Wierd things you end up doing on fieldwork

Fieldwork season with Glacsweb, and perhaps geography generally, always seems to involve me having to master a variety of techniques I’ve never tried before, and sometimes never even heard of.  We’re now in our second trip out to Iceland and I’m spending most of my time trying to work out how to process our differential GPS data that has been recorded on the glacier over the last month.  Today’s random distraction involved testing out a Wifi link we’re going to have on the glacier (yes, we have Wifi on the glacier, handy for checking check room1077’s latest posts on the move and shifting data back to the UK during the year).  It went something like this:

Phil – We need to check the range on this Wifi antenna

Alex (brain addled by 1000 page GPS software manual) – uh?

Phil – Yep, Kirk and I are going to hop in the car and drive away

Alex – what?

Phil – The glass in the window messes with the signal so you need to stand outside and point this at the car [motions to tubular type object attached to Wifi router with a chunky cable]

Alex – erm ok, so stand outside and point at you? erm, fine.

Phil then promptly jumped in the car, driven by Kirk, and rapidly drove off into the distance holding an antenna out the window. I frantically aimed this instrument at them, squinting through the driving rain. Fortunately Dirk was about to capture the moment from the safety of the warm house:

It’s not too hard to target the car at close range

 

I was quite concerned that I might mess up the experiment through shoddy hand-eye coordination, but apparently it has s a 10 degree window so there’s some room for error. Still, it would have been helpful if the car wasn’t beige!

By the time the car is 1.3 Km away it’s basically impossible to see through the sheets of rain…

Having miss-judged the temperature somewhat as I scrambled out of the house (~4 degrees apparently) I was a tad chilly by the time they got back. Fortunately though it wasn’t for nothing and Kirk had a nice plot of signal strength vs distance produced by a fancy app on his laptop – the benefits of having a laptop with a GPS. Apparently at 1.3 Km they still had a decent signal, despite me having no idea where they were and essentially resorting to guessing the direction. It’s nice when experiments produce good results for once!

Apparently tomorrow’s test will involve me running off into the distance on the glacier to check the range of a surface radio. I’ll be doing my best to avoid turning it into a subsurface radio test…

Although I’ll try, I’m not going to promise to keep updating the blog during this week as I’m sure everything will suddenly get stressful and ruin my plans. So for updates tune in to @glaciologist on Twitter, I’m generally capable of spitting out 140 characters every now and then.

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