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Title: Investigation and Design of a Towable Hydrophone Array for General Ocean Sensing
An eight-element oil-filled hydrophone array is used to measure the acoustic field in littoral waters. This prototype array was deployed during an experiment between Jeffrey’s Ledge and the Stellwagen Bank region off the coast of Rockport, Massachusetts USA. During the experiment, several humpback whale vocalizations, distant ship tonals and high frequency conventional echosounder pings were recorded. Visual confirmation of humpback moving in bearing relative to the array verifies the directional sensing from array beamforming. During deployment, the array is towed at speeds varying from 4-7 kts in water depths of roughly 100 m with conditions at sea state 2 to 3. This array system consists of a portable winch with array, tow cable and 3 water-resistant boxes housing electronics. This system is deployed and operated by 2 crew members onboard a 13 m commercial fishing vessel during the experiment. Non-acoustic sensor (NAS) information is obtained to provide depth, temperature, and heading data using commercial off the shelf (COTS) components utilizing RS485/232 data communications. Acoustic data sampling was performed at 8 kHz, 30 kHz and 100 kHz with near real-time processing of data and enhanced Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) from beamforming. The electrical system components are deployed with 3 stacked electronics boxes housing power, data acquisition and data processing components in water resistant compartments. A laptop computer with 8 TB of external storage and an independent Global Positioning System (GPS) antenna is used to run Passive Ocean Acoustic Waveguide Remote Sensing (POAWRS) software providing beamformed spectrogram data and live NAS data with capability of capturing several days of data. The acquisition system consists of Surface Mount Device (SMD) pre-amplifiers with filter to an analog differential pair shipboard COTS acquisition system. Pre-amplifiers are constructed using SMD technology where components are pressure tolerant and potting is not necessary. Potting of connectors, electronics and hydrophones via 3D printed molding techniques will be discussed. Array internal components are manufactured with Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) 3D printed material to dampen array vibrations with forward and aft vibration isolation modules (VIM). Polyurethane foam (PUF) used to scatter breathing waves and dampen contact from wires inside the array without attenuating high frequencies and allowing for significant noise reduction. A single Tygon array section with a length of 7.5 m and diameter of 38 mm contains 8 transducer elements with a spacing of 75 cm (1 kHz design frequency). Pre- amplifiers and NAS modules are affixed using Vectran and steel wire rope positioned by swaged stops along the strength member. The tow cable length is 100 m with a diameter of 22 mm that is potted to a hose adapter to break out 12 braided copper wire twisted pair conductors and terminates the tow cable Vectran braid. This array in its current state of development is a low-cost alternative to obtain quality acoustic data from a towed array system. Used here for observation of whale vocalizations, this type of array also has many applications in military sonar and seismic surveying. Maintenance on the array can be performed without the use of special facilities or equipment for dehosing and conveniently uses castor oil as an environmentally safe pressure compensating and coupling fluid. Array development including selection of transducers, NAS modules, acoustic acquisition system, array materials and method of construction with results from several deployments will be discussed. We also present beamformed spectrograms containing humpback whale downsweep moans and underwater blowing (bubbles) sounds associated with feeding on sand lance (Ammodytes dubius).  more » « less
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IEEE OCEANS 2019 - Marseille
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1 to 5
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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