Archive for January, 2008

Snowkite training in Austria

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

dsc_2092-web.jpgIn the last week of January, we went to Austria to train. The main purpose of this training was to kite as much as possible. We also had a lot of other thing to do like setting up the tent, testing melting snow in differed types of pans, connecting the Toughbook notebook to the BAGN, and pulling the sledges loaded with snow and much more.
Our Base camp for the week was a small village named Nauders. We rented a complete house for 12 persons with lots of luggage. It was just big enough for all of us.
The reason we chose this place was because of a huge frozen lake, the Reschensee. This lake is a 6km long and 1.5 km wide at the height of 1500m. It’s a perfect location to practice kiting.
The first day brought us too much wind. A big storm was blowing with wind speeds up and over 150 km/h; not a perfect day to kite.
However, through the valley the wind speed was much lower, about 50km/h. So we tried to launch the HQ Montana3 kite. Still, the wind was too strong. We had to pull the safety release many times. Later that day we found a better spot and the wind was dropping. Here we were able to kite the first meters in snow.
Kiting on the Reschensee The following days the wind was good till midday’s and then it disappeared completely. We started slowly but we quickly reached speeds over 30km/h.
After 3 days of kiting and a couple of crashes, some of us had minor injuries, such as painful elbows, knees, legs and a dislocated finger.
The Training and testing week was a big success, sadly the temperature was a little bit too high. The cold tests will be in the Netherlands in a commercial freezer.

Material material…

Friday, January 25th, 2008

dsc_1971-web.jpgThe last days before we are going to Austria a lot of stuff is delivered.
-12 HQ Montane3 Kites from Vliegers&Co.
-11 Boxes of clothing, backpacks, gloves and sleeping bags from Bergans. (Directly from Norway)
-2 Boxes of Thermos bottles, Sea to Summit backs, solar panels and may more from Outdoordacht.

And this is only the first delivery.

arrival of Bergans gear

Handle with care?

Friday, January 18th, 2008

toughbookA big box was delivered to my office this morning. It said “Handle with care”. I was thinking about the delivery of a digital camera which I have ordered via the internet. So, eager to make some of my first shots with a new camera, I opened the box. It was rather heavy though. Inside the box was a delivery of Panasonic. It was the Toughbook! So why print “Handle with care” on the box. It should say “Throw it around”, “Do whatever you like”. Or even better: ”Try to break”
The Toughbook is an extremely good laptop for the environment we are going to. The type we will use is the CF-30 fully ruggedized laptop. We will use the laptop for updating our web side and sending video from the ice cap.
This is what Panasonic says about their Toughbook: ”The Toughbook CF-30 is seen quite rightly as the reference model for real outdoor notebooks. It is robust like no other notebook and is optimally prepared for the harshest conditions of use in all areas of your business. Shocks, drops, heat, cold, dust and damp present no risk to the Toughbook.” So why handle with care??

Fitting clothes

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

BergansOn the 16th of January we were fitting clothes of the brand Bergans in Leusden.
Bergans is our sponsor for clothing, backpacks and sleeping bags.
After fitting several down jackets, pants, soft shells, jackets and fleeces we had our correct sizes and type of clothing.
The result is a complex sheet of material with numbers, sizes, types and colour.
Those clothes will keep us warm and dry on Greenland.

Listen to the music

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

iriver-t60.jpgThe icecap can be extremely boring. White, endless horizon, silence, cold, boring… During most of the day we will just walk behind each other. In the slipstream of the track which is made by the first person. So time enough to think about the essentials in live. And… listen to music. We will all bring one mp3-player of iriver with 4 GB of storage. Enough for about 1000 songs. And when we are bored with our own music collection, we will just swap mp3-player with one other.
The good thing about the iriver mp3-player (T60) is that it works on one AAA battery. And last but not least is weights only 53 grams in total. Compare this to 1000 songs on cd…around 8 KG.

Power supply on the icecap

Friday, January 11th, 2008

Battery statisticOn the Greenland icecap we will be completely on our own. No civilization, no mobile phone network and no electricity outlet. So we have to rely on our own resources. We need power for all our electronic appliances which we will bring along. We will make use of photo cameras, video cameras, mp3-players, torches, GPS navigation, wind speed meters, satellite phone, BGAN satellite broadband internet, Toughbook laptop and a webcam.

We will use two sorts of energy. First of all batteries. We do not want to use rechargeable batteries. This is because the process of recharging all our batteries will take too long with solar power. Recharging batteries at -20 degrees take considerably longer than at home. So for all equipment which uses AA or AAA batteries, we rely on Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries.
Those batteries are 33% lighter than alkaline batteries and they will last up to 7 times longer. The good thing is also that Litium batteries work very good at cold temperatures. Untill -40 degrees C. So photo cameras, video cameras, mp3-players, torches, GPS navigation, wind speed meters will all use Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries.
We will take about 2 kg of Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries. This is lighter than taking rechargeables, a charger and two extra solar power panels.

For the satellite phone, BGAN satellite broadband internet, Toughbook laptop and webcam we will make use of their own accu. The internal accu will be recharged by solar power. This process of recharging will be done during the day. A solar power panel is mounted on the sledge. At the end of the day all communication equipment will be ready to use again.
In the tent we can then listen to some music and update our weblog or post a videocast on the net. It feels just like home.