New Depth Record for LNI 2000 TV Camera

June 18th 2000

                                       Copyright 2000 Dick Raynor
Bedrock below Urquhart Castle Tower
This rather grainy still frame may not look like much of a technical leap forward, but it is just one frame of over 90,000 recorded on 18th June on the Drumnadrochit based vessel "Deepscan" as we lowered the amazingly tough System Q camera to a depth of over 300 feet in Loch Ness. What had been planned as a test for the modified halogen lights was changed into a progressively harsh test for lights and camera combined.

Previously we had considered 50 metres (165 feet) an extreme test of the equipment, but on this dive we decided to test test the equipment to its limits. The pair of 12 volt, 20 watt halogen lamps on 100 metres of cable illuminated the scene, and the sonar display showed the bottom falling rapidly away beneath us as we slowly tracked out from the ruined Castle tower.

The analogue video signal was fed directly into a Sony digital camcorder, and an excellent record was obtained of the entire dive. We lost visual contact with the bottom at about 95 metres after we had paid out all the cable.


                                                                                                                                                Copyright Dick Raynor 2000
Prototype towed camera June 2000.
OK, it doesn't look like a submarine; its not even yellow, but then the first Lunar Landing Module didn't look much like a space-ship. This device can go where no submarine would dare, and our view of the underwater world is probably better as we can approach to within centimetres of any object for a close inspection, and we do it in complete silence. With a 100 metre cable bundle that will fit in a normal laundry basket, this is an extremely portable outfit that can be taken anywhere in a suitcase and used from the smallest of boats. The camera is fitted at the very bottom of the grey slotted steel angle, and the twin 20 watt halogen lights are on swivelling brackets about one foot - 30 cm - higher up. The orange cable supplies the power to the lights, while the camera power and video signal wires are contained in the black cable. These two are taped together with 100 m of polypropylene rope for added strength. So far it bears a striking resemblance to the August 1999 rig used off Abriachan Pier. A blue plastic rod one metre long forms the backbone of the rig, and at the top of it there is clamped a vane which can be attached at various angles to cause the camera to point in the required direction as it is pulled through the water. This is usually a straight-ahead setting except when traversing a long slope, where it is useful to have the camera looking  slightly towards the upward side of the slope. In case anyone cares to question the hydrodynamic qualities of the Dexion angle, I can set their minds at rest. It simply doesn't have any.

The next step

The custom encapsulated camera on 1000 feet (300 metres) of cable is now ready for depth testing. The lamp unit was successfully tested to 230 metres earlier on 18th June 2000 from the new "Nessie Hunter". Within a week, I expect that no part of Loch Ness will be beyond the reach of our television cameras. From then on, we can explore anywhere we choose! We have our own submersible which can silently explore anywhere in Loch Ness and record the images in high quality digital format. More on this here.

More stills from the deep dive
In all of these pictures, which are only stills from the video recording, the camera is looking quite steeply down the slope ahead of it. I hope to be able to show some video clips on the site soon, but anyone wanting to have their own copy of the videotape can buy one from me. This is a mutually beneficial arrangement which will help to pay for the exploration.