unfortunately, a one-stop-shop doesn’t seem to be available at the moment. This adds to the cost. This is why this post is in this forum because I began by asking about Pix4DCapture.

Unfortunately, the season is not in my favour to be able to supply data from planted fields so looked at modelling to test the platform as this is also something that I offer.

So, I am serious.

Hello everyone,

I enjoyed reading the different points of views. After all, this what a forum is about! Discussing and exchanging ideas. Thank you for your contributions.

I suggest we keep this community post for the Pix4Dcapture issues. I admit it is no ideal that Pix4Dcapture does not provide desktop flight planning options. As I mentioned before, our processing paid solutions can process images from almost all flight planning apps in the market. We know that some apps have advanced a lot and we are very glad about it as more customers can get good data easily that they can, then, process with our products.

@steve3 I will reply to your question about Pix4Dfields at our internal communication.

If you would like us to have a look at your project (the one you posted above comparing Pix4D and DD), please create a new community post or write to us a personal support request. Please note that personal support is offered to all our customers who have a valid support license or our users who have a trial license. The community is open to everyone and is closely monitored by our team.

Have a great day everyone,
Christina