Cavalier Caster Network

Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecology; Engineering; Civil and Environmental Engineering; Geography

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.

Research Interests
  • landscape architecture
  • surveying
  • sensing

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:

  1. Anheuser-Bush Coastal Research Center
  2. Milton Landscape Laboratory
  3. Pace-Steger Property
  4. UVA Blandy Experimental Farm
  5. Mountain Lake Biological Station (with support from Eric Nagy)
The ABCRC, Milton Landscape Lab and Mountain Lake Biological Station have been coordinating with the conceptualization of the project and are in support of beta testing. Further we have been in communication with UVA-IT on how the 3 Cavs grant could build a test cast that could create future partnerships at the University. The low-cost beta testing approach allows for limited initial investment with wide spread user testing to ensure a long term investment in a more established system would be viable on many levels including researcher demand/ interest, data quality, affordability, and pedagogical benefit.

Desired outcomes

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.