Setting up a Measurement with SonTek RSSL

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Detailed Description

In this video we will outline the process of setting up a measurement using the SonTek RSSL software. Note: Use of trade names is for descriptive purposes only, and does not imply endorsement by the USGS. For additional videos in this series, visit the following link:


Date Taken:

Length: 00:03:02

Location Taken: Augusta, ME, US


Hi my name is Nick Stasulis and I work with the Maine Office of the New England Water Science Center. In this video we will outline the process of setting up a measurement using the SonTek RSSL software.

Once you have connected to the ADCP, the System Page will be presented. The System Page is where all the parameters are entered to configure the M9 or S5 for the measurement. Basically, you  work your way down through the menus listed on the System page.

The System Configuration shows the ADCP serial number, firmware and software. It also provides the ability to load an existing station template.

Under Site Information, select the Change Site Information link and populate the site name, station number, location of the measuring section, field party, boat or float information, measurement number, gage height and note the available comments section. All of this information will become part of the Discharge Measurement Summary document. In addition, much of this information can be populated in SVMobile when imported.

Next, select Change System Settings. The transducer depth is determined by measuring from the flat bottom of the transducer to the water line of the tethered boat. Next, set the tagline azimuth by positioning the boat facing  upstream either in the river, on the ice or on the bank and perpendicular to the cross section. Notice in the diagram shown that the ADCP connector must be facing downstream. Once the boat is positioned, click start, and allow the instrument time to stabilize (usually requiring 10 to 20 seconds), then press the Stop button before you close the box. The azimuth is essentially a compass bearing from the left bank towards the right bank that is perpendicular to the flow and allows the M9/S5 to compute flow angles during the measurement. Other videos in this series discuss the specifics of using this azimuth and other methods for flow angle correction.

If you are measuring in a tidal zone, you may need to adjust the salinity setting here. For normal use, the track reference, depth reference, discharge method and SmartPulse HD options will not be changed, but it’s important to realize the depth reference can be edited during playback if needed. The lower frequency vertical beam depth may provide better results in high sediment conditions. If needed, you can enter a user input temperature or speed of sound, though this should not be routine. Details on the settings and options in this dialog can be found in the RiverSurveyor S5/M9 manual.

The Change Quality Settings link is where you enter your rated discharge, which will determine the 5% value for each of the measured sections. A user temperature validation reading can also be entered, though it’s important to note that the required water temperature check for each measurement must be noted in SVMobile.

The Utilities will be discussed in a separate video of the series that covers the pre-measurement tests for RSSL.