By Jacob Ure – Digging Australia
At first glance, you probably wouldn’t realise the practical potential of adding a drone to your detecting arsenal. Not many spot the similarities between metal detecting and “Droning”. Sure, they’re fun to use, capture awesome imagery and allow you to travel high above the ground, without the danger associated with it. However, when used the right way, drones can be an incredible tool of documentation and discovery. for the everyday Detectorist.
When I think about drones in our hobby I think about 3 main categories: Discovery, Conservation, Recreation. Let’s start with discovery, as that’s the category that brings joy to most.
Discovery is defined as “the act of detecting something new, or something previously unrecognized as meaningful”. Now, if that doesn’t sum up detecting, I don’t know what does. I’m sure you’re thinking “how on earth are drones associated with discovery?”. Well, similar to the use of historical maps, google maps and other topographic resources, drones allow a new angle of perspective. They allow us to gain a new understanding of the landscape and recognise features, such as foundations, disused tracks/roads and patterns in vegetation that we would have missed otherwise. I don’t know about you, but it’s not often that I’m situated 100 metres above the ground, with free will to zoom in and out of features within the landscape – drones allow us to do just that, with startling clarity.
Now, let’s talk about historical conservation. Modern technology, such as drones, allows us to create high-resolution images of objects, to preserve their image well past their physical ‘expiry date’. A surprising amount can be done with a simple consumer-grade drone, to help conserve the past. The first being basic photo and video capture. This is as simple as it seems, involving piloting your drone around places of interest, such as old buildings or other sites, and capturing photos and/or videos of the landscape.
The next step up from this, which is probably my personal favourite, is the creation of 3D models through drone imaging. This can be done in a variety of ways, through easy to use applications readily available online. It’s as simple as setting us grid squares, and pressing ‘go’. Then the drone kicks into autopilot and does the rest for you. Once loaded into a computer, a 3D model is rendered, which can be exported as many different file types – it can even be 3D printed! This not only benefits you by recording sites, but benefits the community as you are creating a permanent record of a not-so-permanent feature.
The final category, recreation, is just as it sounds: a pass time. This is for when you may be at a site that prohibits the use of metal detectors – but you still want to enjoy the history or the landscape. I in particular also enjoy using my DJI Phantom 4 drone to add a perspective to my YouTube videos, allowing the viewer to gain a better understanding of the environment I’m in. So there you have it, 3 ways in which the use of a drone can benefit your metal detecting journey – but remember, similar to metal detecting, the use of drones has a set of rules and regulations to follow, ensuring the hobby lives on so please abide by them.
Check out my video on Droning and Metal Detecting.