Divers can now use a laptop PC to log information about the terrain under their boat. Briefly, you need a GPS receiver; sonar to measure the depth; a laptop running Windows ; software to collect the data and a plastic box to keep everything dry. The good news is that the RS232 software needed is now free! To download the software (called Windmill) simply go to their website and subscribe to their free Monitor newsletter (ISSN 1472-0221). You will then be sent details of downloading and installing the software.
The system is portable and can be used from inflatable boats. Data collected can immediately be sent to mapping software or to a spreadsheet. With more COM ports on the laptop, you could add - for example - temperature sensors, salinometres or current metres. Using such a system it is possible to produce 3D-images of the sea-floor, with superimposed maps of water conditions, in no time at all. Data can be sent directly to software like Excel or mapping software.
The system is currently being used, for example, by biologists mapping coral reef distribution.
3D Model of Sea Bell Reef
Any comments or questions on logging data from GPS, sonar, etc?