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Streaming Video Testing - Day 1


Sep 11, 2019
Gunter Texas
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So, I will start off with this thread saying that I have high expectations with it comes from SUAS capabilities. I used to be a field service engineer for a big drone company and the UAS systems were in the range of 10s of millions of dollars. I also used to be flight crew in manned aviation. Now, I am a security engineer for a large tech company. I'm not trying to say these things and beat my chest, but I hope it helps scope my expectations and due diligence I am trying to put into this field and also why I am being very demanding as to the outcome.

The Reason:
I don't like the limited capability with the RTMP streams that come off the DJI platform. Main reason is that it is cumbersome to set it up in the field and to get the end user the information to be able to watch the stream. RTMP is limited as to what it can provide (by design) and DJI doesn't seem to work that well with custom RTMP services. So, systems engineering is taking over. I wanted to find a "work-around" to be able to provide the end-consumer with as much data (telemetry) with the video feed. I know that certain applications exist and crystal sky is there....all of that other stuff that may be able to help me here. But they don't do exactly what I want. So, with that said, check out my below description and add your thoughts to this topic please.

My current setup:
-Using iPad 3 mini and DJI Pilot
-Mavic controller

Engineering Feat to Overcome:
-Distribute a video stream that is dependable, good quality, and contains telemetry of the Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual to the end consumer (very important for Command and Control)
-Also have embedded audio with the video stream so to be able to converse with customer for quick reaction or mission change in real time. (need both cell phone and VoIP type of capability here that includes conferencing, flexibility is key)

Current status:
-I was able to utilize some past capabilities learned from my SUAS background and my IT background to conceptualize a decent work-around that is user friendly with communications (4G) restraints and some encrypted cloud services.
-First run, video was choppy but communication was solid between me and the wife (my test customer).
-She was able to see exactly what I wanted her to from the feed. Full situational awareness happened here. Happy accident.

Observed Challenges:
-Some of the issues were user induced and some were iOS induced.
-Little bit of Video choppyness. I think it's because Im using an iPad 3 mini and it may be a little slow. I'm going to put a resource monitor on it to see exactly what's happening. It also may be a security setting or compatibility issue with some other app that's running. Anyways, this is an ongoing research task.
-Stupid *** me - The iOS decided to do an update during all of this. I was in a controlled flight profile the whole time in safe Class G airspace, but I was comfortable with the Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual's RTH capability in case things went wrong with the controller as well. Either way, the video feed froze when the update tried to validate itself. I wasn't exactly thrilled with myself.

Summary of today's efforts:
Further testing of the software used to create the "product" is needed for different flight profiles. I also need to come up with a way to stress test the integration and create a test plan in case one of the components has a version update (this will just make sure it's all running correctly still). As always, i need to get further familiar with what the iOS is doing and maybe come up with a script to prevent other apps and updates from opening during the mission.

For the first test run, however, I think it went really well since I'm having to integrate commercial-of-the-shelf software and hardware (COTS) to accomplish what I want.

I know some of you will have questions as to what I am using and how I'm using it. Unfortunately, I can't in good conscious release that info yet. I am running a business and it's competitive out here so I have to look out for the bottom-line. I will, however, disclose as much as I can. Also, please remember, I have been dealing with aviation and the technologies to run it for a looonnnngggg time. I have also a ton of experience with industrialized and military Unmanned applications that come with it's own time and experienced earned expertise. So I'm a little hesitant to just release every little bit of what I'm doing.

My main point of writing this up is to bring to light the fact that if you wait on industry, you will always be disappointed. I have specific requirements that are probably different than yours, but hopefully this can give someone a little kick-start on trying something. Systems Engineering is the concept that I use for all of it. A good read about SE is here.....

Either way, I hope this does help some of you guys. I'm also hoping that others can share their story on this topic if they are going down the same path. Thanks in to the comments.