Turn your ADCP into an Unmanned Surface Vessel

Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCP’s) have become the standard for high-accuracy, inland water discharge measurement. ADCP’s allow the operator to make more accurate measurements, in less time, and more safely than traditional wading measurements.

Conveyed across the channel on a float, an ADCP computes the area of the channel by calculating the depth from sound-pulses reflected from the channel bottom and how fast the water is moving from the doppler shift in the frequency of pulses reflected from particles entrained in the water. These water velocity measurements are exhibited in hundreds of bins/cells from the water surface to the bottom and from one bank to the other as exhibited in the cross-sectional image below.

Multiple measurements are typically made at each site with the data being transmitted to the shore laptop/tablet in real-time. The software on the shore laptop calculates discharge in real-time, and computes an average discharge, along with statistics on quality from the individual measured transects.

While ADCP measurements can be made relatively quickly, rigging a way to move the float-mounted ADCP across the channel can consume the majority of the time at a site. Traditionally, ADCP users had to look for a bridge at a suitable location, use an existing cableway, rig new and sometimes permanent cableways, or find a way to get a rope across the channel and use personnel on each end to pull the ADCP back and forth or use a remote-control cable traversing system to travel back and forth across the rope.

Out of this need to find a way to easily make discharge measurements with an ADCP arose the market of remote-controlled boats. With an ADCP mounted to a remotely controlled boat, the water professional could conceivably access the water at any point, launch the boat and make measurements at any point that best served their measurement and application needs.

Third-party, remote-controlled boats are useful, but can be costly and unwieldy, often requiring two personnel to carry the boat to the water for deployment.

As most ADCP’s are purchased with some type of float such as a trimaran, Water Survey Tech (WST), an affiliate of Teledyne RD Instruments, created an inexpensive kit that easily attaches to existing Teledyne RD Instruments StreamPro, RiverPro and RiverRay floats, turning the ADCP into a remotely controlled unmanned surface vessel (USV).

These kits are branded the Stork Remote System (RS) StreamPro and Stork RS RR/RP for the RiverRay/RiverPro float. For agencies that have StreamPro ADCP’s and RiverRay/RiverPro ADCP’s there is a hybrid kit that includes all of the components required to turn any of these the ADCP floats into a USV.

The kit includes a hard-sided carry case with two T200 Blue Robotic thrusters that are mounted near or under the trimaran outriggers. A communication and power compartment attaches to the center hull of the trimaran with a cable connection to the thrusters.

The Stork RS kit for the StreamPro includes two rechargeable Li-Ion battery packs and a charger so that the ADCP user can enter the field with one battery pack deployed in the Stork and a fully-charged spare battery pack. The Stork RS for RR/RP ships with two rechargeable NiMh batteries and a charger. The battery used in both systems provides close to 1.5 hours of run-time at typical cruising/measurement speeds of 3.3 fps for the Stork RS for the Stream Pro and 4.9 fps for the Stork RS for the RiverRay/RiverPro.

The maximum speed for the Stork RS StreamPro is 5.0 fps with boost mode and the maximum speed for the Stork RS for the RR/RP is 9.9 fps with turbo mode activated.

Control over the Stork RS is from a battery-powered FRSKY remote control (RC). The display on the RC provide battery status for both the remote control as well as the battery on the float. Typical range over water between the RC and the float is approximately 100 meters. A single joy-stick controls both lateral and forward movement although the RC can be reprogrammed by the user so that two joysticks are used, one for lateral movement and the other for forward movement.

Attaching/detaching the Stork RS SP onto the small StreamPro float takes just a few minutes and can be performed without the use of tools. Attaching the Stork RS RR/RP to the RiverRay/RiverPro float also takes just a few minutes and requires the use of a screwdriver to attach the thruster mounts under the outrigger fin bracket.

Frontier Precision is the U.S. distributor for the WST Stork Remote Systems and the western U.S. distributor for Teledyne RD Instruments ADCP’s.

For more information on the Stork RS systems visit: Stork Remote System (SRS).

Data Sheets:  Frontier Precision – Stork Remote System (SRS) StreamPro 

Frontier Precision – Stork Remote System (SRS) RiverRay RiverPro

For information on ADCP’s: Teledyne RD Instruments Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers.

For pricing or water resource instrumentation needs, please contact: Steve Combe, 801-791-3407


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