Cropcam is an unmanned aerial vehicle with a GPS-guided autopilot that is a used to take high-resolution digital aerial images. It is launched by hand and has automatic navigation and landing capabilities. Weighing a mere 6 lbs., the miniature aircraft has an 8-ft. wingspan and an overall length of 4 ft. The 0.15-cu.-in. engine runs on four 6-oz. lithium polymer batteries. A full battery charge will provide about 60 min. of running time. The CropCam will cruise at 35 mph, with a maximum of 60 mph.

Images can be downloaded and then stitched together to form a mosaic of the area photographed. A 640-acre area can be photographed in general overview in approximately 25 min. The CropCam can fly at an altitude of 400 to 2,000 ft. The resolution of images taken at lower altitude is very detailed. The aircraft comes with a radio control system for manual control in case the user wants to steer it away from an area or around an unexpected object in its path.

The CropCam allows a grower to take pictures when he wants, where he wants, at a level of resolution he wants, without having to schedule an airplane days or weeks in advance, and without worry about the quality or timing of images taken by satellite systems. Timely images can be used to evaluate field drainage, fertilizer programs and overall crop health, and document growing conditions for NRCS, EPA or crop insurance situations.

Price of the CropCam is $11,000 to $12,000. This includes the plane, camera, software and training (five days). Contact PineCreek Precision, Dept. FIN, 15401 Blair Hollow Rd., Kendrick, ID 83537, 208/289-4997, visit www.pinecreekprecision.com or www.freeproductinfo.net/fin, or circle 152.