Multi-Parameter Vertical Profiling System at UTMSI Pier (Part 6)

So far, the profiling operation is going very smooth, without any problem, except for the temporary stops during couple of power outages and computer problems. The Keyspan USB-serial adapter hooked up to the Nortek current profiler kept causing panic to the Windows OS, resulting in multiple crashes of computer over the last month or so. I decided to abandon this USB-serial adapter idea. I bought a new 2-port serial PCI card, and connected the serial port connection via this new additional serial port. No crash since then. (1011)

Grumbling, we wound the new cable to the winch drum, and connected all the wires and soldered them. All the parts are now put back to the original positions in the unit. I replaced the old and worn rubber roller on the outrigger with a new polyurethane roller for smoother movement of the cable around it. It is even in burnt-orange color. How fitting! Now the moment of truth has come. I deployed the newly calibrated sonde in the water by carefully lowering it inside the 6″OD PVC pipe, established the radio connection through a data logger, and commenced the pre-deployment diagnostics sequence in the program. Everything works smoothly. The data communication between the program and the sonde works again! I started the automatic profiling sequence, and it worked like charm. Now the sonde is moving through the water column once every hour. (1010)

My joy of reviving the sonde profiling fell short in 10 days… I found the sonde was not communicating with the program and halted in the water column. Various diagnostics indicate there was a problem in the conducting winch cable somewhere along the 33m length. I thought we fixed this problem, but apparently not. Frustrated and agitated, I decided to invest nearly $1,000 to purchase a new spool of the cable. When I received this expensive new cable, Tony Amos and I disconnected all the wires and disassemble the winch cable drum from the unit.  While we were spooling out the old damaged cable from the drum, I thought it was strange that some sands kept coming off from inside. I thought they were blown in by wind over the last couple years, maybe. Maybe. Finally we stretched the entire length of the cable along the whole span of the pier, and opened up the drum parts to disconnect the slip ring out of the unit. I found that the hollow space inside the drum unit was filled with sand. Strange, I thought. This strange feeling soon turned to a horror, when I pulled those sand blocks from inside. They were well-built hornet nests! Thank God, they already left the nest and only empty cocoons were buried inside the sand blocks… We gasped.  (1009)

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