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Getting started with the SIMB3 datasheet

From units to header labels, here's everything you need to know about the SIMB3 datasheet.

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Published Apr 23, 2021
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Updated

Cameron Planck, Ph.D.

Though we enjoy manufacturing and assembling SIMB3s, the fun really starts after they are installed into ice and collecting valuable data for you. After a quick flip of a switch during deployment, SIMB3 starts transmitting data which you can access immediately via our Real-Time Data Portal. Every SIMB3 has its own page, and from that page you can download the raw data as a CSV spreadsheet.

 

The datasheet: explained

The SIMB3 datasheet is the permanent record of data transmission. It is a comma separated value spreadsheet, and is unique to each SIMB3. Every time the SIMB3 transmits, a row is added with the data from that transmission. Once a row is added, it will remain for the life of the instrument.

 

Naming scheme

The datasheet is always labeled “SIMB3” followed by an underscore and the last 6 digits of the instruments’ International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number (e.g., “SIMB3_123456”). For redeployed instruments, an additional “-2” or “-3” is appended to the label, where the number indicates the redeployment. Note that the datasheet for redeployed buoys contains the entire record of transmission, including data from the past deployment.

Columns

 The datasheet for a standard SIMB3 contains 209 columns that correspond to readings from each of the SIMB3 sensors. Each column is labeled with a distinct header that is explained below.

GIF of SIMB3 datasheet headers in Excel
Figure 1: In this GIF of a standard SIMB3 datasheet, columns containing data have been identified with green headers and columns with diagnostic information have been identified with orange headers.

 

Header labels

Moving left to right from the top of the datasheet, the headers are:

<inlineCode class=excel>wdt_counter<inlineCode class=excel>  

This is a diagnostic counter that indicates if the SIMB3 computer has reset. It counts from 0 – 255 and then resets back to 0.

<inlineCode class=excel>program_version<inlineCode class=excel>

This is the version of the SIMB3 firmware.

<inlineCode class=excel>time_stamp<inlineCode class=excel>

This is the transmission timestamp in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC). The number is a Microsoft Excel serial date and can viewed in date form by highlighting the column in Excel and selecting “date”. For more information on converting this number back to a Unix timestamp, see our tutorial Visualizing SIMB3 data using Python.

<inlineCode class=excel>latitude<inlineCode class=excel>

This is the latitude at the time of transmission, as reported by the onboard GPS. It has units of degrees.

<inlineCode class=excel>longitude<inlineCode class=excel>

This is the longitude at the time of transmission, as reported by the onboard GPS. It has units of degrees.

<inlineCode class=excel>air_temp<inlineCode class=excel>

This is the air temperature as reported by the DS18B20 air temperature sensor located inside the SIMB3 top-cap radiation shield. The height of the sensor is approximately 1.2 meters above freeboard. It has units of degrees Celcius.

<inlineCode class=excel>air_pressure<inlineCode class=excel>

This is the barometric pressure as reported by the vented barometer underneath the SIMB3 top-cap. The height of the sensor is approximately 1.2 meters above freeboard. It has units of mBar.

<inlineCode class=excel>bottom_distance<inlineCode class=excel>

This is the output from the bottom rangefinder, and represents the distance from the fixed location below the ice to the ice bottom surface. It has units of meters.

<inlineCode class=excel>water_temp<inlineCode class=excel>

This is the temperature of the water at the location of the bottom rangefinder, as recorded by the thermistor inside the bottom rangefinder. It has units of degrees Celsius.

<inlineCode class=excel>surface_distance<inlineCode class=excel>

This is the output from the surface rangefinder, and represents the distance from a fixed position above the ice to the ice or snow surface. It has units of meters

<inlineCode class=excel>aux<inlineCode class=excel>

These are auxiliary entries. They will be “0” for all standard-equipped SIMB3s.

<inlineCode class=excel>battery_voltage<inlineCode class=excel>

This is the voltage of the 18V SIMB3 battery.  

<inlineCode class=excel>gps_satellites<inlineCode class=excel>

This is a diagnostic number that corresponds to the number of satellites that GPS was able to fix onto.

<inlineCode class=excel>iridium_signal<inlineCode class=excel>

This is a diagnostic number that corresponds to the strength of the Iridium signal during transmission.

<inlineCode class=excel>iridium_retries<inlineCode class=excel>

This is a diagnostic number that corresponds to the number of times of the Iridium modem tried to transmit to the Iridium network. In most cases, it is “0”.

<inlineCode class=excel>dtc_values<inlineCode class=excel>

These are the temperature values from the Bruncin high-spatial resolution digital temperature string. <inlineCode class=excel>dtc_values_0<inlineCode class=excel> is the first value in the string (at the top of the buoy, in the air) and <inlineCode class=excel>dtc_values_191<inlineCode class=excel> is the bottom of the string (typically in the water). The values are in degrees Celsius.

 

Datasheet quality control

The data in the SIMB3 datasheet is raw data, hot off the buoy and completely unfiltered and unmodified. On occasion, spurious values will occur and can be filtered out depending on your preferences. Often these values occur during the spring/summer when the buoy is melting out or experiencing external forces from ice dynamics.  

 

Working with SIMB3 data

Though our Real-Time Data Portal gives you access to current conditions and time-series data for every SIMB3, you can get a much more detailed understanding of the data your SIMB3 has recorded by plotting it yourself. To help you with this, we’ve created two tutorials in both Matlab and Python. In these tutorials, we walk through how to create a mass balance plot, which is just a figure that shows how ice and snow thickness and temperature change through time.

 

If you are interested in creating your own applications or web pages with SIMB3 data, both the Time-Series and Growth & Melt plots from the SIMB3 data page can be embedded in any website with one line of code. We are also in the process of developing a REST API which will give access to SIMB3 data programmatically. If API access would be useful to you, let us know!

Resources

Sample SIMB3 Datasheet

SIMB3 Technical Specifications Page

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About the author

About the authors

Cameron Planck, Ph.D.

Cameron is the co-founder and CEO of Cryosphere Innovation.

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