Developing an NTRIP Caster System for UVA's field research stations and surrounding regions to lower cost and raise consistency in field research data and instrumentation.
- landscape architecture
Researchers from Environmental Science to Engineering to Landscape Architecture use complex field instruments that require or would greatly benefit from high levels of geographic accuracy(both absolute and relative), consistency from instrument to instrument, and researcher to researcher. The current common mode of establishing this accuracy requires extensive equipment, expensive subscriptions and/or substantial time investment. All real-time processes are preferable to post processing, but require access to corrections. However, there is a way to connect into existing “corrections” in what is often referred to as a Caster Network. Many states have free or publicly available networks that allow researchers and technicians access to lower costs and raise survey/ sensing/study accuracy. To the best of our knowledge this type of system is not available in Virginia via the Commonwealth (DOT, etc) nor UVA. The Cavalier Caster Network is proposed as an open source system using low cost RTK base units and an existing open source web platform that would provide public access at up to five key locations and up to ~60 kilometers beyond each location:
- Anheuser-Bush Coastal Research Center
- Milton Landscape Laboratory
- Pace-Steger Property
- UVA Blandy Experimental Farm
- Mountain Lake Biological Station (with support from Eric Nagy)
Beta testing using borrowed/ rented equipment began in the winter of 2020 to verify the efficacy of the proposed approach. After successful field tests and earnest costing of equipment, we are looking for the noted outcomes below:
1. Establish base stations by mid-spring that would allow for UVA researchers to test, critique and comment on the use of the system during a full summer and fall research season.
2. Based on ongoing comments from researchers, our team would modify the system to validate comments from the research community.
3. Work with UVA-IT to establish/ validate/confirm there is long term viability and demand for a more permanent installation and investment.
4. Students in Engineering,Landscape Architecture and Environmental Science from undergraduate to PhD would learn how to use the network, tools and techniques through dedicated course time/ instruction.
5. Researchers from Masters to PhD to Professors can reliable use the Cavalier Caster Network (CCN) to lower the cost (time and materials) while increasing the accuracy and consistency of field data collection.
6. Create a Commonwealth-wide umbrella of caster stations (using the 60 km buffer) to provide coverage through a large portion of the state during the Beta Testing phase of this work.
The proposed Cavalier Caster Network engages students in every aspect of the project. From the very beginning of our beta testing, Tyler Barns (PhD - Environmental Science) has played an integral role in developing the concept. We propose this knowledge to be shared with more students by directly incorporating them into the construction of the system this spring and summer. Active testing and education of undergraduate and master’s students about how to use the network as a part of field research is proposed in Engineering and Landscape Architecture. Finally, student researchers at the PhD and master’s level will actively use the network for their research, providing valuable insight into its functionality, but also gaining an intimate understanding of its capacity so they can critique and evaluate usage of similar systems in future research. The following is a drill down on the proposed points of student engagement.
1. Installation and Testing of the Caster Network - Masters and PhD level students are actively involved and will be further engaged in constructing the network and testing its functionality.Working directly with faculty and staff from UVA, they are learning, aiding and building the network they will then use for their research.
2. Active use of the network - PhD level students already familiar with caster networks will actively use and test the network during their summer and fall research sessions.
3. Direct Education as incorporated into pedagogy for fall term. Starting with Professor Smith's course CE 2010 – Civil Engineering Techniques focusing on surveying and introduction to civil engineeringdesign and construction, students at an undergraduate level will learn how to use survey tools enabled by RTK connection to the Cavalier Caster Network.