Awesome Farm Drones!

What do Old Spice and I have in common? Acknowledgement of an epidemic of tragic overspray. Albeit in my case it's related to agriculture. Every year thousands of gallons of pesticide are wasted on perfectly healthy crops. Isn't it time that we figure out exactly which crops are unhealthy so we can fix them individually? After all, we do need to feed an extra billion or so people by 2050 so we are going to need an efficient way of doing that. Enter drones! Other than being ultra cool drones are also extremely helpful. With the advent of tiny cameras with crazy imaging potential (90g multispectral cameras!) equally tiny aircraft can carry these cool cameras and image what parts of the field are affected. I would tell you how they do it but that's a lot of techno-sorcery and I'll leave it for a subsequent step. I have designed a crazy cool system that can cover up to a 5x5 mile field. I'll attach the CAD files here, but just in case you aren't some sort of maker wizard I'll also include some commercial off the shelf components that ought to do just fine on your system.

Credit where it's due to Hobby King for it's picture of the Gondola, and to my team for the design notebook, and to the vendors of the products.

Step 1: The Components to Make Your Own

First, you ought to know that this isn't your mother's drone. This is a parafoil drone. It's a lot like the Tetracam Hawkeye except cheaper, because who has that kind of money?

I know that most people don't really want to build a drone from scratch. I respect that. Luckily for you I've figured out a way to do it with commercial off the shelf components (albeit some are a bit hacked).

The Stuff:

- The Gondola (That which holds everything else)

- The Camera (That which does the techno-sorcery)

- Your Engine (That which does the pushing)

- Your Autopilot (That which flies)

-Your GPS (That which hopefully doesn't get lost)

-Your Propeller (That which converts the pushing into something useful)

-Your Battery (That which gives your electronics power)

-Your Gas Tank (That which holds the gas)

-Your Parafoil (That which causes it to go up)

Oh by the way: Just mount the camera by taking some aluminum, bending it in a vice and then drilling a hole for the camera to see through and drilling a mount on the side of the gondola. That might not make a whole lot of sense but if you think about it long enough it's logical.

I might have forgot something so if you notice some flaws in the logic just tell me.

Also, given the fact that I don't have the kind of money needed to do a test build on one of these things if someone actually builds this I would love them to upload their own intractable with build experience and wisdom.

Step 2: My Awesome Design!

Because I did this design with a team for a challenge the documentation on this challenge is pretty extensive. A powerpoint is attached as well as an extensive design notebook providing documentation on the design process. I believe that ought to give you a good enough idea of it to build your own spinoff. If you need any other information just post a request for such info in the comments.

Step 3: Tons of Techno-Sorcery

Tetracam has a way better explanation of this than I could ever craft so I'll let you use that.

However, if you want an armchair scientists view of things this graph ought to explain a lot.

Step 4: Go Forth and Conquer!

Farm those fields farmer! Thomas Jefferson would be proud at your advancement of the agrarian state (shoutout to my former AP US History Teacher)! Go do something cool. Save buckets of money. Upload pictures of the buckets of money you saved! Make me proud. Make your wallet proud. Make yourself proud. What's stopping you?



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7 Discussions


1 year ago

I put a lot of effort into powered parafoil development back in 1990's in Australia until I worked out it would send me broke at that time. Now the situation is different. The serious cost of attrition (crash landing) must be carefully considered. I was not too good on the calculations and ended up with stalling foils. It is not that hard for one side to stall and rigging to twist. The idea that if it goes wrong it will land like a parachute seemed great but did not always apply. Nevertheless I still aspire to get electromagnetic soil conductivity measurement happening using parafoils. As far as airborne drones go powered parafoils still seem most pragmatic for commercial farm sensing as if something goes wrong or is a little worn out the crash usually is gentler and operations can continue. Please keep up your efforts when you can see a way to do so.


3 years ago

Yes. I have a farm where we grow fruit


3 years ago

Hi, friend can help me, I'm very interested in the project, but I could not download the attachment .word.

my email is, I would be grateful for your help


3 years ago on Introduction

Hi, amigo puede que me ayude, estoy muy interesado en el proyecto, pero no pude descargar el archivo adjunto .word.

my email is, I would be grateful for your help


4 years ago

Interestingly enough I don't.