At first glance, you probably wouldn’t realise the practical potential of adding a drone to your detecting kit. Not many realise the similarities between metal detecting and the use of drones. Sure, they’re fun to use, capture awesome imagery and allow you to travel high above the ground, without the danger associated with it, but when used right, drones can be an incredible tool of documentation and discovery. When I think about the use of drones in our hobby, there are 3 main categories: discovery, conservation and recreation. Let’s start with discovery, as that’s the category that brings joy to most. Discovery, by definition, is “the act of detecting something new, or something previously unrecognised as meaningful”. Now, if that doesn’t sum up detecting, I don’t know what will. 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. This allows 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. Now, let’s talk about historical conservation. Modern technology, such as drones, allow 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. 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.
I recommend the DJI Mavic 2 Pro:DJI Mavic 2 Pro – Drone Quadcopter UAV with Hasselblad Camera 3-Axis Gimbal HDR 4K Video Adjustable Aperture 20MP 1″ CMOS Sensor, up to 48mph, Gray
Check out the video below to see how I go about documenting sites with drones!