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Marine Electronics


March 2014 Issue

OceanGate Begins Lula 500 Refit for Cyclops Prototype
OceanGate Inc. (Everett, Washington) has started a comprehensive refit of the Lula 500 submersible to transform it into a fully functional Cyclops prototype with depth capabilities to 500 meters. The renamed Cyclops 500 will function as a test platform for software, technology and equipment to be deployed on the 3,000-meter Cyclops submersible, scheduled for launch in 2016. OceanGate's Cyclops program was developed to meet increased demand from government and commercial clients worldwide.

Cyclops 500's new features will include an enhanced automated control system to monitor life support, power management, navigation and other critical system diagnostics. Using a combination of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology and innovative system architecture designed by the Applied Physics Lab at the University of Washington and OceanGate's internal engineering group, the automated control system aims to revolutionize how manned submersibles operate by reducing time spent on vehicle control and increasing time on mission objectives. This control system will also improve mission safety, reducing opportunity for user error. Other reengineered technology features include new hydrodynamic components designed to maximize the submersible's in-water speed and maneuverability, and remodeled interior seating and instrument layout designed to enhance the client experience and increase productivity.

Z-Boat 1800MX Combines Survey Boat, Echosounder
BioSonics Inc. (Seattle, Washington) and the Oceanscience Group (Carlsbad, California) have released a portable, remotely operated habitat-mapping survey boat, the Z-Boat 1800MX. A combination of Oceanscience's remote hydrographic survey boat and BioSonics's MX echosounder, the Z-Boat 1800MX allows researchers to obtain quantitative measurements of aquatic vegetation and substrate distribution without the expense and effort of launching a manned boat.

With the Z-Boat's position displayed on navigation software on the shore acquisition computer in real time, guiding the boat along planned survey lines is aided by onboard GPS. Simultaneously, BioSonics Visual Acquisition 6 software provides the operator with instant bathymetry and vegetation data courtesy of a high-definition full water column echogram. With real-time control of all echosounder settings through the Ethernet network radio connection, data quality is not compromised with the switch to the remote platform.

Building on the successful integration of their DT-X fisheries echosounder on the Liquid Robotics (Sunnyvale, California) Wave Glider in 2013, BioSonics recognizes the advantages and importance of utilizing unconventional platforms to deploy environmental monitoring equipment.

With the MX integration complete, the two companies look forward to field demonstrations of the system in action, as well as more remote instrument projects.

Technology Solutions to Avoid Ghost Ship Collisions
A Russian cruise ship, the Lyubov Orlova, adrift on the Atlantic Ocean since last year, is a haunting reminder of the present dangers of the open ocean. The 328-foot, 1,565-ton cruise liner was being towed down to the Dominican Republic to be sold for scrap metal from Canada when a storm caused the line to break, sending the vessel into unknown waters. The Lyubov Orlova is believed to have sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic, but reports surfaced that this boat was on a crash course to the British Isles with cannibalistic, diseased rats on board.

Over history, there have been numerous reports of these abandoned and unmanned ships drifting at sea, at times with disastrous endings.

In the last 10 years, technology companies have come up with innovative solutions to tackle some of the dangers associated with open water, such as piracy or risks of collision. One of them is the Spynel camera system, which is manufactured by HGH Infrared Systems (Igny, France). Spynel is a rotating, panoramic infrared thermal imaging camera that provides continuous monitoring of ultrawide areas in real time. Its high-resolution image coupled with automatic detection and tracking of targets on 360° ensures that no event is missed, even in total darkness or fog. Spynel can successfully operate on very rough seas thanks to an autonomous gyrostabilized platform and comes with sea-specific image processing algorithms.

This built-in image processing allows for minimal false alarm rate and effective differentiation between distant small boats and waves. The Spynel systems are currently used by the French Navy for anti-piracy purposes in the Gulf of Yemen.

Port of Anacortes Gets WiFi Setup From Xirrus
Xirrus (Thousand Oaks, California) Wireless Arrays have been deployed at the Port of Anacortes in Washington, which promotes the economic development for Anacortes and surrounding areas. The port's selection of Xirrus enabled it to overcome the limitations of its existing WiFi infrastructure that was unable to withstand harsh marine conditions including water, wind and fog.

EPI Networks designed and deployed a Xirrus network that was suited for the challenging climatic conditions typical at the Port of Anacortes. EPI Networks deployed a combination of XR-2420, XR-4420 and XR-4820 Wireless Arrays models supporting two, four, and eight radios, respectively. Each XR radio is software-programmable, supporting either 2.4 or 5 gigahertz, with data rates up to 300 megabits per second. The multiradio, distributed Array architecture significantly reduced the amount of total equipment required in the Anacortes deployment by reducing the number of APs required and eliminating the requirement for a central control. In addition, savings in cabling, PoE switch ports, installation time, maintenance and power consumption contribute to a significantly lower total cost of ownership for the WiFi network.

The port's new Xirrus Wireless Arrays support Application Control, which identifies applications on the wireless network and lets administrators apply policies, including providing prioritization for specific applications and limiting bandwidth for others.


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