Tom McKinnon

Quad prop safety: fuse link

 

We all know we should remove the props before we power up our multirotors on the bench, but how often are we in too much of a hurry to always do it?  There was a scary post on DIY Drones where a multirotor had an indoor flyaway.  In the discussion thread, ausdroid mentioned a great solution so we wanted to pass it along.  As shown in the photo, just insert a fuse between the battery and the copter while servicing your machine on the bench.  A 3A fuse worked fine for us.  That allows plenty of juice to run the flight controller, radios, etc, but if HAL decides to engage the motors the fuse will overrule him.  We tested it out and it works; the motors spun for a very short bit but never got up enough momentum to cause any damage.  We'll be shipping one of these with all our quad units from now on.  Tip of the hat to ausdroid.

 

Agribotix Team Picture

 

We finally got almost the entire crew together at the same place at the same time for a group photo.  The dronie shot is even better but we haven't processed the video yet -- to come soon.

Front row (left to right).  Paul Susmarski - software development; Blair Keller - hardware; Jimmy Underhill - flight ops

Back row.  Paul Hoff - CEO; Rick Burd - flight ops; Ryan Friedman - flight ops; Tom McKinnon - CTO; Wayne Greenberg - chairman of the board; Daniel McKinnon - marketing; Thomas Harris - GIS; Jaisimha Rao - director of Asian ops.

Not present.  Ned Riedel - director of engineering; Kyle Miller - Iowa field rep.

 

Kyle Miller featured in the Sioux Center News

 

The Sioux Center News wrote a nice article about Kyle Miller.

  Here's the article's text in searchable form: Soaring to New Heights: Drone technology aids crop production Farming is taking flight – or at least that’s the future Kyle Miller sees.  The Dordt College senior from Kalona, majoring in agribusiness, designed his senior project around that concept.  He partnered with Agribotix, a company based in Boulder, Colo., to explore the use of drone technology. The International Civil Aviation Organization refers to drones – officially called unmanned aerial vehicles or AUV for short – as remotely piloted aircraft.  There are aircraft without a human pilot aboard.  Drone flight is controller either autonomously by onboard computers or by the remote control of a a pilot on the ground. Interest is goring in the use of drones in agriculture because the unmanned aerial vehicle can give farmers a bird’s eye view of their fields – and a better picture of the fields’ health so they can grow better crops and make better use of their resources. “I see this as the height of precision ag right now because drones can help the farmer save money on inputs, and help save the environment by strategically putting on chemicals so the leaching is minimal and yield is increases,” said Miller, 22 Miller tests those goals by hooking up two 16-megapixel Canon Snapshot cameras separately to his drone – one cameras measure red, green and blue light while the other picks up infrared thermal imaging.  The he plans, simulates, monitors, and controls the trajectory of the aircraft both before and during flights via a laptop.  He has done more than 20 flights this fall to take aerial snapshots nearly 375 feel high of crops in Dordt’s fields. Miller’s drone can complete a f light over an 80-acre field in about 20 minutes.  After each flight, he uses special software to stitch together all the photos taken to make an orthomosaic, or aerial view picture, of the whole field.  He can then review any part of the field an inch per pixel. The imaging technologies can detect water and nutrition issues, insect infestation and fungal infections. “A farmer still needs to go out to the file to confirm an issue, but using a drone allows the opportunity to get an overall survey of the area and make better use of your time, rather just walking out blindly in a field of corn that’s taller than your head, and hoping you stumble across any of the problem areas that might be out there,” Miller said. The most important aspect of the technology is the infrared camera.  “It will tell crop stress, where healthy areas are or are not,” he said.  “That means an agronomist can tell a farmer where more nitrogen needs to be, which leads to less application and less runoff into local water supply, but still have a higher yield by impacting the areas that need it.” Miller said thermal cameras in development that are du to come out next year could have an even greater impact on drone benefits. “Thermal cameras are designed to detect stress a week or two before the human eye can,” Miller said.  “An agronomist or drone technician, can relay the information to the farmer.  All of this technology really allows us to diagnose problems or deficiencies and prescribe solutions during the growing season instead of waiting until the end.” Some people do have concerns about drone usage, but Miller thinks the technology is beneficial and can ultimately save farmers time and money. “People think about drones and a lot time, the negative connotations come to mind – privacy issues and those kinds of things,” he says.  “But in the agricultural community, we’re out in the middle of nowhere most the time, flying them over fields of crops.” UAVs are not cheap, however.  Prices can ragne from $500 to $50,000 depending one the technology. Currently, too, there are restrictions on commercial use of UAVs but the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to release new policies next year that would enable business to incorporate drones into their operations. Miller’s hope is to continue moving people away form the “toy” mindset of drones toward realizing the technology benefits. “There’s not a whole lot of farmland left,” Miller said.  “What’s in field is what’s there is, and famers need to preserve that land to continues to make money off it.  That’s why I see drone usage not as a fad but something that’s going to be around for a long time.  Like the first field monitor – it wasn’t that accurate, but it’s greatly improved and technology has advanced to help the farmer.  We have tractors and combines that drive themselves, GPS to plant fields more accurately and even grain carts that unload themselves.  Once we can wrap our minds around new technology I think it’ll be good for businesses such cooperative to invest in and help farmers.”

 

Here's the article's text in searchable form:

Soaring to New Heights: Drone technology aids crop production

Farming is taking flight – or at least that’s the future Kyle Miller sees. 

The Dordt College senior from Kalona, majoring in agribusiness, designed his senior project around that concept.  He partnered with Agribotix, a company based in Boulder, Colo., to explore the use of drone technology.

The International Civil Aviation Organization refers to drones – officially called unmanned aerial vehicles or AUV for short – as remotely piloted aircraft.  There are aircraft without a human pilot aboard.  Drone flight is controller either autonomously by onboard computers or by the remote control of a a pilot on the ground.

Interest is goring in the use of drones in agriculture because the unmanned aerial vehicle can give farmers a bird’s eye view of their fields – and a better picture of the fields’ health so they can grow better crops and make better use of their resources.

“I see this as the height of precision ag right now because drones can help the farmer save money on inputs, and help save the environment by strategically putting on chemicals so the leaching is minimal and yield is increases,” said Miller, 22

Miller tests those goals by hooking up two 16-megapixel Canon Snapshot cameras separately to his drone – one cameras measure red, green and blue light while the other picks up infrared thermal imaging.  The he plans, simulates, monitors, and controls the trajectory of the aircraft both before and during flights via a laptop.  He has done more than 20 flights this fall to take aerial snapshots nearly 375 feel high of crops in Dordt’s fields.

Miller’s drone can complete a f light over an 80-acre field in about 20 minutes.  After each flight, he uses special software to stitch together all the photos taken to make an orthomosaic, or aerial view picture, of the whole field.  He can then review any part of the field an inch per pixel.

The imaging technologies can detect water and nutrition issues, insect infestation and fungal infections.

“A farmer still needs to go out to the file to confirm an issue, but using a drone allows the opportunity to get an overall survey of the area and make better use of your time, rather just walking out blindly in a field of corn that’s taller than your head, and hoping you stumble across any of the problem areas that might be out there,” Miller said.

The most important aspect of the technology is the infrared camera.  “It will tell crop stress, where healthy areas are or are not,” he said.  “That means an agronomist can tell a farmer where more nitrogen needs to be, which leads to less application and less runoff into local water supply, but still have a higher yield by impacting the areas that need it.”

Miller said thermal cameras in development that are du to come out next year could have an even greater impact on drone benefits.

“Thermal cameras are designed to detect stress a week or two before the human eye can,” Miller said.  “An agronomist or drone technician, can relay the information to the farmer.  All of this technology really allows us to diagnose problems or deficiencies and prescribe solutions during the growing season instead of waiting until the end.”

Some people do have concerns about drone usage, but Miller thinks the technology is beneficial and can ultimately save farmers time and money.

“People think about drones and a lot time, the negative connotations come to mind – privacy issues and those kinds of things,” he says.  “But in the agricultural community, we’re out in the middle of nowhere most the time, flying them over fields of crops.”

UAVs are not cheap, however.  Prices can ragne from $500 to $50,000 depending one the technology.

Currently, too, there are restrictions on commercial use of UAVs but the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to release new policies next year that would enable business to incorporate drones into their operations.

Miller’s hope is to continue moving people away form the “toy” mindset of drones toward realizing the technology benefits.

“There’s not a whole lot of farmland left,” Miller said.  “What’s in field is what’s there is, and famers need to preserve that land to continues to make money off it.  That’s why I see drone usage not as a fad but something that’s going to be around for a long time.  Like the first field monitor – it wasn’t that accurate, but it’s greatly improved and technology has advanced to help the farmer.  We have tractors and combines that drive themselves, GPS to plant fields more accurately and even grain carts that unload themselves.  Once we can wrap our minds around new technology I think it’ll be good for businesses such cooperative to invest in and help farmers.”

 

Meet our field rep: Kyle Miller

 

Kyle Miller is the latest employee to join the Agribotix merry band, and our first Field Representative.  We met Kyle at the Precision Aerial Ag Show in Decatur, Illinois over the summer and knew we had to find a way to bring him on board.  Fortunately he was looking for just this sort of opportunity so it didn’t take much convincing.  When not flying Agribotix drones over farms, Kyle is finishing his final year at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa to get a degree in agronomy, and in computer science.  Kyle was recently married to Quinlan, who is getting her degree in animal science.  Together they make the ag power couple!

Kyle is no stranger to the farm coming from at least seven generations of farming in Kalona, Iowa and worked as an agronomist for his summer employment.  Ever since we set him up with the Agribotix system he has been keeping our cloud computers quite busy crunching the big load of his images.  In the off-season Kyle will be representing Agribotix at a number of ag shows and helping us develop our products for next season.  Welcome aboard Kyle!