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      CommentAuthorDuracell
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2015 edited
     
    I would like to use a drone with a camera to inspect the interior surfaces of some tanks. The tanks are up to 40 metres high, between 5 and 6 metres in diameter, and there are usually no interior obstacles within them that would need to avoided when flying.

    I have no experience at all of flying drones, or remote planes, or remote helicopters etc., so I would be looking for something that is very easy to fly, keep stable, and land. It would mostly just be required to move straight up, then maybe rotate 360 degress while recording some HD footage (and / or taking some photos), and then move back down again to land.

    I would be willing to spend up to around 1,500 Euro on a drone + camera. Would the resident drone enthusiasts in the 'trap be willing to recommend any particular models for me to consider? Please? Pretty please? Thanks!
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    What ever happened to sending a bloke up on a ladder to have a look-see?
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      CommentAuthorAngus
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2015 edited
     
    Whew! Forty metres high and six in diameter? That sounds more like a chimney than a tank. Will you be content just to hover over the top? It will be really difficult to control the drone if you can't see it, and even harder if the tank walls don't transmit the usual 2.4 GHz (and most solid things don't very well. It's the WiFi frequency.) I doubt you could organize a drone to descend and return autonomously using air pressure and GPS (assuming it can even see any satellites).

    The Parrot 2.0 quad costs within your budget. It does have a downward looking camera that can do station keeping based on what it sees down there. That might be one possibility, though there would be range issues (which could be overcome, I think).

    Another might be to buy a $100 quad/camera toy and go have a bash at seeing what you can see before you put any real money into it. At 40 m high you may be at the limit of the control range of a toy, though.

    ETA Can you get inside the tank at the bottom? That would help a lot.
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      CommentAuthoroak
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2015 edited
     
    Posted By: Angus . . . ETA Can you get inside the tank at the bottom?

    Using appropriate confined-space entry procedures, of course, if there are potential hazards in the tanks.

    (ETA: From the description the shape of the tank sounds like the shape of older grain elevator chambers, which often are dangerous because material stuck to the walls can slough off and engulf a person, or because they contain a poisonous atmosphere (e.g. hydrogen sulfide).)
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      CommentAuthorAngus
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2015
     
    Posted By: Andrew PalfreymanWhat ever happened to sending a bloke up on a ladder to have a look-see?


    That's quite a ladder there, old boy. Guinness says
    The longest ladder is made of wood and measures 41.16 m (135 ft) long. It was made by the Handwerks Museum, St. Leonhard, Austria and completed in April 2005. The ladder has 120 rungs.
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      CommentAuthorDuracell
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2015
     
    Posted By: Andrew PalfreymanWhat ever happened to sending a bloke up on a ladder to have a look-see?
    Health & Safety. Risk assessment. Method statement. Crane hire. 2 cranes + platform required. etc. etc. etc.
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      CommentAuthorDuracell
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2015
     
    Posted By: AngusETA Can you get inside the tank at the bottom? That would help a lot.
    Yes.
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      CommentAuthoroak
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2015
     
    What are the tanks?
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      CommentAuthorAngus
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2015 edited
     
    OK, then I'd say the Parrot 2.0 might do it. It uses an actual WiFi control link, which probably won't have the range if you try to control it with your cell phone, but Parrot sells a more powerful one. The main thing is that it's pretty cheap and does have the downward look and the streaming video so you can see what you are doing. In principle you should be able to keep it over a fixed spot on the ground and stable at any given altitude, depending on GPS availability in the tower and the sensitivity of the acoustic altitude measurement and look-down camera station keeping as you get higher.

    I've never had my hands on one, so this is just from what I can see on the inter webs.

    Other than that, I think pretty much any quad would work. The main issue I think would be whether the vehicle can use GPS inside the tower. If it can't get satellites it may have a hard time. But at least you have no winds to contend with. I'd seriously think about trying a toy to see how difficult it is to keep it away from the walls manually. It's tricky because your ability to see error reduces as the quad rises and you will have a horrible tendency to over control.
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      CommentAuthorDuracell
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2015
     
    Thanks Angus. The tanks will be completely closed so no gps, but I would be able to stand at the bottom of the tank controlling the drone. I think I would probably need to be able to point the camera at the walls.
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      CommentAuthorDuracell
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2015
     
    Posted By: oakWhat are the tanks?
    Milk.
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      CommentAuthorAngus
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2015
     
    Posted By: DuracellThanks Angus. The tanks will be completely closed so no gps, but I would be able to stand at the bottom of the tank controlling the drone. I think I would probably need to be able to point the camera at the walls.


    You'd have no problem rotating the thing on the yaw axis, and there will be not much coupling to other control axes when you do. One of the nice things about quads is that yaw is controlled by differential torque. Two of the windmills go one way and two the other. If you want to yaw you slow down two and speed up the other two. The net lift stays the same, but the differential torque spins the beast. It's all controlled by the onboard software, even in toys, so you don't have to think about it.

    However, if you have to get closer and move in a circle following the wall, that is a different matter and I think you will need a lot of practice.

    One thing - mass market stuff like the Parrot use wide angle cameras, either their own or the GoPro. You may want to go to a more customized optical system and use a longer lens. That will require more lift and a camera stabilization platform. Starts to get pricey. I'll look about the inter webs. It's an area I've never had the money for.
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      CommentAuthorDuracell
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2015
     
    Thanks again Angus. Much appreciated.
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      CommentAuthorAngus
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2015
     
    It just dawned on me that you don't have gps, so you are going to be flying manually anyway. The major difference between $100 and $1000 quads is gps and the quality of the camera. So I reiterate that it would be worthwhile just to try it with something like this. You will get some idea of the difficulty and the quality you can get with an unstabilised camera. And you will get some practice keeping a $100 device off the walls before you move to a $1000 one, should that be necessary.

    And get a simulator programme to practice with. Worth its weight in broken drones.
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    What's missing, "------, camera, action!" A great consumer of power.
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      CommentAuthorAngus
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2015
     
    And one more thought. You might consider going down to the local RC Quadcopter club and hiring a teenager. One of the sports these days is racing quadcopters around the pillars in underground parking garages - a rather more challenging problem than yours. You should be able to acquire years worth of practice for a few euros.
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      CommentAuthorpcstru
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2015 edited
     
    DJI Phantom 2 would do the job for the price. Operating inside a metal tank might compromise the compass which is used for stabilisation.

    If H&S is a factor for a "man with a ladder" then it sounds like a "work thing". In the UK operating drones for commercial purposes would be illegal without an appropriate licence. We looked at buying one for building inspection but the red tape put a stop to it. There are companies that do offer it as a service.

    What are the tanks made of?
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      CommentAuthorAngus
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2015
     
    Posted By: magic momentWhat's missing, "------, camera, action!" A great consumer of power.


    A few of these and an extension cord.
    • CommentAuthortinker
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2015 edited
     
    Inside a metal tank you have low lateral wind-speed. This sounds more like a job for a camera-carrying balloon on a piece of string than a drone.

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/High-Altitude-Weather-Balloons-Parachutes-200g-600g-1200g-/261224601780?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_3&var=&hash=item3cd23318b4
    • CommentAuthortinker
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2015