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Best settings/procedure for search & rescue?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by theTastyCat, Jun 29, 2016.

  1. theTastyCat

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    So I know next to nothing about photography, but I've learned a great deal recently thanks to acquiring my P3. There have been several threads about using Phantoms for SAR, and while it's not hugely likely that I'll need to, I prefer to be as prepared as I can be in every area of my life. In fact, a friend of mine went missing almost a year ago and was found dead, so these things can and do happen.

    I realize that every situation is different, but I'm wondering what the best settings and approach would be. The situation with the toddler made good sense to be checking backyard swimming pools from low altitude, but there are other situations (wide search area that's relatively open) where a DroneDeploy mission at relatively high altitude might make the most sense. Does seem like stills to be reviewed from the ground after the mission would be beneficial a lot of the time - video at 4k or even 2.7 would fill up an SD card awfully quick and with a lot of duplicate information.

    What I'm really after are still/video settings. A lot of people like to bring sharpness, contrast, saturation down to -2 or -3; would I be correct that leveling them out to zero may yield the most helpful images/footage? Also, seems like an ND filter would be the opposite of helpful, but maybe a polarizer would be good for the clearest images?

    I know some of you have done some training with this - would love to hear what you have to say.
     
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  2. Gary M

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    Your camera and filter settings are going to be for video/picture quality, so that will change from setting to setting due to lighting and other conditions. Me, personally would not concern myself with that in a SAR scenario. In my opinion, a P3's camera is going to take PLENTY good footage for seeing, say, a toddler in a pool from 100' elevation while in auto settings and no filters. You have no way of knowing what these conditions will be ahead of time, so worrying about them now would be pointless. And when you get on site in SAR operation, that will take up more time that you could be airborne searching. Another thing....you would definitely want video footage of everything, both through drone camera and video screenshot of your phone or tablet during flight. But MOST LIKELY you'll be doing a slow, live visual check of each pool, or something of that nature. I'm sure you would want to download all footage at each battery change and have someone reviewing to hopefully see if you happened to miss something. Now of course, you can learn all you can about what camera settings and filters to use in every scenario, so if you DID choose to worry with it for a SAR flight, you would automatically know what to do and do it quicker.
     
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  3. ryanmanchester

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    Their is an app on iOS for thermal imaging, a friend (not spoke for ages) but he managed to fix a 4S, mount it in front of his gimbal fixed straight down, theory goes app running independent, gimbal just sees phone screen, obviously will see the thermal imagery straight down to his iPad. I haven't seen it myself but have read a post on it by him and considering a shity 4s (£60) vs FLIR £??,???.?? Think it's something to look into because FLIR is unreal but way overpriced!


    Sent from my iPhone using PhantomPilots mobile app
     
  4. theTastyCat

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    Sound advice for sure, Gary. Yeah, why not let the video run while searching anyway - swap SD cards at battery change and get the downloaded/uploaded/whatever. Wonder what the best altitude for such searching would be - again, most likely case-specific, but higher would cover more area in less time but at the expense of quality.

    Ryan, I wouldn't put much faith (if any!) in a thermal imaging app - I've got a Seek Thermal Compact XR, which is a microUSB addon thermal camera for smartphone. It's incredible tech for $300 but its utility drops off markedly at 50 feet or so. Identification is impossible; you may be able to tell there's something alive (or recently so), but I think the camera by itself would be a far greater help during a search.

    Buuut say you dropped $3k on a FLIR VUE and didn't mind hanging 3 grand off a P3.........

    FLIR VUE demo video

    Then things get downright amazing.

    I know of someone who hung a $3k PVS-14 night vision monocle off a drone...again, and in his own words, it's how to turn a $500 mistake into a $3500 mistake :confused:
     
  5. theTastyCat

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    Warning - slightly graphic: here's a video of thermal in use on a fixed-wing UAV for hog control in Louisiana. There's a dead pig at the end in case you're sensitive.

    Hog hunting thermal UAV

    The drone's name is the Dehogaflier.

    Again, this is out of reach of the sweeping majority of us, but cool to look at anyway.
     
  6. ryanmanchester

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    Is this pricing confirmed? I've seen so many different figures and ultimately if you are uneasy flying with an expensive upgrade, then I would be advising people to take official lessons into flying/CAA as I am competent, and have full faith in my abilities, if I personally felt uneasy I'd give up now , please don't read that the wrong way, generally speaking only industry professionals would be going for FLIR I'm guessing or people's who got lots of dollar


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  7. Gary M

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    I'm really looking forward to FLIR (hopefully) becoming cheaper someday soon. That is going to absolutely perfect for so much but especially SAR. Do any of Y'all know if FLIR is whats used for agriculture imaging, or a different system more designed for ag?
     
  8. theTastyCat

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    Gary M likes this.
  9. 0DRK3RT

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    Simple answer to the OP: Never involve yourself in active SAR ops without authorization from the authorities/first responders in charge of the operation.

    Hobbyist P3/4 owners seem to have a fixation on "saving the day" with their new gadget.

    In the real world, all SAR ops include the use of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. So flying your Phantom without their knowledge puts them in great danger.

    In time sensitive missions such as drownings in lakes/oceans, absolutely contact the first responders on scene and offer to help. Usually there is a delay in getting those air assets on scene and unless a body is pulled out of the water within 30 minutes to 1 hour, there is no chance at survival. (Commonly referred to as "The Golden Hour"). Cold water increases survival in that hour. If no air support is available to them I'm sure they'd welcome your assistance.

    I work in Law Enforcement and was on our Sheriff's Department Marine Division for several years. In drowning investigations, after 1 hour the mission changes from SAR to Body Recovery and all air assets are called off. Leaving the body recovery to myself (diver/boat operator).

    In active SAR drowning investigations we would call in our State Police helicopter to visually scan the water looking for any larger dark spots in the water. If the drowning occurred at night, they would use their SX-16 Nightsun spot light to shin the water, which is extremely effective.

    However, a P3/4 flying a grid pattern at 75 to 100 feet above the water would only be effective if the water visibility is decent and no deeper than 15-25 feet during sunlight hours obviously.

    The best thing to do would be pointing your camera straight down and slowly fly a grid like you're mowing your lawn north south, then east west. Slowly expanding your grid larger and larger from where the victim was last seen. I highly suggest having a first responder concentrate on your FPV video and while you fly, Eyes on your bird. He/she knows what to look for and direct you to the correct areas.

    Over land SAR ops are drastically different and last for several days up to a couple weeks before personnel and air assets are scaled back or called off. Unless given permission to help by the authorities, I don't think it would be wise to be a vigilante and buzz around the sky willy-nilly. Potentially interfering with air support. If air support is terminated and it's a Recovery Op, go ahead and buzz around all you want as long as the airspace is clear.

    Just remember there is a huge difference in what resources are used between SAR and Recovery ops. Communication with authorities is the biggest thing to know.


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  10. theTastyCat

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    0DR, I think you have the wrong idea - I don't intend to be a vigilante, RC superhero, police helicopter, Neighborhood Watch Airborne, or anything else ridiculous. I'm aware of the protocol and procedures for potentially involving a UAV in any emergency scene. My friend is dead despite a massive search in which LE were actively soliciting help from anyone who was able. Water is not my focus, but it was in the toddler search recently mentioned elsewhere because of the potential for drowning in pools, and sadly he did in fact drown though not in a pool.

    What I am interested in is hearing from more experienced Phantom owners how to make best use of the tools we have in the unlikely event that they're needed as such. Because as much as I appreciate and respect the emergency services, I also don't subcontract every facet of my well-being, survival and safety to them, and nor should I.
     
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  11. 0DRK3RT

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    @tastycat,

    My apologies for apparently misunderstanding your post. Condolences to you and your friends family too.


    Sent from my iPhone using PhantomPilots mobile app
     
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  12. BigAl07

    BigAl07 Moderator
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    First off I commend 0DRK3RT for an excellent and very accurate reply. Any aircraft flying "during" an active SAR mission must be part of the coordinated effort or it becomes a potentially game stopping event. With that being said.....

    I am an active SAR UAS operator (Technical Specialist and Field Observer) and train with our local SAR team and have been "deployed" on a few LIVE cases.

    Camera Settings - Honestly your camera settings can all be left on AUTO unless you find yourself in a very specific situation. Other than capturing some "Media Shots" of the Command Post for the media I've never adjusted any camera settings in the field.

    Basic workflow - get assigned to a specific area and a specific task. I go to the area with all of my support equipment (full battery, formatted SD card, generator, water, food, etc) and fly the mission assigned by the Incident Commander. Depending on what he/she is needing I will fly video start to landing or if I am flying a still image mission I will use a Mission Controller (Drone Deploy for instance) and let the controller take the images. Once the flight is complete I inspect the aircraft, swap out the battery, clean the camera lens, swap out the SD card and either prepare for the next flight or head back to Command Post to meet with the IC. If I am doing multiple flights the SD card is taken back to IC to download and immediate review on the large format video in the trailer and I put a newly formatted SD card into the aircraft. I usually have 12+ SD cards on hand along with my card reader and laptop for in the field work if needed.

    Keep in mind that anything you capture "could" end up going into LE possession so be prepared to surrender your SD cards at any time. The LAST thing you want to do is take it away from the scene in a criminal situation.

    Does this help? Is that sort of what you're looking for?
     
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  13. WetDog

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    While your intentions are good, ODRK3RT's advice is a good one. As part of our local VFD we are starting to integrated UAVs into the system. This involves close cooperation with the Coast Guard since neither of us like Close Encounters of any kind.

    Even if the SAR folk ask for help, it's unlikely that they would be happy with various drones buzzing around in a display of uncoordinated rescue fever. If you are serious, go talk to the SAR folks and see how you can integrate into their system. SAR is all about organization. It's Search and Rescue, not Capture the Flag. Once you understand how they operate and what they can use, you are in a better position to actively help.

    Do not be surprised if they don't welcome you with open arms. Currently 'government' operations are held to 333 / 107 regs which, to put it mildly, are in a state of flux. We are not operating officially since we don't meet all of the various and sundry regs. But there is lots of work to do for 'practice'. And if you are part of the organization, it's much easier to get your foot in the door. After you've gone through the basic training you will understand the Holy of Holies - the Incident Command System - and have a better idea of what you can and cannot do.

    I recently put up a P3 at a structure fire. It turns out to be a great training episode since command can look and see how everyone did. Everybody liked it so much that we're trying to figure out how to put up a drone on big events, just to watch and record and see how they can help. We've already figured out that we need pretty close coordination between the UAV operator and the hose teams since a 2 inch hose can reach up several hundred feet in the air and swat the drone down in one jiffy.

    We're also looking into some mapping programs and pre defined search routes (people tend to get lost in the same places). Perfect for a Litchi run. We have two drone operators in the FD and we are both well integrated into the group so it's much easier for us to figure out what might work and get buy in.

    SAR isn't all that complex, but it has morphed into a ballet that requires everyone to know their cues. Otherwise it's a moondance and we don't want that, do we?
     
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  14. theTastyCat

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    Well having reread everything today I can see that I overreacted and I apologize. ODR, I am grateful for all you do and for all emergency services and I get that a hick with a drone could seriously disrupt a scene and it's probably getting to be a more common situation.

    Not to excuse myself but just by way of context, I'd like to do just a bit of explaining. I'm from a rural part of Tennessee; we are a proud people who try to be as self-reliant as we can. I'm not saying we're all militia/cult/neckbeards, but things are just different out here. My GF was home alone a few years ago when a bad guy kicked her front door in. She called 911 immediately and the first patrol car arrived 25 minutes later. No fault of local LE, it's just a big county. We knew this in advance, and thankfully she was prepared both physically and mentally to do what she had to do to remain alive and unharmed from minute zero to minute 25. When we had the great Nashville flood of 2010, think exactly the opposite of Katrina: there was no looting and FEMA was driving around because people were actually refusing help, saying they had family and friends coming to help them - go find somebody that needs it more than us. Related but unusual was my friend's disappearance; LE here *has* to wait 24 hours to investigate missing persons reports or that's all they'd be doing, but we knew right away that there was something very wrong with the situation, so we started searching a long time before public safety. So though we deeply respect and appreciate emergency services we also do all we can to rely on ourselves and each other. I'd like to think that this ethos is part of what makes Americans great and it does seem like the Founding Fathers shared these values.

    So I used SAR as an umbrella example, but really there are a whole lot of situations where a Phantom can be used in a utilitarian way instead of an artistic way, and many of them don't warrant a public service response - such as a lost dog. That's really more where I'm coming from; I really appreciate all the good advice so far.
     
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  15. Mike_Flys

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    If you really want to be involved in SAR volunteer at your local Civil Air Patrol. May not get to use your drone (you never know) but you will learn from the ground up, get be involved in exercises and even actual SAR. I did it in the mid 2000s very rewarding. The CFI that taught me to fly is an active pilot with CAP.
    http://www.gocivilairpatrol.com
    Besides providing much needed help you will be exposed to great learning opportunities, and great people.

    I can order most FLIR cameras like the one on Amazon listed above.
    FLIR Vue 640 Thermal Camera - 13mm Lens - 30Hz Video
    Coupon Code PHANTOMPILOTS saves you 7% through July 4th. If you don't find it on my website ask. I have access to way more stuff than I can list on the sight, even some Zenmuse gimbals with FLIR cameras.

    Mike
     
  16. BigAl07

    BigAl07 Moderator
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    We might be neighbors (globally speaking). I fully understand where you're coming from and you are exactly right. I live in Appalachia and we are a very self reliant people and proud of it. We help each other with nothing expected in return and this is day/night 24/7. So I fully understand where you're coming from. After getting a better understanding of what you're talking about makes much more sense as to the original context of your questions.

    Hopefully somewhere along the way we've fully answered some of your questions.
     
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  17. WetDog

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    And this is a great attitude - I guess my point is largely to go ahead and actually join a group. SAR, VFD, CAP or whatever fits your fancy and lifestyle. The main reason is again, this is a group activity and you have to know the rules. And, as a member of the group you get to see exactly where you could fit in as a UAV operator. I have received some interesting feedback from other SAR / VFD members and am now looking at some potential answers. Like how not to set up a training program for other members and whether or not the mapping programs (there are a number) would help us get better terrain maps. I would dearly love better LIDAR data for our area as we are using relatively low resolution maps from the Space Shuttle days but currently LIDAR equipped UAVs are a tad (like an order of magnitude) over our budget for these things. I'm hoping that changes.

    Also practice is key. And fun. It is really a social outing using a socially acceptable excuse to run around with big trucks and bright lights.

    Do read up on the regs though. They are the big hangup as far as the Powers That Be who worry about silly things like liability insurance. Being up on the current thoughts is a valuable resource.

    And speaking of lost dogs - I found my wife's idiot Jack Russell Terror the other day in a neighbors yard with my P3. It decided that it was hearing optional day. Worked pretty well from 200 feet - the little white dot running around in a blur was key.
     
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  18. WetDog

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    Have you been able to get the 640's to hook up to a Phantom?
     
  19. Mike_Flys

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    I have not tried. Not that I wouldn't if I thought I needed to.
    Here is how my Phantom 1 ended up before I decided I needed to build my first Hex copter (F550)
    [​IMG]

    Looking at this pic makes me miss my 3d printer.

    Most people mount them to S900, S1000, M600, or maybe an Inspire.
    If I were to do it now I may think about waiting for the Zenmuse mounted ones and put it on an Matrice 600. Not that I could afford to spend that much money unless I needed it for work.
    [​IMG]

    This one is at Drone Nerds. They are my primary distributor so I could list it, but I hate the pre-order game so I try to only least items that are currently available.

    Mike
     
  20. Dirby

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    I use a Marco polo for tracking.