Mapping Camera Automatically Triggered By Autopilot

Mapping Camera Automatically Triggered By Autopilot


This video is a brief tutorial on the new Survey Tool in Mission Planner Ground Control software. The Survey Tool allows you to plan a mapping mission (aerial survey) based on mission requirements such as resolution and overlap/sidelap. Mission Planner automatically sets the parameter to trigger the mapping camera at intervals based on distance. The result is consistent spatial intervals between images regardless of changes in ground speed. You no longer need to guess-stimate the time interval to set in CHDK. The result is an optimal number of images for post processing.
Thank you diydrones developers! This tool is absolutely essential effective mapping.


  1. RSieradzki

    anyone has experience on triggering by pixhawk? is similar to APM 2.5? (RC7)

  2. Diodio26

    I’m looking forward to hear ftrom your experience once you get the camera. Hope you can write an article about it.

    Thanks anyway.

  3. geobduffy

    Hi Diodio,
    Unfortunately I don’t have any experience with that camera. I anticipate purchasing a Ricoh GR in a few weeks for a client build so I may have more info after that… Sorry

  4. Diodio26

    Hello. Im trying to use this feature but the pictures are being taken at random intervals of distance. The Mission Planner sets it to each 25 meters. Then the pictures are taken sometimes at 25 meters, then 35, then 30, then 60, then 50, etc.

    What could be the problem? I’m not using CHDK. I’m using a Ricoh GR IV camera triggered by USB.

    Thanks in advance.

    • geobduffy

      Hi Diodio,
      The Ricoh looks like it may be a great mapping camera option and I’m only upset that I haven’t had a chance to try one out yet. I’m very curious about your camera and trigger set up. It would be great if you would post about how you trigger the Ricoh via USB and what you think of the image quality. I’m intrigued by the Ricoh size, weight, and APS-C sensor size. Very impressive.
      Now to your question
      It could be related to the camera taking varying amounts of time to focus. It’s also possible that the camera is shutting down between up wind photos if auto shutdown is set to a time that is less than the time it takes to get to the next trigger location. It would take longer to start the camera up and then shoot resulting in a greater distance from previous photo.
      One last comment is that your mapping missions should be set up to crab into the wind which keeps aircraft speed consistent throughout flight.
      I hope this helps. Keep us in the loop.

      • Diodio26

        This is the one we’re using

        About the Auto-shutting down. That doesn’t seems to be the problem since the option is set to off.

        The Camera is great. The shutting speed and AF is really fast. The pictures are of great quality but it’s only 10 Mp.

        We can’t see to find the cause of the problem. We even mounted the camera setup along the APM 2.6 and everyhting, taped it to a board. Placed it on a car and gave it a ride to see if we can indentify the issue. Same problem. The pictures are taken at random distances.

        Any ideas? Would the problem be caused because we’re not using a Canon with CHDK? Thanks in advance.

        The other options we’re thinking. Using the Continuous Mode on the camera. To set intervals by time on the camera independent of the autopilot. The minimun we can set is 5 seconds. After that, we don’t know how to get the positions from the 3DR GPS to match the photos.

        Any help would be great.


  5. dvdsam0

    Hello Brenden

    Canon have a great deal on the tough D20 cameras a the moment. The shock proof camera seems like a good idea to a beginner.
    Do you know if this method would work with the D20, and also if the optics and other aspects of the camera are on par with others such as the S100?

    Many thanks

  6. alexvpp

    Hi there!

    Many thanks for your fantastic work; very inspiring!

    Something I didn’t get it:

    When the camera is trigered by the autopilot; I do not need to set up the CHDK parameters?
    But I still need to have it installed on the camera?


    • geobduffy

      Hi Alex,
      You do need CHDK set up with an intervalometer script or other method that tells it to trigger the shutter when receiving a 5V signal via USB. The duration of the pulse (set in Mission Planner) triggers the intervalometer script to take one picture and then stops until the next photo location.
      I hope that helps.

      • colpiumb

        i don’t understand where i put the chdk cable on the apm … a9-a10 or— i must use all 3 wire ( -/+/signal) or only the signal or…
        i use apm 2.6 with 3.1 the chdk usb2 and a canon camera…(wich program i must tu put in??)

        Thank’s a lot for your answer..

  7. JavytoG

    I would like to ask the experts if it’s necessary to use with intervalomerter script.
    Can I just put the usb cable directly to the APM without the E-Flight EFLA600 Controller???

    Thanks in Advance
    Best Regards.

    • geobduffy

      Hey Javy
      I think the issue with that is the usb (and camera) will receive 5v non-stop so it ill just continuously run the intervalometer script as soon as it is plugged in. The EFLA600 translates the pulses coming from APM or Rx into on (5V) or off (0V). It’s still a little vague to me exactly how the pulse values are handled by the EFLA600 but it must be programmed into the firmware on board.

      • JavytoG

        Ohhhhh Thanks….I will try both so let you know my testing
        Thanks for your reply
        Best Regards.

  8. Jaymee

    This product and website just gets better and better…. Thank you for all the info and your continued efforts to share your knowledge base.. It’s very much appreciated!



  9. Diodio26

    Just a question, with this or any other method.. Does the APM logs the coordinate data of each photo from the ublox GPS??? How does it do it, is not explained in any tutorial.

  10. jdlester73

    Great video! One question though. What triggers the camera for each shot. Is it a mechanical servo pushing the shutter button, or is it still an electronic signal sent to the camera?

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