REU abstract

For the REU programe I had to write and abstract detailing my work over the summer up to this point. Below is the text of this abstract, and you can find a PDF of it here

Many pieces of information about the movement and habits of marine animals are currently unknown. This information can be found for terrestrial animals through direct observation or video surveillance; however, these optical methods are not effective in aquatic environments. To circumvent this problem, researchers “tag” aquatic animals with small sensor systems that recorded data about the animals movements. The researchers then recover the tag and use signal analysis to draw conclusions about the habits of the animal. Unfortunately, commercially available tags are expensive and single use. We wish to create a cheap and reusable tag, to initially be used on sandbar sharks in the Chesapeake Bay. The tag consists of a three axis accelerometer and three axis gyroscope for movement information, temperature and pressure sensors for environmental information, and a real time clock (RTC) for timing. The data is written to micro SD card. This is all run through a 3.3V Arduino Pro Mini microcontroller, and powered by a lithium ion polymer (LiPo) battery. Initial prototypes were built using commercially available components connected through point to point wired connections or solderless breadboards. While creating the prototype, size, form factor, and power consumption were serious concerns. Once it was confirmed that these prototypes functioned, work began on creating custom printed circuit boards (PCBs) in order to consolidate the tag into a smaller package for deployment.

In addition to prototyping the sensor system for the tag, we have begun work on the waterproof enclosure. For the initial in-water test, the sensor system will be housed in a simple polyvinyl chloride (PVC) tube.