Ecosystem Electronics Lab

Department of Marine Science


Undergraduate and Graduate students in the Ecosystem Electronics Lab have access to a wide variety of tools, lab and field equipment, field research sites, and other resources for their projects. A few of these resources are listed below. For safety reasons, access to some of these resources requires appropriate training and certification by the lab director prior to use.


Access to amazing ecosystems

The Ecosystem Electronics Lab is located within a few minutes drive of several ecosystems that offer great study sites for student research projects. Local marine sites include the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. Terrestrial sites include the mountains and coast of Big Sur, Pinnacles National Park, Fort Ord National Monument, and the fertile Salinas Valley. We also work at some remote field sites, including Micronesia.

EEL lab space

Lab and fabrication space

The EEL has recently moved to a larger, 800 square foot lab space subdivided into areas for different tasks, including machining of parts, circuit construction/testing, in-water testing of ocean instrumentation, and large table areas for project assembly and staging.

Boat with students

Small boats for ocean access

Rigid inflatables (like the one pictured) from CSUMB's Small Boats program provide properly trained students with safe access to local marine ecosystems. For smaller projects closer to shore, we also have sit-on-top sea kayaks.

Science diver

Science diving program

CSUMB has a very active SCUBA training program, which includes advanced training and AAUS certification in scientific (research) diving. Students with this certification can conduct dives to install or retrieve research equipment and/or to collect scientific data for EEL projects.

BlueROV2 on coral beach


The EEL has a number of remotely operated undersea vehicles, or ROVs. Since 2016, our "workhorse" ROV for marine life observations, site surveys, and deployment/retrieval of seafloor instrumentation has been a BlueROV2 manufactured by Blue Robotics. The BlueROV2 can dive to over 100 m. It has powerful thrusters, sophisticated autopilot features, and can carry a variety of tools and cameras for various research tasks. We also have an OpenROV and two models of ROVs designed and built by CSUMB students in the EEL: the Ulithi ROV (max depth 150 m) and the education-oriented Catalina ROV (max depth 15 m).

Samantha using lathe

Machine tools

The EEL has several machine and power tools, including a metalworking lathe, a CNC mill, benchtop grinder, band saw, router, and radial arm saw. After safety training and certification, authorized students may use these tools with supervision for EEL projects.

3D printers

The EEL has a Lulzbot Mini 3D printer for routine printing tasks and a Lulzbot Taz6 for larger sized print jobs.

  • The EEL is stocked with a wide assortment of standard hand and power tools for student use. These include a drill press, cordless drill/drivers, table saw, chop saw, band saw, disk sander, dental drill, and plunge router. Hand tools include the usual assortment of screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, hammers, and so forth.

  • Standard tools for circuit assembly and testing, including oscilloscopes, multimeters, soldering stations, and a variety of electronic components and connectors, are all available for student use in EEL projects.

  • The EEL has a number of “trail cameras,” IP network cameras, Camcorders, and GoPro cameras (some with underwater camera housings) that can be deployed to observe and study animals and their habitats.

  • Student in the lab have access to a variety of computers, routers, cables, and antennas for setting up temporary or more-permanent wireless networks. When combined with our portable solar power stations, this equipment allows the creation of wireless networks for data collection and transmission in the field, even in remote regions.

  • Thanks to generous funding from the Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation and the Wireless Education and Technology Center, the EEL has four portable, solar-power stations that can be used to provide power for wildlife cameras, wireless networks, and other system in the field when power is not otherwise available.

  • No geeky electronics lab is complete without a small herd of robots running about. They’re fun platforms for test-driving sensor systems, communication protocols, and other electronics. We have some commercial ones (like the Parallax BOE Bots) as well as some lab-built ones. Some of them work for us in the field collecting data.

  • Microcontrollers are tiny computers we use as the brains for our gadgets. EEL Students have access to programming kits for several popular microcontrollers including the Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Beagle Bone, BASIC Stamp, Propeller, and others.

  • Motors make things go, and making things go is both fun and useful. The EEL has an assortment of motors and motor controllers available for project use. These include both brushed and brushless DC motors, servo motors, stepper motors, and gearmotors.

  • The EEL has several pieces of sonar equipment available for student research projects. We have a pair of Nortek Signature 1000 Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers (ADCPs) for measuring and recording ocean currents and a Tritech "Starfish" 452F Side-Scan Sonar system for surveying the sea floor. We use a Hummingbird 386ci DI combination Fish Finder / GPS unit to assist with navigation on our small boats. We also have an Eagle Cuda242 fish finder unit, an OEM depth sounder, and a hydrophone available for student use.

  • The CSUMB Otter Aquatics Center features a 25 meter x 25 yard pool that is 13 feet deep in the deep end. The Aquatic Center staff are great and have been very helpful in scheduling pool time for EEL students who need to perform test flights of their ROV's or other underwater equipment prior to open ocean tests.