How do drone light shows manage to put thousands of drones flying in the air without them crashing into each other? How do robotic lawn mowers remain so precise, operating in their own lawn mowing lanes? It’s likely due to a powerful technology called RTK — and the folks over at Drone Dojo have a new RTK course that could help put you ahead of the curve.
Drone Dojo, which is largely considered the leading online resource for DIY drone enthusiasts, just launched a new course on RTK GPS. The course, titled “Inches-level Precision with RTK GPS,” will teach you how to upgrade your drones (and other autonomous vehicles) and outfit them with RTK GPS technology for centimeter-level accuracy while in flight.
What is RTK GPS?
RTK GPS, or Real-Time Kinematic GPS, is a technology that uses two or more GPS receivers to precisely determine the location of an object. This makes it ideal for applications such as precision agriculture, surveying, and search and rescue.
Drones are increasingly being used for these and other applications, but their accuracy is limited by the accuracy of their GPS receivers. RTK GPS can significantly improve the accuracy of drones, making them more useful for a wider range of applications.
For example, RTK GPS can be used to create accurate maps of agricultural fields, which can help farmers to optimize their crop yields. It can also be used to survey construction sites, ensuring that they are built to the correct specifications. And it can be used to search for missing persons or objects, providing rescuers with a more accurate location to search.
But while it is much better for precise positioning, it can be a little complex to set up on DIY drones.
If you’re buying a ready-to-fly drone, then it’s expensive. For example, the DJI Phantom 4 RTK costs more than 4x the original Phantom 4. And DJI continues to roll out even newer, more advanced RTK drone, such as the DJI Matrice 350 RTK.
Whether you’re considering buying an expensive, enterprise drone with RTK, or you want to set up your own existing drone with RTK, this course is critical to better understanding it.
What to know about the Drone Dojo RTK GPS course
The Drone Dojo RTK GPS course is taught by Caleb Berquist, a DIY drone expert and the founder of Drone Dojo, which is an online drone training website that offers courses in a range of topics including “How to build a Raspberry Pi drone,” “How to program a drone using Python,” and a deep-dive, capstone-type course on “Precision Landing and Drone Delivery.”
The Drone Dojo RTK GPS course covers the basics of RTK GPS, as well as the steps involved in upgrading a drone to RTK. Students will learn how to select the right hardware, install the software, and configure the settings. The course includes a number of hands-on exercises that will help you learn how to upgrade your drone to RTK GPS.
And it all highly practical. While there is some theory involved, that’s just enough to understand the principles. It is mainly a practical course that shows you the steps to upgrade a robot from normal GPS to RTK GPS.
Theoretical lessons include:
- Normal vs RTK GPS
- F9P vs M8N U-Blox Chips
- Types of RTK Boards and antenna connector (and more)
Practical lessons include:
- Setting up RTK on your roobot
- Setting up base stations
- Surveying in the location of your base station
The course work itself is about 2 hours long and is available in video format, and is suitable for beginners and experienced drone pilots alike. That said, the exact time needed to watch the videos straight through will be different depending on if you are upgrading your hardware to RTK on their robots (so expect about four hours if you follow along with an actual robot).
To take the course, students will need an ArduPilot vehicle, such as a drone, rover, or boat.
And are there any prerequisites? Berquist says the “How To Build A Raspberry Pi Drone” course would be a good pre-requisite for folks seeking more info on how to build a drone.
How much does the Drone Dojo RTK GPS course cost?
The Drone Dojo RTK GPS course is available now for a monthly fee of $27. If you finish the course within a month, it’ll have cost you just $27 — or you can continue access at that rate. It’s part of the new Drone Dojo monthly subscription model launched at the beginning of the year — which is largely a financial win for learnings.
Prior to this year, courses ranged in price from roughly $100 to $400. While buying it once granted you access for life, it was a huge upfront cot. With Drone Dojo’s $27 Blue Belt Membership, you can lurk into the course — or commit to the whole thing. But either way, your financial commitment will have been just $27 — rather than the substantial many hundreds.
Blue Belt Membership also gets you other benefits including $30 off any drone or rover kit, Discord access and an entry in a monthly drawing, among other benefits.