Another successful WaterBot installation

On Thursday December 8, CREATE supported the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy to pilot their first WaterBot in Frick Park.  The Parks hope to use it to monitor CSO (combined sewage overflow) from nearby storm drains that have long been a concern in the 9-mile run watershed.  The Parks will use WaterBot as part of their service learning programs, in which youth participate as eco-stewards and volunteer time to clean up the streams.  The weatherproof Bot is secured to a t-post in the ground and the sensor, attached to a cable, floats in the stream, collecting data every 15 minutes.  We look forward to growing the pilot program in the Spring!

After a short picnic of cookies and hot chocolate, Taiji Nelson wades into the creek to determine the best monitoring spot:  somewhere the Bot could be concealed to prevent tampering, but also get the most accurate readings.  Below, Taiji and Max Buevich from CREATE Lab drive the t-post into the stream bed.

A successful installation - the netbook is already picking up data transmitted from WaterBot!

Nearby Nature GigaBlitz starts this Monday

We invite you to participate in the second Nearby Nature GigaBlitz

We urge you to start thinking about possible subjects close to your home, school or work, and then during the solstice week of December 19 – 25 get out and gigapan local animals and plants in all their biodiversity. We would especially encourage prior entrants to re-visit the settings they recorded during the June 2011 gigablitz.

Call for Entries, Nearby Nature GigaBlitz, December 19–25, 2011

In our inaugural GigaBlitz this past June, we expressed our hope that Nearby Nature gigablitzes would “help the GigaPan community more deeply explore, document, and celebrate the diversity of life forms in their local habitats.” You responded with over 70 amazing gigapixel images, and countless snapshots. Our jury looked closely at all of them, wishing each could be held up as shining examples of biodiversity in everyday places. In the end, 8 fascinating entries – each brimming with life – were chosen as best representing the Nearby Nature premise. These are profiled in the November 2011 issue of GigaPan Magazine.

Happy GigaPanning!

Alex Smith, University of Guelph
Ken Tamminga, Penn State University
Dennis vanEngelsdorp, University of Maryland
Mary Jo Daines, Project Director, CREATE Lab

time lapse gigapan of downtown Pittsburgh yesterday

This is first followup on the time lapse photography done yesterday.

Randy and others (Anne, Josh, and Dror) were shooting from about 6am to midnight yesterday. Randy said that over 60,000 photographs (at 18 megapixels each) were captured; one every four seconds, on each of four cameras, clicking in unison. The cameras captured sunrise, morning commute, midday traffic, the coming & going of clouds over the city, coal barges going up & down the river, evening commute, sunset, moonrise, drivers & ferry boats streaming toward Heinz Field, and the Steelers game!

It will be days until all of these images are stitched into a zoomable video, but in the meantime, here are some snapshots.

photo album:


Josh & Randy


Four Canon T2i's running off a car battery, each camera had a 128 GB memory card.

Randy, 7pm

time lapse gigapan being shot of downtown Pittsburgh all day Thu 12/8

Randy Sargent is shooting a panoramic zoomable time lapse (aka time lapse gigapan) all day Thursday December 8 from the sidewalk of McArdle Roadway 100 lateral feet from the top

(location is at center of this map)

The panorama will include most of this view (click link)

He plans to be at that location shooting picures every second or two from 5:30am until 11pm!

If you're in the area, you could drop by and say hi. Or if you bike/walk along the Mon Wharf or some other location downtown visible from the top of McArdle Roadway, you'll be in the video! Wear bright colors!

Here's a simple time lapse of the Paddle-at-the-Point event last year, shot with a single camera. Thursday's time lapse will use four cameras shooting in unison.

(I posted this same message to the bike-pgh bboard to publicize it some).


Year Two of the GigaPan Outreach Project Kicks Off!

The June Harless CREATE Satellite held a two-day training on September 30th and October 1st at Huntington High School in Huntington, West Virginia.

Around 40 teachers from Cabell, Wayne, Nicholas and Randolph counties from year one and two of the grant learned about GigaPan technology and how to integrate it into existing curriculum. Advanced integration strategies for every day use in reading, writing, vocabulary, social studies and science were examined as well.  Teachers left with projects planned and ideas ready to incorporate into their classroom.  We're excited about beginning a new year with GigaPan and looking forward to working with a great group of teachers!    

CREATE pilots Waterbot with Loyalhanna Watershed Association!

WaterBot is a citizen scientist project that prototypes a low-cost, easy and mobile method to monitor small streams.  The water-sensing bot measures temperature and conductivity as indirect measurements of Total Dissolved Solids, indicating changes in water quality.  The data is transmitted from the bot and automatically uploaded to in real-time with the goal of empowering communities, educators and kids to monitor and log the effects of industry and pollution on their watershed systems.

On Thursday October 27th, CREATE visited the Loyalhanna Watershed Association in Ligonier, PA, the first to pilot and test Waterbot in a project monitoring the effects of Marcellus Shale Drilling on the streams, lakes and rivers.  The LWA will compare the data with other data loggers that they have been using and posting on their site:  
Josh Penatzer and LWA share their expertise in placing sensors and best practices for installing sensors to avoid damage from wind, ice and animals.  The CREATE Lab is excited to use these methods in the future to share cheap water monitoring technology.  A huge thanks to Josh and the Loyalhanna Watershed Association for all their work!
  Look for more information about Waterbot pilot programs and availability in the future.

A T-post installed in the stream bed is a stable way to install a water-sensor.  The post is tether to a tree or other object with a coated steel cable.  The sensor extends from the bot, wrapped in plastic to shield it from the elements, into the stream where it gathers temperature and conductivity data.

Josh of the LWA demonstrates methods for gathering data from sensors in streams with Max.  Right, the Waterbot sensor is weighed down and suspended in the water. 

The CREATE team with Josh's sensor post - Jessica P., Max and Dror!

By Jessica P. for CREATE Lab

Reception and walking tour of "Panoramics & Precision" today at 4:30pm

Join us for a Reception and walking tour of “Panoramics & Precision”a new exhibit of large scale Gigapan prints installed in the School for Computer Science. This afternoon at 4:30pm in the 5200 corridor of GHC. Light refreshments will be served, and the event is open to the public.

The prints have been previously on display at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

The press release is available at

See PDF for location of prints around the building.

Investigating the Rubble in Haiti

Hello all,

  My name is Mike Taylor, and I recently joined the CREATE Lab to investigate Haiti's rubble problem.  According to the U.S. State Department, the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti left an estimated 10 million cubic meters of rubble in its wake.  By my calculations, that's enough rubble to build a one-foot-thick and thirty-foot-tall wall down the entire length of the Mississippi river.  Now, more than a year and a half later, many estimate that less than a fifth of the debris has been removed.  My goal is to examine the various challenges and barriers to progress that must be overcome in order for Haiti to clear the rubble and start to rebuild.

  Our end goal is to develop technologies that empower the Haitian people to lead the recovery and reconstruction of their country.  In this way, we hope to help make Haiti stronger so that it may flourish in the years to come.  This goal requires a keen understanding of not only the technical challenges facing those who are now moving debris with just their hands, but also the subtle and complex interaction of social, economic, and environmental factors that give shape to the rubble problem in its entirety.  My task is to capture this understanding while keeping a watchful eye for solutions and opportunities that can help Haiti to grow and flourish as an independent nation. 

  Over the next two weeks, I will be traveling through areas of Haiti that have been hardest hit by the earthquake, specifically in Leogane and Port-au-Prince, in order to survey the rubble first-hand and speak with locals who are currently moving the debris without the aid of tools or heavy machinery.  When I am able (and in areas with electricity and internet), I will be making blog entries here as I gather stories and information.  I hope that you will follow along with me for this exciting opportunity, and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at 


    Mike Taylor

Gigapan Expedition to Carrie Furnace

On Wednesday, Ron Baraff of Rivers of Steel and Dror led us on a photo-expedition to Carrie Furnace in Rankin, where iron was made for most of the 20th century -- a furnace that helped to make Pittsburgh the steel center of the world.  The furnace was shut down in the 1980s, and has been rusting since.  Rivers of Steel has secured National Historic Landmark status for the site with the National Park Service.  Money and volunteer work are needed to preserve the site so that someday it can be opened to the public.  Our goal that day was to improve the photographic record of this incredible site.

Pictured below, Clara, Richard Palmer, Ron Baraff, Brian (a photographer from Pop City, who also happened to be there), and Dror prepare tripods, panoheads, and cameras.

Clara went up into the control room of the ore bridge (a huge gantry crane) and shot a gigapan of its interior.

I climbed up to the top of one of the furnaces and got a view down on the ore bridge and the skip cars (buckets) that were used to haul iron ore, limestone, and coke to the top of the furnace.

Those ingredients get dumped into the feed hopper here.

More photos here:


Gigapan zoomable photos I shot are here:

view from bleeder valve - very high!


from near top of blast furnace 6


feed hopper above blast furnace 6


stationary car dumper


control room on ore bridge


outside ore bridge crane control room
skip pit


Dror photographed the electrostatic precipitators


Paul Heckbert