I’ve been getting a lot of interest in aerial survey methods for both the 
Parrot Bebop 2 (copter) and the 
Disco (plane) for live-view surveys, since both drones now come with FPV (first 
person view) goggles. I 
thought a quick rundown might be useful for folks.  Bebop 2 will get you ~ 25 
minutes of flight time per 
battery and Disco will get you ~ 45 minutes. Both drones get up to 2km of range 
(terrain dependent) 
with the live video feed, which means you can run surveys over quite a large 
area. Awesome for 
ecological applications!

First thing, make sure you have the Parrot Free Flight Pro app downloaded on 
your smart phone (iOS or 
Android) and opened. Within the Free Flight App, you will have to purchase 
FlightPlan ($20 add-on to 
the free app) so that you can design an autonomous survey route.

Here is a tutorial on Flight Plan if you need it.

Your survey methods will vary for different ecological applications. It’s 
really up to you to decide on the 
necessary altitude, speed, distance, and overlap you want to design in Flight 
Plan. This will take some 
experimentation to dial in, particularly if you are not currently using drones. 
I recommend a standard 
‘lawn mower’ pattern to start with, going down, over, and back up in repeated 
parallel transects. When 
you are happy with the flight you have designed, you should save it to the 
Flight Plan gallery so that it is 
there for you to fly again, should you want to repeat the same exact survey 

Next, boot up the Skycontroller (same controller and headset works for both 
Bebop 2 and Disco). Pickup 
the FPV headset and slide out the phone holder. Place your phone in the holder 
and plug in the standard 
charging cord to the phone. Connect the other USB end of the cord to the 
Skycontroller. Before sliding 
the phone into the googles, you’ll want to open Free Flight if you haven’t 
already and connect to your 
drone through the app.

Note: if you are having connection issues, make sure your drone isn’t connected 
directly to the wifi on 
your phone. It needs to be connected through the FreeFlight Pro app.

Put FreeFlight into FPV mode so you see two eye-shaped circles on the screen 
display. Slide the holder 
with the phone back in the goggles and you should see what the drone is seeing.

Note: If you are seeing what is directly in from of the phone, it could be 
either that you are not 
connected to the drone OR you are in ‘phone view’ mode instead of ‘drone view’ 
mode. Click the right 
trigger on the front of the controller and it will toggle between what the 
drone camera sees and what the 
phone camera sees in front of you. This is a nifty feature so you don’t have to 
take off the goggles for 
situational awareness.

From there, you launch the drones (read the instructions for Disco or Bebop 2 
auto launching…both are 
as easy as it gets). Use the left scroll on the controller to adjust the camera 
downward for the survey. 
Then, you can wear the goggles and maybe use a hand clicker to do your visual 
counts in real time. 
Alternatively, you can let someone else wear the goggles and call out data to 
you while you keep visual 
line of site of the drone. Some of this depends on the rules of the country you 
are in.

Note: FPV goggles take some getting used to, so watch out for motion sickness. 
If you are experiencing 
nausea, take the goggles off and throw up in the nearest bush...not on your 
shoes.  If you don’t want to 
use the goggles, you can use a tablet for a live view. Just make sure to 
purchase a sunshade so you can 
see the screen out in the field. The nice thing about the goggles is that they 
cut the light out and allow 
you to focus during surveys. The other nice thing is the goggles fit over most 
prescription glasses.

Both Bebop 2 and Disco record HD video (1080p). This means can also review the 
video later in the 
office for further study.  It could be that you don't need to do the surveys in 
real time and the recorded 
video is more useful that FPV monitoring. Moreover, if you design your flight 
plans with enough overlap, 
you can stitch video later using Pix4D photogrammetric software should you want 
an orthomosaic map. 
Just upload the video and tell Pix4D which frames to grab (e.g. every 15th 
frame at 30 frames per sec).

In sum, all of this should take you maybe 5 -10 minutes of setup (less if your 
mission is already 
designed) and be very straight forward. If you are not very technically savvy 
(e.g. you still don’t have a 
smart phone nor know how to use one), then just find a teenage relative or 
maybe one of those 
undergrads in the back of your class who is always on their phone rather than 
paying attention to help 
you. It will be easy for them.

Hope this is helpful.

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