‘See’ With Sonar

Whether you are surveying dive sites or submerged structures, shipwreck hunting, or conducting underwater research, “StarFish,” a new product recently launched in the UK, gives you the capability to ‘see’ underwater.

StarFish is a revolutionary high definition side scan sonar, which produces photo-quality images of the seabed. Built to a unique, innovative design StarFish is currently the smallest side scan tow fish on the market.

How does it work?  The device uses sonar to ‘see’ underwater to a much greater depth than the human eye.   It transmits small pulses of sound, which are absorbed and reflected back by the seabed and other underwater objects. The strength of each returned pulse together with the time the pulse travelled can provide us with a digital underwater picture. Side scan sonar is specifically used to view the seabed and any structures or objects laying on it.  The StarFish is called a ‘tow fish’ because it is used by towing it from a vessel.

Designed by UK based Blueprint Design Engineering Ltd, the “Plug and Play” StarFish can connect to any PC or laptop via a USB connection together with simple to use software make it easy for anyone to scan the seabed either as a team or on their own.  One of the unique aspects of the StarFish is its size – it is the smallest side scan system on the market and it is now an affordable technology across a range of different markets, unlike many larger commercial side scan systems.

But how is it made?  Blueprint Design gave the challenge to Martello Limited to produce a vacuum cast over-moulding using their Thin-Rim® polyurethane elastomeric resin.  The tool for manufacture had to enable the metalwork and electronics of the StarFish to be encapsulated in the resin and still enable the device to operate.  Martello are well know for their success in producing products using rapid manufacturing technologies and together their Thin-Rim® resins, experience and technical ability were ideal for the job. Using rapid manufacturing and vacuum casting technology, Martello’s engineers designed an SLA master and silicone tool with which to manufacture the over-mouldings. Martello initially produced six StarFish over-mouldings, which were rigorously tested before the product launch in June 2007 and proved the versatility and scope of today’s RM processes to deliver functional and commercially robust products.

Applications for the StarFish are many, such as dive site discovery and location surveys, shipwreck hunting and/or treasure hunting.  The Coastguard and Law Enforcement or Homeland Security industries can also use it for lake/river/seabed search and recovery operations, navigational hazard mapping, port and harbour structure inspection and reconnaissance applications.

Fisheries can also benefit by monitoring the size and location of fish schools and fish density management.  The StarFish will also aid Universities and Research Institutes with geological surveys, maritime archaeology and inspection of coral structures.  For the consumer the StarFish can also come in useful as a side imaging fish finder.  Pre-orders for the StarFish can be made by contacting info@starfishsonar.com



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