DJI M300 with Zenmuse H20T Flight Guidelines

Flight guidelines for inspecting solar farms with a DJI M300 series drone and Zenmuse H20T.



The DJI M300 series drone with a Zenmuse H20T with 640×512 resolution and 13.5 mm lens can meet the data requirements quickly and efficiently. It is possible to collect 70% front lap and 20% side lap thermal and RGB imagery.



Drone: DJI M300 series
Camera: DJI Zenmuse H20T
Computer: Smart Controller
Flight Planning Software: DJI Pilot, DJI Pilot 2


Camera Settings

Camera Model: DJI Zenmuse H20T
Palette: White Hot
Magnification: 1x
Photo Mode: Radiometric JPEG


Gimbal Settings

Gimbal Mode: Free-mode (This will allow the pilot to set the yaw and pitch of the sensor in Mapping Mode. The sensor will stay fixed in that position and the drone will rotate around it, so the pilot will not have to manually adjust the sensor yaw after each flight pass).
Gimbal Pitch: 45° to 90° nadir (straight down) to avoid capturing the drone landing gear in the imagery.



Save Photo Settings

Ensure that Wide Angle, Zoom, and Infrared are selected. Please note that the pilot will need to ensure these image types are seleted prior to each flight as the settings do not save. This includes instances where the pilot pauses the mission for a battery swap and then resumes the mission.


Flight Mission Planning Settings


Capture Mode: Capture at Equal Time Interval
Flight Control Mode: Inside Mode
Speed: Set shutter interval to 2.0 SEC
Height: See table below

Type of Inspection

Raptor Overview

Raptor Standard

Raptor Comprehensive

Ideal for rapid drone flights and string-level outages
Ideal for annual preventative maintenance
IEC TS 62446-3 thermography standards for Absolute Temperature Accuracy
Smallest Visible Features
Diode, Hot Spot, and Cell
Diode, Hot Spot, and Cell
Ground Sample Distance
15.0 ± 5.0 cm/pixel
5.5 ± 0.5 cm/pixel
3.0 ± 0.5 cm/pixel
Maximum Speed
30 mph
12 mph
7 mph
Altitude with 13.5mm Lens
555 ± 185 ft (169.0 ± 56.5 m)
203 ± 18 ft (62.0 ± 5.5 m)
111 ± 18 ft (33.5 ± 5.5 m)

 Note: Altitude is calculated from panels, not from ground. Check local laws and regulations to determine maximum allowable altitude. 


Sensor Heading

For both IR and RGB inspection-level imagery sets, sensor heading must remain fixed throughout the flight. For example, if flying a fixed-tilt, ground mount site with panels facing south, the sensor should face North throughout the flight. Datasets where sensor heading alternates with each flight pass (sensor faces North one flight pass and South on the next flight pass) will warrant a reflight. Please note, the below animation is a simplification. If the pilot sets the gimbal mode to “Free Mode” the sensor will maintain its pitch and heading, while the drone rotates around the sensor to face each next waypoint.

Prior to flying, check available irradiance using a meter. This video explains how.


Image Capture

Front Overlap Ratio: 70%
Side Overlap Ratio: 20%
File Format: RJPG



Note: Obliques / High flys are required as part of the flight. For information about how to correctly fly and take oblique images, please see Capturing Oblique Images.


Data Example

The long edge of the solar row aligns with the long edge of the image.

The following animation is a great example of Standard Level imagery collected with a ground sampling distance (GSD) of 5.5 cm/pixel with good overlaps.


The following video has step-by-step instructions on how to set up a flight plan using DJI Pilot. (GS Pro coming soon!)