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Tim McGinnis

Head, OE Department & Sr. Principal Engineer





Research Interests

Oceanographic Equipment Design, System Engineering


Tim McGinnis's main interest and expertise is in deep ocean engineering and equipment design. For over 30 years, Tim has been involved with a variety of towed and bottom landing vehicle development projects, deep ocean cabled observatories, and at-sea operations for mapping, imaging, sensing, and sampling the seafloor and water column in water depths to 5000 meters.

Tim joined APL-UW in 2001 and was the System Engineer for the development of the NEPTUNE/MARS power system. Since then has been involved with a number of mooring and profiler developments and deployments at the Laboratory. He is now working on the Ocean Observing Initiative Regional Scale Nodes (RSN) project where he is the lead for ROV-mateable connectors, secondary seafloor extension cables, and development of the Deep Profiler.

Department Affiliation

Ocean Engineering


B.S. Engineering, University of Washington, 1983


2000-present and while at APL-UW

An inductive charging and real-time communications system for profiling moorings

Alford, M.H., T. McGinnis, and B.M. Howe, "An inductive charging and real-time communications system for profiling moorings," J. Atmos. Ocean. Technol., 32, 2243-2252, doi:10.1175/JTECH-D-15-0103.1, 2015.

More Info

1 Dec 2015

We describe a system for providing power and communications to moored profiling vehicles. A McLane Moored Profiler (MP) was equipped with a rechargeable battery pack and an inductive charging system to allow it to move periodically to a charging dock at the top of the subsurface mooring. Power was provided from a large bank of alkaline batteries housed in two 0.95-m steel spheres. Data were transferred inductively from the profiler to a mooring controller, and from there back to shore via radio and Iridium satellite modems housed in a small surface communications float on an "L" tether. An acoustic modem provided backup communications to a nearby ship in the event of loss or damage to the surface float. The system was tested in a 180-m-deep fjord (Puget Sound, WA) and at station ALOHA, a 4748-m deep open-ocean location north of Hawaii. Basic functionality of the system was demonstrated, with the Profiler repeatedly recharging at about 300W (with an overall efficiency of about 70%). Data were relayed back to shore via Iridium, and to a nearby ship via the radio and acoustic modems. The system profiled flawlessly for the entire 6-week test in Puget Sound, but charging at the deep site stopped after only 9 days in the deep-ocean deployment owing to damage to the charging station, possibly by surface wave action.

A smart sensor web for ocean observation: Fixed and mobile platforms, integrated acoustics, satellites and predictive modeling

Howe, B.M., Y. Chao, P. Arabshahi, S. Roy, T. McGinnis, and A. Gray, "A smart sensor web for ocean observation: Fixed and mobile platforms, integrated acoustics, satellites and predictive modeling," IEEE J. Sel. Top. Appl. Earth Obs. Remote Sens., 3, 507-521, doi:10.1109/JSTARS.2010.2052022, 2010.

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1 Dec 2010

In many areas of Earth science, including climate change research and operational oceanography, there is a need for near real-time integration of data from heterogeneous and spatially distributed sensors, in particular in situ and space-based sensors. The data integration, as provided by a smart sensor web, enables numerous improvements, namely, (1) adaptive sampling for more efficient use of expensive space-based and in situ sensing assets, (2) higher fidelity information gathering from data sources through integration of complementary data sets, and (3) improved sensor calibration. Our ocean-observing smart sensor web presented herein is composed of both mobile and fixed underwater in situ ocean sensing assets and Earth Observing System satellite sensors providing larger-scale sensing.

An acoustic communications network forms a critical link in the web, facilitating adaptive sampling and calibration. We report on the development of various elements of this smart sensor web, including (a) a cable-connected mooring system with a profiler under real-time control with inductive battery charging; (b) a glider with integrated acoustic communications and broadband receiving capability; (c) an integrated acoustic navigation and communication network; (d) satellite sensor elements; and (e) a predictive model via the Regional Ocean Modeling System interacting with satellite sensor control.

PhilSea10 APL-UW Cruise Report: 5-29 May 2010

Andrew, R.K., J.A. Mercer, B.M. Bell, A.A. Ganse, L. Buck, T. Wen, and T.M. McGinnis, "PhilSea10 APL-UW Cruise Report: 5-29 May 2010," APL-UW TR 1001, October 2010.

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30 Oct 2010

A team from the Applied Physics Laboratory of the University of Washington (APL-UW) conducted underwater sound propagation exercises from 5 to 29 May 2010 aboard the R/V Roger Revelle in the Philippine Sea. This research cruise was part of a larger multi-cruise, multi-institution effort, the PhilSea10 Experiment, sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, to investigate the deterministic and stochastic properties of long-range deep ocean sound propagation in a region of energetic oceanographic processes. The primary objective of the APL-UW cruise was to transmit acoustic signals from electro-acoustic transducers suspended from the R/V Roger Revelle to an autonomous distributed vertical line array (DVLA) deployed in March by a team from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO.) The DVLA will be recovered in March 2011.

Two transmission events took place from a location designated SS500, approximately 509 km to the southeast of the DVLA: a 54-hr event using the HX554 transducer at 1000 m depth, and a 55-hr event using the MP200/TR1446 "multiport" transducer at 1000 m depth. A third event took place towing the HX554 at a depth of 150 m at roughly 1–2 kt for 10 hr on a radial line 25–43 km away from the DVLA. All acoustic events broadcasted low-frequency (61–300 Hz) m-sequences continuously except for a short gap each hour to synchronize transmitter computer files. An auxiliary cruise objective was to obtain high temporal and spatial resolution measurements of the sound speed field between SS500 and the DVLA.

Two methods were used: tows of an experimental "CTD chain" (TCTD) and periodic casts of the ship's CTD. The TCTD consisted of 88 CTD sensors on an inductive seacable 800 m long, and was designed to sample the water column to 500 m depth from all sensors every few seconds. Two tows were conducted, both starting near SS500 and following the path from SS500 towards the DVLA, for distances of 93 km and 124 km. Only several dozen sensors responded during sampling. While the temperature data appear reasonable, only about one-half the conductivity measurements and none of the pressure measurements can be used. Ship CTD casts were made to 1500 m depth every 10 km, with every fifth cast to full ocean depth.

More Publications


Deep Underwater WIFI Antennas for AUV

Record of Invention Number: 47664

Mike Kenney, Tim McGinnis, Nick Michel-Hart, Chris Siani


28 Mar 2016

Deep Underwater WIFI Antennas for AUV

Record of Invention Number: 47607

Mike Kenney, Yasuo Kuga, Tim McGinnis, Nick Michel-Hart, Chris Siani


28 Jan 2016

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center