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Automated Digital Imaging

Skills Chart
Teaming Specifications, Schedules, Budgets, User-Interface issues
Technical Electronics & the Physics of mass, temperature, pressure, materials
Software C, C++, Motorola© assembler, firmware, FoxPro© database
Hardware System & circuit design, layout, component selection, prototyping, testing

These days digital imaging is no big thing.

But reliable, high-resolution, automated, unattended imaging, outdoors,   in a high humidity situation, with uncontrolled temperature swings, direct sunlight and the possibility of vandalism is still a challenge.  Whew.

This system is an industrial PC + frame-grabber + UPS + modem, housed in a NEMA4 enclosure with a heater and provisions for ventillation.

The system is shown before installation.   The cables lead to a remote camera housing (NEMA4X, stainless steel), the "trigger" that initiates the imaging cycle, AC power, and a telephone line, for data-transfer and remote maintenance.

[the Video Field-Logger]

We developed this system for our local Electric Utility, PGE ( now Enron PGE ).

The design goal was a reliable imaging system to record fish traveling up the fish-ladders at (possibly remote) hydroelectric dams.   The images had to be extremely clear, affording Biologists the ability to recognize the species, source, approximate age and reproductive cycle.   The system had to store massive amounts of image data between periodic retrievals and it was to be remotely maintainable.

The data is gathered for the Federal Government, which tracks fish migrations along the West Coast.

Our Customer approached us after exhausting other avenues, including the Kodak Company and the Will Vinton Studios.   Previous systems had involved 1000' rolls of photographic film handled by special cameras which often jambed, but didn't announce the fact.   You learned it had jambed a month later, when you didn't get 30 days' worth of data, which upsets the Federal Government.

We first worked with PGE personnel to develop a robust Specification, then designed the system and integrated the necessary components, which included a special Panasonic© camera capable of field-integration and a custom strobe light intended for use in the fire-protection industry, but modified by us to provide on-demand triggering and high-reliability.   The frame-grabber card required additional custom circuitry to interface to any one of a varety of "trigger" mechanisms: flappers, light-curtains, etc.

The project was a success.

[A fish]

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