A Scout USBL system comprises four main components: control software, vessel based interface unit, acoustic transceiver and transponders.
Scout and Scout Plus software is easy to use and intuitive to operate. It is designed to appeal to users who wish to arrive on location and begin tracking a target immediately. Features include clear and simple configuration tables as well as diagnostic tools to assist an operator in preparing the system for tracking an underwater target. Scout Pro software shares a common look and feel with Sonardyne’s survey-grade platform, Fusion. It offers the user a complete range of tools that include: chart backdrops, industry standard output telegrams and configurable sensor displays.
As standard Scout and Scout Plus systems are supplied with a rack-mountable Surface Interface Unit (SIU). This supplies power and communications to the transceiver and is connected to the user’s own computer via a serial or USB link. For complete system portability and operation from almost any size of boat, Scout and Scout Plus systems can be commanded using the Surface Command Unit (SCU). The SCU incorporates all the features of a rack mounted Surface Interface Unit (SIU), supplying power and communications to the acoustic transceiver. Being completely portable enables operation of Scout USBL systems independently from almost any type of boat, including small RIBs, and in any climate: rain, tropical heat and snow. The latest version, SCU 2, has been upgraded with a faster processor, more memory, solid state hard drive, a heat exchanger, rechargeable Li-ion battery packs, robust mechanics, a 12” LED backlit screen providing a bright and crisp display that is viewable in direct sunlight and all incorporated in a ruggedized splash-proof case. The SCU 2 can also be used with Sonardyne’s 6G®autonomous monitoring product range (Fetch, PIES and AMT) for fast and efficient retrieval of logged subsea data. Scout Pro systems are supplied with a rack-mounted Navigation Controller Unit (NCU). In addition to accurately time stamping incoming data from external devices such as GPS, gyros and VRU’s, the NCU also provides power and communications for the Scout USBL transceiver. A range of hardware interface cards are available for interfacing external sensors and transceivers other than the standard Scout transceiver. By simply plugging these cards into the rear of the unit, the role of the Navigation Controller Unit can be transformed from supporting simple to complex acoustic operations.
The USBL acoustic transceiver designed for use with Scout systems provides a hemispherical pattern of acoustic coverage underneath a surface vessel. It is suitable for a wide variety of underwater positioning tasks as it enables targets to be tracked from far below through to near surface. The compact design of the transceiver makes it easy to install on a simple over-the-side mount or through a gate valve. Sonardyne can supply an easy-to-assemble pole, complete with fittings and advice on installation, if required. This ensures the performance of Scout can be optimised for the vessel it is operating from. To simplify set-up, Scout transceivers are equipped with an integrated motion sensor that automatically compensates for the motion of the vessel. For higher accuracy applications, external reference sensors can be used with Scout Plus and Scout Pro. When tracking targets far behind a vessel, such as a towed side scan sonar, a tilted transducer array ensures that the target is kept within the transceiver’s optimum cone of operation.
Scout USBL is compatible with Sonardyne’s family of low cost HF frequency transponders; Coastal, LAT and LRT. These have been designed for applications where size and weight are important operational factors, such as installation on the back diver or ROV. The transponders are depth rated to 500 metres and use an alkaline battery pack that provides up to 18 months of listening life. Scout Plus and Scout Pro both offer additional compatibility with the advanced Wideband Sub-Mini 6+ (WSM 6+) transponder. WSM 6+ is available with powerful omni directional transducers, responder mode for fast position updates, depth sensor to USBL positioning accuracy and a rechargeable NiMH battery.
ViewPoint Navigation Package
ViewPoint navigation software allows multiple users to explore, visualise and share positioning data from Sonardyne’s USBL product family, including Scout (Scout Plus and Pro only) and Ranger 2. It transforms co-ordinates of surface vessels, subsea vehicles and structures into geographical information that is overlaid on easy-to-use guidance displays. When changes to Scout are made, such as adding a new tracked target, they automatically appear in ViewPoint, ensuring everyone onboard has access to accurate, real-time positioning information.