Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Toys!

After experiencing so many technical difficulties with our ROV, we got a new toy on Monday! We're not quite sure how he did it (most of us are speculating on superpowers), but Dr. Clark was able to get together enough money to buy a new ROV and ship it to Malta. The new ROV is looking slick, but more importantly it came with a working cable (although it's not as long as our previous cable, it is long enough for most sites, is not attached to the carrying case, and can be attached to an older cable to add length), a much larger monitor (the older ones are about 6in while the new one is about 15in), and a new working depth sensor. What does that mean!? Depth measurements and 3D data! YAY! After tearing through the packaging like a kid on Christmas, we decided to test out the new ROV on the cave near St. George's Bay since our previous readings could be improved upon (and because the cave is just that cool).

Tuesday was fun, too! In groups we all climbed aboard the Isis II (a boat) to check out a WWII shipwreck in the bay. The team took turns visiting the site in groups of 2 or 3 and each member took a turn driving a much larger ROV around the shipwreck. It handled differently from our VideoRay and had a longer response time, but a few quick minutes of practice proved to be enough (at least, for our purposes). There were also some divers who happened to be in the area. They were supposed to be on one side of the wreck while we would stay on the other, but slowly during my turn they crept over to our side. This was a little thrilling as I didn't want to slam the very expensive equipment I was controlling into anyone and they came in rather quickly. Fortunately, I was able to keep my distance while not losing sight of the wreck until I was done. We then surfaced the robot and reeled it in with a crane (much easier than pulling it out by hand) and headed back to the dock. And while I am excited for the new VideoRay, it was a great treat to be able to use this other ROV.

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