Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lightning Warning System For OH&S

State-Of-The-Art Weather Monitoring System

lightning warning system
Above: Touchscreen Real-time weather data with live video images.
McConnell Dowell, an Australian and International engineering, construction, building and maintenance company, is using Campbell Scientific data loggers and sensors within its new state-of-the-art weather monitoring and marine navigation system installed at Hay Point in North Queensland. The main purpose of the system is for Operations Health & Safety, ensuring safe working conditions for McConnell Dowell personnel. Campbell Scientific equipment being used in the system includes three CR800 data loggers, three RIMCO rain gauges, one CS475 radar sensor being used for wave height monitoring, and the Campbell Scientific CS110 and Strike Guard Lightning Warning system.
array of sensors roof mounted
Above: Array of Sensors - Roof Mounted.
The lightning warning system provides early warning of the potential for lightning strikes by measuring the local vertical component of the atmospheric electric field at the earth’s surface. Combined with the Strike Guard optical-coincidence lightning sensor, which detects actual lightning strikes for up to 32 km from the installation site, a decision making algorithm provides early warning to site operators of the potential for lightning within the vicinity of the construction site. Integrated with the other measured parameters, the data is used to assist in decision making for Occupational Health & Safety.

McConnell Dowell now has the most unique weather monitoring system in Australia for its purpose. James Palmer from McConnell Dowell said ‘the system has been of great benefit and vital importance from a safety and commercial perspective, and the equipment is very specialised for the project we have undertaken.”

wave height sensor
Above: Wave Height Sensor
Rim8000 rain gauge
Above: Airmar PB150 Sensor &
Rim8000 Rain Gauge.
Work on interfacing the Campbell Scientific equipment into a complete turnkey solution for McConnell Dowell was undertaken by Marcom Watson, a Launceston based company specialising in Marine Electronics and Radio Communications and a recommended Campbell Scientific equipment integrator. Brett Victory, managing director of Marcom Watson, and their senior engineer Colin Kew, headed up the system installation in partnership with McConnell Dowell’s Radio Communications Marine Navigations and Weather Systems supervisor James Palmer. James said “Brett Victory and the Marcom Watson team have been fantastic. I could not have asked for a more experienced professional and trustworthy team to work with.” Dr David Hammond, Application Engineer at Campbell Scientific Australia, said “it was a pleasure working with Brett and the team at Marcom Watson in delivering state-of-art measurement systems they could interface into their custom-built weather monitoring system for McConnell Dowell. The quality of the final turn-key weather monitoring system provided by Marcom Watson is first class”.

Above: Data Logger displaying 24 hour data graphs.

Marcom Watson is an Australian company originally formed in 1965 to provide product and support services to commercial and professional users of radio communications and maritime electronics.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Secret Telstra Handshake

The NextG modem is sold without an airtime agreement. The user must arrange connection of the modem to a network and have it enabled for data use. The service provider will supply a Subscriber Identification Module (SIM), which plugs into the MM-6280IND and acts as a key to enable its use.

When setting up the account, the service provider may require some information such as the make and model of the modem being used. They will then set up an account and provide a phone number. This phone number is a voice number. However, voice is not supported in the MM- 6280IND, and it is not possible for the data logger to receive data calls (circuit switched data) and SMS with a voice number.

A data number is required for circuit switched data and SMS transmissions to the data logger. The service provider will need to know this information when setting up the account and enabling the SIM card. Furthermore, you will need to ensure that Code 2620 is activated on your account.

Code 2620 is Telstra’s code for data service on NextG. There are also options that can be specified to reduce complexity and cost of the service. You can strip all ancillary services such as Call Waiting, Call Diversion and Message Bank as these are not required.

If the unit is set up with a security code or pin number, it should be disabled before use with the Campbell Scientific data logger. The security code or pin number can be disabled by putting the SIM card into a normal digital mobile phone and select the security menu. Exact key presses will depend on the mobile phone used, but from this menu the PIN should be able to be disabled.

Monitoring Success - CSA officially Opens New Premises

The official opening of Campbell Scientific Australia’s new premises was held on Friday 30th March in Townsville, Australia. Approximately 40 dignitaries, customers, board members, invited guests and staff attended the function. We had customers travel from Brisbane, Canberra and Adelaide which was very pleasing in view of the long distances involved.

Campbell Scientific - New premises
Above: Campbell Scientific Australia - New Premises - Front View

These exciting new premises are the culmination of 19 years of hard work and planning, with a good degree of the credit to go to Bert Tanner, a Director on CSA’s Board for most of that time.

Situated on a 6800m2 block, the former ten pin bowling alley building was ideally suited to CSA’s current and future needs. The large open plan frame was completely stripped and redesigned to provide purpose built premises. CSA currently occupies the rear half of the building and in the short to medium term, plan on sub leasing the front half. The approximate 1000m2 that we now occupy is double the area of our previous premises and will allow us to more than double our capacity before we will need to expand into the front half of the building. This move will then allow us to quadruple our current size and there will still be room for future expansion on the block if needed.

Above: Reception

Our Open Day comprised presentation sessions in the morning and afternoon, hands on product displays, and finished with a small celebration at the end of the day. Informative displays and demonstrations of many CS products, as well as an overview of some of our most recent case studies; including some spectacular pictures of applications on the Great Barrier Reef, were prepared for the event.

Above: The application engineers room - chatting with guests

Products on display included the CS data loggers and peripherals, the new IRGASON integrated gas analyser and sonic anemometer, the range of OBS water quality sensors, our latest family of discrete and composite water samplers, a visibility sensor developed by Campbell Scientific Limited in the UK, a new outdoor camera developed by Campbell Scientific Canada, the Hydrosense II developed here at CSA, various weather stations including the quick deploy FIREHAWK for fire fighting applications, as well a range of equipment suitable for Geotech applications such as the TDR systems we supply.

 Thanks to all customers and suppliers that were able to attend and to all CSA staff who put in an extra effort to make this a day to remember.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

CSA Welcomes Apogee President Dr. Bruce Bugbee

Bruce Bugbee at Campbell Scientific Australia
This week we were very fortunate to have Dr. Bruce Bugbee, President and founder of Apogee Instruments visit us here in Townsville. A frequent visitor to Australia, Bruce is here to speak at the Australasian Controlled Environment Working Group (ACEWG) at Charles Sturt University in Wagga. Apart from his work at Apogee, Bruce is also Professor of Plants, Soils and Biometeorology at the Utah State University. This year he was awarded the Governor’s Science and Technology Medal for his accomplishments over a lifetime and in the short time he was here with us, it became clear why he is held in such esteem.

Campbell Scientific and Apogee Instruments have a close affiliation. Apart from being neighbours in Logan Utah, both companies have an over-arching mission to improve the process of measurement - pure and simple. We were delighted to be reminded by Bruce of our shared passion for the scientific process and the significance and potential impact of better measurements on the big issues of the day - most notably limited water resource, food production and creating a sustainable future.

We look forward to a continuing close relationship with Apogee Instruments and the refinement and development of measurement tools and technologies to address real-world problems.

You can find some great articles on the Apogee blog - with new material weekly

Monday, February 13, 2012

Severe Weather Calls for New Flood Warning System

Inundation from flood waters is an annual occurrence for many living in Far North Queensland. For a remote community located an hour west of the Atherton tablelands, a rain event during a monsoon will often make it impossible for half the town’s population to get to the local pub for over a week, a severe event could have a much larger impact as the local water supply is sourced at a dam located upstream from the creek that runs through the middle of town. Significant rainfall could cause a quiet creek to become a raging torrent in just a short time.
3G Tower for Flood Warning Sytem
Until recently, the community has only had the sound of running water and predicted water heights to make critical evacuation decisions. Implementation of a siren network and current conditions, display controlled by local disaster response teams makes use of incoming real time data from the dam spillway upstream. Warning SMS messages are transmitted to disaster management coordinators in extreme weather events.

The reality of severe weather events such as floods in south east Queensland in 2011 and category 5 Cyclone Yasi in North Queensland just a month later has prompted the installation of a flood warning system to protect the population from sudden inundation during a severe weather event. Real time data is measured at the dam spillway and provided to the evacuation planning centre to assist evacuation action plan procedures. A siren network throughout the town can be activated at a moment’s notice and SMS warning messages are sent to regional disaster management coordinators.
The Ibis Dam Monitored for Flood Warning System
Measurements are taken at the Dam spillway by existing Campbell Scientific equipment. A CR1000 data logger takes water condition and depth readings from bubblers in the catchment and downstream from the dam over a V-notch flume. An RF450 spread spectrum radio network relays real time data through repeaters to external databases using a cell phone modem in a strong signal area, data also transmits to a CR800 data logger at the emergency planning centre. This CR800 is capable of controlling the siren network throughout town by analysing data and is connected to a PC running Campbell Scientific LoggerNet software with an RTMC user interface capable of displaying water levels and controlling siren functions.
downstream flood warning alarm
The system will react to a severe weather event when flood waters exceed a critical predetermined upstream water level, this is communicated to the evacuation centre data logger. The system is capable of initiating the evacuation sirens automatically or manually by the evacuation coordinators using the RTMC interface in the evacuation centre. The availability of real time flood condition data provides a critical tool for evacuation coordinators and the siren network gives a reliable method of initiating evacuation procedures.

Coastal Water Quality Monitoring Network - Yantai-China

Yantai, China, is the pilot location for an innovative Coastal Water Quality monitoring network being jointly developed by Greenspan, Haicheng, the Chinese Academy of Science and the National Marine Agency.

Located on the Bohol Sea, the Yellow River basin is home to almost 350 million people. This large population, heavy industry and being one of the busiest seaports in the world all combine to potentially stress the natural environment.  Coupled with extensive mariculture and oil & gas reserves being explored in the sea, the potential for water quality problems are high.

Recognising the risks, proactive steps are being taken to monitor the water quality and detect any issues before the problems spread undetected.  Greenspan has delivered a water quality monitoring station that integrates a variety of water quality instruments into a real-time online system.

The station includes in-situ monitoring for:

Physical Parameters (YSI Sonde): 
  • Temperature, Salinity, pH, Dissolved Oxygen, Turbidity
Nutrients (EnviroTech Instruments AutoLAB): 
  • Nitrate, Ammonia, Phosphate using a wet chemistry analyser as Ion Selective Electrodes are ineffective in the marine environment
Biological Activity (YSI Sonde):
  • Chlorophyll, Blue Green Algae
Pollutants (Turner Designs):
  • Oil (Crude and Refined)
Traditionally, instruments performing these measurements require frequent maintenance, however the system uses an innovative multi-depth flow through sampling system that keeps the instruments protected on shore, dry in between measurements and in light proof chambers.  This solves the problems of bio-fouling, maintaining instruments without divers and obtaining measurements at multiple depths through the profile while minimizing hardware costs.  With the same instrument being used to measure water quality conditions at various depths, instrument variability has been eliminated, providing meaningful depth inter-comparison beyond the accuracy of most instruments.

Crude versus Rainfall
Above: Crude oil reaction to rainfall event
In terms of the measurement system, the Campbell Scientific CR1000 provides all the measurement and control for full remote operation, including various modes such as:
  • Low Temperature Shutdown.  The site can experience freezing conditions in the coastal waters so to protect the instruments the system is configured with a low temperature shutdown which stops water sampling, to be resumed only when the conditions warm up sufficiently
  •  Manual mode.  All instruments can be run at higher sampling frequencies or in continuous recording to sample the water conditions during suspicious events
  • Onboard instrument calibration.  The Nutrient analyser is equipped with reagents and standards for automatic calibration.  As both the instrument performance and the quality of the reagents/standards may change over time, automatic routines are used to run the standards through the system and use these to automatically correct the measured data for decay and drift.  The data logger is programmed with the routines for determining calibration coefficients for each parameter, in real time.
 Greenspan and Chinese Academy of Science staff checking the system performance
Above: Greenspan and Chinese Academy of Science staff checking the system performance
The CR1000 also manages the provision of data to various sources in real time – with a base station running Greenspan’s EnviroSCADA (with native Chinese support) and ENVAULT ( both receiving data in real time.  Aquatic Informatics Aquarius is also used to process the data for gaps, drift and other corrections before reporting to national agencies.
site inside hut with floating arm visible-yantai harbour
Above:Site inside hut with floating arm visible-Yantai Harbour
From the initial performance of the system, the benefits of the flow through system have been clearly demonstrated.  As shown by the photos below, there has been significant growth in the high nutrient and high light warmer waters near the surface, while the instrument inside the flow through system has no visible growth or degradation of the instrument condition.

Coastal Water Quality Monitoring network
Above: The intake arm with growth after 6 weeks

Above: The YSI before cleaning after the same period of time
The inter-comparison data between two nearby depths (in this case for blue green algae) also demonstrates the ability to detect small but discernible differences in the measurements beyond the accuracy of the instrument, even when the absolute value of the measurement is very small.

 For more information on the project, visit Greenspan’s Gallery & Videos at

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Effect Of Lipids On Methane Emission

 Centre of Advanced Animal Science (CAAS), University of Queensland, Gatton Campus 

Methane chambers were constructed in climate control rooms within CAAS. There are two chambers within each of the two climate control rooms. Within each chamber are two steers housed in individual pens.  Methane emissions for each chamber are calculated using methane concentrations and airflow measurement within the supply and exhaust air ducts. Each duct is fitted with Debimo air flow measuring blades (Kimo®) and pressure transmitters CP200 (Kimo®). The datalogger acquires the airflow measurements from each of the six ducts every 15 minutes.  

Above: Each Chamber houses 2 steers
Data Logger - CR1000

Sensors & Peripherals - Debimo air flow measuring blades (Kimo®) are fitted in each of the six ducts (two supply and 4 exhaust).  Pressure transmitters CP200 (Kimo®) at each duct read in L/sec.  In terms of programming the supply ducts are 10V out = 2000L  while the exhaust ducts are 10V = 1000L.  Methane concentration within each duct is measured using an infra red technique (Columbus Instruments, Ohio, USA).  All equipment is in the plant room above the climate control rooms.
Above: Methane analyser and CR100
What parameters are being measured?

The parameters of interest are methane concentration and airflow within each duct.

Communications & Networking -  Data is retrieved on a laptop.  Programming was performed by Daniel Roebuck, Campbell Scientific

Project Description - This project focuses on the measurement of methane in Bos indicus cattle fed tropical pastures and supplemented with various lipids.  Methane is a digestive by-product from cattle and is a major greenhouse gas. Lipids can reduce methane emissions and are also a source of energy. Beef production systems in northern Australia use Bos indicus cattle grazed on subtropical pastures. These pastures generate high methane emissions and are seasonally of poor quality. The purpose of this project is to investigate the impact of lipids on the suppression of methane emissions and improvements in growth rate of cattle fed a diet of subtropical pasture. The lipids include algal meal, sunflower oil and whole cottonseed.   No research has been published with regard to methane emissions in cattle fed subtropical pastures supplemented with lipids. 

The 32 steers are supplemented for at least 50 days, food intake recorded daily and liveweight measured weekly.   Steers enter the chambers for four days (one day equilibration and three day emission measurement).

Above: Plant room ducts (above chambers)

This is a joint project with University of Queensland and DEEDI.  It is funded by MLA (meat and livestock association).  This project is headed by Assoc. Professor Athol Klieve. Karen Harper manages and runs this steer trial.

Case study courtesy of  Karen Harper University of Queensland.