Apr 17 2012

Rendezvous with Brian Wagaman

I was able to get in touch with Brian Wagaman on Friday April, 13th 2012. What we had landed on was that I will meet him at Keystone precision on April 19th, 2012. I sent Brian Wagaman an email of Dr. Ellis email regarding billing for the data collector rental. When we get together on Friday Brian has agreed to instruct me on how to establish a network of control points via the traverse method with the data collectors that Keystone has available. This instruction will be completely free, the only charges will be for those of the data collector. I was going to ask if it is ok to take the instrument home Friday at the meeting Wednesday, Brian and I will use it for a couple hours then on Saturday I will work a twelve hour day Surveying the Bananas out of Herbert Run. I will need two volunteers for two shifts because I do not think anyone person should have to help me for more than six hours. the week following that I will have a gap between exams that will allow me to do the Knoll so it would be best to rent the data collector from Friday April,19th 2012 up till Monday April 30th that way I will definitely have ample time to finish the survey. 

I believe that this will dramatically increase productivity because I will not have to wait on control points. It will speed up the process ten fold. The survey of both the Knoll and Herbert Run should be complete by 4/30/2012.

I could have met up with Brian on Monday but I was swamped with two exams this week therefore I thought it would be best to rent the data collector for a short amount of time instead of just having it while paying for it and not actually using it for any surveying work.

Apr 11 2012

Herbert Run West Surveying & Keystone Rental -- Updates

Saturday April 7th, Shelby and I went out to Herbert Run to stake out some more points on the western portion. We were able to get seven points that are all in the area pictured on the left. A lot of this area was really difficult to get because of the amount of brush that was online but we were able to get them all from a one of the new points that Will had RTK GPS located.

I went to Keystone Precision this morning to ask about renting data collectors, it turns out that they do rent out data collectors and they also give out software packages for them. The rates seem fairly inexpensive at $42.50/day, but they do not rent out prisms. I explained our situation and the sales representative generously said they would let us borrow a prism if we rented the data collector.

The data collectors are called the Ranger, which has a software package called Survey Controller and the TSC2  which has a software package called Survey Pro.

They also had an option to rent an entire total station plus rod set up for $120/day.

The representative at Keystone said that if I were to talk to Brian Wagaman I would be able to have a lot of my questions, (such as information pertaining to the stake out options of the data collector ) , answered.  I vaguely remember the survey company that I used to work for, Landesign Inc, were really big fans of Brian Wagaman’s help with total station questions and data collector trouble shooting issues, he is really approachable.

I believe this is the best way to proceed and hopefully we can rent the data collector and software for this weekend so that I can finish Herbert Run and the Knoll. I can call Brian tomorrow about the data collector rental and hash out the issues with him.

Apr 10 2012

123D Catch: Realistic Small Area Scanning

One set of software I've come across for forest mapping is 123D Catch.  What it does is takes an orbit of photos taken around a central point and processes out the common points between them, much like Photoscan.  The difference being, 123D Catch is optimized for mapping solid surfaces into a mesh.  What's more, the mesh is photorealistic.  So while the mesh does have a certain margin of error, the photorealistic view of the subject tricks the eye into thinking the 3D representation is a perfect facsimile of the original.

This scanning technique is more applicable on a small scale than a larger one such as Ecosynth pursues, but is useful nonetheless.  The larger the area scanned into 123D, the less accurate the dimensions of the resulting mesh are.  It also only works well on tree trunks and large objects like stones, the software that stitches the mesh together cannot resolve small objects like twiggy tree branches, and they end up as amorphous mixtures of tree and background.  Its uses include keeping a digital record of precious sites or phenomenon before they are disturbed by human intervention.

The following video is a scan of a stand of trees, with surrounding trees and forest included in the background. 

Apr 09 2012

First Test of PVC Markers


On Thursday 4/5/2012 Jonathan and I went to HR with 2 other students to attempt to lay out the PVC pipe that will mark the 5x5 meter grid. Our plan was to lay a reference string between 2 of the serveyed points in the 25x25 meter grid. Once this was done we could measure 5 meters along this line with our wooden poles, string, and line levels to help ensure accuracy. We secured a string between the two wooden poles measured at 5 meters We would than insert PVC poles like the ones to the left at these 5 meter marks. However when we finished our first 4 points and came to the known survey point we were anywhere from 10 to 30 cm off. This was too much inaccuracy and we quickly saw that the string connecting the two wooden poles could flex, this being our cause of inaccuracy, we determined we needed a more rigid material to connect the poles. Back at the lab we found some thin metal wire and after attatching this to the wooden poles and retesting the same strategy as before the accuracy was greatly improved, at most we had a 1 to 2 cm innaccuracy with most of the corner points we plotted landing directly on the survey point.

Apr 04 2012

Hexakopter Flying and Testing the GoPro

Stephen and I practed flying the hexakoptors.  We were able to fly Roflkopter (one of the hexakopters) from the lab to the library, over the library and adjacent garage, and land on a 2ft by 2ft board.  In addition to the lirary expedition, we also practiced maneuvering the hexakopters, landing on a target, and getting them flying at the correct altitude.  Furthermore, we used the GoPro camera to capture video and pictures of the flights.  (The camera was mounted on the hexakopter.)  Unfortunately, the pictures had a lot of compression (as can be seen by the picture to the left that was taken in the lab).  Next week we will be testing to see if adjusting the setting will yield better images.

Below is a link to a video from the GoPro as we flew through Academic Row.  The first half of the video is with the distortion and the second half is the cleaned-up version.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtPkQShCR8c&context=C451b577ADvjVQa1PpcFNA2j44Y1Kwcn_6Rdo149XVXfaZn7cl70E=

 

 

Apr 02 2012

Surveying The west side of HR

On Saturday March,31,2012 Dana and Shelby joined me in the field for a day of Land Surveying. Will Wiley was not able to come out this weekend and give us the points that we need to finish the survey but In the mean time Jonathan and I had decided it best to use this bottle neck as an opportunity to get the west side of the site done. We started with the points that were near the dam and moved East Until we ended up adjacent to the east side of the grid. We were able to get 18 points done that day between the three of us which leaves only 22 points left for this part of the grid. I will email Will Wiley again after this Wednesdays Ecosynth meeting to get an update about when a good time for him to go out to the field would be.The weather that day was really nice it was a bit over cast ( I managed to get a tan though!) and it stayed relatively calm with respect to the wind. This calmness made some of the points easier to get.Point number 102, in the thick of the brush, would have been nearly impossible on a really windy day. I really appreciated having two people out in the field to help me it seemed like things were able to go alot smoother just because we had extra hands to carry things. The point that seems to be in the middle of the dam 111 I did not put in because it seems like the contractors will come and clean that dam out periodically and it seemed futile to actually put this point down because of the constant grade changes that are likely to happen here. Hopefull we can finish the rest of the grid this weekend and have WIlls help this weekend also to get some new control points.

 

 

 

 

 

Mar 28 2012

Surveying update

Over spring break I created eight rough points in with the Field GPS. These points are scattered around the knoll and Herbert Run. I placed four points new points around The Knoll that all look into the forest one on Admin drive two on the loop and one near the parking garage. I beleive with these points I will be able to survey the entire Knoll.

I placed four extra survey points scattered through out Herbert Run that will most likely be able to finish the survey there. One of the Points is on the hill . One near the swing and two more scattered in strategic locations the obtain line of sight to the rest of the points.

Today I called Will Wiley and he was in a meeting. My plan is to go out to Herbert run and The Knoll with him and Have him make RTK GPS points for the rough points I created.

As soon as Will calls we will go out and create these points. Then I will survey plot fifty first thing. After that I Will finish the primarly grid in HR. Once that is done I will Immediately do The Knolll. I expect the time it takes to finish HR run to be very very quick because I  laid down so many control points that no matter what I must have a good line of sight some where this way I can rapidly move from one point to the next and never spend any time trying to squeeze a point out of a tight survey location.

The Knoll will also be pretty quick for all the peripheral points. There is a chance that I Will need one extra point that is at the top of The KNoll where the elevation levels off. This area might be hard to get from the four points I have created. I will bring this up with Will and see if he can give me a ninth point on top of thi hill.

 At the bottom are all the new points I have located to be new control points.

Mar 28 2012

Forest Fire Videos Captured with a Hexakopter

Here are links to two videos we collected of the forest fire we flew in early March in New Jersery.  Stephen had posted previously, post here, about our experiences getting the payload to fly on the Hexakopter, a repeat of similar work from last year.

Taking video was an afterthought for the project so we only had an SD4000 on hand for filming.  I think the video quality would have been a lot better if we had the GoPro.  Despite the wiggle and bluriness of the video, it is still possible to see the smoke lines set by the fire managers (see images at left) and there are places in the afternoon video where I think you can even see fire.  Note that these videos were taken pointing about due west, so I believe the shots from later in the day appear darker due to exposure compensation.

Video from about 12:45 - 12:55 local time: http://youtu.be/q3S3V3212bo?hd=1

Video from about 15:45 - 15:55 local time: http://youtu.be/GQHh2LX_ad8?hd=1

Mar 27 2012

Topography and the Mapping Grid

There has been a new data sheet designed to address the specific needs of the forest we are working with. Because the method for mapping the trees has changed, the data sheets also needed to be altered. We are returning to the previous used method of laying out a 1x1 meter grid within our 5x5 meter grid. Once this is complete the location of the trees will be marked on the graph found on the data sheet. There has also been a "codes" column added to the data sheet to represent trees that may need special attention. This could include a leaning stem, a stem broken below breast hight, or as seen in the picture multiple stems from one trunk forming below breast height. However, before the trees can be mapped the grid must first be sectioned into 5x5 meter squares. Jonathan, fellow students, and I are hoping to get one of the 25x25 meter plots sectioned off so we can begin to test our tree mapping stratgies. We are also tackling the problems we may face concerning drastic elevation changes. In summary we have all of our supplies ready and in bags we just need to find a time to get dirty and see how our ideas work.


 

Mar 21 2012

Tree mapping Technique

There have been many methods for mapping the trees within our 25x25 meter grid that we have identified. The one certatinty we have decided on is the grid must be sectioned into a 5x5 meter grid before we can begin mapping. The picture on the left shows a method found in the field guide Methods For Establishment And Inventory Of Permanent Plots. This method involves usining geometry to determine the exact point of a tree and we thought it could be more accurate and faster than other ideas. However when we went to our forrest to test we discovered that it was not only more tedious but may not improve accuracy by a reasonable amount if at all. The problems arose when we needed to take measurments on unlevel surfaces. It would involve 3 or more people with much instruction and using handfulls of equpment, it was uneffective for our purposes. We plan on going on another test run before the week ends to try another method that will hopefully work for what we need. 

References:

Dallmeier, F. (1992). "Long-term monitoring of biological diversity in tropical forest areas." Methods for establishment and inventory of permanent plots. MAB Digest Series, 11. UNESCO. Paris