Color Coded Height Ramping For Measuring Entire Forests

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M.W.Taylor
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Color Coded Height Ramping For Measuring Entire Forests

Post by M.W.Taylor » Sun Aug 03, 2014 2:07 pm

I introduce here an amazing new data format that overlays Google Earth and most GPS maps with color coded height ramping for an entire forest. For this example I am using my UAV photographs of Enchanted Forest in Mokelumne Headwaters. Bill Kruse (see kruseimaging.com) was the first person I saw do this. I am not exactly sure how Bill did it but I was able to replicate the process by tinkering around with various open source graphics programs. A raw point cloud of a forest is not much use though unless you have it loaded on a 3D graphics program of a computer. The conversion to a height ramped KMZ file allow use in Google Earth on a laptop, tablet or IPhone/smartphone. You can also import into the Garmin GPS and overlay the currently active map. This allows instant knowledge of all trees heights while one walking through that mapped forest site with the KMZ loaded and active in the current GPS map. It is a powerful tool.

The procedure goes as follows:

1) Get a point cloud of the forest by either LidAr or photometric based point cloud
2) remove outlier noise pixels from point cloud
3) scale point cloud using an object of known size in the point cloud. IN general, photometric based point clouds are properly proportioned, but not properly scaled.
4) assign color coded height ramping to the z-axis of the point cloud
5) smooth pixels
6) flatten z-aixs
7) make screen capture of this flattened, height ramped, smoothed, scaled and parasite pixel cleaned up point cloud
8) overlay on Google Earth using the KMZ creation tool.
9) match up, scale and align crowns using the built in Google Earth tool
10) save file
11) import into Garmin GPS - and/or mapping program like MapSource
12) toggle on/off to overlay the color coded height map into the current active map of the GPS

The coded color height ramps go as follows:

yellow = 50 meters
yellow-orange = 55meters
orange = 60 meters
orange-red = 65 meters
dark red = 70 meters

You can instantly see the approximate height of all the trees in Enchanted Forest if you have this map loaded into your GPS and are walking around in the Enchanted Forest.

If using this KMZ map in Google Earth, there is a bug in Google Earth images after 6/26/2012 where the images for the Mokelumne Basin are shifted by about 1/4 mile NE. I have reported this bug to Google. To properly line up crowns with the correct height ramp you need to use Google images from 6/26/2012 or earlier. You can use the time-line tool in Google Earth to go back to the older archived images.
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[The extension kmz has been deactivated and can no longer be displayed.]

KMZ color coded height ramp overlay on Google Earth with UAV flight path
KMZ color coded height ramp overlay on Google Earth with UAV flight path
z-axis flattened and ready for import into Google Earth for convervion to a UTM coded KMZ
z-axis flattened and ready for import into Google Earth for convervion to a UTM coded KMZ
now scaled with color coded height ramping.  yellow band = 50meter ,  orange band = 60 metrers and red band = 70 meters
now scaled with color coded height ramping. yellow band = 50meter , orange band = 60 metrers and red band = 70 meters
original  RGB coded point cloud of Enchanted Forest - Mokelumne Headwaters
original RGB coded point cloud of Enchanted Forest - Mokelumne Headwaters
Last edited by M.W.Taylor on Fri Aug 08, 2014 3:58 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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dbhguru
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Re: Color Coded Height Ramping For Measuring Entire Forests

Post by dbhguru » Sun Aug 03, 2014 3:04 pm

Michael,

You are a genius, pure and simple. Don and I can proudly say that our WNTS Vice President is a genius.

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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Don
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Re: Color Coded Height Ramping For Measuring Entire Forests

Post by Don » Sun Aug 03, 2014 4:45 pm

Bob-
Clearly you're correct, Michael IS a genius...now if I could just find a quad-copter powerful enough to lift up into the treetops...
-Don
PS:Bob, time to coordinate for luncheon conversation?
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

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M.W.Taylor
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Re: Color Coded Height Ramping For Measuring Entire Forests

Post by M.W.Taylor » Mon Aug 04, 2014 5:05 pm

Bob and Don,

Thank you for the compliments. I really appreciate it. But I do not see myself as genius. I am extremely persistent and focused which may give one the impression that I am smarter than I actually am. The real genius here is Bill Kruse.

Michael Taylor
WNTS VP
http://www.landmarktrees.net


dbhguru wrote:Michael,

You are a genius, pure and simple. Don and I can proudly say that our WNTS Vice President is a genius.

Bob

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Lucas
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Re: Color Coded Height Ramping For Measuring Entire Forests

Post by Lucas » Tue Aug 05, 2014 11:30 am

As a map geek, I am very impressed.

It shows how much I don't know about mapping.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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John Harvey
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Re: Color Coded Height Ramping For Measuring Entire Forests

Post by John Harvey » Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:36 pm

Thank you for sharing all of this. It's fascinating and educational and I'm just gobbling it all right up.
John D Harvey (JohnnyDJersey)

East Coast and West Coast Big Tree Hunter

"If you look closely at a tree you'll notice it's knots and dead branches, just like our bodies. What we learn is that beauty and imperfection go together wonderfully." - Matt Fox

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Lucas
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Re: Color Coded Height Ramping For Measuring Entire Forests

Post by Lucas » Wed Aug 06, 2014 1:10 pm

1) Get a point cloud of the forest by either LidAr or photometric based point cloud
Where do you get this?

Sounds expensive.
We travel the Milky way together, trees and men. - John Muir

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M.W.Taylor
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Re: Color Coded Height Ramping For Measuring Entire Forests

Post by M.W.Taylor » Fri Aug 08, 2014 3:50 pm

Lucas wrote:As a map geek, I am very impressed.

It shows how much I don't know about mapping.

Lucas,

This looks like a product that most people can use. Even a smart phone or tablet user with google earth should be able to load this KMZ overlay and use it.

Michael

Harold Anderson
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Re: Color Coded Height Ramping For Measuring Entire Forests

Post by Harold Anderson » Thu Dec 25, 2014 5:19 am

This looks like a product that most people can use. Even a smart phone or tablet user with google earth should be able to load this KMZ overlay and use it.
Yeah right dude!

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M.W.Taylor
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Re: Color Coded Height Ramping For Measuring Entire Forests

Post by M.W.Taylor » Fri Dec 26, 2014 5:09 pm

I generated the point cloud using a kit built UAV with a $100 CMOS camera from Amazon. The total cost of the equipment was around $1,000.

Lucas wrote:
1) Get a point cloud of the forest by either LidAr or photometric based point cloud
Where do you get this?

Sounds expensive.

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