Spiral Mission Maker for Litchi Instructions


This application will convert a Google Earth kml file to a Litchi csv file.

  1. In Google Earth Pro:
    1. Use Google Earth Pro to navigate to the mission area.
    2. From the ribbon select the "Ruler" tool.
    3. In the Ruler tool, select the "Circle" tab.
    4. Click once on the map at the desired point of interest (POI).
    5. Drag to (and click) where the first waypoint is to be located.
    6. In the Ruler tool click on "Save".
    7. The New Path window will open. Click OK.
    8. In the "Places" window pane, right-click on "Circle Measure" and "Save Place As" a kml file.
  2. In page one of Spiral Mission Maker for Litchi:
    1. Select the desired units and direction of travel.
    2. Select the number of revolutions desired (fractions are acceptable).
    3. Select the starting, ending, and POI height
    4. Google Earth Pro generates many waypoints on the circumference of the cicle that are not necessary for a Litchi mission. Use "Step Size" to skip waypoints. "3" is a good starting point.
    5. Use the file chooser to upload your kml file.
    6. Generate the mission and review the resulting parameters.
  3. In page two of Spiral Mission Maker for Litchi:
    1. Review the parameters and calculations.
    2. Download the csv file.
  4. In the Litchi Mission Hub:
    1. Use the Missions menu to import the csv file created by Spiral Mission Maker for Litchi.
    2. Adjust the Litchi mission parameters (such as speed) as desired
    3. Go fly!
Spiral Mission Around the Eiffel Tower (don't actually try this)

A type of mission that I like to fly when capturing video is a "spiral reveal". This is where the drone revolves around a point of interest (POI) while gaining in altitude. Geometrically, this is probably better described as a "coil" or "helix". Even though you can manually design such a mission in Litchi, it is difficult to get a perfect circle, spiral, or coil in a waypoint mission.

Using Google Earth Pro it is possible to define a perfectly circular path and then convert that path into something that can be imported into the Litchi Mission Hub as a waypoint mission.

This web application can take that circular path (from a kml file) and convert it into a spiral (or coil) and compute the proper gimbal pitch angles so that the camera always points at the POI. While you might be able to do this manually, this application will make that process very easy, allowing one to specify other parameters such as the beginning and ending heights.

Please note that while it may be tempting to geneterate a mission containing multiple revolutions, a more pleasing result will be obtained using a partial revolution (~0.3 revs) while dramatically increasing the height.

Example mission created with this application: Spiral View of Roundhouse Remains

Direction of Travel:
Add Approach:
Number of Revolutions:
Starting Height:
Ending Height:
Ending Radius Scale:
Step Size:
Gimbal Pitch Mode:
POI Height:
Starting Pitch:
Ending Pitch:
Kml File Upload:

Recent Enhancements

  • Multiple Gimbal Pitch Modes: Both "Focus POI" and "Interpolate" gimbal pitch modes are now available in spiral missions.
    • Focus POI: This mode is appropriate when flying around an object where it is desired to keep the camera pointed at a specific height on that object throughout the entire mission. Flying around a small building is an example of a mission where focusing on a point of interest might be the best option.
    • Interpolate: This mode is appropriate when flying around a tall structure where it is desired to have the camera focus at a height that changes throughout the mission. Flying around a tower is an example of a mission where interpolating between a starting and ending gimbal pitch angle might be the best option.
  • New "Add Approach" option: The first waypoint of a waypoint mission is sometimes problematic. Despite defining a heading and gimbal pitch angle at the first waypoint, when executed, the drone heading and camera angle are not applied until after the drone passes the first waypoint.

    To remedy this, an option has been added to add a waypoint prior the first spiral waypoint of the mission. This provides several advantages:

    1. It enables the drone to achieve the correct heading and gimbal pitch angle prior to the first spiral waypoint of the mission.
    2. It enables the drone operator to begin recording prior to the first spiral waypoint of the mission while on a smooth path.
    3. It enables the addition of more waypoints prior to the first waypoint on the spiral so that more complex spiral entries are possible.
  • Increased metric resolution: When used with metric units, the height sliders will move in one-meter increments instead of five-unit increments which are used when "feet" is selected.
  • Cosmetic user interface improvements
Wes Barris dot Com