shrug-l: Innovative techniques to log boats from helicopter

Jim Robeson jim at
Mon Mar 17 08:56:25 EDT 2008



1)      Lasers being that are magnetic in nature may have as problem in a
helicopter.  Compass errors of 6 degrees or more are not uncommon.  This is
the same problem suffered when using a laser to do offsets from a car or
truck.  Being that you are taking positions from a helicopter, accuracy is
not a big deal.  One thing you will want to watch is making sure the laser
has an inclinometer that can deal with the steep angles.  Avoid shooting at
very steep angles.

2)      Cameras, The best deal out there has been the Nikon Cool Pix P3.
Nikon has discontinued this camera but there are still new models available.
This camera uses WIFI to communicate the image to ArcPad or TerraSync.  This
is a very easy connection.  There is a very inexpensive dive case for this
camera, seals the unit to 12 feet.   So for under $250 you can have a very
nice solution.


You can go back to using the camera and a software like Red Hen to link the
imager back in the office later.


Please feel free to call me to discuss any of this on the side.




Jim Robeson



James M. Robeson

Mapping/GIS Sales, Trimble Certified Trainer

 <mailto:Jim at> mailto:Jim at



GPServ, Inc. 


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FAX (407) 330-7443               Sanford, FL 32771





From: shrug-l-bounces at
[mailto:shrug-l-bounces at] On Behalf Of Swett, Bob
Sent: Sunday, March 16, 2008 11:56 AM
To: shrug-l at
Cc: Watkins,Russell L
Subject: shrug-l: Innovative techniques to log boats from helicopter


I am involved in a project to log boats that visit reefs off the coast of SE
Florida. This will involve nine helicopter flights over the course of a
year. Our current plan is to use equipment/techniques that are familiar to
us based on our past projects. However, we are interested to see if
innovative and new ways (to us, anyway) to do the work exist. Presently, we
plan to use a GPS enabled data logger (e.g., TDS Recon) connected to a laser
rangefinder to record boat locations and their basic characteristics, using
ArcPad or SoloField. 


New ideas we are thinking about, but have never employed: 


1.       We would like to photograph each boat as we log it and
automatically attach the photograph as an attribute of the logged feature
(boat). I.e., the camera would be connected to the data logger. Has anyone
done this? 

2.       We were wondering whether we could use a GPS enabled tablet PC
connected to the laser rangefinder and camera to log the boats (and take
pictures of each boat). 


Any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated.

Bob Swett

Bob Swett  |  Coordinator  |  Florida Sea Grant Boating and Waterway
Management Program  |   <>

Assistant Professor | Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences |
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences-UF 

PO Box 110405     |    Gainesville, FL 32653    |     (:352-392-6233    |
Fax: 352-392-5113    |    *  <mailto:rswett at> rswett at


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