So, I briefly mentioned this in another post about YouTube, but I bought myself a Phantom FC40 Quadcopter for my birthday.
It’s an all-in-one easy-to-use out of the box flying platform. It comes with a camera, which has wifi support for remote operation (”FPV”). It requires no experience with flying any type of aircraft — it’s pretty much all automatic, and driving it is more like a video game than anything else. It normally retails for $500; I picked it up for $430 during a sale at B&H. (Since then, they’ve been almost constantly sold out, so either supply is tiny or demand has picked up a lot.)
It is the most exciting toy I have ever bought. Flying it is super neat, and the videos that it takes are brilliant. For a long time I’ve considered that I’d like to get my pilot’s license, but I had never really had the ability to set aside the money it would take to do it. The Phantom is certainly no pilot’s license, but it still lets me see the neighborhood I live in in a different way, which is part of my intent.
I would like to do some things with mapping using the quad: doing super-local aerial imagery stitching. But so far, I’ve been having too much fun just flying the thing around.
The FC40 — which is the low end, basic model — doesn’t have any remote telemetry, so I can’t tell how far, fast, or high I’m going. The transmitter, in theory, goes to about 1000 feet, and remote video goes to about 300 feet. I don’t think I’ve hit the 1000′ limit, but I’m pretty sure I’ve passed the 300 foot limit.
I need to get more practice on video editing: creating a compelling story is hard. (More on that in another post sometime.) But the hardware itself is terrific. It’s simple enough that even little kids can do it. The copter is resilient — even when I accidentally got turned around and flew the thing into a fence at full speed, it came out basically unscathed (minus a few replaceable prop guards). It’s stable — even in 10-15mph winds, it holds steady, and if the transmitter goes on the blink, it will return to its start position, for example.
I bought the Phantom — rather than doing something more “DIY”/open source — because the price for what you get was terrific. By the time you buy motors, electronics, and a camera, you’re already looking at $350-$400 of retail parts; getting all of that, in a pre-assembled ready to fly package was brilliant.
The support story on the Phantom is a bit weird; especially with the FC40, which is among the newer models, there’s a bit of an issue around replacement parts (I’ve lost one of my vibration dampers for the camera, and I can’t figure out how to get a new one, because no one sells that as a part for the FC40), but I think that’s likely to slowly go away as the FC40 becomes as widespread as the other Phantom models.
Of course, with any new technology, there are a set of FAQs that you should expect. The Quad is no exception.
Is that a drone?
It really depends on what you mean by the word drone. Many people who ask this think of drones like the US Government uses them — far-flung remote-operated bombing or long-term surveillance machines. This isn’t that. On the other hand, if what you mean is “Can this thing fly and take video, possibly without me seeing the person operating it?” the answer is yes — in that sense it is a drone. My usual answer is “I just call it my quadcopter.”
Is that a camera on the front?
Yep! It’s a 720p video camera which records to a memory card inside the camera. I can also hook it up to an iPhone or Android — but realistically, I don’t, because so far I’m not good enough to fly my quad without actually staring at it the whole time. It’s something I want to work on.
How high can it go?
Higher than I can see it. Under the most conservative rules regarding model aircraft — which is the most straightforward way to look at the Phantom — you can fly legally up to 400 feet, as long as it isn’t being done for commercial purposes and as long as it is more than 5 miles from an airport. I don’t have good data, but I believe I have flown higher than that, though not much — when I get that high, I can’t see the copter, so an errant gust of wind can mess things up if I”m not careful.
How far can it go?
The transmitter is rated for up to 980 feet (I usually say ‘a quarter mile’), but some people have reported having it work up to twice that without any kind of booster. It runs off the same frequencies as some wifi routers, so it isn’t as long distance in a city as in the middle of nowhere.
Is that legal?
So long as I’m 5 miles from an airport, staying low, and not bothering people, the commonly held belief is that it falls under the FAA’s model airplane rules, and is legal to fly. Though the FAA makes contradictory statements all the time, so the “and not bothering people” becomes really key.
Do you go to MIT?
Between this, and the cost ($500 is generally viewed as “a lot cheaper than I would have thought it would be”), this forms the majority of the common questions I get about flying the quad around Boston — and I *always* get questions. I’ve gone out and flown approximately 20 different occasions now, and I’ve never *not* gotten questions from *someone*
Custom styling and graphics were done in house by our front-end wizard Adam Van Lente. We’ve also achieved our stretch goal of making all of the content on our corporate site fully compatible with tablet and mobile.
Our new corporate website highlights our new offerings right alongside the achievements that have brought Urban Mapping ten years’ of success delivering geospatial content, performance, and analysis.
Take a look and tell us what you think!
Water is essential for life on the Earth, and the supply of this precious liquid is constantly being recycled through energy from the sun. This process is known as the hydrologic cycle, and through it water is continuously exchanged between the land, the atmosphere, and the oceans. Precipitation in its various forms is critical to […]
Tile Layers are a creative way to visualize large complex data. By visualizing data as an image the map control only needs to reposition a set of images rather than every single data point of the data. This greatly improves performance and often reduces the amount of data the user will have to download. Tile layers generally consist of a large number of images that have a specific naming convention and are hosted online. Every once and a while I get requests from people who want to be able to host the tile layers locally. Creating a local tile layer is not an easy task. In this blog post instead of going through the 900+ lines of code required to create a local tile layer I will describe the process required to create one and how to make use of the library I created in the code samples…READ MORE
Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) is an invasive species of grave concern because it can carry the disease huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening. All citrus and closely related species are susceptible hosts for both the insect and the disease. There is no cure once a tree becomes infected. The diseased tree will decline in health until it dies.
As Tulare is one of the most agriculturally productive counties in the USA, special care is put on preserving and maintaining their crops and citrus trees. With ACP being identified as a very extensive problem throughout Southern California, need for a more effective data collecting solution became a necessity.
The workflow Tulare County used for ACP survey was paper based, where visits to potential host trees required constant data entry to document monitoring activities. GPS points are a project requirement, and any collection of inaccurate data in a grid name or GPS points could require several trips back to the site for correction. There was no way of editing or updating the collected information in a faster and more efficient way. In a search for a tool that would allow them to meet these needs, they came across GIS Cloud.
The following features were required:
Survey methods for ACP include visual inspections of citrus trees by state and county field inspectors, “branch tap survey,” and the placement of yellow panel “sticky traps”. Mobile Data Collection enabled the gathering of information about each potential host andassociated stickytrap
With the statewide trapping grid system in Map Editor, subgrids (in this case, quints) were distinctly labeled so users could be sent in the field accordingly. By using the Forms Manager in Map Editor, a custom form was specified for the purposes of ACP trapping. Once the users were in the field, they accessed the map with the associated form in Mobile Data Collection app. Data was collected simultaneously from multiple users and sent to the lead account in the office. The lead officer could keep track of the users in real time and make collaborative decisions on the spot. Additionally, with the classification wizard in Map Editor, collected data was classified based on the activity action. Each site was now represented with a different color indicating the action that was completed or needs to be completed on an interactive map.
It’s taken slightly longer than I’d like, but I’ve updated Portable GIS to include QGIS 2.2. You can find a copy of this new version on the portable gis page. I’ve included a zip file of the qgis2 folder for those that don’t want to install a full new version. You should be able to simply copy this over the existing apps/qgis2 folder, but you will lose any personalisations, such as new plugins etc that you’ve installed, so you have been warned!
Note that there’s a slight regression with this version- as I’m no longer claiming that QGIS Server and Map Viewer will work. I’ve had all sorts of trouble configuring these to work in the windows environment, let alone portable gis, and I wanted to get this release out without additional delay. When I get chance, I’ll get it finished, and believe me it will deserve a blog post and fanfare all of it’s own.
Also note that this is my first move away from using Dropbox as my file hosting service. Please bear with me if there are any problems with the link!
Iowa State University’s Extension and Outreach has over forty GIS TaskSheets available as PDFs for users to access. Each tasksheet offers step by step instructions on completing a specific geospatial task. The tasksheets cover a variety of GIS software products such as ArcGIS Explorer, QGIS, Google My Maps, and ArcGIS Online. Users can browse the list […]
I used to catalog all these things – I guess if they had more merit in my brain currently I would go back to doing that. Anyway – the pic? Why Charlotte? I was standing in Charlotte NC and in front of me were the words Charlotte Amalie with exact mileage. Of course I immediately wonder about projections and exactly where they measured to….and then my walking companion said this was boring. I grabbed a pic and left.
From the NASA website on EARTH RIGHT NOW.
NASA invites you — and everyone else on the planet — to take part in a worldwide celebration of Earth Day this year with the agency’s #GlobalSelfie event.
The year 2014 is a big one for NASA Earth science. Five NASA missions designed to gather critical data about our home planet are launching to space this year. NASA is marking this big year for Earth science with a campaign called Earth Right Now, and as part of this campaign the agency is asking for your help this Earth Day, April 22.
While NASA satellites constantly look at Earth from space, on Earth Day we’re asking you to step outside and take a picture of yourself wherever you are on Earth. Then post it to social media using the hashtag #GlobalSelfie.
ArcMap is a component of Esri’s suite of desktop GIS software programs. Users of ArcGIS use ArcMap primarily to create, edit, analyze, and display geospatial information. Saved ArcMap files have the .mxd extension. This file format is only usable within ArcMap. To share maps created within ArcMap, most cartographers will output the finished map to […]
The event attracted a diverse group of experts and novices from organizations as varied as NOAA, the World Bank, USAID, the American Red Cross, Deloitte, LockHeed Martin, the CDC and many others. As a new member of QGIS community myself, I was floored by the energy of the group and how quickly the project is evolving.
The day started with Jeff Johnson and Larry Shaffer setting the stage with presentations highlighting the history and evolution of QGIS from a shapefile viewer to full-fledged desktop application. Jeff went into detail about specific applications of QGIS, highlighting examples from NOAA and NASA. Larry picked it up from there and discussed the QGIS ecosystem and open source development community. He noted that plug-in development has been a long-time focus within the community and sees core development picking up steam in the coming year.
Next, Tim Sutton from the QGIS project steering committee joined remotely. Thanks to OpenGovHub’s fantastic conference abilities, Tim being in South Africa didn’t pose a challenge. Tim provided further context to Larry’s discussion on core and plugin development and the steering committee’s focus for 2014.
Later on, Gary Sherman joined remotely from Alaska and provided a brief history of QGIS development, including it’s origin as a shapefile viewer. Gary is also the author of the PyQGIS Programmer’s Guide on developing QGIS Plugins.
Vivien Depardy and Yewondwossen Assefa of GFDDR then presented on the role QGIS (and GeoNode) plays in their emergency response and disaster recovery efforts. Larry provided context to their efforts, applauding their development model calling it a leading example of development.
After a quick lunch we split into two groups for hands-on workshops. Jeff Johnson led “Using QGIS with OpenGeo Suite” and Larry Shaffer led “How to Become a QGIS Developer”. I attended Jeff’s session, which provided a good opportunity to review the fantastic QGIS documentation with an experienced instructor. Jeff used the documentation as a starting point but added his tips and tricks along the way. He ended by showing us how to use the OpenGeo Explorer plugin to publish data to GeoServer.
My colleague, Eva Shon, attended Larry’s workshop. Larry’s goal was to get more developers involved on the QGIS project. As the only core developer in the United States, he’s especially interested in increasing the number of developers from North America. He shared an early draft of QGIS core developer documentation and virtual machine images he’s working on intended to help new developers get started more quickly.
Whether you were looking for an introduction to QGIS or were already active in the community, the day had something for everyone. The event ended with a happy hour and the only question left was when we’d do it again. To learn more about QGIS, download and install it using the OpenGeo Suite installer and check out documentation to see what it can do. Stay tuned for next QGIS U.S. User Group meetings being planned in Atlanta and Seattle.
The post QGIS US User Group: The beginning of something big appeared first on Boundless.
There are a few map contests open for those interested in submitting both paper and digital maps as well as contests designed to showcase the potential of different types of spatial data. GIS and Map Contests Here are current map and GIS related competitions listed in order of the competition deadline. An updated list of […]
Do you know about Safe’s FME Grant Program?
Every year, we provide well over 4,000 free FME licenses to educational institutions of all levels, researchers, and non-profit organizations of every stripe. The elephantine task of herding all of those cats falls to Moira Seabloom, FME Software Grant Program Coordinator here at Safe. And speaking of cats – big ones! – one of our grant recipients is using geospatial technology to help out real cats and all sorts of other endangered species around the globe.
The SMART Partnership is an innovative partnership involving a number of the world’s leading conservation agencies, including CITES-MIKE, Frankfurt Zoological Society, North Carolina Zoo, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Wildlife Fund, and the Zoological Society of London. The SMART approach is a suite of best practices focusing on securing new and improved tools for measuring, evaluating and improving the effectiveness of wildlife law enforcement patrols and site-based conservation activities.
Part of addressing this challenge involved developing the SMART software, a robust, flexible, globally scalable suite of tools to empower rangers, patrol leaders and law enforcement managers to leverage geospatial data using as simple as possible technology. As they work through deploying SMART software around the world, the work of migrating diverse historic data sets has been simplified greatly with FME through our grant program.
Jonathan Palmer, the Director for Global ICT for the Wildlife Conservation Society has taken the technical lead on the project for the partnership in collaboration with Refractions, the developers of SMART Software. With 25 years of technology experience behind him, Jonathan has been through the trenches a few times with data conversions.
“Helping around twenty government partners do complex data conversions is a real challenge,” says Jonathan. “Often we are not in a position to get direct access to the data, and have to remotely guide staff through mapping and converting data. Add to this the fact that the source data isn’t always as clean as you would like, and you get an understanding of the challenges we face. With support from FME we have a few conversions under our belt and we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel – without FME we may have been facing an impossible mission!”
So as you can see, the FME Grant Program isn’t just for schools – and the SMART Partnership is one of many grant recipients whose efforts we are happy to support. “I get to work with some smart people doing some pretty cutting edge research,” says Moira, “and they all get very excited when they realize that FME solves their data problems. Through the Grant Program, we get involved with some great people and good organizations that are really making a difference. It feels good to be a part of that.”
And who knows? Perhaps some day, FME may play a tiny role in helping to preserve this fearsome, territorial beast of Africa – currently listed as “vulnerable”. Press play and hear him roar!
The post FME Grant Program Profile: The SMART Partnership Helps Defend Endangered Species appeared first on Safe Software Blog.
A VerySpatial Podcast
Shownotes – Episode 457
21 April 2014
Main Topic: Our conversation with Esri at the AAG Annual Conference
Click for the detailed shownotes
So this is all in the beginning stages – but it’s going to happen. There was a QGIS meeting a few weeks ago in Washington DC. So I’m doing on here in Atlanta. I would like for this to branch out into an FOSS4G type of meeting but QGIS is about my favorite piece Open Source GIS software currently. So I’m starting with that as the foundation and let the community grow from there.
Anyway – there is a meetup group. A meeting will be following shortly as I start to pull it together. If you want to help or host one let me know. This should be quite exciting. Join – help – talk. The first meeting might be more of a meet and greet centered around adult beverages.
The Guardian this week has a nostalgic reflection by Rachel Hewitt asking if this is “The end of the road for Ordnance Survey? Ordnance Survey paper maps are under threat from digital devices. Rachel Hewitt celebrates an ‘icon of England’ beloved by generations of hikers, poets and artists”
Rachel Hewitt is the author of “Map of a Nation: A Biography of of the Ordnance Survey” and often writes about cartography, such as her review of “On the Map by Simon Garfield” Although many articles have been written about the impact of geospatial technologies on traditional paper maps, none have been as poetic because Rachel Hewitt is one of the BBC’s Ten New Generation Thinkers selected by the BBC and AHRC to disseminate their research through radio and festivals.
In the article, Hewitt quotes from the late Poet Laureate John Betjeman who was famous for his love of Ordnance Survey one inch maps immortalized in his verse autobiography Summoned by Bells (1960). “DEAR lanes of Cornwall! With a one-inch map, A bicycle and well-worn “Little Guide”” His alma mater, University of Exeter, houses John Betjeman’s library categorized by subject categories including English topography and architecture.
The UK Pensions Minister has proposed a plan that estimates life expectancy based on such as home location. In a BBC article, “Pensioners Could Get Life Expectancy Guidance” the Minister Steve Webb states that life expectancy planning based on data such as how long our grandparents lived is no longer a valid estimate tool. A review of articles in the BBC, Telegraph, The Mirror and The Guardian reveal that none of the articles mention aggregated spatial data, location based data, or give an indication of using classic spatial analysis, despite quotes such as ““My idea … is to say to somebody, ‘Look, someone of your generation, living in this part of the country, ……”
Even one of the few maps used in an article, “How long will you live? Official map shows your life expectancy – and you’ll get a letter when you retire telling you how long you’ve got left ” from the Daily Mail is a very rough map. The lack of maps isn’t because spatial formats aren’t available. The Office of National Statistics uses the data for it’s “Ageing in the UK Interactive Mapping Tool” and an interactive map of aging from 1992 -2033. There are some challenges that are outlined in a presentation on “Challenges for Official Statistics Population Ageing: An Overview” by the Population, Health, and Regional Directorate. Several schools such as, The University of Sheffield Public Health has a GIS Unit which provides choropleth maps of life expectancy for the population of Sheffield.
A fun map of life expectancy in the UK is the historical data site familyrelatives.com of Life Expectancy Distribution Maps England & Wales – Deaths 1866 – 1920 or the Ancestry version of Deaths from 1837-1915.
If I remember correctly I was in Knoxville and we had gotten the first look at ArcMap 8.0. It’s been too many years ago to care or to count – I just remember sitting there going “Dammit – I spent all this time learning AML and Avenue”. The word being passed around as I remember it was ArcMap was the beginning stages of killing off ArcView 3.x. ArcView had made tremendous in roads and had pretty much became the go to standard for all my clients when I worked for TVA. Workstation was safe. I loved workstation. For all it’s command line craziness I knew one thing – if someone said they were using workstation they had a clue as to what they were doing. One of the managers with strong ties back to Redlands said during the class “This will kill off workstation”.
As time went on – Workstation on Unix slowly moved to Workstation for NT. ArcMap turned up in the office slowly around 2001 when XP finally appeared. Eventually I opened workstation less and less as coverages were replaced with shapefiles and shapefiles were pushed into a geodatabase. Eventually we moved into SDE which killed off a beautiful workflow we had set up with ArcINFO workstation. We started hearing about pushing maps into 3-D and onto the web. I still hear about pushing maps into 3-D and the web.
For the last year I’ve watched ArcGISOnline creep into everything. It’s not a bad thing – but I don’t really consider it a great thing. Call me your crazy uncle who turns up to thanksgiving late in a rusted out jeep, but I’m still not convinced the data is secure. I will say the same for any “cloud” environment in which you don’t hold the kill switch.
So anyway – I spent the morning reading up on ArcGISPro. Watching videos. I started having flashbacks. ArcWorkstation won’t be replaced. Arcview is safe. Deprecation. Will Arcmap run with workstation….Will ArcGISPro run with Arcmap….
I won’t even get into 3D.
For the record – it may take a few years but I consider this the preliminary announcement for the end ArcGIS for Desktop. The desktop platform has gotten stale. This is it. The next “revolution” will be ArcGISPro. Still with the tiered licensing from what I can figure out. “Hi you’ve just purchased ArcGIS Profesional Basic for Desktop”.
Innovation is great. Getting ESRi into 64bit for the desktop has long been overdue mainly because I still consider Desktop to have too much 80/90′s workstation core at it’s heart. You have to rewrite it to get rid of it. If you are going to rewrite it you might as well start killing off the old product line. Software changes and it’s not a bad thing….but – there’s a lot of “transformational” talk during this video. Which usually means transforming your budget also.
It’s worth the watch – if only to remember the palm springs demo that was rolled out for years. I do miss the palm springs demo.
Sweet, I did not know about the option to package a Vagrant box. Thanks for this.
Originally posted on Entrepreneurship on Rails:
And now you need to upgrade that environment, so you’d like to upgrade your box alongside. In my case, I’m upgrading my app from Ruby 1.9.2 to Ruby 2.0 on Heroku, so I’d like to upgrade my Ubuntu VM too. This post will cover first the upgrade to Ruby 2.0, and then saving the upgraded box.
First we use apt-get to ensure that all of our installed software is up to date.
$ sudo apt-get update
Then we install some prerequisites: the build essentials, ZLib, Git.
$ sudo apt-get install build-essential zlib1g-dev git-core
I don’t want to simply upgrade Ruby, I’d like to go back and forth between the 2 versions while testing the upgrade. There are 2 recommended tools for…
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In this talk I start things off with the “zen of testing”, then David Spriggs talks about using the Intern, followed by Tom Wayson discussing Karma, and I close the talk with Grunt + Jasmine + automation.
Here is a PDF of the slide deck as well – may be useful in discussions with others.
All the tools we discuss in the session are listed in https://github.com/tomwayson/esri-js-testing-tools-and-patterns in Tom’s github account.
I also gave a quick presentation at the Fort Collins Dev Meetup, and recorded a screencast. In it, I talk about the soon-to-be-released-in-beta ArcGIS Open Data project at a high-level, and then demonstrate the front-end developer workflow related to automated linting and unit testing. I then showed some of our integration tests running (using selenium, driven by mocha + wd.js). Finally I talked about some work I’m doing taking “best practices” from the Open Data project and creating yeoman scaffolders to help people start off new projects with all the infrastructure in place. For this demo, I scaffolded and published a (really simple) web app up to github pages in ~2 minutes. As this moves forward I’ll be posting about the scaffolder’s themselves as well as how to create scaffolders.
In the video I demonstrate a number of the tools and concepts that I’ve written about in these posts…
This article provides an overview of the use of GIS as in public health. It includes a short history of its development as a tool in the field, explains how GIS is used, different data sources and how the privacy of sensitive health information is maintained. Examples of current research using GIS within the public health field are also provided.