At the South Pole

Day 14 – 2005-01-13 – Thursday

My first full day at the Pole. We unpacked the hexapod, and found that something had sprung the legs out. Oli had to work a bit on this to fix it. I got the computing side running.

I updated the Java installation on the Dewar laptop. JavaKit runs fine. I added a new option to the Dewar servlet for Angiola.

Here are a couple of shots of where I'll be living for the next three weeks. It's called a Jamesway, and dates from the Korean war. There are twelve little "rooms", six each side, arranged length-ways.

My room My Jamesway
My room – Click to enlarge My Jamesway – Click to enlarge

Day 15 – 2005-01-14 – Friday

Bad night's sleep, but no nasty surprises at work. Did some more fettling on the hexapod. It's pretty much ready to mount now.

The hexapod The beast
The hexapod – Click to enlarge The beast – Click to enlarge

Day 16 – 2005-01-15 – Saturday

I took a look at my old SSMS workings, and found a mistake (or two) transcribing the matrices. Clem took exception to a small-angle approximation of negligible significance. I'll work through this again when I get a chance. But for now I've had my priorities changed for me, to writing the xml description for fridge recycling. Shame this wasn't done months ago when I expected.

Oli has been adding springs behind the motors, but they're sticking a bit.

Elevated Station The Ski Way
Elevated Station – Click to enlarge The Ski Way – Click to enlarge

I got a lift back to summer camp on the back of a Ski-Doo – most exhilarating!

Day 17 – 2005-01-16 – Sunday

Taking it fairly easy today. Went over to MAPO to catch the end of the satellite window. Whilst there I checked on the fridge script we ran over-night. It wanted a little fettling. It being Sunday, there was just "brunch", but it wasn't bad, as they had the waffle maker out.

I wanted to get some pictures of the Cardiff crew at the Pole, but the others didn't oblige. So I seem to have spent half the day carrying Jamie's flag around.

This evening there was a wedding ceremony at the Pole marker. It looked pretty well attended by their fellow Pollies.

I took a walk about before collecting the laptop from MAPO and retreating the my Jamesway for the night.

A Crane Me
A Crane – Click to enlarge
My Bit of the Jamesway – Click to enlarge Me – Click to enlarge

Day 18 – 2005-01-17 – Monday

Angiola and Oli left today. But before they went, we took some pictures at the Pole (but without Oli).

Me at the Pole With Angiola and Y Ddraig Goch
Me at the Pole – Click to enlarge With Angiola and Y Ddraig Goch – Click to enlarge

An injured driller (from the Ice Cube project) had to be flown out before the main passenger flight. Then Erik came in.

In the evening I set up the CAL unit on top of the Dewar with Jamie Hinderks.

I drove a Ski Doo back to Summer Camp.

Day 19 – 2005-01-18 – Tuesday

Found my way to the Summer Camp lounge. Lots of paper-backs to choose from.

I went out in the evening and took some pcitures using the long lens.

Flags the Pole Vehicles
Flags the Pole – Click to enlarge Vehicles – Click to enlarge
Summer Camp
Summer Camp – Click to enlarge

Day 20 – 2005-01-19 – Wednesday

We had a telecon this morning, reporting the problems with the fome cone and the hexapod.

We had (small) lobsters for dinner!

We mounted the hexapod on a frame, so that we could see if it would slip under gravity. It did! This means we'll either have to add some friction to the drives, or else set a holding current on the stepper motors. The latter will mean running a power cable to the hexapod, as the battery would last only an hour or two. It's a shame there wasn't time to try this in Cardiff, but Walter insisted on sending down the secondary before it was possible.

Hexapod on its Frame
Hexapod on its Frame – Click to enlarge

Day 21 – 2005-01-20 – Thursday

Had a bit of a disaster. I found some mechanical clashes between parts of the hexapod assembly and some of the electronics (computer box, and calibrator source connector). Somehow when I took out the CAL source box and repositioned the connector, the system got zapped. The I²C no longer works on that JStamp. I suppose this might have been due to an electrostatic discharge – we're susceptible to those, as it is so very dry.

Also the thermostat on the CAL source is now dead.

Fortunately we have a spare JStamp – but only one!

Hexapod in bits
Hexapod in bits – Click to enlarge

Day 22 – 2005-01-21 – Friday

Today the JStamp was still dead (it did something like this before, but recovered somehow). So I rebuilt the system around the spare.

To get a working CAL source thermostat I can to take parts from the three non-working ones. But now everything is working, with the exception of the onboard thermometer, which isn't important. More spares are being sent, but there probably won't be time to fit any.

Erik started working on his interface to Isgoch on the JStik.

Somebody has contributed some Welsh tea bags to the galley! All the way from Abertawe.

The crew who were working on the final pod of the new station today moved onto our ground-shield extension. In the photo they are part-way thorugh fitting longer support arms.

Work started on ground shield extension
Work started on ground shield extension – Click to enlarge

Day 23 – 2005-01-22 – Saturday


The second JStamp has died, despite my being very careful about static discharge.

Well, Sarah (the “boss” from Stanford) was waiting to scrap the hexapod anyway, because of its mechanical short-comings. In principal I could reroute the I2C through other GPIO pins, but with Oli's mechanics being such a disaster (i.e. worse than useless) I prefer to let this lie if possible. But unfortunately this also leaves us without any means of driving the CAL module. An alternative will have to be found.

First new panel of the ground shield extension The Hexapod - Dead Again
First new panel of the ground shield extension – Click to enlarge The Hexapod - Dead Again – Click to enlarge
The Ski-Way
The Ski-Way – Click to enlarge

Day 24 – 2005-01-23 – Sunday

Didn't do a lot today.

This was meant to be a picture of the midnight Sun, but it got a bit lost in the cloud. This is about the darkest it's been the whole time.

White Out
White Out – Click to enlarge

Day 25 – 2005-01-24 – Monday

I started dismantling the hexapod. I'll leave the mechanical bits here till the end of the summer season, in case they're of any use. But I'll take the computer parts back to Cardiff for a post-mortem.

Apparently the new ground-shield extension panels don't quite fit, so they all have to be cut down.

This night was good and clear, so I have a picture of the “midnight sun” (actually about 1a.m., not that it means anything here).

Where's our new panel? Midnight Sun
Where's our new panel? – Click to enlarge Midnight Sun – Click to enlarge

Day 26 – 2005-01-25 – Tuesday

Just tying up loose ends today. I have arranged to bring my departure forward a week.

Had a very interesting conversation over dinner with a chap who runs a VLF beacon here (and elsewhere), and who speaks Welsh!

Here's a sequence showing an LC130 taking off.

LC130 preparing for take-off LC130 ready to go
LC130 preparing for take-off – Click to enlarge LC130 ready to go – Click to enlarge
LC130 taking off LC130 airborne
LC130 taking off – Click to enlarge LC130 airborne – Click to enlarge

Day 27 – 2005-01-26 – Wednesday

Telecon this morning. Got bullied into staying till Monday. I don't really see the point – they'll have plenty of people at hand for most things.

Inside the ground shield
Inside the ground shield – Click to enlarge

Day 28 – 2005-01-27 – Thursday

Today I did a little more work on the fridge control TINI. Now I have it updating the DAC every second, in case of glitches. I've found what seems to be a bug in the MinML library.

Easy way to move house Ground shield nearly finished
Easy way to move house – Click to enlarge Ground shield nearly finished – Click to enlarge
The replacement for the hexapod
The replacement for the hexapod – Click to enlarge

Day 29 – 2005-01-28 – Friday

I did some more work on the TINI (worked around the MinML “feature”), and made a hardware change, as suggested by Rob.

The PIC-based CAL controller is taking shape nicely. I helped Jamie H. by wiring up a second PIC board for the fixed end of the IrDA link.

They have finished putting up all the panels of the ground-shield extension.

Me on my way back to Summer Camp Last panel on
Me on my way back to Summer Camp – Click to enlarge Last panel on – Click to enlarge

Day 30 – 2005-01-29 – Saturday

Today I started by having to change rooms. The new room belongs to a winter-over on R&R leave. So it's a snug one – somewhat darker than the other room.

We continued working on the CAL controller. By the evening it was pretty much ready to go. I finished off by tidying all the cabling with Velcro. Jamie H. still needs to work on the software a bit, but he could do that with it on the telescope if need be.

PIC-based CAL controller CAL module with PIC-based controller
PIC-based CAL controller – Click to enlarge CAL module with PIC-based controller – Click to enlarge

Day 31 – 2005-01-30 – Sunday

This was a day of tidying loose ends. I collected all the hexapod stuff for shipping back, but Sarah asked to keep it in case it prooved useful.

I took a tour around the station with my camera. Here are some of my shots.

Simon at MAPO Union flag at Pole
Simon at MAPO – Click to enlarge Union flag at Pole – Click to enlarge
Entrance to the Dome Under the Dome
Entrance to the Dome – Click to enlarge Under the Dome – Click to enlarge
Under the Arches Balloon facility
Under the Arches – Click to enlarge Balloon facility – Click to enlarge

Heading back to Summer Camp tonight I watched a weather balloon launch.

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