shrug-l: Innovative techniques to log boats from helicopter

Joel_Cusick at Joel_Cusick at
Mon Mar 17 12:36:21 EDT 2008


I think this is a perfect job for the Ricoh camera and linking with GPS
data from internal GPS (its lower quality) or a Bluetooth GPS emitter
located in a "good sky location" inside a helo.  With a Ricoh, GPS
PhotoLink Pro version you can:

1) Write the photos EXIF with coordinates. No other camera out there does
this, nor any wireless option over to ArcPad / Trimpix and the Nikon option
discussed below.  By missing the chance to write to EXIF, your photos need
to be hyperlinked - this can break, hard to manage, and with so many free
web tools that recognize coordinates INSIDE a photo (google, flickr,
picasa), the free mapping engine components come into play.  GPS PHotoLink
software (299, plus the Ricoh has huge benefits for "photo-centric" jobs
like this.
2) Ricoh pro version will autogenerate a FOV - Field of view in a GIS.
This is genererated by the camera zoom parameters, and by the GPS track
providing track direction.  If you shoot only from one side of the aircraft
and set this to 90 deg from the track of aircraft, the FOV is automatic.

Lasers, ive heard are a bit problematic over sunny conditions with
reflection from waves.
Watch for getting good sky in a helo.  We do lots of aerial mapping here in
Alaska.  Get the antenna either certified and on top of the ship, or placed
high under the lexan or on dash.  A wire running from antenna to gps/person
sitting in craft is best, solution - Bluetooth can fail (and does).
Joel Cusick
National Park Service
GIS Specialist/Alaska Regional Office
240 West. 5th Avenue, Anchorage, AK - 99501
(907) 644-3549  joel_cusick at
+61 13' 01.28", -149 53' 10.58";  (NAD83 CORS96)

                      "Jim Robeson"                                                                                                       
                      <jim at>                  To:       "'Swett, Bob'" <rswett at>, <shrug-l at>        
                      Sent by:                          cc:       "'Watkins,Russell L'" <rlw00 at>, (bcc: Joel Cusick/AKSO/NPS)      
                      shrug-l-bounces at lists.dep.        Subject:  RE: shrug-l: Innovative techniques to log boats from helicopter         
                      03/17/2008 08:56 AM AST                                                                                             
                      Please respond to jim                                                                                               


      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

GPServ, Inc.

Tallahassee Office
Phone (850) 656-6075
Cell (850) 212-0030
FAX (850) 656-1350

Corporate Office                    Address:
Phone (888) 782-1997            4380 St. Johns Parkway
Phone (407) 330-7442            Suite 100
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    |    * rswett at
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