PDR presentation to liaisons completed! Our Northrop Grumman liaisons were very kind to listen to our presentation and provide the meaningful feedback we need to move forward with our designs. According to feedback, we are tweaking our plans, and awaiting signatures from liaisons before officially moving on to a system level design and prototyping. This week the team has also been working on a cost table including all device components, with the intention of ordering sensors in the coming weeks, some of which that we know we want to test have already been ordered so we can get them connected to a microcontroller and see how they work. Also planning on registering with ARGOS, a necessary step before utilizing their satellite communication system. The registration requires approval from government organizations based on the application of the project, which will be determined in a meeting with an ARGOS representative next week. To get approval we will have to demonstrate that our project will be used for environmental purposes. Once we are able to obtain approval, we will proceed with ordering a GPS capable chip and PCB to communicate with satellites, along with antennae research for satellite communication. antennae needed for 2 separate purposes: GPS and ARGOS, we will have to find the best way to combine these 2 functionalities in order to keep or device in a small package. We have also determined that another meeting with turtle experts will be necessary to get some more questions answered about what we can do. The team has began considering how we can expose sensors to the outside of the device so they can make a safe contact with the water. The necessary thickness of the walls of the device will be a critical metric for us to define, and team members have been hard at work running simulations on CAD designs to test this and determine what we will be able to do.
As we continue our work on this project we are polishing a Preliminary Design Report (PDR) presentation to deliver to our engineering liaisons and others at Northrop Grumman (NG). We were hoping to be able to take a trip to their site in Melbourne, FL to present to them face-to-face, but the decision was made to meet in a zoom conference for the presentation, scheduled for Monday, October 17, 2021. The team is excited to finally give a full, formal presentation to NG and show them the work we’ve done so far to develop a design for their tag something small project.
Aside from the presentation itself, the team is also getting ready to order hardware to begin testing and prototyping. We are considering our options of different microcontrollers we could use as a processor for all of the sensors we hope to integrate. We will likely need to test different versions of sensors for each type of data we would like to collect before we arrive at a realistic system level design. We will be ordering sensors next week to begin testing as soon as possible to see what will fit with our design concept. The material to be used for the device housing is also being researched in depth, mostly using CAD software and finite element analysis at this point, and we will make orders to acquire the desired material when the research is concluded.
Another week down and the team is another week closer to finalizing a design for a prototype! We met with another industry expert on wildlife tracking, specifically an expert on the ARGOS satellite network for environmental monitoring. They provided us with some great insight into how satellite tracking is implemented and gave us tips on what we would need to achieve general data transmission capabilities and GPS functionality in our device. The possibilities discussed in the meeting inspired enthusiasm within our team for remote data collection, as this would be an ideal feature to include in our device. The ability to collect and analyze data remotely and in real-time while the device is attached to the animal would be a great benefit to researchers, as opposed to needing to retrieve the tag before viewing the data.
We are also narrowing down the possibilities for processing hardware, sensors, power needs, device housing and attachment methods that would be ideal for our device. A preliminary design report, where we are documenting our decision making process and progress to date on the project, is currently in the works. The team is preparing a comprehensive presentation to deliver to our engineering liaisons from Northrop Grumman. The feedback we get from them will allow us determine our path forward, as we move toward developing the system-level design of our device.
The MATR team is zooming in closer and closer to a solid concept for the design of the tracker. After discussing the information we received from turtle research experts, and considering all of the concepts we were able to brainstorm, our best option is a single-package device meant to be attached to the carapace (shell) of adult hard-shell turtles. The device will contain a GPS tracker and multiple sensors connected to a microcontroller for processing. We aim to collect data on multiple environmental variables, one of the most important being the water quality surrounding the turtles. The researches we spoke to expressed interest in data on water quality and pollution detection, which we plan to measure by collecting data on the chemical contents of the water (salinity, nitrates, pH), along with clarity and temperature.
In other updates, the ‘Meet This Team’ page of our blog has been updated! Check it out to learn more about the members of team MATR.
This week the team is wrapping up its first month of work on the Marine Animal TrackeR project. We are currently going through the concept generation phase, continuing to build toward finalizing a design and fleshing out a project plan. Meetings with turtle research experts were conducted, so we could gather more biological information on the animals, and better clarify the technical requirements of the device we will be prototyping. These meetings turned out to be extremely beneficial to us. We spoke about general turtle behaviors and habits such as surfacing, nesting, and their aging process. The researchers shared their interests in future data collection, which included collecting data on juveniles in general, as well as any possible data on turtles interacting in the open water. We were able to learn a lot from their years of experience and they gave us great information that will guide us in our design.
This past week was spent mostly on continuing the requirements and specifications phase, and finalizing specifications before moving on to the concept phase. The team has also continued researching possible technologies for monitoring turtles in order to conserve and protect the species. It has come to our attention that a major gap in turtle research exists for turtles in the baby stage of life through their adolescence, so we are currently looking at ways to monitor babies and younger turtles without interfering with the life cycle. This has become a point of interest, but may not be so easily feasible, so we are reaching out to turtle experts to learn more.
This week was focused on researching technologies for turtle tracking. Major research is being done on the sensors we would like to integrate, how we could collect and communicate data, and how we could package the device and attach it to the animal safely. In the upcoming week we will be communicating with our liaison engineers from Northrop Grumman to finalize our Product Design Specifications (PDS), which will help us to decide exactly which of these technologies would be best to employ.
Greetings readers! Welcome to the blog page for IPPD team 8 – Marine Animal TrackeR. We are fortunate to be sponsored by Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems to design a prototype tracking device for small marine animals. The team looks forward to showing off some of the interesting work we do over the next 8 months here on this page.