Uncategorized

Learn As I Go

I have to start by mentioning how luck I feel about my profession.

As I have mentioned in the past I work for Miami Dade County, Florida. I hold a professional Land Surveyor position in the  Public Works Department – right of way Division.

History

I July of 2014, I commenced the reading of regulations an requirements to allow the department to fly a drone and me be the Pilot in command. At that time the FAA required all PIC to hold an actual Private Pilot certificate. I still hold not only a Private Pilot Licensee I have commercial instrument AGI and CFII certificates.

In April 2016 Miami Dade County received their Certificate of Authorization. In may of this year the survey department had already purchased the UX-5 from Delair.

In June 2016 we took a three days training in the processes to fly said unit.

In August 2016 I received my temporary Remote Pilot Certificate.

Present

Miami Dade got my feet wet in the area of droning. After that, my appetite and thrust for knowledge has caused me to pursue experience.

I started with a series of UAS lectures. I gave lectures in the UAS rules to any and all that invited me to speak. I have been as far as Tampa offering these free lectures. I believe this was instrumental in me getting a part time teaching position in Broward College.

I have flown fixed wings and Rotor drones. I started experimenting with my drones at different elevations of flight to compare the relative accuracies obtained with different cameras and different flight configurations.

I still would like to find a small stock pile site and calculate it’s  volume.

In the office I have used drone to Map, Datumate and UAS Master.

I recently purchased a Nikon with GPS positioning capabilities. My next experimentation will be in the Surveying of Building Facades. I already took some pictures of a concave building. I must have done something wrong the software was not able to stich the images in one continuous block. So Instead of fighting the software I decided to recapture the images.

I cant wait to see what come out of this experiment. I guess ill have to wait for the upcoming long weekend to see if I could start this adventure.

Thanks for your time.

 

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Uncategorized

Drone-Metrics Talk

… a place to discuss applications and methodologies for drone mapping.

I am a Miami Dade County Employee. I work  for the Public Works Department in the Right of Way division.

In 2014 I started the application process for the Certificate of Authorization to operate a UAS for Public Works. After a long process I finally received the COA.

A short time after the FAA revisited the current operations criteria and implemented the now 14 CFR Part 107. In August 2017, I received my Remote Pilot Certificate under these regulations.

These technologies and regulations have changed my Land Surveyor Profession.  As I experiment with this technology, I have been fortunate to be exposed to several flight platforms. I fly a fixed wing for work and vertical lifts for fun and experimentation.

I have also been using several processing software to see which offer my employer the most complete deliverables solution. In software, I have used: UASMasters, Datumate Enterprise and Drone 2 Maps.

On weekends my experiments have consisted in flying a quasi-control site, at several Elevations, Vertical and Oblique imaging, with and without Ground Control.

I have been using my  DJI Phantom 3 Professional (12 MP camera) and I am very happy with the relative accuracies encountered in the horizontal dimensions. However, I have not checked for conformal properties. I am looking for solutions to achieve an adequate vertical accuracy.

If the County  allowed me the resources such as time, equipment and a good survey crew; I would set a field with tightly surveyed features and markings at fixed distances and patterns. I would produce an ACAD drawing of the field. Then I would fly the site again in different permutations of Flight Heights, Image Orientation and Camera configurations to see which renders to solution with the least deviations from the Control .

I can’t wait to run similar tests with my new DJI Phantom 4 Advance. This is a 20 MP camera unit and my expectations are the relative accuracies would improve,  same accuracies at a higher flight elevation

Commercial, UAS/Drones

Just Another Remote Pilot

I work for Miami Dade County Miami, Florida for the right of way division. Approximately March 2014, a coworker and I suggested the Survey Department to consider the use of UAS as an additional tool in their survey tool box. At that time, the FAA required the PIC (Pilot-In-Command) be an already certificated Pilot. While not part of the survey department I volunteered to be that Pilot.

This volunteered position has morphed as much as the regulations pertaining the use of drones. Soon after, I was asked to pursue a blanket COA for the Department. After two years of paperwork I achieved this for the Survey Department. COA No. 2016-ESA-99-COA issued to Miami Dade County, Attn to: Josue Tirado.

In August 2016, new Regulations (14 CFR Part107) became in effect. I pursued a Remote Pilot license under this new regulation.

I am not the official “Person of Responsible Charge” at Miami Dade County. However, I am the one: that plans the missions, determine waivers needed, request these waivers, request ground control from the survey department, weather observations the week prior the planned mission, sync with towers for operations if needed, make the go no go flight decision on the day of the mission, fly the mission, download images, and process data.

Up to now I have had some limited success. I have achieved the creation of Orthophotos, Mosaics and Point Clouds. My next step is extraction of quantitative data for engineering designs or to check the integrity of clients mapping work. My biggest goal mission is to perform specific purpose mapping for the Class “BRAVO” at KMIA and map the lease areas for the Port Miami. I know it’s a gigantic goal. I am not even close. But I keep my eyes on the prize.

I spend some of my workdays reading photogrammetry books, self-training on the software application we use (UAS-Master distributed by Trimble). I enjoy what I am doing for the county at a small corner at the 16th floor of the Steven P Clark Building, downtown Miami, FL.

I have not flown at night, beyond line of sight or above 400 AGL. Which I think this will change after the implementations resulting from the Integration efforts.

On a personal level, I have purchased three sUAS and fly under hobbyist rules to increase my flying experience since the sUAS at work is autonomous. I currently have three drones, a Holystone (toy), Phantom 3 Professional and a Phantom 4 Advanced Plus.

In summary, I am just a beginner and have limited experience other than that acquired at work. I am enjoying the challenges these new technologies are offering all of us. I like to be hands on as much as possible. While technology is advancing more than I could handle sometimes, I hope my ambition and drive culminates in flying my goal missions. What I lack in know-how, I make up in tenacity and focused dedication.

Tweeter handle: @suaspic

Facebook: Josue Tirado Muniz

LinkedIn: Josué Tirado Muniz

UAS/Drones

Holystone HS200 sUAS (drone) Review

Arrival – the unit could have been mishandled. I received one really bent propeller. Luckily I ordered the extra batteries and repair kit, knowing I was an inexperienced pilot. Foreseeing wreck, I did not disappoint me.

User Manual: I found it lacking.

More of a toy feel. Very light and thin. But strong. See below

Price point is very good. I wanted to make sure I could fly before I invested on a more expensive unit.

Battery life is advertised at 10 minutes flight time. I got almost 75% out of my third cycled batteries. I flew 7:16 min indoors. Also kept the drone at 6 feet or less  above ground level “AGL”. I am 6 foot tall and drone was always below my leveled line of sight. Less battery power to climb.

How long will it fly outside? At 50 feet above mechanical wind effects. I expect a significant decrease in flight time due to obviously different environments.

Pairing: 16-20 seconds. I felt this was a very expedient pairing process.

Flying with iPhone – applications offers the ability for FPV (First Person View). Whether used with the controller or stand alone. No sensory feedback however. Found that it was too easy for me to be off the controlling areas and had to glance at the screen to place fingers back to their correct location. (This could be due to my lack of experience.)

Controller: I did not have this issue with the provided controller. Easy. You could feel the joysticks continuously. No presentable latency at 10-15 feet from either controllers. Don’t know the effect larger distances from the controllers will have on responsiveness.

Resilient very durable. Learning to fly inside presents multiple obstacles. I hit many. Drone still going. The aforementioned bent prop must have been be placing heavy object over the unit while on transport. I have hit most if not all the obstacles I have in my living room and the HS200 is in one peace. While so thin and fragile feel it takes a licking and keep on ticking.

Altitude hold: a big plus for a novice pilot and for the flight time. I never hot the ceiling as I had in the past with micro helicopters.

Camera: I am happy with the footage and stills I am shooting. Keep in mind it is just a 2MP camera. But I think the camera’s purpose is FPV and it is good enough for that purpose.

One press take-off: very helpful for control and energy management.

Headless Mode: I have not tried the headless mode. I want to gain experience before I discover what I expect to be a great plus feature to pilots.

sUAS Registration: The HS200 published weight is 108 grams. At 453.6 grams per pound the HS200 weight is 0.24 lbs. well below the lowest weight required by the FAA for registration. I am flying inside so far. No need to register since I am not in the National Airspace System “NAS”.

Make sure to visit www.faa.gov/uas for updated information and requirement on fly in the NAS.

Over all comments: I am very pleased with the HS200 sUAS. Becoming a kid in my Livingroom has been fun. Despite its small and light weight it is a resilient unit. I have had some time of fun and relaxation. It’s fun to see my piloting and directional input errors causing my CFIT. Controlled Flight into Terrain.

I am currently awaiting on a call to teach a continuing education class on 14 CFR Part 107 rules. I am required to provide the drones for the class. I know I could order several of these units, with the confidence that my potential student, regardless of their experience level, could wreck my HS200 and it will keep going for the next student to try.

Commercial, UAS/Drones, Uncategorized

Passions Combined

Me and my Passions.

I am a person that enjoys learning and being exposed to new experiences.

One of my passions is flying. I really enjoy being up there and watching the world from such a different perspective. I even enjoy just hanging with other pilots (hangar rats). One other passion is technologies. Sonia often says, “You sure like your gadgets”.

These two passions are now combined in one. The commonly called “drones”. The FAA has termed small Unmanned Aircraft Systems “sUAS”.

 

What’s in the  sUAS name?

The unmanned aircraft portion is self-explanatory. There is no pilot within the aircraft.

The system portion is due to the fact that is not just the aircraft alone. That would just be unmanned aircraft, UA, Military application referred as UV unmanned vehicle. Instead it’s an integration of hardware, and software’s working in unison as a unit.

The small is based on weight restrictions imposed by the FAA, the agency in charge of our “NAS” National Airspace System. The weight between 0.55 lbs. – 55 lbs. are considered as small UAS.

 

Aircraft Registration

Any UA in this weight range is required to be registered through the FAA. Until further news from said agency which was recently sued and lost the “authority” if you will, to demand such registration. ( I just read http://www.faa.gov/uas and all drones 0.55 – 55 lb. are required to be registered)

 

Drones (sUAS)

I am currently shopping for an inexpensive drone that captures video and still pictures. In my list I have Syma, Holy Stone, Aukey, Hubsan and SKEYE any others along that price range ($300). I know DJI has a big selection. If I get chosen to be the Continuing Education Instructor at Broward College and my accountant advises me so, I will consider the Mavic Pro or Phantom 4 Beginners Package.

I fear getting something in that price range and either wreck it or not utilize it that much. Not to mention that I work in Miami among the most complex airspaces in America. We have 13 heliports, 7 airports including a Class B, a Military Airport and a Seaport. Find class G to fly! Good thing I do not live here!

I want to fly a quad. We have an autonomous land survey grade sUAS at the office(Miami Dade County Public Works).  I basically plan missions, send it off and tell it to come back. I also have option to get out of potential traffic. That is the extent of my flying sUAS experience. With this price range of quads, I will be piloting, therefore really combining two of my passions in one activity.

“If you know of a drone in the shape of a guitar, then I could include yet another passion”.

Commercial, Instrument, Private

MACHO, MACHO-MAN, I don’t want to by a MACHO MAN!

As I pilot you are aware of the five deadly attitudes: Resignation, Anti-Authority, Impulsivity, Invulnerability and Macho.

I have been flying since 2000. And don’t recall ever fighting these attitudes until recently.

I belong to several flying clubs. I say this to reinforce the fact that, flying has become my greatest adventure.   I am a type ‘A’ personality. Which latter I am finding out a very high percent of pilots fall under this personality group (interesting is in it?).

I have a girlfriend that loves going flying with me. While this is of great joy, since statistically, almost half of pilots’s partner do not like to fly. Having this partner in crime also adds an extra layer of pressure and responsibility to me. Bringing her home safe.

One of the flying clubs I mentioned, Florida Aero Club, have a Chapter monthly dinner meeting and a Chapter monthly fly in. We also have a State Wide, (all chapters in the State) biannual fly in weekend. I have only missed one since becoming a member. I have made great connections with pilots there partner from all the State Chapters. Being a flying club you want to fly to these activities.

This last State fly in was threatened with bad weather almost throughout the entire state both going and returning. On the way back from a great weekend, after having done all my weather studies, I arrive at the FBO to see all other Chapter members there. Ceilings were reported at 800-1000 feet and they were not IFR rated or IFR Current. In my mind I could have made the trip back. Looked at all obstacle in my modified IFR plan which was fly East miss the cell and then cancel and stay on flight watch under VFR rules.

While thinking in all the options including that my girlfriend and I both having to be back to work the next day, she is a very dedicated Head Start teacher, there are friends there which as an instructor I did not want to give them a bad example. Something in my mind click. All of the sudden, I did not want to fly.

While I enjoy flying so much, I go through a mental process and get mentally ready for the task. I could have been that MACHO guy impressing the pilots at the FBO and my girlfriend. I could have made it home safe. Am I sure of that?

After over seven hours driving home I observer the weather I would have flown in and was happy to see I made the right decision. This decision was latter challenged by the great weather at the destination airport.

While this go / no-go decision was  not that easy to make I am glad I made it. My girlfriend was very grateful in my brining her home safe, I made a new couple of friends, they road with us, and I modeled to other pilots the antidote to one of the attitude that could have made us part of the Nall Report Statistics. Other pilots also rented car and followed my lead.

Not a bad day from a CFI’s point of view.

I hope this short article helps other pilots facing similar situations in this storm season. Be safe fly another day.

Commercial, Instrument, Private, UAS/Drones, Uncategorized

Certificate of Authorization for My Employer

I starting the process for the approval of  an FAA COA approval for Miami Dade County Transportation and Publics Works Department. This was in May of 2015. The application has gone back and forward a number of times. As of today 5/4/2016 is not  approved.

As this was going on a change in the COA application requirements has taken place. In a matter of weeks I was awarded a Blanket COA (new Application submitted) to 400 AGL, Class E and  including a very extensive Operational Area. With this approval comes a great degree of responsibility.

Fly responsibly, you are  operation equipment that could be harmful to all other aircrafts.

I was on final approach and the tower reported drone spotted at 1000 ft on 10R (ten right) landing path. I never spotted the drone. That was scary for me not knowing if I was going to contact another flying object that could have caused: at minimal property damage not to mention possible crashing my vessel and death.

Please make sure you operate away from airports and other Areas which could be found in an application called “B4UFLY” on the app store and or Google Play. I was a beta tester for this app and its really great and a tool for you to have if you are to operate a drone.

Remember also drones from 0.55 lbs to 55 lbs must be registered with the FAA.

 

The Air Traffic Control SystemFlorida Aero Club Fall Fly In