Floating Buoy Design

The main idea of this project is to develop a single platform that can be used for four different ocean monitoring setups.

A. Moored buoy floating at the surface remains stationary

B. Drifting buoy that moves with currents

C. Drogue sensor that adjusts it’s buoyancy and can ascend or decent in water column

D. Stationary environmental sensor array mounted in tidal or estuary zone

 Below are ideas for a moored buoy that would be tethered to an anchor and meant to collect ocean temperature and salinity data as well as ocean wave heights and period with an internal IMU sensor.

In order to design a system that would work for each of these applications, I believe we should build a water tight cylinder (WTC) to act as the main compartment that protects the electronics and sensors and then insert the WTC into different modules designed to meet the needs of the applications listed above.  The majority of the sensors would be the same for all four applications (with specialized sensors added as needed) and therefore the same unit could be built with the following peripherals: temperature, salinity, pH, water color or clarity, GPS, SD card for data storage.

For a moored or drifting setup, the WTC could be inserted into the center of a foam buoy and have solar panels installed ontop. To be used as a drogue, we would attach an automated gas-regulated bladder module to the top of the WTC which would allow the unit to sink and float at different depths. Since the end caps of the WTC would be waterproof, you could simply mount the WTC to a dock or pier and monitor the environment.

Below are additional ideas for a drifting buoy, which would not require an anchor point at the bottom of the buoy like the moored design.

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2 thoughts on “Floating Buoy Design

  1. Hey,
    This looks fantastic! I’ve been researching various open source, citizen/marine science efforts and this looks like the most advanced and accessible design in the floating sensor platform category. Have you had a chance to check out http://www.publiclab.org? They have a great documentation platform with a highly active community of citizen scientists/civic hackers. I know a lot of people who would be interested in this work if you created a research note with some links to this blog.
    You can find my own work on publiclab at http://publiclab.org/profile/code4maine if your looking for an example of how it works.

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