Use of Electronic Microprocessor-Based Instrumentation by the U.S. Geological Survey for Hydrologic Data Collection

by William G. Shope, Jr., U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Hydraulic Engineering


The U.S. Geological Survey is acquiring a new generation of field computers and communications software to support hydrologic data-collection at field locations. The new computer hardware and software mark the beginning of the Survey's transition from the use of electromechanical devices and paper tapes to electronic microprocessor-based instrumentation. Software is being developed for these microprocessors to facilitate the collection, conversion, and entry of data into the Survey's National Water Information System. The new automated data-collection process features several microprocessor-controlled sensors connected to a serial digital multidrop line operated by an electronic data recorder. Data are acquired from the sensors in response to instructions programmed into the data recorder by the user through small portable lap-top or hand-held computers. The portable computers, called personal field computers, also are used to extract data from the electronic recorders for transport by courier to the office computers. The Survey's alternative to manual or courier retrieval is the use of microprocessor-based remote telemetry stations. Plans have been developed to enhance the Survey's use of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite telemetry by replacing the present network of direct-readout ground stations with less expensive units. Plans also provide for computer software that will support other forms of telemetry such as telephone or land-based radio.

Subject Headings: Geological surveys | Hydrologic data | Data collection | Computing in civil engineering | Instrumentation | Computer software | Surveying instruments | Electronic equipment

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