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 Logger: OFF
GPS-Settings (CHDK menu)
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
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.