Solar Farm Inspection - Mission Planning and Key Features

  • Updated

Learn how to use Dronelink for solar farm inspections. Key features include:

  • Maintain aircraft heading between panel rows
  • Adjust gimbal angle and align mission in the field
  • DJI M300RTK + H20T and M2EA Support

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3D Preview Showing Solar Mission Behavior  

 

Content Overview

1. Mission Planning with the Solar Inspection Template

  • Get started quickly with the solar farm inspection mission template
  • Learn how to adjust the mission flight path, altitude, adjust image overlap and row spacing 
  • Watch Mission Planning Demo Video

2. Flying a Solar Farm Mission and Making In-Field Adjustments

3. Support for M300RTK with H20T

4. Support for M2EA

 

Note: A Growth Plan is required to access these features.

 

Mission Planning with the Solar Inspection Template

Step 1 - Select Create and the Solar Mission Template

Select the Create button, and Select the Solar Inspection Mission Template

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Step 2 - Place the Mission Reference Pin

Use the map, or search to navigate to your solar farm and place the Purple Mission Reference Point Pin at any desired location, you can move it later.

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Step 3 - Adjust Boundary Points - Manually or Upload a Boundary KML

You can either manually drag the boundary points, and create new ones by selecting the "+" icon on the boundary path, or you can upload a KML, which is much faster for large sites.

 

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Learn How to Upload KML Boundary Points

Select the Import Boundary Points button and select a KML file defining the boundary.

 

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Step 4 - Open Map Component Settings

Select the Map Component to open the Menu, and Expand the menu to open all the settings. 

You can also provide the map component a new name here.

 

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Step 5 - Set Camera and Desired Side Photo Overlap

Switch to Camera Overlaps in the Spacing Menu

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Select the Payload you intend to use.

This is important in order to set the correct overlap between photos along a panel row.

See Setting Camera Specs During Mission Planning for more details.

 

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Set the Front Overlap to the desired photo overlap along a single row of panels. The Side Overlap will be set later based on the distance between panel rows. 

 

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Step 6 - Adjust the Path Direction

The flight path is currently set to North / South; however a small adjustment is required. Adjust the Direction so that the flight path runs parallel to the solar panel rows.

 

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Step 7 - Set the Distance Between Rows

Switch back to Distance Spacing, in order to set the Distance between rows.

This may require a few adjustments to get perfect. Zoom in to the map to check for the correct solar farm coverage.  The Front Distance will be set based on previous settings.

 

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Step 8 - Adjust Altitude and Starting Gimbal Pitch

Set desired altitude. The flight path will not change since we are planning using distance spacing.

Set the starting gimbal pitch; it is possible to adjust during flight as we will see later.

 

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Step 9 - Move Mission Reference Pin

The purple mission reference pin can be used to align a mission based on a known physical reference point. Offsets can also be applied during the mission to further align the flight path. 

Let's move the mission reference to the bottom right panel. We will fly the drone over this location later to align the mission.

Right click the map at the desired location, and Select Move Reference

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Select Move Reference Only

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Purple pin at new location

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Step 10 - Move Approach Destination Pin

The green approach pin is the location of the first map leg, move this to the desired starting point, often at the mission reference point, and the location of the first row.

This does not need to be perfect, as it will be possible to align the mission before and during flight and this depends on the camera angle.

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Step 11 - Mission Preview and Estimate

Preview the mission and review the estimate to understand the mission length, number of photos, and  batteries needed. Learn more in our Quick Start Series

 

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Access Example Solar Farm Inspection Mission

Watch How to Mission Plan a Large Solar Farm

 

Flying a Solar Farm Mission and Making In-Field Adjustments

This section covers key information and linked articles to successfully align and fly a solar farm mission:

Mission Alignment Using Reference Point Position       

Use the 'Mission Reference Position Alignment' button highlighted below, to shift the entire mission plan to better align with the solar panel rows.

During mission planning, we moved the mission reference to the solar panel on the bottom right of the solar farm to align with the first row of panels.

In the field, we will fly over this location, set our desired gimbal pitch, and click the position alignment button to shift the first flight path leg to align with the panels and framing we want.

 

Learn More About Mission Alignment Using Adaptive Flight Drone Offsets

 

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Mission Alignment Using Position Offsets

Use the 'position offset buttons' to move the entire mission plan during flight. Adjust the flight paths by selecting the directional buttons.

As you start flying the first path, if alignment is not correct, you can shift the entire mission with the offsets, and adjust the gimbal angle as described below.

 

Learn More About Using Position Offsets to Align a Mission

 

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Adjusting the Gimbal Pitch Manually

Adjust the gimbal pitch during autonomous missions, and combine with offsets to achieve the correct framing for any time of day to avoid panel glare.

Simply use the gimbal wheel during flight to make changes.

The last saved gimbal angle will be used when resuming a mission due to a battery swap or pausing a mission.

 

Learn More About Manual Gimbal Pitch Control

 

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