Custom Mapping Drone

I have been thinking about this again and just relaized it was one of the very early questions I had when joining this community.

Is there anyone out there that has planned or actually put together a custom rig for PPK/RTK mapping? I am sure I could put something together but the time to research it myself is a fleeting concept and why reinvent the wheel right… I feel like flight control with mapping functionality is going to be the tougher part. Only have a couple of specs at this point… Thanks!

  1. Hexacopter between 500-600mm
  2. Around 30-40MP camera
  3. RTK tagging would be great but not essential

Maybe add what mapping/planning app you want this to work with, as that (sadly) seems to narrow down the scope dramatically :confused:


No preference whatsoever as long as it can create a basic lawnmower pattern. Obliques and corridors would be nice but this is for terrain mapping so non-essential. I like the Yuneec DataPilot which is QGC. I guess I have my first task for research!

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Starter airframe?

Hi Michael,

Welcome down the rabbit hole :sweat_smile:

I can suggest the Navio2 Project share category of this forum as it collects a lot of different hardware setups. And I must say that RTK geotagging is quite challenging for DIY drones: the camera should allow editing images metadata from 3rd-party devices. So, I’d not waste time on that and go with the PPK option.

As a matter of personal interest I started working on a custom homemade quad frame at the beginning of the pandemic. I had all the drone guts already but haven’t had time to assemble anything yet. The frame requires nothing but 20/18mm carbon tubes, some 3mm carbon sheet, and 3D printed parts (for testing I got most of them printed in MJF PA12 nylon, which is way stronger than FDM printing I can do at home. It’s a little bit more expensive material-wise than the ready-made frame options, but I really dislike the horizontal feet, I prefer single-point contact for uneven ground so that was my starting point.

As for controlling the drone, as far as I know, QGC and MissonPlanner can both do the complex flight patterns, trigger camera, integrate RTK for navigation, and control gimbals.

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Thanks for this! I was hoping QGC would be a good option. I’m already familiar with it from Yuneec. Do you have any pics you can share of your parts? I do 3D modeling and have thought about getting a 3D printer but have not had the time to do a lot of research on it either.

I don’t have anything right now, but it’s based off Youtuber Tom Stanton’s design. I reused some of his parts for the central hub and made my own for the motor mounts and legs.

There’s a video in the thing description.

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I have started down this rabbit hole myself. I recently picked up an M2 and a kit for my Phantom 4 Pro. I am waiting on a Tarot 680pro frame to be delivered on Tuesday. I am a Land Surveyor and I already have GPS base/rover and 35watt Satteline radio. I originally wanted the drone to receive corrections from my base/radio set up that I have. I have a license for 5 channels on the radio. Like I said I am just starting this journey, so I havent figured out if rtk corrections are achievable from what I have. I know I can do PPK. I went hexacopter because I like the idea of multiple batteries for extended flight time and the ability to fly on 5 motors. I am joining this conversation in search of ideas…

Thanks Darryl

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