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Using Ground Control Points (GCPs) for UAV-Based Archaeological Documentation


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When documenting an archaeological excavation site with a UAV, integrating Ground Control Points (GCPs) is crucial for enhancing geo-referencing accuracy and processing efficiency. Here’s a guide on using drone GCPs effectively:

Number of GCPs Needed

For an area of 35x50 meters, plan to use 5-7 GCPs. This number provides sufficient coverage for accurate geo-referencing.

Size and Placement

  • Size: GCPs should be 30-50 cm in size to be clearly visible from a UAV flying at an altitude of 15-20 meters.
  • Placement: Distribute GCPs evenly across the site, including at the corners and a few within the central area to ensure comprehensive coverage.

Acquiring GCPs

  • Purchase: Weatherproof GCPs are available from various suppliers in the EU.
  • DIY: Free printable GCP templates are available online, allowing you to create your own.

Combining UAV and Ground Photos

To achieve the best results:

  1. Capture aerial photos using the UAV.
  2. Supplement these with ground-level images for detailed documentation.
  3. Ensure all GCPs are included in both UAV and ground photos to unify the data sets.

Using GCPs effectively will significantly improve the accuracy of your photogrammetry outputs, making your archaeological documentation more precise and reliable.

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