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Gathering Data with the DJI Zenmuse L1

Packing and preparing properly is the most important step to pulling off a mission successfully. Reference the recommended field items below:

Field Items #

  • DJI M300 RTK Drone
    • Smart Controller (Charged in case)
    • Controller Batteries (installed, extras in case)
    • Flight Batteries (in drone and extra in case)
  • L1 Sensor
    • w/ SD Card Installed (Recommended: 128GB)
  • Battery Charger Case
    • Extra TB60 Batteries loaded inside
  • RoboDot / RoboNode
    • Fully Charged
    • Base Station can fit in M300 Case
  • Survey tripod
    • w/ adaptor for RoboDot (as needed)
  • Generator and fuel (for charging batteries/ as needed)
  • Extra Micro SD Cards
  • Extra USB Cords
    • Type-C and Micro-USB
  • Phone with Hotspot capabilities
  • PPE (high vis, hardhat, safety glasses as needed)
  • GCPs (Ground Control Points)
  • Concrete Nails (for GCP points)
  • Rebar (for soft ground GCP points)
  • Hammer
  • Spray pain
  • Stakes and flagging

Laying GPCs #

Accuracy is important. Ground Control Points help to better represent the L1 data being collected by offering more accurate points of reference within the project boundary. A GCP tile consists of a 2×2 ft black and white checkerboard pattern on a plastic laminate backing. This design helps pinpoint an exact point on the ground where a nail is placed and an accurate GPS location is recorded. Once the project area is known, it is helpful to pre-plan ground control placement in Google Earth to streamline setup time in the field. Organize these points in key areas around the project including all edges, corners and the middle to fine tune the datas accuracy (reference photo below for example).
[Insert GCP Tile Image & GCP Plan Image]

At each point, hammer in a survey nail and mark as simple as possible with spray paint. Prioritize using identifiable points like solid corners or converging cracks in the road… anything that can be picked out in the imagery later if needed. After the nail is set, place a Ground Control tile overtop with the center hole aligned directly on the nail. Repeat this for each GCP point in the project. Each one of these point’s GPS location will need to be collected by either a survey team or using a RoboDot in Rover Mode. These data point will be used in the post processing later in this document. *Reference Using RoboDot as a Rover for GCP Recording: to complete the manual GPS point collection step.

Matrice 300 RTK Aircraft Setup #

Once all the project’s ground control points have been set. It is time to set up the aircraft. Follow along below for an initial Matrice 300 aircraft unboxing, setup, and preparation for a flight mission.


  • Open the M300 case
  • Attach the landing gear struts to the upside aircraft in the case
    • {M300 Image}
    • Twist locking pieces so that the matching red marks are aligned (Do not over tighten)
  • Lift aircraft off of case, flip, and set upright
    • {M300 Image}
  • Remove the prop guards form the lower arms
  • Unfold arms
    • The front arms (fold out flat) first
    • {M300 Front Arm Foldout}
    • Then the back arms (fold out at an angle)
    • {M300 Back Arm Foldout}
    • Twist the locking arm pieces in place matching red marks (Do not over tighten)
  • Unfold the propellers so both sections are parallel to eachother
  • Slide in a pair of TB60 Intelligent Flight Batteries
    • Turn battery lock (between the two batteries) 90 degrees to lock in place
    • {TB60 Locking Image}
  • Remove the DJI Smart Controller and its smaller battery from the battery case
  • Shut the case and place the assembled drone on top where the landing gear struts fit into the groves on the case
  • Attach the L1 Sensor
    • Align locking positions on the top of the sensor gimbal (red dot on drone matched with the white dot on the gimbal)
    • Twist until both the red dot on the drone and the sensor are aligned (it will not click)
    • Remove lens cover
    • Check that the gimbal has a MicroSD card

Pre-Flight Checklist #

Pre-Flight Inspection #

Operation Area #

  • Takeoff area is clear and free of debris
  • No obstacles in takeoff zone
    • Trees
    • Overhands
    • Buildings
    • Telephone wires
  • Proper PPE is deployed
    • Cones
    • Signage
    • Landing Pad
  • Airspace requirements are met:
    • Reference: NFZ (No Fly Zone) Unlocking
    • Clear of controlled airspace
    • In Controlled airspace
      • Within Unlovable LAANC zone

Aircraft #

  • Landing gear
    • Struts are free of damage and snug-ly attached
  • Arms
    • All arms are fully extended and locked in place
    • Free of damage
  • Motors
    • Propellers are securely mounted
    • Free of cracks or damage
    • Spins freely
  • M300 Body
    • Fuselage is free of cracks or damage
    • Obstacle avoidance sensors
      • Free of damage
      • Unblocked and cleaned of fingerprints
    • Anti-Collision Light undamaged
    • FPV Camera
      • Free of damage
      • Unblocked and cleaned of fingerprints

Sensor #

  • Gimbal moves freely and to full extents
  • Sensors are free of damages and cleaned of fingerprints
  • Micro SD car onboard

Crew #

  • All operation roles are defined
    • PIC (Pilot in Command)
      • Leader of operation
      • Decision Maker
      • Pilot
    • EP (External Pilot)
      • The person flying the aircraft designated by the RPIC
    • VO (Visual Observer)
      • Keeps situational awareness during operation
      • Line of sight with aircraft at all times
      • Delegates public interference
  • Crew is healthy and fit to operated
    • 8 hours of sleep
    • Limited stress
    • No injuries or illnesses that could affect the success of the operation

Emergency Procedures #

  • Loss of Aircraft Control
    • ATII mode
    • RTH
    • Note Height, Speed, Direction, Battery Life
    • Maintain Line of Sight
  • Pilot/ Crew Injury
    • Warn crew of status
    • Clear area and RTL
    • Monitor Aircraft
    • Inform emergency services
  • Public Enters Flight Area
    • Pilot monitor individuals
    • Delegate crew to communicate with individuals
    • Crew inform individuals of operation
    • Crew inform PIC of situation
    • Land aircraft if situation requires immediate intervention
  • Manned Aircraft Enters Flight Area
    • Announce traffic factor
    • Climb, descend, or evade as needed to keep proper separation

Pre-Flight Briefing #

The pre-flight briefing will be recited. verbally to all crew members and parties directly involved with the operation.

  1. Current Date and Time
  2. Current operational location
    1. Any obstacles
    2. Airspace
  3. Weather
    1. Wind
    2. Temperature
    3. Clouds
  4. Current operational task and purpose
    1. Reason for flight
      1. Ex: Training
    2. Flight Profile
      1. Maneuvers
      2. Altitude
  5. Roles and responsibilities
    1. Who is RPIC, VO, Etc. and their responsibilities
  6. Emergency Plan (Reference: Operation Pre-Flight Checklists)
    1. Aircraft avoidance
    2. Loss of signal: RTL
    3. Etc.
    4. Roles
      1. Person to contact emergency services as needed
      2. Person to operate fire extinguisher
  7. Any Questions?

Powering on the DJI Smart Controller #

  • Power on the Smart Controller by single tapping, then pressing and holding for a second on the power button to the right side of the controller face
    • The four white lights will sequentially light up on the controller, then remain on – showing it is on
  • Flip open the antennas mounted on a hinge on the bottom side of the controller
  • Once the screen loads the following menu will appear:
    • Click “Pilot” to launch DJI Pilot
  • The above landing menu is the home page for DJI Pilot
    • Enter Camera View
      • Fly the M300 manually for test purposes or manual lidar collections
    • Flight Route
      • Plan a standard or linear lidar waypoint mission
    • Album
      • View previously collected and cached photos
    • HMS (“Normal” in the top right corner):
      • (Health Management System)
      • View status of aircraft electronic components
      • Status of payload and gimbal system
      • Current firmware versions and update center
    • Top Left Icons
      • User Login
        • If your DJI Account is logged out, use this location to re-login
        • Settings
        • NFZ Unlocking System
          • Where DJI Fly Safe custom unlocks will be saved
          • Reference: NFZ (No Fly Zone) Unlocking
  • To navigate within the smart controller:
    • Use the touchscreen to process through menus
    • Use the physical Back button on the far left side of the smart controller to back through menus
  • With the Smart Controller now on it is time to set-up the RoboDot and connect to its internal Wifi. Continue on to the next section.

RoboDot Setup and Field Connection #

Setup #

  • Set up the RoboDot on the ground near the operation area
    • Set up where the pilot plans to operate from
    • If a survey pole is available: mount RoboDot with adapter
      • Verify of measure the precise height of the pole to the bottom of the RoboDot to be used in post processing later
      • This will increate the range of connectivity of the RoboDot’s wifi
    • Flip power switch
    • Light on top will turn solid blue
    • Allow satellites to acquire – flashing green light will confirm lock
      • Setup RoboDot before unpacking anything else to streamline operation
    • Power on DJI Smart Controller to connect

Connect to RoboDot’s Wifi on the DJI Smart Controller #

Connecting to the RoboDot with a phone or the DJI Smart controller is very simple:

  • On the Home Screen of the smart controller
    • Swipe down from the top of the screen
    • In the quick menu press and hold on the Wi-Fi Icon
      • The device Wi-Fi settings will open
  • In the Smart Controller Wifi settings:
    • Add Network:
    • SSID: RoboDot_XXX
    • Security: WPA/WPA2 PSK
    • Password: 12345678
    • Click Advanced Settings
      • Proxy: None
      • IP Settings: Static
      • IP Address:
    • Do not his Save until all inputs have been changed
    • Once connected, click on the Wi-Fi connection to view its properties
      • Verify IP address is showing within the connection
    • Once set, verify proper connection by powering on the drone, walking out of the RoboDot’s connection range, moving back in, and successfully reconnecting to the RoboDot’s Wi-Fi with the drone still powered on
  • To access the RoboDot’s browser app
    • Back out of the Wi-Fi settings and back into the main menu with the back button
    • On the Main Menu of the Smart Controller
      • Click the 4-Boxed Icon to open the device apps
      • Click on the Lightning Browser to launch the internet app
    • In the Internet app, search in the top search bar the IP address:
    • This will pull up the RoboDot’s onboard settings

Setting up the RoboDot as an RTK Base Station #

Updated on March 22, 2023
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