Friday, August 17, 2012

Pluckemin Cantonment Project – Reconstructing History

Pluckemin Cantonment Project – Reconstructing History
By Daniel Ortiz

I am currently working on the Pluckemin Project for the Washington College GIS Lab.  The goal of the Pluckemin Project is to recreate the Pluckemin Cantonment of 1778-1779 into the 3D world since it no longer stands.  The Pluckemin Cantonment was the first American military academy to be constructed and was specifically built for the purpose of training artillery crews.

My objective for the Pluckemin project is to recreate the cannons of the Pluckemin Cantonment as they looked back then.  Since these cannons do not exist today and there is virtually no record of what these cannons looked like in great detail, I have tried to look for cannons that were in America during the time of the Revolution.  And since the only other country at the time in the 13 colonies were the British, I learned that they had a high influence on the construction of American cannons.  Henceforth, I drew my attention to any detailed websites and books that dealt with English cannons and possibly American cannons.  Many websites and books began to appear, but a primary resource that I now use to construct cannons is “A Course of Artillery” of the Royal Military Academy. 

This book contains a whole variety of cannons, howitzers, and mortars.  These include the 6 and 24 pounder cannons, 5in and 8in howitzers, and multiple types of sea mortars.      

Above is a picture of one of the three light 6 pounder cannons that were used at Pluckemin.  The original English cannon that was used for the base of this design had wheels with a circumference that was 4 – 6 inches smaller than these wheels.  This model is made this way for 2 reasons.  The first is because there were no exact measurements for cannons made during the 1700’s in the 13 colonies.  So 2 cannons of the same caliber could be made in the same factory yet with different dimensions.  The second reason for the enlargement of these wheels was that when British cannons were captured, the wheels here replaced with larger ones so that they could be better fitted for the rugged terrain of the Americas. 

This second image is a picture of the different types of projectiles that were used by 6 pounder cannons and the exact distribution of the projectile.  The large brass cylinders in the back of the image are the 8 canister shells the gun crew had at their disposal.  The cannon balls are next to the canister shells, of which there are also 8, and the final projectile type is grapeshot.  There are 2 groups of these; there are the 3oz projectiles and the 6oz projectiles.  The 11 lighter colored ones are the 6oz shot and the 14 darker ones are the 3oz shot. 

You can find my work on the Google Warehouse, and there will hopefully be more to come in the near future. 

Daniel is currently a student at St. Mary's School in Annapolis. He was born and raised in Chestertown, MD and is a Junior Research Associate of the GIS lab.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Geospatial Discoveries Summer Program - A Roadmap To GIS Success

Washington College recently hosted its fifth annual one-week summer program for grades 7 to 12, designed to introduce middle and high school students to the exciting and rapidly expanding field of geospatial technology. During this week long summer experience, attendees are immersed in different areas of GIS, gaining hands-on experience and participating in real research projects alongside our lab staff and interns. This year, in order to provide everyone with a superior experience, the program attendees were divided into three “pods” to work on three different projects, which they were given the opportunity to choose between. 

For the summer program this year, Devin Hayward ‘14 worked with the crime pod. They worked on mapping different types of crimes and teaching the kids how to create their own maps. They used their creativity to choose the style of map they created. It was pretty interesting to see their take on how a map should be designed. The kids also got the chance to go to Prince George’s County to see the police force, including the canine unit and motorcycle unit.

The 3D virtual world pod, along with Olivia Hughes ’15, spent their week recreating the Pluckemin Artillery Cantonment, a New Jersey historic military site. The campers explored the three dimensional modeling world using programs such as Autodesk 3DS Max and Google Sketchup. When the historic military barracks were modeled in 3D, the campers experimented with animating their models using a gaming interface, Unity. Using Unity, the campers were able to create realistic terrain for the 3D world and walk through the historic site. 

The river exploration pod went out on the research vessel Callinectes with CES Associate Director Doug Levin. In the process, they used several different forms of water testing and exploration technology. The river group used side-scan sonar to map the bottom of the river, as well as a Ponar grab sampler, a piece of equipment used to pull up layers of sediment from the river bottom. They also built their own observation buoys out of PVC pipe, connectors, Frisbees, and plastic cable ties, and attached temperature probes to their buoys to measure differences between air temperature and water temperature. Finally, they built their own Aquabotz, remotely operated vehicles used for underwater exploration.