Friday, August 26, 2016

Something New in Barrow

Another afternoon spent on the BEO (Barrow Environmental Observatory) to check on instrumentation at one location and to get a new tower up on the network at another. I've seen contractors working on the tower for most of the spring and summer and passed these signs frequently. I guess they don't want anyone messing around with their stuff.

This is the tower site. I believe the intent is to locate the actual data collection instrumentation on the tower itself and house all of the support equipment in the really nice prefab structure with the ramps. I'm told that this is the only site that they've ever installed that needed to be built up on piers. The raised structure is supposed to help minimize drifting as the snow can simply blow under the building.

I was tempted to climb the tower but there were all sorts of signs such as "hard hat zone", "authorized personnel only", etc. I, of course, always obey the signs. I'm told that the tower needs to be higher than the surrounding canopy but that easy here. The tallest vegetation in the area is maybe a foot and that's being generous. I'm not really sure what they will be measuring.

The support building has these nice ramps. Instead of the standard expanded metal or steel grate, this is covered with some sort of green material with embedded traction enhancing material. Given the challenge of walking out here over the tundra even with the plastic walkways, I don't think the ramps are for ADA access. Maybe to help install heavy equipment such as large battery banks in the support building.

The staff member for the project was provided with someone to help haul equipment from the road and I noticed that he carried a 12 gauge. I asked if there were recent bear sightings. He showed me some pictures of a large polar bear that was found washed up on the beach just a little ways from here. So they must be around. I guess I don't warrant a bear guard when I go wandering out on the BEO. Maybe it depends who has sufficient funding for such frills.

From this angle, the tower kind of looks like it's part of a prison. It's actually pretty fancy for an instrument tower. It has stairs and not simply a ladder tied to the side. Anyway, no problems at all getting the tower connected to the network. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Nights Are Getting Longer

I spend Tuesday afternoon out on the BEO again. I was told that there was a network problem as one of the groups was having difficulty connecting to their experiment. It turned out to be more of a power problem in both the Control Shed and their tower. The network was fine. There is a lot more water out here now than earlier in the summer. This section of the plastic walkway is actually floating on the wooden walkway underneath and it feels pretty treacherous. Kind of like walking on a boat. The knee high rubber boots almost seem to be a little short walking along the trail.

I think that there will be at least a couple more walks out here over the next couple of days. On Tuesday, I was out there for about 5 hours. On Thursday, I suspect that I'll be out there even longer. The yellow cable is power for the new tower. I think that I've already missed the "peak" for color on the tundra. No more flowers.

It's only 11:05pm and it's already after sunset. This is the view from the living room window of the hut I'm staying in this week. The quonset hut across the street is typical of where I usually stay. But this week, it's a nice two bedroom frame house. I just thought the view was interesting. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Heading North Again

Hitch installed in spite of some rainy weather. My son and I did manage to get two cars hauled out of the yard and now I just need to pare down the pile of tires that seems to have built up beside the garage. I still have some other tasks for the truck while it's still not snowing. I need to install a trailer connector inside of the bed teeing off the connector already installed on the rear bumper. Install a toolbox at the front of the bed. And then I can make the wooden frame to hold the bags of gravel in the rear of the bed that I use for ballast when the snow plow is attached. Due to the weight of the diesel engine and the plow on the front of the truck, the plow manufacturer recommends at least 600# of ballast. The wooden frame will hold the bags of gravel against the tailgate. Last year, we tied the together using rope. The wooden frame would be braced against the front of the bed or the tool box.

But no more playing around with the truck as I'm in Barrow again for the week. I know that I have at least two trips out on the BEO. One to the Control Shed and one to a new instrument tower that was constructed over the last couple of months. This is the Fairbanks airport this morning. After the flight to Deadhorse, and a 4 hour wait, I arrived in Barrow at 6:00pm.

I tried the son tofu at Osaka's. It was very similar to the spicy breakfast soup that I had at the Korean restaurant in Los Angeles last December. A slightly spicy flavor including the addition of a raw egg cracked into soup that was still boiling when brought to the table. This version wasn't anywhere near as spicy but was very tasty and served with a bowl of rice. Unfortunately, no banchan.

I'm not sure how many more trips to Barrow after this one. I don't think that I have any scheduled but did leave enough budget in case another trip is needed.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Running Around

On Tuesday, BruceW brought his Ural to town on a trailer as I had offered to see why it wouldn't start without a jumper from the battery to the positive terminal of the PowerArc coil. Since I had also installed a PowerArc ignition, I was pretty familiar with the wiring. After pulling the tank and tracing the wires, we found the problem pretty quickly. The original installer spliced into the positive lead for the original coil which came out of the original CD ignition module which is no longer needed with the PowerArc ignition system. If the unused module failed, the new ignition system no longer receives power and the bike will not start. A quick splice into the power lead between the cutoff switch to the alternator and the CDI, and the rig was up and running again.

This snapshot was taken in the Bentley Mall parking lot where we want for lunch to test the repair. About ¼ mile from the house, his bike died again. This time it was the vacuum line from the left carb to the vacuum operated petcock was loose. Moving the lever to "Prime" and putting the line back on resolved the problem. After a delicious lunch (thank you!), we put on the missing hose clamp.

This morning, I noticed that there were a ton (not literally) of birds at Creamer's Field. There were quite a few people there and the birds were pretty close to the parking area. This is not obvious with this iPhone photo. The nearest birds were only about 25' away on the other side of the fence. This is yet another reminder that Fall is just around the corner if not here already.

Much of yesterday was spent messing with the truck and a borrowed car hauling trailer. There have been a couple of cars parked next to our garage the last several years and it's finally time to get rid of them. We dropped off the first one on Monday at the landfill after checking with three of the local auto dismantlers in the area. None of them were interested in an old Infinity Q45. I guess that there is very little demand for parts. The other is my old Saab 900S which is going to a fellow Airhead. He said that he can always use another parts car to keep the rest of his old Saab fleet running.

The other task was picking up this hitch. (That's why I needed to disconnect the car hauling trailer) The boxes were loaded into the back of the truck with a forklift. A couple of years ago, I had installed an under-bed gooseneck hitch. This fifth wheel hitch plugs into the gooseneck socket mounted under the bed. I was originally going to order it online and take advantage of Amazon Prime "free shipping" but like many other things, no shipping to Alaska. On a whim, I inquired at a local shop and the markup was under 5%. That seemed reasonable so I went ahead and ordered it from them. Towing capacity for the hitch itself is 20,000 lbs. Kind of overkill but I like that the hitch can be completely removed from the truck bed leaving a completely unobstructed load floor. What we are planning to tow is reserved for a future post but it has nothing to do with riding...