Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Christmas and Melt Tank FM

December 22, 2009. Another "Christmas" is about to roll around; and as usual, it will be a busy time in which holiday celebrations are conspicuously absent. In fact, the Igarka - Anderma Mark II - is scheduled to arrive on Christmas day. Or maybe even Christmas Eve! Either way, there won't be much time for mulled wine and carols.

In anticipation of this, we actually had pseudo-Christmas this past weekend. We took the afternoon off on Saturday and had a bit of a party. The usual four-can rule was extended to -five- cans, and a nice roast dinner was served. We then posed for the Halley Summer 2009-10 shot, on a large sofa constructed out of snow:

I'm seventh from the left, of the standing people, back row. Regrettably, the sofa was angled such that an afternoon photo shoot was severely backlit, as one can see. Hell of a nice sofa construction, though.

Other than that, things are starting to wind down on base, with little left to do before the ships get here. I stuck a "bonus" site out on the shelf - site J is my wildly original name for it. It is tracking the "ripples around the Rumples". The ice around the Rumples has become much more ripply lately - picture a car hood/bonnet in a head-on collision, where ripples in the metal fan out from the point of impact. This is happening in slow-motion around the Rumples, and I had enough equipment to cobble together one last site to track a particular ripple.

Actually, I have done one more thing. I'm rather proud of it.

I have recently become the executive producer of Melt Tank FM - your radio station covering all things melt-tank. That'd be Channel 9 on your marine VHF dial. With the heavy assistance of Richard - the incoming meteorological technician (and now the Melt Tank FM program director) - we've rigged up an elaborate setup where the level of the melt-tank is automatically read out.

Just as a reminder - the melt tank is a big underground tank into which we shovel snow to get our water. One shovels until the melt tank level reaches a certain level - around 2.3 metres. This level is accessible from a ultrasonic sensor already wired into a display on the Laws - Melt Tank FM reads this level through a analog-to-digital converter, then sends it over a serial line, then processes it by a perl script, then played an audio clip of me reading the level over a sound card, which is then piped into a VHF radio. It shouts out the melt tank number whenever it goes up, saving the diggers the need to call up the station and ask someone to read it out manually.

There are several opportunities for humourous additions to Melt Tank FM - such as:

1) Random playing of the A-Team theme song (already implemented);

2) A cheesy jingle to be played when people first start digging (to be recorded by the base doctors);

3) Verbal abuse if the level isn't rising fast enough; and

4) Severe verbal abuse if they block the melt tank.

I don't think I'll have time to implement these changes, but at least I'll be immortalized forever by my voice droning out melt tank numbers.

Or at least, until Halley V is torn down in a few years.

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