Date of test: July 19th, 2002

Location of test: Cattle Point and surrounding ocean

The Boat Launch at Cattle Point

Equipment Used:


The drifter buoy was powered on and placed in the ocean.  For this test, an anchor was attached to it so it would not drift, since distances from the buoy were measured as the boat moved away from it.  Therefore, it was practical to keep the buoy stationary even though it is being designed to drift with the currents.  GPS data was set to transmit every 10 seconds from the buoy.  On the boat, a VHF marine transceiver was connected to the boat's VHF antenna and also to the onboard PC.  To monitor the received GPS data, HyperTerminal was used.

Test Procedure:

The following steps were taken during the ocean test once the boat was out at sea:

  1. The entire electronic system was set-up and powered on.  At the time of the test, the connector between the VHF Marine Transceiver and the antenna cable was not yet available. Therefore jumper cables were used as temporary connectors instead.
  2. Once everything was connected and the computer was on, the system was tested to ensure that HyperTerminal was receiving the correct data.  From this point on, HyperTerminal was monitored to make certain that the buoy was continuing to transmit properly. 
  3. The electronic system was placed inside the buoy and all connections sealed.
  4. The buoy was attached to an anchor and placed in the ocean.
  5. The boat moved slowly away from the buoy, continually monitoring GPS data.
  6. At the point that GPS data was no longer being received correctly, the boat stopped to take distance measurements.


This ocean test failed.  About 50 meters away from the buoy, the system stopped functioning and only incorrect data was received.  After getting even closer to the buoy and still receiving incorrect data, the buoy was removed from the water and opened.  It was discovered that the batteries in the marine transceiver had run out of power.

Because this system had not been re-tested on land since the temporary handheld FRS radios were replaced with the permanent VHF marine transceivers, it was decided to conduct another land test before any more ocean tests were done. Once it is certain that the system works on land, the second ocean test will be held.

During the course of the test, some things were discovered about the system that need to be fixed.  Some changes that need be incorporated into the system before further testing are as follows: