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is it possible to still use PIX4d for large maps instead of Dmatic

the title says it all!
I am a new small 1 man drone company. I can afford pix4d Mapper or Dmatic, not both.
I already have a subscription for mapper, and I am getting used to and also taking and paid for the training for it.
what has me worried is did I pick the wrong software. my company does contract work for the FFA and many municipal airports in and around Oklahoma and those are very large. I have already promised the FFA I could do some 2d maps of the entire runway. if mapper cant do this, then I am in some trouble until I can afford dmatic. and that also makes the training I paid for on the mapper software useless (this is all my fault for not doing better research).
thanks for any answers I can get, and have a wonderful day!

Would you please let us know the hardware you are using (RAM, CPU, Hard disk), the drone, and the camera? I would also like to know the number of images and their pixel resolution that you are going to process to see what would work for you.

Warm regards,

my computer specs are

PROCESSOR: AMD Ryzen 9 3950X 3.5 GHz 16-Core AM4 Processor 3.5 GHz

RAM: 32 gigs DDR4

HARD DISK: 1 terabyte NVMe solid-state drive

VIDEO CARD: Nvidia Geforce RTX 2080

DRONE: Phantom 4 RTK with RTK Ground station

CAMERA: whatever is on Phantom 4 RTK

my computer is a pretty powerful setup, and the drone has done some amazing smaller 2D maps in the past. I did a mock Plan for a flight over one of the airports I would do, and in 2D map flight mode on the DJI RTK software is telling me about 3007 pictures, and I would be taking them at the highest pixel resolution I can get on the phantom 4. this is for the FFA and they are wanting very high-resolution 2D maps with accurate georeferencing.

I am still relatively new to the whole drone mapping and Photogrammetry thing, thankfully with your classes and my father who owns an engineering firm and is teaching me how to do traditional survey work and mapping in cad. I am achieving some wonderful progress on learning how to do this correctly and make it look good for clients.

I just can not afford 2 different software, and I already am learning and know how to use pix4D mapper well, and do not have the time or money to get trained in new software.

The short answer is yes, absolutely. But there are caveats. I have successfully processed a project with 11,000 42mp images in a single project. I did a 20,000 42mp image project, but had to split the project in half to complete Step 3.

  • Your hardware specs are good, except memory. I would increase to 128gb. This should be plenty for a project this size.
  • Turn off ortho preview in quality report
  • 3007 20mp images will generate a pretty large ortho and dsm. What software will consume the data? I use ArcGIS Pro for final products and data analysis. ArcGIS Pro can create a mosaic dataset from a set of tiled images. So in Pix4D I disable merging of the DSM and ortho tiles. Creating a single, very large ortho or DSM could fail in Pix4DMapper.
  • Good luck flying over an airport. You will have to obtain a Certificate of Authorization from the FAA to fly in controlled airspace. Also, the airport will have to be closed when you fly directly over the runways and taxiways. I just went through this in February.

Good luck! Feel free to contact me directly with any questions. amilanes@es2-inc.com

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thanks for the info
yeah, I have all the waivers and authorization for the flight. my company is and has been for 2 years now contracted directly by the FAA to do a lot of drone work in at least 15 different municipal airports in Oklahoma (where I am from).
they even close all traffic to most of the airports I work at and redirect traffic for sometimes up to 2 days for me to do the pictures or mapping. keep in mind that ALL of the airport work I do is smaller much much lower traffic airports.
as a drone pilot, I’m certainly blessed to have an extremely good personal and working relationship with the FAA. and it makes getting permission for certain things ( especially when the job is for the FAA) a bit easier than it is for others.
I will for sure look into the software you use to consume the data. I am SUPER new to the whole mapping and Photogrammetry thing and have been using PIX4D Mapper for every part of my mapping and data processing. mostly making a High-quality 2D map for whatever client, and then also making contour lines of the area they can use in cad.
everyone here (at least the people I work with and for) is new to using drones to make maps and do some survey work, and my company is the first time they have either seen it or in some cases heard it existed this way. so we are all learning a new thing haha. and any info I can get from anybody is very useful and appreciated!

THANKS!!

I have a lot of photogrammetry and drone mapping experience. But my first, and only airport project so far, was 2,200 acres. This was the 20,000 image project. There was a lot of planning, logistics, and surveying that went into the project. I performed the 17 flights over the course of four days using a Wingtra. You should be getting good results with the Phantom 4 RTK, but you are limited in project size. I have a Phantom 4 Pro which I used for 2 years before I purchased the Wingtra.

A couple other bits of advice:

  1. If the data will be used for engineering / surveying, be sure to place a lot of targets to be used as GCPs and checkpoints. You need to be able to prove that your data is accurate. I would recommend 20 GCPs and 20 checkpoints. If the RTK data fails, at least you have the GCPs to use.
  2. Is your firm a licensed surveying or engineering firm? If not, be careful about the services you advertise and market. In most states, topographic mapping falls under the practice of land surveying, and possibly engineering. You could face legal fines and penalties by the state surveying and licensing boards if you offer topographic mapping services without a license. If you just collect the data for another firm, which will process the data and create the deliverables, then you should be ok.
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Thank you very much for sharing useful information. It is very helpful! The project is feasible but I agree with Andrew that RAM could be an issue. If there are problems with processing, please contact us from here to arrange the trial version of Pix4Dmatic. The camera is compatible with Pix4Dmatic: Which cameras are supported in Pix4Dmatic – Support

Kind regards,

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Thanks for the info!
And yes, my company is licensed for survey and engineering. The FAA wouldn’t hire my company if I didn’t have the proper credentials. Another good thing I have going for me is my entire life my dad has owned and ran his own engineering firm. He is a licensed PE (professional engineer), and his company specializes in municipal ( and some international) airports. They call themselves “airport consultants.” so both engineering and aviation have been a big part of my entire life for my family and me.
I previously worked for 12 years doing traditional ground surveys of airports for my father’s company. And every time my company does a job that involves survey or data processing, I’m lucky because my father being a professional engineer, always checks my data and signs off on it. So far, not a single problem has come up.
Photogrammetry and surveying with drones are soooo new to me, and it’s like having to learn all over again, haha.
I have been using anywhere from 5 to 10 GPC with my airport jobs (depending on the size of the job), but I am now going to start using at least 20.
Once again, your input is extremely invaluable when I am so early in my drone survey game.
Thanks, and I will for sure hit you up in the future for more info!!

I hope it works out!! Good luck!