Paul@CSUCI

Paul@CSUCI

34 observations in 5 expeditions


Recent Observations

Guy Trimby (Plymouth Marine Laboratory) in collaboration with Paul Spaur, and the rest of the AARR team, set to prove that OpenROVs can be used as tools to detect fluorescence in the marine environment, and used the Cook Islands as a test bed for this experiment.Guy developed an UV LED light package, which excites proteins in organisms, causing them to emit a different wavelength of light (fluoresce), often times giving off brilliant colors. A specially filtered Go Pro camera filters and records the light for analysis. Paul and the AARR team outfitted their ROVs with a special payload setup to carry the system, and modified their main LED lights with filters to make them emit only blue/UV light, and filtered the main ROV camera. The fluorescence is used in many species as warning signs, in communication, and in protection from the sun. The system has a lot of important implications such as: detecting new organisms and proteins that fluoresce, using said proteins as biochemical markers for use in medical research, and for use in gauging the health of corals and other organisms. We set up several sites in a coral reef, and recorded day and night surveys of each. At night, it was difficult to see, so we marked each area with glow sticks prior to sunset, and navigated the ROVs out to each one. We were able to see each coral that fluoresced both in day and night for identification, and we even discovered a species of clam that was not previously known to fluoresce! Read more on our blog at aarr.piratelab.org/team-info/fluorescence

The following updates are very behind, we updated our blog, but missed our OpenExplorer Page! This is an excerpt from our blog post from 08/11/15 I may have spoken a bit too soon about having stable internet! The heavy work load, coupled with a very congested, slow and often unavailable internet connection has led to slow posting. Two of the major reasons that we are in the Cook Islands are: to work with Guy Trimby of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory to search for the biofluorescent proteins, and for what we call “Service Learning,” This is where our undergraduate students have the opportunity to work, and learn, while helping others. Being that I spent many years as a Paramedic, helping others is ingrained in my personality. The Cook Islands are very isolated, and have a number of environmental issues that we can lend a hand with, because of our experience here in the United States. There have been many hard lessons learned when it comes to managing natural resources, and by coming to the Islands, our students can both learn about a new culture, a different biome / climate, and learn the importance of helping others. The government of the Cook Islands has faced financial issues, and suffered a collapse many years ago. The main generation of revenue for the country is through tourism, fishing and agriculture. After a drop in tourism, the government was no longer able to sustain, at which point there was a restructure, and the Islands became a protectorate of New Zealand. Though we are outsiders, the people of the Cook Islands have been very welcoming. In the past, some scientists have travelled to the Islands, done research, and left without sharing anything with the people, or the government. This has left the indigenous people in doubt about scientists, specifically because some of the scientists performed experiments which have led to perceived changes in the lagoon environment due to drilling, and injecting of chemicals into the reefs. We would like to help with a number of issues that are currently present. The Islands are incredibly isolated, luxuries such as internet and telephone are difficult, but there is electricity and running water. Fresh water is an issue due to quality, and availability. Currently Aitutaki is in a draught, it is not uncommon for the island to run out of water during the dry season. There are also many issues with the water quality of the large lagoon, and several marine species are threatened. One issue that we have targeted includes many topics in environmental science (ecology, agriculture, marine biology, resource management and more) and is known as “fish poisoning.” This poisoning is caused by a dinoflagellate called Ciguatera. These photosynthetic organisms, which are similar to phytoplankton, emit a neurotoxin which causes illness and paralysis in humans. Dinoflagellates are best known for producing the “Red Tide” in the United States. Ciguatera poisoning is a regular occurrence on the islands, and it happens to people who consume the fish from the reefs. We are working toward finding why Ciguatera suddenly spiked in the past 20-30 years. We have formed the hypothesis that the agricultural and septic runoff enters into fresh water streams, which exit into the lagoon, and may cause the bloom of dinoflagellates, similar to a harmful algal bloom. Our current goals include: Talking to local people about the history and social aspects to the “fish poisoning.” Visiting fish markets to obtain samples of reef caught fish for Ciguatera identification. Map all of the fresh water streams, and agricultural presence, which can be a cause of runoff. Surveying the sandy beach environment on both the main island of Aitutaki and the surrounding “Motus” which translates into English as “small islands.” Surveying the lagoon and reefs using traditional snorkel teams and ROV surveys Continuing our use of the ROVs and biofluorescence payload to detect specific proteins in corals, and also to use in the detection of coral health, as our preliminary results show that the package may be able to detect disease. Performing beach cleanups, and characterize the amount of microplastics present in the sand.

With so much work to be done, the regular routine became to split up in the morning, then reconvene at night to do fluorescence work. During the day, Guy volunteered with the sandy beach ecology crew, Chris and Jess went out with the reef team on the boat to do reef ROV surveys, and I got together with horticulture specialist, Dr. John Lambrinos to search and the island, looking for fresh water streams and agriculture to characterize and map. The sandy breach team was slated to meet up with the mapping team to do a demonstration of our methods for the local school children. Guy worked with the sandy beach team near the marked coral sites. The sandy beach team uses special tools called corers, to take a vertical sample of the beach. The sand is then filtered, analyzed, and all of the invertebrates are counted and characterized. This is important to understand the productivity of the beaches and gives information about the availability of food, and nutrients on the beaches. Luckily the site that the team was working at, was next to the coral sites that the team selected. Guy set glow sticks at each of the sites in preparation for the night dive. Chris and Jess headed out to many sites all over the lagoon, to perform fish and coral population ecology transects. In addition, the team performed water quality surveys to assess the visibility and salinity. These surveys which will be repeated annually to assess for species density and diversity over time, and will be used to characterize different parts of the lagoon based on water quality. Dr. Lambrinos and I rode around the island on motorcycles looking for plant species indicative of fresh water sources, and any farms that are a potential source of runoff. He would characterize the vegetation and route of the streams, I had the quad copter UAV strapped to my back, and used it to create aerial maps, and 3D models to study the sites from the air. This is important to further the research into the availability, quality and runoff that is potentially present in the water that enters the lagoon. Many of the locals were very excited to hear about what we were doing, and watch the DJI Inspire 1 fly. Many of them escorted us from stream to stream!

I may have spoken a bit too soon about having stable internet! The heavy work load, coupled with a very congested, slow and often unavailable internet connection has led to slow posting. Two of the major reasons that we are in the Cook Islands are: to work with Guy Trimby of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory to search for the biofluorescent proteins, and for what we call "Service Learning," This is where our undergraduate students have the opportunity to work, and learn, while helping others. Being that I spent many years as a Paramedic, helping others is ingrained in my personality. The Cook Islands are very isolated, and have a number of environmental issues that we can lend a hand with, because of our experience here in the United States. There have been many hard lessons learned when it comes to managing natural resources, and by coming to the Islands, our students can both learn about a new culture, a different biome / climate, and learn the importance of helping others. The government of the Cook Islands has faced financial issues, and suffered a collapse many years ago. The main generation of revenue for the country is through tourism, fishing and agriculture. After a drop in tourism, the government was no longer able to sustain, at which point there was a restructure, and the Islands became a protectorate of New Zealand. Though we are outsiders, the people of the Cook Islands have been very welcoming. In the past, some scientists have travelled to the Islands, done research, and left without sharing anything with the people, or the government. This has left the indigenous people in doubt about scientists, specifically because some of the scientists performed experiments which have led to perceived changes in the lagoon environment due to drilling, and injecting of chemicals into the reefs. We would like to help with a number of issues that are currently present. The Islands are incredibly isolated, luxuries such as internet and telephone are difficult, but there is electricity and running water. Fresh water is an issue due to quality, and availability. Currently Aitutaki is in a draught, it is not uncommon for the island to run out of water during the dry season. There are also many issues with the water quality of the large lagoon, and several marine species are threatened. One issue that we have targeted includes many topics in environmental science (ecology, agriculture, marine biology, resource management and more) and is known as “fish poisoning.” This poisoning is caused by a dinoflagellate called Ciguatera. These photosynthetic organisms, which are similar to phytoplankton, emit a neurotoxin which causes illness and paralysis in humans. Dinoflagellates are best known for producing the “Red Tide” in the United States. Ciguatera poisoning is a regular occurrence on the islands, and it happens to people who consume the fish from the reefs. We are working toward finding why Ciguatera suddenly spiked in the past 20-30 years. We have formed the hypothesis that the agricultural and septic runoff enters into fresh water streams, which exit into the lagoon, and may cause the bloom of dinoflagellates, similar to a harmful algal bloom. Our current goals include: Talking to local people about the history and social aspects to the “fish poisoning.” Visiting fish markets to obtain samples of reef caught fish for Ciguatera identification. Using our UAVs to map all of the fresh water streams, and agricultural presence which can cause runoff. Surveying the sandy beach environment on both the main island of Aitutaki and the surrounding “Motus” which translates into English as “small islands.” Surveying the lagoon and reefs using traditional snorkel teams and ROV surveys Continuing our use of the ROVs and biofluorescence payload to detect specific proteins in corals, and also to use in the detection of coral health, as our preliminary results show that the package may be able to detect disease. Performing beach cleanups, and characterize the amount of microplastics present in the sand.

After having a successful trial of the bio-fluorescence sensor package for the ROV, we made some adjustments to the payload. We improved the balance and the lights and did three 50 meter zig-zag night transects into the patch reefs, and found a lot of fluorescence! The system and collaboration with Guy Trimy/PML has worked out just as planned! The next step was to work on ways of minimizing interference from the ROV main lights. We covered the main lights with blue filter paper, and added yellow to the main camera, in attempt to see the fluorescence with the main camera, and using that to navigate toward the fluorescent corals. In addition to just proving we could find fluorescent corals, we set out to identify which specific species do. We sought out, marked, and characterized 8 sites during the day light outs, and then sent out our further modified ROV at night. Unfortunately we were met with a heavy tide, and the darkened main lights proved to make navigation to the sites nearly impossible. We removed the yellow filter from the main camera, but it was not good enough to properly navigate. Unfortunately time is running short, and we have a lot of work to do. The equipment arrived late, broken, and the weather has taken a turn for the worse. There has been a storm moving in, which has made progress difficult. Tomorrow the team will split up, half will go to the Aitutaki lagoon via boat and do surveys of the reef, and the other will work on mapping until the evening. At dusk, the team will reunite and remark the coral sites with glow sticks, and go for another night dive! Read more and see pictures on our blog at aarr.piratelab.org cooks.piratelab.org

The team now has a somewhat reliable internet connection and will now have more frequent updates. The team split up this morning, half of the team joined the other sandy beach ecology group, and the rest of the taem went to the main village in Aitutaki to obtain better internet connections, and download the files that are necessary for mapping and beginning the remotely piloted systems surveys. After returning to our hotel, the team reassembled, and the cargo finally arrived from the airport! We opened our luggage and to our dismay, one of our ROVs had been smashed to pieces. This came as a shock as it was in a pelican case, and the other ROV was loosely packed in a crate with foam padding. The team rushed to assemble the shattered ROV, and affix the bio-fluorescence payload to the ROV, and compensate for the chance in balance / ballast. We also assembled all of our robots, and took a picture with the rest of the teams, to publish in the local newspapers, to acclimate the local villagers to the work that we are doing, and the the strange looking tools that we are using. After repairing the broken ROV (Leviathan), and mounting up the payload (on R.U.M.), we headed out to the northern part of Aitutaki and launched our experimental setup on it's first dive. The dive was successful, and we detected the proteins in the coral that we were looking for! There are a number of things that we need to improve before the next dive, but that will come in the following days.

We've arrived to the Cook Islands and met up with Guy Trimby, communications have been difficult due to limited internet, and we've had a pretty packed schedule. To acclimate ourselves with the Cook Islands, we have been visiting the capital island of Rarotonga, and learning about the culture. The islands are celebrating their 50th anniversary of independence, in where villagers from the 15 different islands compete in a song and dance competition. We have done some snorkeling and checked out some of the local reefs, and they are simply amazing. the water is clear and warm, and the reefs are plentiful and beautiful. Our real research destination is on Aitutaki, a 30 minute flight to the north east of Rarotonga. Aitutaki is home to the largest lagoon in the Cook Islands, and has only a population of 2000 people. The group spent two days on Rarotonga and now has been on Aitutaki for another two. Unfortunately there has been issues with our cargo, as all of our equipment is large, and very heavy. Because of this, we have not been able to perform the ROV or UAV surveys, but we have continue on with other surveys such as snorkeling and sandy beach ecology monitoring. More will come in the next few days, along with pictures when we have secure internet!

The team is working very hard to prepare for the trip, we are bringing 3 of our OpenROVs, and two our UAVs including Paul's aerial mapping UAV. Our ROVs have all been through the ringer in the last few months and as our team doesn’t always have funding, we have been putting together the parts to do repairs one by one. In addition to needing the parts, our parent laboratory, the PIRatE lab, has been exhibiting research at events, performing ecological surveys at the Refugio Oil Spill incident, all while moving into many brand new laboratories. This is great news because we finally will have a dedicated space to work on our Remotely Piloted Systems (RPS) endeavors. Currently our robots live next to sand, oil and animal samples, marine experiment tanks, and much more! The final batch of parts arrived last week, along with some upgrade parts that we’ve been waiting for. In the next 5 days, the team must accomplish the following: • Repair the three main ROVs: The Black PERL, Leviathan and R.U.M. • Finish 3D modeling and printing new parts for the ROVs and UAVs • Create new tether management systems for the main ROVs • Create a neutrally buoyant tether with enough tension to recover the ROV • Build and set up the aerial mapping UAV • Field test all units before leaving So far the damaged parts consist of: • Two Beagle Bones • Two tethers • Wiring harness and end caps R.U.M. is fully operational and is in the process of being upgraded with Paul’s 3D printed accessory rail, and the new 2.0 IMU. The new rail can hold more than three GoPros or other equipment! Leviathan is semi-operational and is awaiting tether replacement with the new neutrally buoyant tether. It has had the Blue Robotics motors replaced with the stock ones, and is awaiting the upgrade with the rail and IMU. PERL is non-functional, the tether damage led to corrosion which reached into the electronics capsule. This unit will require a new wiring harness and end caps. This unit already had an older version of the accessory rail, so it will only receive the IMU upgrade.

In collaboration with our OpenROV/OpenExplorer friends from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory in the United Kingdom, Cal State Channel Islands will be travelling together to the capital island of Rarotonga, and then to a more remote island, Aitutaki. This trip is a multi-faceted research, education and service trip. We will be brining a group of roughly 24 university faculty and students to provide support the native people of the Cook Islands with scientific investigation to the marine ecosystem health with the goal to establish long term ecosystem monitoring. We have many projects that are planned for this trip, and will be breaking into small teams. This blog will cover the Remotely Piloted Systems aspect. We will use OpenROVs to survey the lagoons and coral reefs, with an added twist. Guy Trimby from the Plymouth Marine Laboratory has been developing a system to detect novel fluorescent proteins which we suspect are present in the corals. These proteins are important because they can be used for the detection of biochemical markers which have a huge implication in research and in medicine. Paul Spaur the leader of our Aerial and Aquatic Robot Research team has been working to set up an ROV that is capable of supporting the payload. In addition to that, Paul has been building a fixed wing UAV and will be doing aerial mapping of the coastlines and patch reefs. We will be also doing terrestrial mapping of total biomass, agriculture, and other aerial surveys. Other teams will be doing more traditional vegetation, sandy beach, snorkel, and ecotoxicology surveys! We will have greater coverage and pictures of our endeavors available on our blogs: Remotely Piloted Systems aarr.piratelab.org General Research and Travel Blog cooks.piratelab.org

On June 10th, we set out together with our partners at Santa Barbara Channel Keeper on their boat the R/V Channel Keeper. We headed to Naples Marine Protected Area (MPA), which is just a few miles down current from the Refugio Oil Spill Site. We had a few VIPs along with us, a reporter from Rolling Stone Magazine and an oil spill documentary producer. We launched our OpenROVs and inspected the ocean floor on the current facing side of the MPA. Luckily we can report that we did not see any oil on the benthos (sea floor), but many more surveys are necessary to have a complete grasp of any deposition.

After pursuing the proper channels, we were not given permission to enter the oil spill site. Without a clear idea as to the condition of the ocean floor, we partnered with Santa Barbara Channel Keeper, and set out to examine the area that is just outside the closed areas. We set out aboard the R/V Channel Keeper with their program director Ben. After some precipitation from the previous night, and from a plankton bloom, visibility was poor. We were unable able to survey all of our intended sites, but we were able to get the area directly off shore from the spill site. We did not see any evidence of oil visually. We plan on heading out again next week to further investigate the ocean floor proximal to the beach closures.

We are preparing to deploy our ROVs and sensors into the oil spill site, and to examine the sea floor for any deposited oil, or affected sea life. We are awaiting approval from the Unified Command. Whenever there is a large scale disaster, whether it is a large fire, earthquake, oil spill or something else, there is a system in place to manage it. It was designed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is called the Incident Command System. (ICS) The ICS essentially establishes a chain of command in regard to an incident, and there are delegated positions within an incident, and it is often not limited to only one agency, those who arrive first assume command, then pass it off and necessary. In the case of the Santa Barbara Oil Spill, the Unified Command is comprised of the: Coast Guard, National Guard, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Environmental Protection Agency, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Transportation and local government. (refugioresponse.com) Being that this event is both a physical, and a health hazard, there are many factors that go into managing an incident like this. The area is completely closed off, and authorization for any activity within the site requires express written permission and proper training. I spent many years as a Paramedic and I am used to operating in situations like this, but not all have, so I'd like to talk a little about an effort to help in a situation like this entails, so others in the future can know the risks and understand the steps that are involved. This will be a bit lengthy, for the internet world, the TL;DR is: Be safe, educate yourself, and realize that though the red tape can be exhausting, it is there to reduce the likelihood of injury. Read more at aarr.piratelab.org/uncategorized/300

The team is finally getting settled back into repair, design and build mode after spending a combined 3 weeks deploying ROVs on Santa Rosa Island. The total combined deployments between the MPA transects, subtidal/intertidal transects and fun dives have given us a total of over 120 dives with our new 2.7 units. The majority of the dives were done with our two transect duty ROVs: The Remote Underwater Mariner (RUM) and the black Pearl. We've learned quite a bit from using them on such regular intervals. Lessons learned: The motors need to have a strain relief on the copper windings to prevent breakage of the wire and subsequent shorting. We used hot glue to better attach the windings to the rear of the stator, avoiding getting glue on the rotor and interfering with the motor mounts. The ROV should always be slightly positively buoyant, we use the hold depth function which works great for running transects. On one of the last 60 meter transects, our ROV's tether became completely and utterly tangled in kelp due to heavy surge. Harsh conditions and attempts to pilot out of the tangled mess resulted in the tether being severed at 30 meters from the launch site, because the ROV was slightly positively buoyant, we were able to retrieve the ROV! The out of the box balancing of our ROVs needed to have some ballast adjustment because of the tendency to pitch forward on straight transects. The video transects we perform require a higher quality video, so we use two GoPro cameras, a forward one and a downward facing one. We mount them on a 3D printed rail system that Paul designed, with PVC skids for protection (the side outrunners are for the intertidal system.) The rail allows for adjustment of position for balance and ballast. Some additional high density closed cell foam floats from fishing nets were used to offset the weight, and provide more buoyancy in the rear. skids The topside adapter needs to be fully sealed off one of ours died due to corrosion from sea water splash, and moist conditions. We have a pelican box with a battery powered wi-fi access point, the wires pass through holes we drilled and then filled with hot glue. Two absolute necessities for repeated deployments are a tether management reel (a commercially available slip ring works well to allow the spinning) and if working in uncovered areas, a laptop shade! See and read more on our blog at csuciaarr.wordpress.com

The Marine Protected Area survey is run by team member Chris, it consists of 20, 40, 60 and 100 meter line transects. The pier on Santa Rosa is the dividing line where the Carrington Point MPA starts, which makes it the perfect place to deploy the ROV. We have the tether marked with distance, and floats. The 100 meter transects require our inflatable boat because the length of the tether will not permit it. The MPA transects have been going very well, we have been seeing tons of fish! The visibility has been the best that we’ve seen it. We had a harbor seal come up and give the ROV a friendly bump! After our hike around the island, we went to get the boat inflated so we could start doing the longer distance MPA transects, only to find out that it had been damaged in transit and had a few holes! We sent out an email immediately to other researchers that were heading to the island and they pick up a patch kit for us thankfully! Later worked on one of our new units, Leviathan, which has the Blue Robotics T100 thrusters. We had to add some buoyancy to make it neutrally buoyant. It had a great first dive. It still needs some more balancing, when heading full forward it dives, we found that the front is a bit too buoyant still and we were able to do water breaches! See more pictures on our blog at csuciaarr.wordpress.com

In complete contrast with last trip to Santa Rosa Island, things have gone quite well! The rest of our intertidal team arrived and brought us a patch kit for the boat, and it’s holding air! We have been testing our intertidal ROV, the Black Pearl, and it has passed through every test that we’ve thrown at it with flying colors. Pearl has a set of PVC skids and ballasts which also serve connection points for the intertidal rig. There is an accessory rail with a top down gopro camera, and a second at a 45 degree angle down and forward. Due to the extra weight, additional floats were necessary, but the ROV flies perfectly flat, and straight! The intertidal system is necessary because there is often a lot of wave action in the shallow subtidal and intertidal zone, and the area is covered in rocks. It would be too dangerous to send in divers, so sending in an ROV is ideal, but running a straight transect is very difficult. Our system was designed by Paul and uses a gondola, or track/rail set which attaches in the mid intertidal zone via two monofilament lines. The ROV is then launched from offshore by boat or kayak. The boat / kayak setup is being designed to allow two National Park Service Intertidal Ecologists to carry one unit, place it on a kayak (their method of travelling between sites) and run their subtidal to intertidal transects after performing the intertidal surveyss. It consists of an aluminum frame with two ocean fishing reels with 150lb test line, a tether reel (with slip ring for tangle free operation) and a Ipad mount. The Ipad is in a submersible case, and provides GPS location, along with ROV control (currently not functioning due to software issues, so a tough book is being used.) We first tested it by launching it at the pier to prove the concept, and the ROV scooted perfectly along the lines! Next we took the boat out and ran the lines from the boat to the pier, and yet again Pearl ran it with no problems! Finally, today was the real test, the system was deployed in the intertidal site. The setup worked very well, there was a wall of sea grass which caused us to need to extend the transect lines back further, but Pearl pushed through the sea grass no problem. See more pictures on our blog at csuciaarr.wordpress.com

After a full month, we are back on the island! Last time we were plagued with issues. We lost out satellite internet half way through the week, and both of our 2.6 units went down due to motor controller and motors blowing out. This time we have three 2.7 units and one 2.6, as well with many more tools and supplies. The majority of the team is now Santa Rosa Island. We have a great ride aboard the ship, The Ocean Ranger, courtesy of the National Park Service. We arrived and immediately consumed work space with numerous toolboxes, parts, and ROVs. The MPA survey team arrived a week earlier, and things have been going very well, despite some hangups. Team members Chris and Blake have completed in the neighborhood of 30 transects and will continue to collect data over the next week. There is still work to be done on the intertidal unit with new reels, but we are making some great progress and will be hopefully be testing it on Thursday. Read more and see pictures on our blog at csuciaarr.wordpress.com

It's been crunch time for us, the last few days has been crazy: gathering equipment and supplies, testing the ROVs, doing STEM outreach presentations and some last minute modifications before heading our to Santa Rosa Island again. This morning team members Blake and Chris, set out on the National Park Service boat to head back to the Island. Our team will be there for approximately 3 weeks doing data collection on the MPA and the intertidal zones! To help with out mostly out door deployments, we have developed a collapsible sunshade for the bright days on the water! More updates are coming!

It has been quite the busy season for us! As mentioned before, we are working to release a 7 video series of our trip to Santa Rosa Island. As mentioned in the previous post, due to some hardware issues the videos have been delayed, but the team has kept going full steam! AARRteam From left to right: Blake, Ryan, Alex, Chris, Jessica, Tim, Paul, Rebecca and Justin The AARR happily welcomes 4 new members to the team for a total of 10 members! Alex – Environmental Science and Resource Management Justin – Biology Ryan – Environmental Science Tim – Computer Science We have been working hard to support our two main studies Marine Protected Area Surveys on Santa Rosa Island, and quantitative analysis of ROV platforms. There is another expedition planned to Santa Rosa Island next month! We have a few more ROV based projects that will soon be launched, including the resurrection of the Phantom 500 ROV, studying the reactions of fish to ROVs based upon appearance (which includes disguising our ROVs like fish!), adding additional sensors (such as sonar and water chemistry), performing phytoplankton surveys and more! The CSU Chanel Islands “Crossing the Channel” STEM outreach program is in the second phase where the team will be working with middle and high school students and building ROVs, along with teaching the high school students how to answer research questions with ROVs, and piloting our OpenROVs!

Team members Paul and Jay have arrived at Santa Rosa Island Research Station and met with team members Blake and Chris. We were greeted with a pleasant surprise — the station now has highspeed internet! Blake and Chris are continuing to work on the fish studies, during the first week, they solidified their study dynamics, and have now settled on the methods of data collection. Since then, we have run into a few issues with OpenROV #2 (SCOOP), but they have been solved and the ROV is back into action! Stay tuned for a dedicated post on the fish study and videos! The intertidal team has finished 3 of the 4 permanent site markers for doing photo surveys of sea stars, limpets, crustaceans and oceanic plant-life. We have selected the sites to do the subtidal to intertidal transects. Our team leader, Paul, designed a new body for the OpenROV to stand up to the rigors of the rocky intertidal zone, and made a 3D printed set of thruster mounts which insert tightly into the PVC connectors, and then are bolted in. We are also making a “track” system using shore lines to do subtidal into intertidal transects.The repurposed OpenROV that runs on a set of tethered lines is in the final stages of assembly. The system launches from a kayak or inflatable boat and will be launched 50 meters off shore. Read more on our blog at csuciaarr.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/santa-rosa-islands-research

After a brief holiday hiatus, we are back! Though we have been quiet on social media outlets, we have been hard at work. Quantitative testing of ROV attributes has begun, and the OpenROVs have undergone some changes. There has been a complete redesign of the OpenROV platform which will allow the ROV to safely navigate the rough waters in the rocky intertidal zones. Immediately following the new year, team members Blake and Chris headed to Santa Rosa Island for a week long expedition. Our wonderful partners, the National Park Service, kindly transported our team to the Channel Islands aboard their boat, Ocean Ranger. The team will be deploying our OpenROV #2 (SCOOP) and studying the fish populations and evaluating the Carrington Point Marine Protected Area (MPA), to assess for the efficacy of the MPA. The next week team members Jay and Paul arrived on the island to deploy OpenROV #1 (Bucket) on subtidal and intertidal research.

A hearty hello from the ROV team! We have some updates for you. All of our current ROVs are completed, the most recent, the trigger fish is functioning well, we will be epoxying the camera to waterproof it, and then all will be ready for quantitative ability testing. We will be performing some modifications to some of our ROVs New battery box which uses the OpenROVs batteries in the MATE ROVs New upgraded battery end caps and new e-capsule end caps and rewire on Bucket. (OpenROV #1) Four new hybrid stainless ceramic bearings to replace the old ones on Scoop. (OpenROV #2) New tether management. New endcap strap for Bucket The new tether management consists of a wire spool with a rod in the center, and a slip ring which allows 6 wires to maintain continuous contact while turning. This will allow the wire to never get tangled. Also with having 6 wires, that allows us to change to a cat-5 type tether. We also are installing a new Subsea waterproof tether disconnect so we can have an even more stiff tail on the tether, and so we can have breakaway insurance if we really need it. It also makes storage and changing tethers much easier.

We are taking a card from Jurassic Park, and attempting to resurrect a dinosaur! We took receipt of a Phantom 500 Inspection Class ROV, it is about 25 years old and is in need of some love and care. It was graciously donated to us by Charles Lara, a NOAA Research Vessel Captain. We will be first tearing it down and rebuilding it, and hopefully upgrading the onboard electronics!

Greetings and happy holidays from the ROV team! We have been busy with all types of fun and interesting activities! On Friday, November 21st, the team went to the Channel Islands National Park Visitors Center with students from Frank Middle School and Channel Islands High School. We conducted an intertidal ecology lesson at the Visitors Center. Following the lesson, we went to the mouth of the estuary and ran environmental science research. During the course of this research, the students were able to learn how to conduct sandy beach monitoring, studied geomorphology, conducted water quality monitoring, and learned how to use compasses and GPS units to navigate on land. We are now beginning preparations to start work on an ROV component with the students. We also had the pleasure of having Mr. David Haynes of Channel Islands High School and some of his ROV competition students visit our lab and see what we’ve been working on. Each year Channel Islands High goes to the MATE ROV competition. The high school students will be serving as mentors to the middle school students, just as our group will be serving as mentors to the high school students.

On November 2nd, the team got together to do a demonstration of the ROVs and talk about some of the research we are doing at the annual Channel Islands University sponsored science carnival. There were great activities for kids and parents to participate in, from shooting ping pong balls at the speed of sound, using compressed air to shoot marshmallows and much more.

On November 7, 2014, A symposium on unmanned systems was put together by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). The event was held at the CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) campus featuring demonstrations from local organizations and expert speakers in three arenas: environment, agriculture and business. The Air and Aquatic Robot Research (AARR) team was invited to set up a tank and a display table to showcase our ROVs. Our project lead, Paul, was invited to co-present with Dr. Geoffrey Dilly on the environmental panel on low cost, portable ROVs and their in education, outreach, and research: The environmental panel consisted of the following people: Todd Jacobs, Shah Selbe, Jim Roth, Dr. Geoff Dilly and Paul Spaur. Todd Jacobs is a project scientist on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Program. He has held various leadership roles within NOAA, including Research and Education Coordinator for the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, and Deputy Superintendent of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. channelislands.noaa.gov/contact/jacobs.html Shah Selbe is a National Geographic Explorer that is heavily invested in the use of technology to solve conservation issues. Mr. Selbe has developed open source technology related to conservation and is currently working on a project using UAS in conservation. soarocean.org Jim Roth is a founder of Storm King Mountain Technologies, a company that produces fire fighting related solutions through use of new materials and technology. stormkingmtn.com Dr. Geoff Dilly is professor of Biology at CSUCI, has a wealth of experience working with deep sea organisms through using underwater manned and unmanned systems, he has been aboard ALVIN and worked at the Monterrey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Paul Spaur is a biology and environmental research assistant, has a number of years of experience building vehicles and unmanned systems and is putting it to use to facilitate low cost solutions for education, and research using primarily underwater systems. The symposium was opened by Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, who spoke about the use of Unmanned Aerial Systems in the military and non-military sector and use in economic and educational development. The environmental panel began shortly after. After the panel concluded, the AARR prepped the ROV’s for the demonstration, while the bomb squad demonstrated their disposal robot. After the demonstrations concluded, he symposium resumed and had both agriculture and business panels present. At the next recess, the team again demonstrated he ROV’s capabilities.

National Park Service (NPS) scientists have developed an intertidal ecological assessment protocol over the past 20 years which they use to sample dozens of sites across the island chain to document the health of our island ecosystem. CSU Channel Islands' Intertidal Ecology team is currently establishing and surveying two new monitoring sites on Santa Rosa Island and they will eventually be proposed to be incorporated in the existing network. As the team will be working to update the NPS protocol, we were invited to go with them to some of their various sites to perform their current protocol with members of their Intertidal Ecology team. A few of these sites are on Anacapa Island. csuciaarr.wordpress.comfacebook.com/csuciaarr?fref=photo

The Intertidal Ecology research team at CSU Channel Islands is a multi-disciplinary group which has members in Biology and Environmental Science. The AARR is working with the Intertidal Ecology team to utilize Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) in adding subtidal in with the intertidal transects. These surveys will be looking at sea stars, muscles, limpets, marine plant life and more. The sea stars are of particular interest because of the Sea Star Wasting Syndrome which has decimated the population. (http://bit.ly/1xbVfVb) National Park Service (NPS) scientists have developed an intertidal ecological assessment protocol over the past 20 years which they use to sample dozens of sites across the island chain to document the health of our island ecosystem. Our Intertidal Ecology team is currently establishing and surveying two new monitoring sites on Santa Rosa Island (SRI) and they will eventually be proposed to be incorporated in the existing network. An ecosystem is various biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) factors of an area. Ecology is the study of these factors and their interactions. Ecology researchers will make sites which are fully surveyed in topography, elevation, GPS location, grid measurements, (called transects using large tape measurers) and type of ground. The different levels of the intertidal zone are categorized by the following levels: splash zone(little water exposure), high, mid and low tide zones, and finally subtidal. After the site is fully surveyed the team uses randomly set rectangles within each part of the zone known as "plots" or "quadrats". A picture is taken of each plot, and then later examined for how many and of what types of different species. With the plots being random, they can be used to use a mathematical equation to estimate the population sizes, how much diversity and with repeated surveying, changes can be seen over time, and can help identify key changes in the ecosystem. The subtidal area is a difficult place to monitor because it is very rocky and often has a lot of waves, which makes it dangerous for divers to go there. Also a lot of the sites on the Channel Islands are very remote and often require long hikes. Our team is working on strengthening and modifying our ROVs to handle these rigors. As seen in the previous video, the OpenROV is small enough to fit in a backpack, which is very important as one our sites is a 7 mile hike, and after we're dropped off by boat, we are limited to where we can walk to. Read more at our blog or facebook at: csuciaarr.wordpress.comfacebook.com/csuciaarr?fref=photo

The team went out to the Cat Rock area of Anacapa Island, aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) research vessel the R/V Shearwater. The team went along with members of the NPS to run the existing Intertidal Ecology protocol, and was able to deploy the ROV from the Shearwater to demonstrate its capabilities of subtidal monitoring. The then went aboard an inflatable boat and landed in the rocky intertidal zone to continue the intertidal survey.

The team returned again to the Santa Rosa Research station. After the last trip being mostly for scouting, the team performed a more rigorous setup of the new proposed intertidal monitoring site. Unfortunately on this trip, the majority of the time spent was on set up of the main monitoring site, the first deployment of the ROV was hindered by a VERY large grouping of sea grass, which became wound in our thrusters. One of the forward bearings popped out and we found out the hard way that we didn't have the Allen head wrench to repair the problem. We attempted a field fix that night, but it ended up in a downward spiral of a test dive! Video to come soon!

The OpenROV was packed up and prepped for a ocean excursion. From our last trip to Santa Rosa Island, we learned a few lessons about working in a very wet environment.... bring water shoes, changes of clothes and waterproof jackets!

The two OpenROVs, "Bucket" and "Scoop" went out to beautiful Santa Rosa Island in Channel Islands National Park this weekend with the intertidal research team and visited the new Santa Rosa Island Research Station. The team is attempting to incorporate looking at the subtidal zone as well as intertidal monitoring. Due to gale force winds all weekend, the team experienced choppy conditions making for poor visibility in the water, and the trip was mostly to scout the sites. Read more at our blog or facebook at: csuciaarr.wordpress.comfacebook.com/csuciaarr?fref=photo

This is just a quick post with our ideas for the gopro mounts, We are using the picatinny style rails that are used for scope accessories for rifles. The picture was the first test, but I just designed a newer longer version that I don't have pictures of yet. The new design makes it so you can use the reusable zipties to mount it, and or it has holes to bolt them to the M5 rod (may need to get extended ones). I've also made a double sided one for the center of the rods, so the gopro will mount below and the laser will mount above (we're using 2 red on outside and one green for the center. The lasers will also mount to these rails, infront of the gopros and are x-y axis adjustable to get more exact sizing. The beauty of these rails is that positioning is very adjustable which will help greatly for multiple accessories, and moreover weight distribution. more info on our mods at:csuciaarr.wordpress.com

Check out the video from our first successful dive! Everything went really well, we had problems before because of faulty Trust Fire batteries, but we now have the LiFEPO4 batteries and they work great! Our motors are holding up well after salt water proofing them using spray on enamel. We did 3 heavy coats on both the stators and the magnet housing, along with switching the bearings from the mild steel ones to ceramic and stainless steel as used by ocean fishing rods, there's a different size for front and back: 3x8x4mm and 3x7x3mm. We found them on ebay for about 26 dollars for both. Coming soon we'll be posting up our go pro mounting rail and our multi laser measurement system.

The Air and Aquatic Robot Research team is part of Dr. Sean Anderson’s PIRATE lab at California State University Channel Islands. It is a multidisciplinary group of faculty and undergraduates in the fields of Biology, Environmental Science and Computer Science, working to improve research and data collection through the use of unmanned systems. The current focus is on underwater Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) for both research and education. The advisory group of faculty consists of: Dr. Sean Anderson (Environmental Science), Dr. Geoffrey Dilly (Biology), Dr. Cause Hanna (Environmental Science) and Dr. David Claveau (Computer Science). The ROVs will be used as first an educational tool. In a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grant program called Bay Watershed Education and Training (BWET), CSUCI will be teaming up with local under served middle and high schools to teach children about Marine Biology, Environmental Science, and encourage a future in Science, Math, Engineering, and Technology (STEM) disciplines. See our blog at csuciaarr.wordpress.com