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Oct 18, 2019
Smithtown NY
Good day all,
Newbie to UAV, and learning with every day. Please forgive if any repetition or "newbie" statement/question(s). I have been searching for quite some time and would appreciate any input.

Can the pilot set tell the aircraft what elevation it is starting at? I have a known elevation provided by a land surveyor - let's say my driveway apron at 100'. Mavic 2 Pro.

I believe the question is a software directed answer, in that the aircraft will fly and record data, and processing software will allow a ground control point to modify the elevation/location. I am not looking to modify the x,y coordinate, simply the start z elevation parameter of which all other calculations and alignments are based on. The final concept is to take the DEM that is processed, and drop into mapping software and utilize the elevation in a similar known plane. In theory, the overall project elevation will be similar. + - the resolution of the camera and sensors. In all, will be "close" enough for basic comparisons. It is understood, not survey grade.

Is there a way to enter start elevation directly into the DJI flight software, or specific to the Flight planning software (I believe planning software is the answer); and therefore, does anyone have any recommendations?! Thank you in advance for your patience and assistance.

No there is not. The drone does not know or care about MSL elevation. All elevations are AGL in reference to the takeoff point.

As to mapping software, it really depends on what software you are using and how you configure it.
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Your elevation will start at zero relative to wherever you take off - to my knowledge you cannot change this (well, without hacking the drone), and I am not sure that you would want to as it keeps a proper reference point at all times.

If you fly down a cliff, you will see negative altitude, which is accurate because it's below where you're standing. If you start your flight at 5000ft above sea level, you will still be starting at 0ft altitude as far as the drone is concerned when you take off.

Another reason why it's important to let it do it's thing is because the RTH altitudes are based on the takeoff point, and you need to be able to accurately predict what you want for a safe RTH altitude.
I have noticed the SRT file accompanying videos if enabled seems to show altitude as MSL in meters. It's probably getting it from GPS.
You need multiple ground control points with local elevations to create an accurate DSM/DEM, and software/apps such as DroneDeploy or Pix4d (my recommendation). There are ways to get a UAV orthophoto to geo-reference close without actual surveyed GCP's, though. If you're in NY you already have access to free geo-referenced photos as well as elevation data (possibly very accurate LIDAR through NYS GIS Clearinghouse). You could use this information to determine the XYZ of 'natural' GCPs. If you're only after elevation data and don't necessarily need the UAV-generated ortho then LIDAR will give you a better result. You will need some additional software to process LIDAR into a DEM.
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