Sensors

Still photograph camera

Conservation Drones have been equipped with Canon’s IXUS 220 HS, Powershot SX230 HS, Powershot SX260 HS and Powershot S100 cameras. The latter three cameras have a built-in GPS. We replaced the original firmware of these Canon cameras with a Canon Hack Development Kit (chdk.wikia.com). This hacked’ firmware allows us to implement a customized intervalometer script (click to download) to command the camera to take photographs at 1-second time intervals. We suggest the following settings in the camera’s menu:

GPS Settings (camera’s ‘native’ menu)
GPS: ON
GPS Logger: OFF

GPS-Settings (CHDK menu)
GPS-CHDK: OFF

To compensate for movement of the drone in flight, we recommend setting the camera for shutter priority (Tv) and at a speed of > f 1/1000. Under this setting, our test photographs effectively avoided motion blur.

Documentation of camera set-up by Dronemapper.com:

  • Detailed CHDK firmware installation instructions (Link)
  • Detailed graphical instructions on optimal CHDK settings (Link)
  • Guidelines on aerial data collection and flight planning (Link)

See more high resolution photographs here: Flickr link


Video camera

gopro

The Conservation Drone can also be equipped with a video camera. We have been using the GoPro series of cameras for our drones. In our opinion, the latest GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition has the best video quality of all the action cameras we have tested so far. It even has a wifi feature that allows ‘live’ preview on an iOS device. The GoPro camera can be attached to the drones in various placements.

Other video cameras

We have also used a ContourGPS video camera, which has similar specifications as the GoPro. The ContourGPS also allow for video mapping using its built-in GPS.


Thermal imaging camera

We have been testing themal imaging cameras on some of our drones. This is a test of a FLIR HS-324 thermal camera (320 x 240 resolution) carried by a Maja drone.

This is another FLIR model, a PS-32, carried by a quadcopter.

This next video demonstrates the ability of the FLIR PS-32 to pick up animals from a distance of about 10-15 meters.