Older News - January, 2019
SeaScape Version 5.70 Released

SeaScape 5.70 with the preview described below is now officially available. Check out its new features and continue reading for more on 'SeaScape With SoundTracks.'

SeaScape With SoundTracks Version 5.70 Preview

SeaScape With SoundTracks, Ver 1.10     SeaBox Receiver

2018 was a busy year and while it hasn't been long since Version 5.63 was released (see below), the next major release of SeaScape has been in the works. We thought a preview of it might be in order, particularly since the 'SoundTracks' hardware/software side of SeaScape is still very new and probably unfamiliar to most.

In January, 2018, 'Synchronous LBL' program support was introduced and successfully used in March by UW-APL in the Arctic. Now, in the upcoming 5.70 'SeaScape With SoundTracks,' our hardware/software receiver subsystem ('SeaBox') can provide Synchronous LBL operation, whether it be ice-, bottom- or buoy-mounted. And in general, SeaScape now supports mobile LBL arrays of either type, active or passive. For buoy- or ice-mounted arrays, SeaBox interfaces to node GPS receivers and hydrophones with either cables and/or RF modems and FM transmitters as shown below. It generates the same device-independent, synchronized data format as the original version (5.60) and drives the same user interfaces, as well.

Synchronous LBL hardware/software

The controls and dialogs for synchronous LBL operations are the same as the original version, also:

Main Synchronous LBL Dialog

SeaBox-1000 Configuration

As a result of complete compatibility with the original version, Navigators can also continue to train themselves using the special WorkBoat synchronous LBL simulator output to SeaScape. When driving SeaScape with this 'ICEX Simulator,' SeaScape is in 'Regular Navigation' mode and doesn't know that data feeding it isn't real:

Synchronous LBL Simulator

As you can imagine, Synchronous LBL requires a rigorous time standard for not only all transmitting, pinger-based platforms, but especially the acoustic receiver system. Our SeaBox hardware achieves this by digitizing a local (e.g. Ice Camp) GPS 1PPS pulse which is good to one microsecond or less, by the GPS standard. The same GPS system can be used as the 'Camp GPS' which provides Camp (i.e., ice pack) location and heading.

If this new hardware/software support for Synchronous LBL isn't enough, SeaScape with SoundTracks can also locate your platform pingers without all the time standards being applied, i.e., as a 'Passive Array Receiver.' In this mode, pingers are regarded as quasi-synchronous and only relative time-of-arrivals are used for hyperbolic fixes, whereas the fully Synchronous LBL supports BOTH spherical and hyperbolic fix methods. The Passive Array Receiver mode expects pingers to be more-or-less regular in their output, but the receiver's acoustic cycle uses a 'relative clock' with an inconsequential, minimal drift on the order of microseconds.

The SoundTracks Development Environment:

SeaScape With SoundTracks has been developed from day one using an in-air system comprised of an eight-channel, wireless microphone receiver and eight wireless mic's with a max range of 500'. As such, SoundTracks software has been written with concurrent testing. Acoustic signals are produced with off-the-shelf waveform generators and projectors as well as our own proprietary waveform generator (called 'QuickWave'). This ability to build and test simultaneously without a test tank or a lab-on-a-boat has been very important and allowed us to proceed with very rapid development. For example, we're able to test and acoustically navigate various sound sources in our lab good to several centimeters.

SeaBox on the bench

QuickWave Utility

Other Improvements:

Version 5.70 of SoundTracks also has some important enhancements over previous versions. These include supporting 4096-sample triggers in addition to the typical 2048 sample buffers. The larger buffers allow up to 40 msec. waveforms to be correlated which can improve your detection chances in noisy environments, particularly when using complex replicas (chirps, MFSK and PSK waveforms). In addition, the operator can now instantly use a correlated signal as his/her replica, as well as better view additional candidates that may be present in multiple trigger instances. These features enhance SoundTracks existing ability to apply 'user-defined' signal templates for correlation, including both user-generated or previously recorded signals.

Navigation with Passive Array Receiver

Vehicle Layback Modeling:

Version 5.70 now also supports static layback modeling for towed vehicles that are difficult to navigate:

Vehicle Layback Modeling

More on this new capability as 2019 unfolds. We're working towards making the model 'dynamic' as well - a much more difficult problem! Stay tuned!

September, 2018: SeaScape Version 5.63 Released

After a very successful ICEX-18 operation by The Applied Physics Laboratory at The University of Washington using SeaScape's new 'Synchronous LBL' capability (see below), the next release of SeaScape (5.63) is officially available. New features include output to KML-driven mapping programs (like Google Earth), native Kongsberg/Simrad hiPAP/HPR support (heretofor supported by 'Custom Input' only), support for truly mobile, active and passive LBL navigation with bottom-mounted, buoyed or ice-mounted hydrophone or transponder arrays, further refinements to our sound velocity profile engine, new master clock input from 1PPS GPS devices to our SeaBox hardware/software (see 'SeaScape With SoundTracks' below), and generally, further enhancements to various program features.

On the mapping side of things, besides our complete graphical output to the renown (and extremely affordable!) 'OziExplorer' mapping sofware all these years, SeaScape clients can now present their expeditions online with integrated KML map viewers. All of SeaScape's graphical constructions (except 'Contours') can be output, including raster overlays. A good example is shown below with and without a large sonar survey map with navigation aids (cables and instruments, etc.) overlaid on top. The new KML tab on the 'Output To Maps' dialog is shown, as well. Selection of graphical constructions to output is similar to the OziEplorer tab:

KML with SeaScape constructions

KML with raster overlay

KML Map Output  

What's next for SeaScape? Stay tuned!

January, 2018: S.E.A. Adopts 'SLACK' for Customer Support

Remote training for clients who use our software just got a whole lot easier using Slack with its conference and video phone calls, screen sharing and useful channel features for documents, notices, chat, etc. From anywhere in the world where they have broadband Internet, users can log in for help mobilizing or operating, or, just get the latest documents, share files, etc. As new users of Slack ourselves, we're quite pleased with the way it works and look forward to supporting our clients wherever they are!

January, 2018: SeaScape Ver. 5.60 Released With Synchronous LBL Support

At the request of a major client, S.E.A. has added "Synchronous LBL" support to SeaScape for use with ice-, buoy- or bottom-mounted hydrophone arrays. This new synchronous support for up to eight hydrophones provides both spherical and hyperbolic least squares fix types based on device-independent data from synchronous acoustic hardware with up to five actively pinging platforms. Synchronous LBL is useful for various kinds of tracking ranges involving pinger-mounted submersibles. In addition, SeaScape's ordinary navigation aids can now be relative to the Vessel (or platform) that operates the tracking range.

Another advancement in Version 5.60 is our new Ray Path Plotter and SVP Computing Engine that identifies up to five sound velocity regions in any profile. This new ability allows SeaScape to determine the possible origins of muliple acoustic signals within the water column and reduces the multi-path confusion that is possible with unfriendly sound speed profiles in relatively shallow operations.

Tracking pinging submersibles   Replaying Tracking Range data

New Ray Path Plotter

Update: January, 2017: SeaScape With SoundTracksTM

"SeaScape With SoundTracks" (below) now includes position calibration of passive hydrophone arrays and individual acoustic pingers. The "Pinger Cal" is similar to our "Mooring Calibration" support in all three of our programs: SeaScape, WorkBoat and M-Cal. It can be used to locate (i.e., calibrate) a bottom pinger for pinger-driven LBL navigation, or, for emergency location of downed aircraft or disabled submarines, etc. The Pinger Cal requires an accurate clock interfaced to the SeaBox hardware and fortunately, Master Clocks with sufficient accuracy are available and affordable now. Look for more discussion of these passive calibration techniques in the months to come.

January, 2016: New Product Announcement: SeaScape With SoundTracksTM

Software Engineering Associates announced its new, eight-channel, acoustic receiver system for passive navigation of underwater vehicles including AUV's, ROV's, manned-submersibles and other sound sources on long baseline transponder or hydrophone arrays. Consisting of an external, high-speed, Eurocard-based digital signal processor with its own PC software app, pre-amplifiers and one to eight hydrophones, SeaScape With SoundTracks is ideal for a whole range of navigation missions including:

♦ Ship-based navigation of AUV's with integrated navigation systems on LBL arrays

♦ Silent, manned- or unmanned-submersible navigation on pinger-driven, LBL arrays

♦ Torpedo or submarine sonar calibration ranges using hydrophone or wired transponder arrays

♦ Multi-vehicle navigation around permanent underwater installations using hydrophone or wired transponder arrays

♦ Harbor surveillance / intrusion detection with hydrophone or wired transponder arrays

♦ Navigation of anti-mine vehicles on hydrophone or wired transponder arrays

♦ Even whale location using hydrophone arrays!

Harbor Security

The receiver system application called "SeaBox" runs on the same PC as SeaScape or anywhere on a network accessible by SeaScape using TCP/IP protocol. Using high-speed USB communications, the receiver's setup, operation and data are controlled by the SeaScape navigator and seamlessly integrated with SeaScape's full suite of GPS, USBL, DVL and other LBL operations. SeaBox hardware includes eight channels of full 16-bit, sampled and held data capable of eight million samples/second total along with very capable DSP operations.

SeaScape's "SeaBox" Configuration Dialog

SeaScape With SoundTracks uses advanced DSP techniques in both the receiver and SeaBox cpu's. SeaBox lets the operator fully analyze his/her acoustic environment with real-time signal and FFT plotting including regular, waterfall and histogram plots. Navigation plots include full visuals and statistics on all captured, matched-filter buffers used to present channel time-of-arrival data to SeaScape which computes fix solutions using our "Hyperings" algorithm and other advanced techniques. The operator can apply digital filters to all channels including low-pass, high-pass, narrow-or-wide band-pass filters or no filtering.

Analysis  Navigation
SeaBox's Analysis and Navigation Tabs

One key feature of the new system is a facility to record one's sound sources (transponders, responders, pingers, etc.) and convert them to signal templates used by the DSP in signal detection and verification. A signal template designer/editor is now also included in SeaScape which supports monotone, chirp and encoded signal design using MSFK or PSK encoding for downloading to SeaBox. Plus any template design can include envelope shaping for even more precise signal detection. The bottom line is that SeaScape With SoundTracks can support anyone's simple or complex sound sources for precise navigation.

Encoding Design
Signal Template Designer With Encode Capability In SeaScape

Template Design
Signal Template Designer With Encode Capability In SeaScape

An additional bottom line for SeaScape With SoundTracks is finally knowing what your acoustic environment is "doing to you," as we like to say. So many systems have been produced by companies over the years that offer very little help in analyzing your noise environment. Sea state noise, vehicle noise, ship self-noise, biological noise, multi-path problems as a function of bottom bathymetry, etc... - all now visible and analyzable by the navigator to take the blind assumptions out of underwater navigation.

Matched Filter
Matched Filter Recovering 3+dB Signal From Noisy Background

S.E.A plans to offer various off-the-shelf hydrophone and cable options with the new system to accommodate user needs. These will include hydrophones with/without built-in differential preamplifiers and various cable lengths and types. Hydrophone mounting design for ship-based operation is also under development.

Some of our clients will recognize this new hardware/software product as the much-discussed "What Do You Want To Do Today?" box which has its genesis decades ago when we could only hope for fast-enough digital signal processors. While they've been here for some time, we're finally catching up and making the box a reality!   As you can imagine, this technology has acoustic applications on land, as well. So, stay tuned for more details on SeaScape with SoundTracks!


Read the SeaScape With SoundTracks Brochure. (5 Mbytes)

Even Older News - SeaScape Ver. 5.40+

After a very intensive coding effort over the winter of 2014-2015, SeaScape 5.40+ is now available with a host of new features and improvements including statistical, USBL performance monitoring and analysis, improved server/client socket handling, faster and more extensive sound velocity profile processing, more visual aids for watchstanders, and more. We think our clients are going to particularly like the new USBL performance analysis tool which allows them to log / analyze their USBL system's output from cruise-to-cruise or year-to-year (image below). Navigators can use this new tool to keep tabs on the all-important attitudinal calibration of their UltraShort BaseLine (USBL) head which is vital to their operations.

USBL Evaluation

2015 University of Washington RSN Cruise Wrap-up: In a word, awesome! If you're interested in the most successful installation of a massive undersea observatory ever, go read the following links (which will save me a ton of writing here!). 2015 marks the completion of six years of involvement in providing multi-ship navigation for the installation of the world's largest undersea observatories: the University of Victoria's "Neptune Canada" (ONC) and the University of Washington's "Regional Scale Nodes." (OOI)

VISIONS' 15 Expedition (ROPOS)

VISIONS' 15 Expedition (University of Washington)

VISIONS' 14 Expedition (ROPOS)

VISIONS' 14 Expedition (University of Washington)

Calibration software upgrades: We've also been busy this year upgrading PMEL's various calibration systems with Windows 7 versions of our programs. For systems that use GPIB I/O, support is now provided for the NI GPIB-RS232 Converter which, while requiring a different programming approach, seems to be working well.

Really Old News

Okay, once again, I apologize for not updating this more often, but, hey, a guy can be "semi-retired," right? Or at least try to be!

The summer of 2013 saw a lot of Regional Scale Node (RSN) work with CSSF/ROPOS and the University of Washington along with a large list of improvements and additions to SeaScape and WorkBoat and programs like our Hot Fluid Sampler (covered elsewhere somewhere around here). This development work has carried over into 2014 with more additions to our programs and a very ambitious cruise plan for this summer (2014). So, stay tuned for more on this... like I'll get around to updating the news by next year, maybe! Even with new pictures!

That's sort of what's new around here... but keep reading... there's always more!

SeaScape / WorkBoat 5.40+, M-Cal 1.08

For all you mooring calibrators, all three of our navigation program releases now support the newer the UDB-9000 series from Teledyne-Benthos as well as the 8011M deck set from ORE. The Teledyne-Benthos is a full-featured commanding transceiver with built-in acoustic modem and the UDB-9400M is a hot, new multi-channel LBL transceiver (and, yes, our 'SeaScape' now supports it!). The 8011M is a modern, programmable version of ORE's older 8011A with many improvements. We look forward to hearing many stories of successful mooring cal's with these new transceivers! Maybe even some new LBL exploits!
In addition, for SeaScape and WorkBoat users, ROV/AUV/SUB navigators now have more power tools than ever: cable laying management system, active mapping output to "OziEplorer(TM)" (Des Newman's company, D&L Software Pty. Ltd., of Australia), enhanced navaid library management, multiple CAD .DXF files linked/rotated on your nav grid, powerful DXF and print previews, polymorphic track line and track lane constructions usable for any purpose (cables, lanes, vehicle tracks, etc.), improved navigation aids rendering, exporting most any grid objects as DXF drawings, compound ruler tool, advanced bottom plotting/logging, better communications with ROV console and bridge WorkBoats... The list is long. Our "ROV navigation flagship" client, CSSF ("ROPOS") will be using all these new features this year - and hopefully in coming years - in RSN, VENUS and NEPTUNE (ONC) projects in the north Pacific. See how WorkBoat and SeaScape get used.

Download the SeaScape Version 4 Brochure (PDF) (old but still useful)

"M-Cal Version 1.08" - Dedicated Mooring Calibrator Program
WorkBoat's little cousin : "M-Cal." The newest of our nav programs (2004), M-Cal makes it extremely easy to calibrate the position of acoustic releases for any purpose: buoy anchors, sub-surface moorings, deep ocean instrument packages, hydrophone arrays, etc. M-Cal is "checklist-driven" keeping even the most casual navigator on top of the problem of acoustically positioning their expensive bottom packages.

M-Cal screen

M-Cal now supports seven acoustic transceivers including the popular EdgeTech 8011A, 8011M and PS8000, the Benthos DS7000, UDB-9000 and UDB-9400 and their ATM880 ranging acoustic modem, and the LinkQuest acoustic modem. Mobilizing in just minutes, M-Cal inherits WorkBoat's I/O intelligence including the ability to feed the program UDP and TCP NMEA-0183 data over a LAN. With extensive HTML Help sub-system, navigators can even train themselves with a sophisticated simulator where they perform mock mooring calibrations and become familiar with the program.

Download and read the M-Cal Help

Three Ships, 2-1/2 Months, ROPOS and NEPTUNE-Canada (old news - but hey, the pictures are still fun)

Or how my software and I spent my summer vacation !
First of all, there's no way to sum-up this adventure without writing thousands of words. Therefore, to read-up on the Neptune-Canada project, (and save me from this daunting task) go here first! or directly to their installation blog (Wiki). (And then come back for a few more pictures.)

ROPOS Console

ROPOS Console

ROPOS Console

ROPOS Console

Launching ROPOS

Launching ROPOS

Launching ROPOS

Working with the C/S Lodbrog

ROPOS With Instrument Platform

Deck Full

Deck Full



Navigation Station

Navigation Software

This was so massive an undertaking by Canada, The University of Victoria, The Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility (ROPOS), the research vessels R/V's Atlantis (WHOI) and Thompson (University of Washington) along with Alcatel-Lucent and its cable ship, the C/S Lodbrog - and hundreds of scientists, engineers and contractors around the world from various universities and institutions - that I'm still trying to figure out how to properly write about it!! I do know that I'm humbled to have been asked to navigate for such an undertaking and to have supplied nav software on all ships involved in the project.