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Harvard Forest Symposium Abstract 2014

  • Title: Designing and Assembling an Aerial Tram to Collect Data Above the Canopy at the Harvard Forest
  • Primary Author: Devin Carroll (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
  • Additional Authors: Lake Boddicker (Lake Forest Academy); Devin Carroll (University of Massachusetts Amherst); Faith Neff (Humboldt State University); Paul Siqueira (University of Massachusetts - Amherst ); Mark VanScoy (Harvard Forest)
  • Abstract:

    The gathering and analysis of data is a driving force behind much of science. However, the data gathering process, especially if located in a remote or treacherous area, can take considerable time and can expose individuals to serious risks. One solution to this problem is an autonomously operating, self-sustaining aerial tram, deployed at the Harvard Forest for the purpose of making consistent and repeated measurements over a re-growing forest stand. Phase one of this solution is a two-fold process. First, a design must be engineered and a prototype built for testing. Using a three-dimensional modeling software, SolidWorks, the tram was designed in the lab. Next, a prototype was constructed and installed in a nearby location to test its functionality. Its movement is controlled using LabView. The final step in the process is to provide the tram with the ability to operate autonomously. After preparing an energy budget, a computer aided design software (AutoCAD) was used to design a photovoltaic system to run the tram. Phase two of the project requires installing the tram above the re-growing forest stand. The plan is to install it this spring, collecting and uploading data to the Internet so that users can access the data in near real time for use in research on environmental reactions to a disturbance.

  • Research Category: Forest-Atmosphere Exchange, Group Projects, Biodiversity Studies