Degree Name

BS in Mechanical Engineering


Biological Sciences Department


Eileen Rossman


This project was proposed by Dr. Brian Paavo through a desire to more easily study the benthic sediment layers of the ocean. To do so, he asked us to build a simple and compact machine for use in sediment profile imagery (SPI). Although devices like this already exist, they are all large scale devices that require a ship with a crane to deploy, which is expensive and time consuming. Instead, he desired a “micro” SPI, which is capable of being deployed from a small vessel that can easily navigate shallow waters. Our interpretation of these requirements was as follows: a less than 10kg device that can easily be deployed by hand by a single person, and can capture 600dpi images in a 20mm deep section of sediment at an underwater depth of up to 30 m.

The device we ended up building has a 50m long tether, and can in theory stay water tight to up to 150m underwater, although it has only been tested in 10m deep water. Our device is also around 5kg in weight, making it easily usable by a single person. Lastly, it has two 8mp cameras, both with a viewing area of approximately 25mm, which should give a theoretical resolution of much greater than 600dpi, although we could not verify the true resolution due to insufficiently detailed calibration charts. We also added a controller with a screen that is capable of receiving a live video feed from the probe, as well as reviewing previously captured images Therefore, we feel the device meets the requirements previously set out for this project, and has even met some of the “stretch” goals set out by our sponsor. While some features are missing, and the device would be expensive to mass produce in its current state, overall we feel it is a very solid prototype and proof of concept that can refined into a commercial product.