Lesson 1: Don't assume current high resolution images or DEMs will be available for the mission sites.

I have come to realize how spoiled I've been with the  plethora of recent datasets at my fingertips.  Not only is the image to the left outdated but, a number of the sites are obscured by some rogue clouds.

Solution: Gather as much bits and pieces of data as possible to estimate altitude and tree height then construct multiple waypoint files to cover the bases.

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Comment by Jonathan Dandois on November 21, 2012 at 10:32am

I can totally relate Boswell.  

When I was doing Ecosynth flying in the mountains west of Beijing China a few summers ago I only had access to a grainy paper photo-copy of a topo map with no geographic positions and whatever Google Earth imagery I could get.  I had limited information on the local terrain and estimates of tree height.  I had to generate my flight plans in the field.  I made a rough guess for a good center point for launch and navigated there with a Garmin GPS, no trails, just bush-wacking through closed canopy forest.  I had to use my backpack as a level 'launchpad' on the steep slope and flew the kopter up 15m through a canopy gap the size of a pool table.  I think the mission would have been a success had I not forgot to account for the fact that the flight took the kopter to the other side of a mountain, blocking off communication to my transmitter and the dog tracker!  After I lost the signal, I sprinted blindly to the top of the mountain, a hundred or so meters up, and picked up the dog tracker signal at the summit. The kopter had self landed after being out of comms with the transmitter for too long (90 seconds I think) but overturned when it hit the canopy and bent an arm on landing, otherwise it was still powered on and was easily repaired the next day.  

With the new Ardu-MK hybrids, I know now that we can fly those types of missions from high-visibility locations where we wont lose signal.

Don't expect field work to go as planned! Our missions in Costa Rica will be fun and a great learning experience for you and Ecosynth.

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