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.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Skyline Drive

This video was taken from the sidecar on Skyline Drive, just west of CaƱon City, CO. Ever since I first heard about it on Dom's blog, I had wanted to see the actual road. We went there last Saturday on his Ural sidecar rig, Scarlett. He had generously offered his immaculate '87 R80 airhead for me to use but since I hadn't really ridden on two wheels since October 2012, I passed on his offer. After all, this may not be the best place to learn how to ride on two wheels again.

I wasn't able to capture the entire road as I quickly ran out of memory on my phone. The original was captured at 1080p/60fps and I have never looked for a way to change the default resolution. The transitions were added as we stopped several times along the way for pictures.

I really want to thank Dom and enabling spouse, Martha (the smiling one), for their wonderful hospitality. They opened their home, banished one of their children to the couch, and gave me the run of the kitchen. Plus, all of the transportation around Denver and beyond. Plus, a loaf of wonderful chocolate chip-banana bread to tide me over at the conference.

This is the highway on the way to Denver International Airport at ~6:30 Monday morning. A nice sunrise developing on the horizon and a surprising (to me) amount of snow. The highway itself was clear but most of the surface streets were still full of clumpy, slippery snow.

By the time my flight left, it was blue skies and they persisted most of the day until I caught up with the storm at my destination. It has been raining here most of the day, I'm told, but it should be clearing up by tomorrow. It rained during the hour+ shuttle ride to the hotel and on my walk to grab a bite to eat. I found a middle eastern place only a half mile or so from the hotel and the food was very tasty.

This was taken at the airport and should give a hint to where I'm at for the rest of this week.