University of Hawaii

Electrical Engineering

Development of an Autonomous, Low-Cost Oceanographic Drifter Buoy with Real-Time Bi-Directional Iridium Satellite Communications Capabilities

Date: 2016-03-04           Add to Google Calendar
Time: 9am – 11am
Location: Holmes Hall 388
Speaker: Lucas Moxey, candidate for MS, advisor: Dr. Aaron Ohta

This study focused on the design and prototyping of the electronics payload of an oceanographic drifter buoy relying on low-cost off-the-shelf hardware. The prototype drifter buoy, called “PISCES-A”, featured bi-directional Iridium satellite communications capabilities that allows users to modify in real time the buoy’s data collection and data transmission configuration, even after its ocean deployment. PISCES-A was deployed in the N. Pacific Ocean, where it collected real time and archived oceanographic data (latitude & longitude, velocity, heading, sea-surface temperature, sea-surface salinity) and system diagnostics information (voltage, internal humidity, internal temperature). The buoy hardware cost $931, and yielded high resolution in situ oceanographic data. Comparisons with satellite-based sea-surface height and sea-surface temperature data showed good agreement between the locations of the mesoscale oceanographic features, regional surface currents and sea-surface temperatures (average difference of 0.31° C). The drifter buoy demonstrated the impact that carefully engineered, low-cost electronic systems can have in the sciences, particularly within the field of physical oceanography.