Into the Wild!

It was an exciting third week of the Advanced Technology and Technology Management Internships as interns collected flight information at the Portuguese Bend Nature Preserve landslide area.

20140709_141746Jeff from CALUAS monitors the multi-rotor as it autonomously flies its programmed path.


The first three days of the week were spent actively observing and learning from Jeff Parisse, Chief Roboticist of California Unmanned Aircraft Services (Cal UAS). Cal UAS is a company that advances the development and use of unmanned systems for scientific study, surveying, and agriculture.

20140708_144546Jeff sets up the multi-rotor copter for the Portuguese Bend data collection.


It was no surprise that there is far more to collecting scientific and geological data than simply flying a multi-rotor copter. The advanced multi-rotors used this week are programmable devices with integrated GPS and communications on board. Interns were taken through the complex process of pre-planning and aerial mapping using GIS data provided by PVNet and participated in well thought-out industry standard safety precautions.

Three Advanced Technology Interns (ATI) were sent to measure the elevations, most notably the highest elevation, in order to correctly program the multi-rotor’s maximum altitude and perimeter to serve as a “digital fence”. A team of interns was stationed in the flight zone to observe and react in the event the copter went down. Although a remote possibility, they carried a fire extinguisher as a precautionary measure. With all the pre-planning and safety measures implemented, the UAV was sent out on multiple missions and successfully collected data which will be used to generate scientific data and GIS maps for the city of Rancho Palos Verdes.

Jeff Parisse helped interns plan the copter’s flight by programming multi-rotors through Ardupilot. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the interns were able to autonomously fly the copter over a designated area at Portuguese Bend, and they collected data to create a GIS map. The interns will finish this process early next week and will learn how to input the data into PIX4D, the software for creating the map.

20140708_142510Jeff, Director of Robotics from Cal UAS, explains the importance of determining the
multi-rotor’s maximum altitude.

IMG_1380A T6 copter with upwards and downwards facing rotors and a traditional quadcopter were both used for remote sensing.

Technote regarding the T6 copter (left side) shown above:
This copter has upwards and downward facing rotors on the each of its 3 arms giving it 6 motors and 6 rotors. This format is extremely stable and provides superior stability for photography and video recording and much less tilt when turning.



IMG_1377Mission planning is crucial to the successful collection of flight data since the area being surveyed is over 500 acres! The area must be segmented into grids which are then mapped and converted into individual flight plans. Flight times must be calculated to ensure sufficient battery life for each mission.



Research and development of innovative modification ideas continued this week. Interns received mentoring and advice from Mahdad, an aerospace engineer from Pacific Coast Hobbies Shop.

Each project design team presented their project goal, results of their research, and solution ideas to Mahdad who helped them refine and hone in on achievable solutions by narrowing down design specifications and weighing the costs against the benefits.

Information about each of the developed subproject design and details will be included every week. Read more about the spectrometer quadcopter and four-wheeled quadcopter below!

IMG_9961The laser signaling system project team discusses possible designs with Maddy, an engineer from Pacific Coast Hobbies.



The subproject for creating a spectrometer from scratch was inspired by USGS data for acquiring information about a natural feature or phenomenon, such as the Earth’s surface, without actually being in contact with it. USGS remote sensing is usually carried out with airborne or spaceborne sensors or cameras.

Led by interns Joanne Lo and Sully Chen, the spectrometer team found that lightweight, high quality spectrometers that can fit and be used practically on a quadcopter are too expensive. Interns continue to research this topic.

Spectroscopy/spectrometry is also heavily used in astronomy and remote sensing.


However, surveying agriculture and gathering data such as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), which quantifies the amount of green vegetation in a particular area, only require collecting data from the near-infrared spectrum. This can be done easily with a near-infrared camera or a camera modified to collect data from the near infrared spectrum.

The team is composed of assistant lead Sully Chen and composed of Barkha Scherp, Emi Hill, Joseph Cooney, Justin Yeh, Katherine Liu, and Raul Castrellon.


Synthetic aperture radar image of Death Valley colored using polarimetry.
Courtesy of


An infrared camera can be mounted on a 3-axis gimbal to keep the camera pointed downwards. The GPS data can be linked to the photos using OSD (on screen display) to the GPS module. Due to the spectrometry group’s objective and the infrared camera group’s objective being so similar, the two groups may merge, but not before the spectrometry group does more research on practical ways to implement spectrometry.

The infrared team is led by Joseph Cooney. It is also composed of assistant lead Justin Yeh and composed of Clay Van Nortwick, Cole Schreiner, Michael Zetlin, Raul Castrellon, and Sully Chen.

This is an ASTER orthorectified visible near-infrared image, which shows the northwestern part of Los Angeles County with a backdrop of the Tehachapi Mountains. The scene center coordinates are 34.5º N. latitude and 118.7º W. longitude. In the lower right is the northwestern end of the San Fernando Valley and Santa Clarita to its north. In the middle right is the V-shaped Castaic Lake and Interstate 5, which trends northwest-southeast. Healthy vegetation appears in red in contrast to a couple of burn scars (indicated by the darkened areas): one in the middle left (north of Simi Valley), the other in the north in the Angeles National Forest.

Courtesy of USGS & Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM)


Led by intern Michael Zetlin, the four-wheeled quadcopter subproject seeks to design and improve upon the basic quadcopter design by enabling a quadcopter to maneuver on land and through the air. The team plans to do this by modifying a DJI f450 multi-rotor by adding fans and casters to allow it to have controlled movement while on the ground. The group has decided to keep it simple by adding a single extra motor for propulsion. With its final design chosen, the team now moves into cost analysis.

The team is composed of assistant leads Cole Schreiner and Raul Castrellon and composed of members Anson Tsai, Barkha Scherp, Ben Stout, Claire Bogosian, Clay Van Nortwick, Edward Bogosian, Joseph Cooney, Justin Yeh, Katherine Liu, Keaton Heise, Lawrence Goo, Max Ebling, Natalie Hill, and Sam Gioia.

IMG_9973Joseph Cooney inspects the quadcopter, Justin Yeh listens attentively, and Barkha Scherp takes notes as Maddy gives advice to subproject leader Anson Tsai.

IMG_0132Intern Clay Van Nortwick discusses alterations to the quadcopter design.

20140711_143859(0)Sabrina Rice, now in her 4th year learning animation at PVNet, reviews a 3D model of a quadcopter designed using Maya which will animate it. The detailed and highly realistic model is intended to be used as a video transition in the documentary video currently being produced by the Video Production Team.

20140711_144021Barkha Scherp practices Photoshop.


As always, the video production team accompanied the ATI in their activities this week, documenting their activities collecting remote sensing GIS flight data at the landslide area. Using the scenic Portuguese Bend landscape as a backdrop, the video interns filmed and photographed the multi-rotor copters being prepared, initialized, taking off, landing, flying missions, and they took lots of video and photos of the interns hard at work. The Portuguese Bend remote sensing video recordings are vital to the video documentary as it highlights in detail the primary project of the Advanced Technology program as well as subprojects and ongoing training.

20140708_141738The video production team films Jeff from Cal UAS as he explains the process of mission planning and uploading the flight route to the multi-rotor copter.

20140708_145256ATI and video team member Jo Anna Edmison films the multi-rotor copter as it initializes prior to its next flight for data collection.

A note from Ted Vegvari:

Please join me in thanking Jeff Parisse for donating many days of his personal time and for sharing the use of his advanced UAV equipment being brought to the field trips and used collect remote sensing field GIS aerial data. Jeff brings advance UAV design and operation skills to this program for the benefit of your children.


            On Monday and Tuesday, the ATI and TMI will return to the Portuguese Bend Nature Reserve landslide area to complete their flight data collection. The interns will learn how to input the collected data into PIX4D, the software necessary for creating the 3D map, before creating a useable map to present to the city.



20140711_143610Clay Van Nortwick is overcome by emotion during his 3D scan.

20140711_143644Joseph Cooney holds the screen as Emi Hill operates the Sense 3D scanner and inspects her ongoing scan.

Clay_BenExamples of 3D scans of interns. Every intern is learning to use the Sense scanner. By the end of the summer interns will have been 3D scanned and receive a copy of their 3D Image file.


Sam Gioia was provided with parameters and then assigned the task of using AutoDesk Inventor CAD software to design a 3D prototype for a desk suitable for use in public meetings such as those held by City Councils or Planning Commissions. The goal is to allow the person seated at this table to view a large LCD monitor without blocking the person’s view of the audience; to integrate the monitor into the table so it does not stand out and draw attention; and to provide plenty of desk space for documents and binders. The prototype table design was made thicker than it would actually be to enable easy 3D printing. The design will be submitted to the RPV City Manager as an idea for a City Council table. Some assistance was provided to Sam by intern Michael Zetlin. The concept originated from a discussion between Dan Landon, IT Manager for the City of RPV, and Ted Vegvari.

20140711_143955Education Manager Rene consults Sam Gioia on his 3D table design to take into consideration technical constraints specific to the 3D printers in use at PVNet and improve the quality of the final 3D printed model.

20140714_192833A side-view of the table prototype being printed.

20140714_192856Top View of model being printed.

20140714_193012Front view of completed 3D printed table parts.

7/11 Day!

20140711_190558Designing solutions requires the right mindset, so interns enjoyed their free slurpees from 7 Eleven on 7/11!


Next week the Weekly update will feature Executive Program Assistant Intern Delaney Kerkhof and the talented management team who bring order (and the weekly update) to a very complex summer internship program.


We are in the process of selecting a date for a Pot Luck at the end of the Intern program this summer – stay tuned.

Parent volunteers are invited (or drafted J).


Please note that Saturday lab hours will vary based on the needs of Interns. Interns wanting to come in on Saturdays must notify the management team what time they plan to come in.


Summer Advanced Technology Internship FULL –High school and college students will build the base of their own UAV quadcopter to record geographical aerial images and GPS data for the city of RPV. The course ends August 22nd.

3D Animation and Game Design–A continuation of the 3D Animation Level 1 class, this course teaches students game development and other ways their 3D animation skills can be applied. The class takes place from July 7th to July 30tk from 9AM to 12PM.

3D Animation Level 1–This course is a unique creative opportunity in which industry professionals teach animation software to school-age students. The class takes place August 4th to August 27th from 9AM to 12PM



Education through Community Service

Since its founding in 1995, Palos Verdes on the Net (PVNet) has dedicated itself to community service through technology education and training. The non-profit’s public internet training seminars in 1995 had a profound impact on Palos Verdes Peninsula and its neighboring cities. Since then more than 75,000 adults have received technological training and over 4,000 students have come through the program at no cost. PVNet also has a long history of providing grants through their technology outreach program. Students receive class credit through Palos Verdes High School and Palos Verdes Peninsula High School.

But best of all, we achieve our goal of providing a unique type of learning opportunity which results in a quantifiable benefit to our community.

– Ted Vegvari, Founder, PVNet


Special thanks to the City of Rancho Palos Verdes for making this program possible for the past 20 years.