Monday, April 21, 2014

Slow Weekend

Very little riding this weekend though not due to poor weather. It took most of Saturday to recuperate from the flight home. Including a 35 minute connection in Seattle with gates at opposite ends of the airport and a 2:00am arrival in Fairbanks. I made the connection though my luggage didn't. It did arrive on Saturday by noon. Most of the snow and ice are gone except for where it was piled up by the plows or in heavily shaded areas.

The aftermarket starter went in easy enough though I did have to remove a lot of stuff to get to the starter, in fact, just as much as the alternator installation. (gas tank, battery, battery tray, air cleaner housing, top engine cover, one coil, lower front fairing, front engine cover, etc.) But it went quickly and the actual motor part of the starter is about ⅔ the volume of the original part. In fact, it went so quickly that it didn't even occur to me to take pictures. But, the new starter cranks the engine much faster than the old Bosch unit. And does it with the motorcycle battery. So the group 24 automotive battery came out of the sidecar though I am leaving the cables installed for next winter. So I now have a passenger seat again.

There were quite a few bikes out and about yesterday afternoon but none this morning on my morning commute and I still seem to have the motorcycle parking spaces to myself. Though, technically, they aren't motorcycle spaces until May 1st.

Yesterday evening, I finally got around to removing the screw-style tire studs and, as I had feared, I almost waited too long. The screw heads on about ¼ of the studs were so worn down that they needed to be removed with vice grip pliers on what remained of the head. I'll swap out the studded tires maybe in a week or so.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Heading Home

The shuttle to the airport from Bloomington to Indianapolis was so full that they were turning people away. And no, that isn't a photo of the shuttle. I think that I was the only non-student in the entire mini-bus. (And, I believe, the only one who tipped the driver for the 1½ hour trip) It took me a while to make the connection that some students were going home to celebrate Easter with their families. The PTC ended yesterday afternoon and I went to a Thai place with some other attendees from the conference.

It was great to hear about all of the power and communication advances that were being made to support science in Antarctica but almost disturbing to hear about how much was being spent on infrastructure and logistics compared to science. The photo was taken by the NSF liason officer, Lt. Doll, and it shows just one example of why Antarctic and Greenland research is so expensive. A lot of effort is being made with improved communication and power systems but having facilities to allow people is just expensive. A British engineer was talking about some new facilities and commented that the existing facility was ~25 m under the snow. This is just from accumulation. The psychological toll on individuals staying there was, as he put it, "very significant". The new lab is designed to jack itself up back to the top of the snow so that the inhabitants could see out of the windows even if all they could see is snow.

BTW, the Thai food was also very average and somewhat bland even though I asked for hot "4" on a scale of one to five. Maybe no one likes "spicy" in Bloomington.

One last photo of the IU campus. This is an HDR photo and all the way on the right, you can just see a tree starting to "green". On the way to the airport, you could just see a hint of leaves on some of the trees.
Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bloomington, IN, Cont.

Here are a few more photos taken this evening as I was walking towards a get together associated with the PTC. This is the exit from campus towards Kirkwood Ave. one of the restaurant lined streets near the campus. The get together was at the Irish Lion, a recreation of an Irish pub. On the way back, I stopped at the Bombay Cafe, a very informal Indian place a couple of blocks from campus.

This is the courthouse and is a good example of the masonry found on just about every public building in town. This building looks pretty nice compared to the well weathered buildings on the IU campus. N.B. no leaves on the trees yet but there are flowers planted in some of the planters both here and at the campus.

Another public building, the local Carnegie library extending out of the back of the more modern public library. Again, note the use of limestone to cover the building.

Today, there was more discussion on power systems in use by projects including an excellent presentation on LiFePO4 with an emphasis on discharge performance at extremely low temperatures. The batteries are extremely light for their capacity and that attracts some motorcyclists to them. But they can be easily destroyed by improper charging. In fact, Enduralast, the maker of my new alternator, does not recommend them due to the difficulty charging them. I guess each cell needs to be independently monitored by the charge controller to prevent overcharging. They are being used successfully but with sophisticated charge controllers for their solar and wind power systems.

I also talked to several folks with experience using the same radios that I am planning to deploy in Barrow this summer. They have been using them very successfully in Antarctica where the climate is much harsher than Alaska.

On a completely unrelated note, I brought a couple of the Arduino boards with me to play with while in the hotel. This is the Uno R3 with built in PoE Ethernet and SD card slot for data storage. The little daughter board on top in the picture is the USB interface that is only used when downloading programing onto the board. I now have a web server running on this tiny computer and will be using that to post environmental data on a regular basis to another server. I'm thinking that I may want a RTC (real time clock) so I can timestamp my data.

Thursday morning - This pipe organ is in the back of our meeting room and, as I was told, it has only been here a couple of years. What that didn't tell me is whether it is new or restored. But it looks like it's been here for a long time.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bloomington, IN

This week I am at Indiana University (IU) Bloomington for the 10th Annual Polar Technology Conferece (PTC). It is being led by SRI (Stanford Research Institute) and the intent is to share technology successes and failures among the research community funded by NSF (National Science Foundation). The Barrow project is being funded by NSF through CPS (CH2MHill Polar Services). So now that we have covered all of the TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms), I can continue on with this post. The sessions started early this morning so no additional photos. It was raining yesterday evening and it turned to snow later in the evening.

I had been to Indianapolis before but never to Bloomington. All I've ever heard about Bloomington before was in the 1979 movie, Breaking Away. Back then I was really into cycling and that is what the movie was about. The first photo was taken from my hotel room this morning. It was still below freezing and there was still a bit of snow sitting around from yesterdays storm. The Bloomington campus of IU is the "flagship campus" of the system and the largest enrollment at 40,000+ students. The buildings match the founding date of 1820 as everything is some shade of brown.

The next couple of pictures were taken during a tour of their cyberinfrastructure operation. The first is a video wall showing a movie of Indiana University's activities in Antarctica. To the left is one of their new supercomputers. This was in the half of the data center that supported organized research. Most of the buildings are covered with limestone with elaborate carvings but the data center was granted an exception due to the cost.