Deploying an SIMB3


If you are preparing to deploy an SIMB3, it is vital that you let us know your deployment plans ahead of time so that we can ensure the Iridium modem for your buoy is activated.

Pre-deployment Checklist

Before heading to the field, the following checklist should be performed to ensure a smooth deployment and many months of successful operation.

  1. Let us know you're deployment plans

    • You can do this via email or contact form. We will walk you through the process and ensure your buoys Iridium modem is activated.
  2. Verify SIMB3 operation

    1. Move the SIMB3 to an area with a clear view of the sky.
    2. Remove the box top by unscrewing the 6 philips head screws with black circles around them on the lower side of the box.
    3. Gently remove the SIMB3 top cap.
    4. Flip the black switch to "on". The blue light at the the top of the buoy should illuminate.
    5. Wait for up to 10 minutes for the light to shut off. If the light doesn't shut off, repeat step 4. If after continued attempts the light never shuts off, reach out to us for support.
    6. When the light shuts off, flip the switch back to off, reinstall the cap, and replace the box top.
  3. Verify data flow

    1. If you contacted us prior to your deployment (and prior to performing the above steps), we will have turned on the modem for your buoy and activated it's real-time data plan. Data will be available online and we will send you the URL.
    2. Once the data is flowing and all sensors are verified operational, you are ready to deploy.


After performing the pre-deployment checklist and selecting a deployment site, SIMB3 deployment is done is a few steps. Each of these is covered exceptionally well in the video below by Ryleigh Moore of the University of Utah.

Deployment steps

  1. Remove the box top and set aside
  2. Activate SIMB3 by removing the top cap and flipping the power switch to "on"
  3. Wait for the blue light to turn off. After the light has gone off, the buoy is ready to be assembled and inserted into the ice hole.
  4. Drill Ice Hole. The drilled hole must be at least 25 cm (10 inches) in diameter and must go completely though the snow, ice, and into the ocean. The ice hole should be drilled close to SIMB3 as possible to make installation as easy as possible.
  5. Assemble SIMB3
    1. Remove the black straps that hold the buoy into the carry case.
    2. Unscrew the ballast and remove the two blue retaining pins in the ballast coupling and center section by removing the hair pin clips.
    3. Grap the top section and gently swing it around to the bottom section, sliding the gray coupling into the bottom section until the two halves meet. Twist the top section until the coupling holes line up.
    4. Fully insert the blue pin through the bottom section until it protrudes out from the other side. Insert the hairpin removed in step 2 back into the blue pin.
      • Note: the blue pin can sometimes become wedged against the retractable cable connecting the two buoy halves making it difficult to insert. If this happens, it can typically be resolved by inserting your finger or other object from the other side to gently move the retractable cable out of the way. You can also try inserting the blue pin from the other direction.
    5. Install the ballast into the bottom of the buoy. Insert the blue pin and clip the hairpin in a similar fashion as step 4.
  6. Stand up SIMB3 and insert into hole. With SIMB3 fully assembled and activated, gently stand it up vertical, resting on the ballast next to the ice hole. Lift and insert into hole, taking note of the position of the bottom rangefinder. As the buoy sinks, it will become lighter and will eventually float about with about 1.2 m above freeboard.
  7. Take deployment site measurements. Record the ice thickness, snow thickness, and freeboard (distance from the bottom of the ice to the water surface).
  8. Take pictures and notes. We recommend taking plenty of pictures and notes of the deployment site. These notes can be useful to researchers using the data in the future.

Tools Required

SIMB3 is designed to be deployed largely without tools. However, it is wise to bring a selection of hand tools (in addition to equipment for drilling the ice hole) in case you run into issues. At minimum you should have:

  • A Leatherman (or equivalent) multitool with pliers.
  • A drill or screwdriver for removing the box top.
  • Equipment for drilling the ice hole, generally a 10-inch diameter auger and powerhead.

Post Deployment

After installation, the data from your buoy will be available online in real-time from your dashboard and, optionally, our public data repository.

We also recommend you forward your deployment measurements, notes, and images to us. We will put them on the website for the public to use.