Journal article Open Access

Quality assurance testing of acoustic doppler current profiler transform matrices

Armstrong, Brandy; Fulford, Janice; Thibodeaux, Kirk

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility (HIF) is nationally responsible for the design, testing, evaluation, repair, calibration, warehousing, and distribution of hydrologic instrumentation in use within the USGS Water Mission Area (WMA). The HIF's Hydraulic Laboratory has begun routine quality assurance (QA) testing and documenting the performance of every USGS WMA acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) used for making velocity and discharge measurements. All existing ADCPs are being registered and tracked in a database maintained by the HIF, and called for QA checks in the HIF's Hydraulic Laboratory on a 3-year cycle. All new ADCPs purchased directly from the manufacturer as well as ADCPs sent to the HIF or the manufacturer for repair are being registered and tracked in the database and QA checked in the laboratory before being placed into service. Meters failing the QA check are sent directly to the manufacturer for repairs and rechecked by HIF or removed from service. Although this QA program is specific to the SonTek1 and Teledyne RD Instruments1, ADCPs most commonly used within the WMA, it is the intent of the USGS Office of Surface Water and the HIF to expand this program to include all bottom tracking ADCPs as they become available and more widely used throughout the WMA. As part of the HIF QA process, instruments are inspected for physical damage, the instrument must pass the ADCP diagnostic self-check tests, the temperature probe must be within ± 2 degrees Celsius of a National Institute of Standards and Technology traceable reference thermometer and the distance made good over a fixed distance must meet the manufacturer's specifications (+/-0.25% or +/-1% difference). The transform matrix is tested by conducting distance-made-good (DMG) tests comparing the straight-line distance from bottom tracking to the measured tow-track distance. The DMG test is conducted on each instrument twice in the forward and reverse directions (4 tows) at four orientations (16 total tows); with beam 1 orientated 0 degrees to the towing direction; turned 45 degrees to the towing direction; turned 90 degrees to the towing direction; and turned 135 degrees to the towing direction. All QA data files and summary results are archived. This paper documents methodology, participation and preliminary results of WMA ADCP QA testing.
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