Getting Started With RedEdge

Table of Contents

Introduction

RedEdge provides multiple options for integration - from stand-alone (where you only provide power to the camera) to fully integrated. Advanced integrations take advantage of flexible interfaces including Ethernet, serial, RTK, and PWM/GPIO trigger, for seamless integration with any drone. 

The default configuration for RedEdge uses the provided cables and modules - see RedEdge QuickStart Guide for more details. You can also explore the various options for integration below and choose the best fit for your configuration. 

Included Cables and Modules

  • 3DR GPS module
  • Downwelling Light Sensor (DLS)
  • 3-pin cable for power and optional external trigger
  • 6-pin cable for connection of camera to either DLS or GPS module
  • 6-pin cable for connection between DLS and GPS module
  • 4-pin cable for connection between the DLS and GPS module (for mag sensors)

Powering

RedEdge requires 5.0 Volts DC for operation, with a maximum operating voltage of 5.5 Volts. The supply must be able to provide 10W (2A@5V) peak. Power can be provided to RedEdge in 3 main ways:

  • a 5.0-Volt battery pack
  • a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery pack with appropriate BEC or power supply
  • shared power from aircraft's main battery pack (with BEC or power supply if needed).

For more details, see How do I power the RedEdge?

Options for Integration

There are four basic ways to setup RedEdge. The following summaries will help you choose the one that meets your needs. Once you have determined the basic components of your setup, continue to follow this guide for triggering, mounting, and other considerations.

A) Default

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The default configuration integrates the included GPS module and the DLS. To see the default configuration using the provided cables and modules, please see the RedEdge QuickStart Guide. Then continue to follow this guide for triggering, mounting, and other considerations.

B) Serial/Ethernet data & DLS

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If you will not be using the provided GPS module, please ensure that your autopilot / payload computer sends both GPS data (latitude/longitude/altitude and date/time) and attitude data (pitch angle, roll angle, heading angle) using either the serial interface (MAVLink protocol) or Ethernet interface (custom API) - see the RedEdge API for details.

Continue to triggering, mounting, and other considerations.

C) Default GPS (no DLS)

The DLS is not required in order to use RedEdge. Whether flying with or without the DLS, always capture calibrated reflectance panel images before and after each flight.

Continue to triggering, mounting, and other considerations.

D) Serial/Ethernet data only (no DLS)

If you will not be using the provided GPS module, please ensure that your autopilot sends both GPS data (latitude/longitude/altitude and date/time) and attitude data (pitch angle, roll angle, heading angle) using either the serial interface (MAVLink protocol) or Ethernet interface (custom API) - see the RedEdge API for details.

Whether flying with or without the DLS, always capture calibrated reflectance panel images before and after each flight.

Continue to triggering, mounting, and other considerations.

General Considerations

Connecting to RedEdge

To make changes to RedEdge settings, you can connect to the RedEdge web interface using WiFi or Ethernet. For more details, see How do I connect to RedEdge?

Triggering

RedEdge supports three methods for capturing images: Timer mode, Overlap mode (recommended), and External Trigger mode (optional). You can configure these settings in the RedEdge WiFi Configuration > Settings page. 

The optional External Trigger mode enables commanding a capture from the autopilot or payload computer using either a Rising Edge, Falling Edge, short PWM, or long PWM.

For more details, see RedEdge: Automatic Triggering Options

GPS Data

In order for RedEdge to properly geotag images and self-trigger, GPS data must be available to the camera. The simplest way to get started is to use the included module. Alternatively, you can send GPS data using MAVLink (Serial) or HTTP API (Ethernet) - refer to the RedEdge API

For more details, see RedEdge: GPS Options

Downwelling Light Sensor (DLS)

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The Downwelling Light Sensor (DLS) is a 5-band incident light sensor that connects directly to a MicaSense RedEdge camera. The DLS measures the ambient light during a flight for each of the five bands of the camera and records this information in the metadata of the TIFF images captured by the camera. This information can then be used by specialized processing tools (like Atlas) to correct for global lighting changes in the middle of a flight, such as those that can happen due to clouds covering the sun.

The sensor should be mounted on a mast with a clear view of the sky, and completely unobstructed so that no part of the aircraft can cast a shadow on the light sensor.

The DLS is not required in order to use RedEdge. Whether flying with or without the DLS, always capture calibrated reflectance panel images before and after each flight.

For more details on the connections and mounting considerations, please see the DLS Integration Guide

Storing Data

RedEdge comes with and is designed for use with SDHC SD cards, which are limited to 32 GB storage capacity. Higher capacity SD cards use the SDXC format, which is not compatible with RedEdge. For more details, see What SD cards are recommended for use with RedEdge?

We've also put together an Expandable Storage User Guide to help provide additional storage if desired.

Aircraft

The RedEdge is well suited for both manned and unmanned aircraft of all kinds. 

Camera Specifications

Please see the detailed specifications outlined in the RedEdge Integration Guide to guide your integration.

Multicopter Mounting Considerations

When mounting a RedEdge on a multicopter, we highly recommend using a gimbal to keep vibration to a minimum and to ensure that the camera is pointing straight down (nadir). 

Since the RedEdge features global shutters which will be less affected by normal vibration, a fixed mount is also a reasonable option. With a fixed mount, be sure to angle the camera to compensate for the pitch of the aircraft as it flies. The goal is to keep the camera pointing straight down (nadir). 

The DLS and GPS should be mounted on TOP of the aircraft such that the DLS is pointing straight up, with a clear view of the sky. The DLS should not be shadowed by any objects, including the propellers. For this reason, it is best to place the DLS well above the aircraft, on a mast, if possible. If using the GPS module (which in addition to GPS data also provides magnetometer data), this module must be placed on a mast to avoid electromagnetic interference that will affect its magnetometer readings.

For more details, see "Mounting Considerations" in the DLS Integration Guide 

Fixed-Wing Mounting Considerations

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It is important to ensure airflow around the camera for cooling.

Normally, the camera should be in landscape orientation. If you plan to mount the camera in a portrait orientation, remember to swap the vertical and horizontal parameters in your mission planner.

Ensure that the camera is protected during landing. We do not recommend using a lens cover, but if you use lens protection, make sure that the lens protection you use does not filter the various wavelengths captured by the camera. 

If using the GPS module (which in addition to GPS data also provides magnetometer data), this module must be located such as avoid electromagnetic interference that will affect its magnetometer readings.

For more details, see "Mounting Considerations" in the DLS Integration Guide 

Mission Planning

Software

There are many desktop and mobile applications available for planning your mission. Your software will need information about RedEdge (like the field of view) in order to generate an appropriate flight plan. Please see this article for important RedEdge parameters to input into your software.

Best Practices

How you capture data is critical to produce high quality output. Our best practices guide takes you through everything you need to know.

Best practices: Collecting Data with MicaSense RedEdge and Parrot Sequoia

Processing Data

Data captured with RedEdge conforms to standard formats (TIFF) with standard metadata that can be read by a number of image viewer and processing applications. Since five separate TIFF files are created for each capture and they are not registered/aligned with each other, photogrammetry software is required to align/register the bands and create a georeferenced orthomosaic from the data.

Cloud Processing

MicaSense offers ATLAS, a cloud-based solution for processing, storage, management, presentation, and analysis of data captured with RedEdge and other sensors. Raw data from the camera's SD card can be uploaded to ATLAS using our Uploader application (Windows/Mac). These files are processed in cloud-based computers and presented in a web-based map viewer with multiple analytical layers designed to give you key insights into your data. ATLAS also produces a orthomosaic of the entire collection in GeoTIFF format. 

For more information, please see the following guides or take a look at some sample data in ATLAS.

Sign up or log into ATLAS

ATLAS: Getting Started > Introduction and Overview

ATLAS Overview Video

Local Processing

Data captured with RedEdge can also be processed with other photogrammetry applications, such as Pix4DMapper

 

 

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