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Cell Tower Inspection

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Hello,

Is there anyone here that has done a cell tower inspection? I'm using the Inspire Pro with 45mm lens.

1) Will the drone get any signal interference from the tower (I hear yes and no)?

2) Whats the safest way to conduct a cell tower inspection with a drone?

3) What precaution should I take?

4) What potential dangers should I look out for?

5) Are there any other important facts that I need to know regarding drone cell tower inspections?

6) Is there any additional equipment that needs to be used?
 
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Great question. I to am looking to expand now that I have invested in I2. I have a neighbor that designs cell towers and says they are now using drones with some type of bar-code reader for inventory of leased equipment. Unfortunately he is in high demand these days and has been overseas for months. Will certainly share a photo if his setup if I can speak in person.
 
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Great question. I to am looking to expand now that I have invested in I2. I have a neighbor that designs cell towers and says they are now using drones with some type of bar-code reader for inventory of leased equipment. Unfortunately he is in high demand these days and has been overseas for months. Will certainly share a photo if his setup if I can speak in person.
I look forward to that info. Thanks!
 
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At what RF signal would be considered safe to fly?
I don't think there's a clear cut answer for that. An inspection will require the bird to get very close to the cell tower antennas, where radiated signal is strongest. Don't think I'd risk my I1P. They are not as resistant against stray RF like pro level UAVs (think M600, M200). If you must test this, use a cheaper drone....
The attached guidelines are not very helpful, other than "RF Interference and Awareness."
 

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RFExplorer make a handy device - I've got the one which covers two sets of frequencies - so I can see everything from UHF to 5.8ghz.
When you power up your drone and transmitter you'll see a spike on the readout graph showing your frequency. When you do a test on-site you'll be able to see whether anything is encroaching. You can then make a more educated call on whether to fly or not.
 
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RFExplorer make a handy device - I've got the one which covers two sets of frequencies - so I can see everything from UHF to 5.8ghz.
When you power up your drone and transmitter you'll see a spike on the readout graph showing your frequency. When you do a test on-site you'll be able to see whether anything is encroaching. You can then make a more educated call on whether to fly or not.
Hi, thank you for your reply.

What frequencies would determine to fly or not and what do I look out for prior to launching?

Can you explain more on what you mean by "seeing if anything is encroaching"?

Do you fly in GPS mode?

Is it mostly imu failure or link loss that's the issue with RF interference?

Thanks again.
 
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On the RFExplorer screen the frequencies are displayed as a graph. Frequency along the bottom, strength up the side. When you switch your Tx and Drone on - in a reasonably quiet RF environment you'll see the graph spike, showing the strength and frequency of your transmission.
If you do this test near a cell tower (with your drone switched off) and the frequencies you'd normally be transmitting on already have lots of spikes/activity, then you know that they are 'encroaching' on your control frequencies and could therefore cause issues.
 
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On the RFExplorer screen the frequencies are displayed as a graph. Frequency along the bottom, strength up the side. When you switch your Tx and Drone on - in a reasonably quiet RF environment you'll see the graph spike, showing the strength and frequency of your transmission.
If you do this test near a cell tower (with your drone switched off) and the frequencies you'd normally be transmitting on already have lots of spikes/activity, then you know that they are 'encroaching' on your control frequencies and could therefore cause issues.
Is encroachment a normal occurrence and if there is encroachment of frequencies what do you do? Is it a no go or are there methods?

Thanks for the help.
 
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Better have lots of insurance. The loss of your Inspire will be the least of your worries if interference causes the ac to crash into the tower. Think your Inspire is expensive, try the equipment on the tower.
 
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Is encroachment a normal occurrence and if there is encroachment of frequencies what do you do? Is it a no go or are there methods?
If there's high intensity interference/encroachment all over my control frequency I wouldn't fly.
 
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Very strong RF can generate noise in internal circuits and cause malfunction of any electronic including fc, sensors, gps, compass etc., besides the communication between aircraft and rc. You will need aircraft that is designed specially for the job.
 
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A few things : the major cell carriers require minimum $3M in liability insurance. The other tower owning companies vary, but I'd recommend at least the $3M. The cost for this keeps most individuals out of the game.

Always fly with two pilots - one to fly the bird constantly as you need to be very close to the structure to get the video/photos needed and the other to operate the camera. I would never consider doing this work alone.

Yes, the cost of the cell equipment on the tower is expensive to replace, but not nearly as expensive as knocking a busy cell site off the air. Consider the lost revenue to the cellular provider if you fly into a microwave dish and drop the link - do not fly in front of microwave dishes if at all possible.

We have not experienced any interference flying cell towers and we've flown many. Unless you are familiar with the cellular/broadband business, you won't necessarily know what you're looking at equipment/frequency wise, so plingbots advice is prudent. We've primarily used the I1, but will be using the M600 Pro additionally. Nice to have a DSLR with 24 - 105 zoom and other lens options.

Just some general info FWIW.
 
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Hello,

Is there anyone here that has done a cell tower inspection? I'm using the Inspire Pro with 45mm lens.

1) Will the drone get any signal interference from the tower (I hear yes and no)?

2) Whats the safest way to conduct a cell tower inspection with a drone?

3) What precaution should I take?

4) What potential dangers should I look out for?

5) Are there any other important facts that I need to know regarding drone cell tower inspections?

6) Is there any additional equipment that needs to be used?
I did some cell tower inspection with my P1, Hero4, with DragonLink™ Tx/Rx, but I assume you're looking for a better image than the Hero4 can provide. When I tried to fly near the same, exact tower with my Inspire 1, v2, it wouldn't get within 30 or 40 feet of the tower...almost like it was geofenced. I keep the P1 around just in case a cell tower gig comes up. I made this demo video, but never did get a gig from it. As you can see, with the DragonLink™ system, I was able to fly right up to the antennas:


Keep in mind this video was made 3 years ago. So, yeah...it's crap...LOL.... But the point is this: If I thought cell tower inspection were a lucrative enough market, I would probably build a bird specifically for that purpose. I'm not sure the Inspire would be the best choice to build on. I might try to build on the M200 (or similar) architecture.

D
 
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I was posing a similar question in the M600 forum. My situation is TV/radio . I lot more power and very different frequency range . I'm looking at 90 MHz at somewhere in the range of 47 KW and 587 MHz at 900 KW close to a MW . There is a 7 Ghz radio and 11ghz radio also . We have a Z30 so we can be a fairly good distance away without getting right up to the tower but I'm still cautious and looking for some advice if there is anyone out there .

Paul
 
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I was posing a similar question in the M600 forum. My situation is TV/radio . I lot more power and very different frequency range . I'm looking at 90 MHz at somewhere in the range of 47 KW and 587 MHz at 900 KW close to a MW . There is a 7 Ghz radio and 11ghz radio also . We have a Z30 so we can be a fairly good distance away without getting right up to the tower but I'm still cautious and looking for some advice if there is anyone out there .

Paul
If you have a Z30, you don't need to be anywhere near any tower or transmission interference. You should be good to go!
 
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If you have a Z30, you don't need to be anywhere near any tower or transmission interference. You should be good to go!
How about a Z3? Have the I1 and been thinking about inspections using it. Z30 is a bit out of budget for the moment.

Spectrum Analyzer/RF Analyzer is a must a read the "RF Explorer Handheld Spectrum Analyzer 6G Combo" on Amazon is good.

Episodes 174, 178 and 188 of Ask DroneU podcast are about inspections and good info provided about Farraday cages, interference etc
 
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This is a crazy funny thread with all kinds of people with ZERO cell tower inspection experience talking all kids of crappola - what a joke.

I did cell tower inspections for a year, got so close the blades almost touched every kind of antenna possible. ZERO WORRIES, ZERO INTERFERENCE, ZERO NEGATIVE IMPACT TO THE ANTENNAS - knuckleheads posting crap - lol. I stopped doing them cause the pay sucked, and I hated looking straight up over my head all day !!!
I'd jump on on my storage drives and show you guys chitloads of pics, but why bother as some idiot will always have some bs to say anyways -
 
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Hello,

Is there anyone here that has done a cell tower inspection? I'm using the Inspire Pro with 45mm lens.

1) Will the drone get any signal interference from the tower (I hear yes and no)?

2) Whats the safest way to conduct a cell tower inspection with a drone?

3) What precaution should I take?

4) What potential dangers should I look out for?

5) Are there any other important facts that I need to know regarding drone cell tower inspections?

6) Is there any additional equipment that needs to be used?
I have not done cell towers yet, but I have done hundreds of wind turbines. When I inspect a turbine, I have a technician lock the hub and pitch the blades so I can get a good image without putting my drone in too much danger. The question I have is can you arrange for the tower to go "off line" during your inspection? I can do a wind turbine, all three blades in about 20 minutes. I don't think a cell tower should be too much different.
 

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