18 January 2007

I-TASC expedition 2006/2007

Yesterday we got the delivery of some new material for the radio. We had one hour’s notice that a plane would be leaving from Cape Town for Troll (the Norwegian base about 1 hour away from here by chopper). Tom called Siphiwe and Siphiwe ran around Cape Town getting the CDs that had been delivered for the station but which  had missed the first flight on the 12th of this month. So a crew flew to Troll (for other business) and Tom was on the chopper and was able to pick up the CDs for the station. Hurrah! So we have the additional material now:

Story Salon
LA Podcasters
Sundown Lounge
The Jazz Diaries
Handwritten Theatre
Three Jackasses in a Garage
People by the Fringe

A total of 13 extra CDs. Now playing on the radio is the entire CD of ‘Story Salon’…coolio! Many thanks to all those that sent this material. Today we have a great schedule on the radio:

1400 - 1500 : Story Salon
1500 - 1600 : Documentary on Moscow
1600 - 1900 : The Gravy Train with DJ TK
1900 - 2000 : DJ Zamii's HF Radar
2100 - 2200 : The Night Watchman
2200 - 2330 : DJ Danny

In the meantime today we tested the High Frequency Radio Modems over a distance of about 7km. We wanted to test the antenna as the discussion has now shifted to putting the AWS unit at Gronehogna (approx 40km away) and a repeater at Lorentzenpiggen. This is because we had an unsuccessful test yesterday transmitting from Gunehogna to SANAE. So today we tested a link between Lorentzenpiggen with an omni directional antenna at that site, and a directional antenna at the base. We got a good connection and tested browsing a webserver, ftp, and IRC (these services were running on my laptop at SANAE). Most exciting for me is the use of VOIP. We made an excellent connection via Asterisk and two softphones over this distance and could chat with no problems at all.

We tried to get a repeater in the network too but we couldn’t make the connections. I went to bed feeling good about the Asterisk tests but frustrated by the failure of the repeater config so I got up again and have just worked it out (I hope). Seems to work.

Tomorrow Tom and I go via chopper to Grunehogna and First Born will go to Lorentzenpiggen. This is to test:
* – Grunehogna (directional antenna) to Lorentzenpiggen (omni directional antenna) link.
* – the repeater set-up : Grunehogna -> Lorentzenpiggen -> SANAE

If the first test works, then we can set the unit up at Grunehogna (hence it’s the most critical test). If the second one works, then we are really on our way.

So cross ya fingers for us.

Here’s the proof of a nice fat VOIP connection made over UHF modems in Antarctica (for those that like to pin such things to their wall):