Mike At Sea

Video games for grad students


Meet the Pan and Tilt.

The Pan and Tilt is a crucial part of our shipboard camera system.  It corrects for most of the ship’s pitching and rolling motion, keeping the camera trained at the same angle at the ocean surface.  This allows us to relate pixel coordinates to real-world coordinates, so we can measure the length of the whitecaps (along the crest, perpendicular to their motion) and the speed of the crest (in the direction of motion).  These are the necessary measurements for our remote breaking calculations.

The Pan and Tilt is driven from a Playstation controller while watching the output from a computer screen, so it kind of feels like an expensive video game system. This is where anyone who has ever played video games with me is saying, “maybe someone else should be in charge of the Pan and Tilt…”  Props to Alex for the Pan and Tilt wiring (not quite finished):

The Pan and Tilt carries two fixed-focus cameras (black with green tape near front of housing), one with wide field of view to capture large breaking events and one with narrow field of view to resolve the small whitecaps.  In addition, it carries a sonic anemometer (a wind-measuring instrument) with GPS unit (not shown).  This gives additional information about our camera orientation, as well as wind information.  It also contains a heater and fan to prevent condensation and fogging.  The shipboard camera, wind, and GPS data will be key to my eventual dissertation, so this Pan and Tilt system is near and dear to my heart, but it is just one of the many instruments we’ll be using on this cruise.  Stay tuned for more!

– Mike