After seeing some pretty amazing 3D models created by Pix4D and a Phantom 3, I had to give it a try.

I did a little more research and found Drone Deploy as an alternative. Pix3D is local software and Drone Deploy is in the cloud. Both offer an iOS and Android app to capture images. I downloaded both to my Android device in preparation.

The pix4d app worked well while my drone was using an older version of firmware, but as soon as I upgraded to the most recent version 1.7.0060, the app crashes as soon as I went into the Grid Mission area. It also stopped prompting for permission on the USB connection, which I think is related. The thing I liked about this app was the ability to set the camera angle. This helped fly missions to obtain oblique images for 3D models.

After the pix4d android app stopped working, I started using the Drone Deploy app. Both apps are extremely simple to use. Drone Deploy does a bit more of the work for you, but currently does not allow you to set the camera angle. It will automatically point straight down when the mission starts. After setting the height and image overlap, the app automatically calculates the speed and grid. After a few checks, the mission was ready to execute.

I didn’t have a single issue with either app while they were connected to the drone.

Once I had captured all of my images, I used the Mac version of Pix4D’s software to process the images locally on my Macbook Pro. Uploading 500 images at 5mb a pop is not feasible for how often I want to generate 3D models, so a cloud option is out of the question. My ISP would probably cancel my internet subscription.

With zero experience with Pix4D free software version, I was able to generate a pretty amazing 3D model of a local park nearby. They even allow you to export a preview that you can share online. I did not do that with my first model because it was too small and boring, but I have attached an image to see what it looks like after initial processing in the application. This screen grab was taken straight from Pix4D’s free version.

Baseball Park 3D Model

And here is the same rendering with a “mesh” layer added to it. I had to free up almost 2.5 GB of memory to process 200 images without an error from Pix4D.

Baseball Park 3D Model