I’ve been quiet for a few days, mainly because of equipment problems that have kept me busy, but we also encountered some inclement weather last night that was not conducive to sitting at a computer. The equipment problems have been continuing with the Scanfish OPC, so we took a very drastic move of trying to rig up a different instrument onto the Scanfish – a mini-OPC. This is exactly the same technology, but in a smaller package. It’s a newer piece of gear – 10 vs. 15 years old, and has usually been mounted on a different towing package called an Acrobat. The Acrobat is smaller and has fewer bells and whistles than the Scanfish, namely meaning it doesn’t ‘fly’ itself like the Scanfish does. We bring the Acrobat out just incase we have problems with the Scanfish – as my advisor used to say, when you go to sea you bring one of everything for you, and one for Davy Jones.
In this instance, we were able to take the mini-OPC off the Acrobat, and with the help of the ship’s engineers and technicians, we got it mounted onto the Scanfish. The engineers and tech actually scoured the ships nooks and crannies to fine a piece of aluminum that could be drilled out to accommodate mounting on the Scanfish and attachment to the mini-OPC. Then we had to make a cable to plug the mini-OPC into the Scanfish. Fortunately, this was foreseen before we lit out for the bayou, and one of the Scanfish technicians ordered some spare ‘pig tails’, which are just pieces of wire with the proper moulded fittings on them. We took an old cable that had the proper fitting on the other end, cut it, and made an underwater splice with the pigtail and the old cable. This of course required us to make sure we had the correct wires connected. Probably the most nerve-wracking part for the planktoneer, who actually made the splice. I learned how to do this watching some of my mentors who resurrected failing equipment on some of my earliest cruises. There are a lot of different ideas about how to do this, and having only done it once before on my own, I was a bit anxious, and probably went overkill with the splicing tape, ScotchKote, and heat-shrink tubing, but so far so good. It’s not a particularly ‘supple’ splice, meaning it’s pretty rigid because I layered so much material, but it’s watertight so far and fits in the Scanfish body, which is all that really matters. Here’s a picture of our newly mounted mini-OPC on the Scanfish, and stay tuned for a data update, once I get the stuff analyzed.