UGCS reviews smart controller

Is anyone here using the UGCS flight program? I subscribed but haven’t had time to use it. Seems like a great tool but the instructions are a little vague for me. I didn’t even see how to load it on the Smart controller. Didn’t want to break the system I already have because I have jobs on going.


Yeah, its steep curve…BUT I did just fly an entire, steep, mountain with it and the M300 and it worked flawlessly. Its not hard to load onto the controller, you just go to their website and install the DJI for Android (from the Lightning Browser on the controller). The catch you need to realize is that unlike other mission planners, it doesn’t host the missions for you on the web to access. It hosts them on the local computer, and in order to load the mission on the smart controller- the “UGCS server” computer and smart controller have to be on the same network. Generally what I do is program on the desktop, and then turn on the controller and load the mission while I’m still at my desk. Otherwise, you can run it on a laptop if you need to make any last minute adjustments in the field. Another trick is to export the mission as a .json and email it to yourself (or field crew members) and load it on UGCS on your laptop.

I don’t use the built in figure 8 part of it since you can’t actually build that into the mission, and it wants some weird handoff between the laptop and controller that gets awkward if you’re flying solo missions. Load the mission before take off- take off and do calibration maneuvers, then hit go on the mission.

They tout the smart lidar turns, but I’ve never found a reason to need those with the R2A’s superior IMU- they just drain additional battery life, and toss your stomach if you’re watching the FPV from the drone :sweat_smile:

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UgCS is great for importing DEMs from a project that has been run through Rock Surveyor.

UgCS has a bit of a learning curve, so definitely set aside some time for testing prior to using it on a mission.

The figure 8 feature is cool, but hardly usable for the most part because by the time you did it on the laptop and then started the mission you could have just done an 8 and hit go just like @RSI_Eric said.

However the LiDAR mission planning is actually pretty cool as you can set the FOV and overlap instead of using a custom camera (both work great TBH) and it allows you to really smooth out the turns with LiDAR area scan and I’ve found that actually decreases battery use.

Note: Be careful of your AGL tolerance settings when using a DEM as if you set it too low you’ll have a TON of elevation changes and that can certainly impact your battery usage.

Lastly, the biggest hurdle with UgCS is the need to have a “client” (laptop) in the field to do any mission corrections and changes. This as well as having both the smart controller and the client connected to a hotspot. I.E. 3 devices to do the job of 1 (all of which need to be powered throughout the mission)

I plan on doing some testing with a smaller form factor (MS Surface type laptop) which potentially has a longer battery life and wouldn’t have to be on charge constantly.

If you load the mission once onto the controller it stores it in the “Local” tab so you can fly it without your laptop when you get to the field. But I would only do that if you’re 100% confident in the mission parameters and that there are no obstructions on site that might cause you to have to modify the mission. Helps cut down on having to drag out the accessories.

I have a Surface Pro and want to learn UGCS - hopefully I can try that. I was worried about taking my beast of a CAD laptop around in the field…and powering it.

Please let me know how that works for you. It might be a little while before I can do that testing myself. There is no reason it shouldn’t work, but you never truly know until it’s been done.

UgCS is a bit of a resource hog, so I suppose it depends on your hardware on the surface as to whether or not it will be an issue.

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ONLY thing I dislike about UgCS is their training modules; TOTAL waste of time. I found Candrones’ videos prob the best (on youtube). As good as their software is, you’d think their training modules would be commensurate, but…

I tried to use UgCS the last two days, and the terrain following was awesome, but I also tried to use the pattern tool to fly the figure 8, and both times PCMaster gave me an error. It was too herky jerky when flying the figure 8’s on automode. Returning tomorrow to hand fly that portion and redo the flight portion of the work. Going to do some testing with making the pattern radii more like 300’ instead of 100’ when I get time. I think it is great software, but I need to work out the bugs. Hurts to have to return!

Just an update. I hand flew the drone today for the takeoff and figure 8. Data is processing without this issue. I am just going to keep doing what I was doing!

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