Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Tuesday 31st December 2013

Today was cold and windy, blowing about thirty knots all day. I worked pretty hard all day trying to knock over a few things on my list. After ARPANSA, I went and did magnetic observations which went well. When I got back, I sent off the results and then edited my notes again and then grabbed my aerial analyser and a heap of bits and pieces and headed off up the hill to the transceiver hut to finish testing all the antennas.

 Out of seven antennas I found four of them to be faulty. Three of them are high up the tower. After this I went back to the workshop to write up some notes and then I went down to the transmitter building to install a TURF file in my radios firmware to correct the band edges for Region three. The file installed fine, but unfortunately it didn’t change anything, but I think I have to do a factory reset to activate the changes and I am worried if I do this I will lose all my configuration changes and have to change everything back again. I’ll leave this job for Ron. (Lateron) 

While there I sent this month’s log files to Jon my QSL manager and to Steve my LoTW manager. Thanks Jon and Steve, you are both saving me a LOT of work. Afterwards I went back to my room to start sorting out all the movies, documentaries and TV series on all my hard drives. Some of the guys are upstairs now setting up all the band equipment for tonight’s celebrations so I better go and offer a hand. The plan is to party until the sun goes down.

On another note, Jose the deiso was servicing one of the cranes and up underneath between the chassis he found a bird’s nest that had been there since the crane was delivered over two years ago. So much for bio security washing our boots and picking fluff out of our Velcro on our jackets.




Monday, 30 December 2013

Monday 30th December 2013

Today it was blowing a gale in normal Mawson fashion and it was a bit of a shock to the system. I spent a few hours with Richard cleaning up my laptop and trying to make it run faster. I had a sked with Kurt in Thai Land which was successful and I packed away a heap of gear into the compactus in the store room and also copied a lot of photos. 

I had full intentions of doing magnetic observations today but the weather put an end to that. I also moved one of the wifi units in the green store to give better coverage up stairs and did a load of washing. I think this weather is going to worsen for the next few days so I will need to find some indoor jobs to do.




Sunday 29th December 2013

I got up early to do the ARPANSA filter change as Richard has gone up the plateau for a couple of days. I had some of my own fried rice for lunch, read the news, did my washing and did some more copying of the media server then wrote up my blog notes. Today the nice weather we have been enjoying for the past three weeks is over and a strong katabatic wind is blowing and this should increase to fifty knots later tonight so I had better lower my 6m antenna and tie it down.

Last night I wandered down to the radio shack at midnight and spoke to people from all over the world, but mainly from Europe. I also had a nice chat with Michael in the far north of Green Land which would have to be the furthermost point on earth from me. During the day conditions were quite poor on the radio so I spent most of my time just messing about on the computer and around six I went and read my book in the spa for an hour and a half. After a late dinner I had an early night.


Mawson mid-winter photo 2013

Saturday 28th December 2013

Today I was woken up to be told I had to cook smoko. I knew nothing about it as we have never had an official smoko on weekends over winter. Anyway, Richard cooked smoko for me while I had a shower and got ready to start preparing tonight’s meal as I am the cook. I worked very hard all day preparing all the ingredients to cook up later. I was cooking for nineteen this time and I cooked seafood fried rice that was packed full of prawns, muscles, scallops, bacon and mushrooms. I also cooked tender soy chicken, Chinese stir-fry vegetables, salt n pepper squid and self sourcing chocolate pudding. I ran an hour over time but everyone said it was worth the wait and I received many compliments which made the hard work seem worthwhile.

Now here's a flash back, Jeremy filling Jeff's boots with cement.



Jeff later got the shits and smashed it all out and he is still wearing them today


Friday 27th December 2013

Today I packed up all my gear in the workshop and labeled everything ready to go and then I went down to the transmitter building and finished boxing up all my equipment not being used and carried it all back to the workshop including the PC I had been using throughout the year. I brought a lot of stuff down here that I haven't used as I didn't know what to expect when I got here so I had to cater for all possibilities.

In the afternoon I went up to the transceiver hut to check all of the antennas and I found the temporary air / ground antenna to be faulty, so I replaced this antenna with a new one from the green store. The batteries in my analyzer went flat and on my way back to the workshop we had a fire alarm due to the sprinklers going off in the main power house by mistake. By the time I got things ready to go back up to the  transceiver hut it was time to knock off, so I will have to get back to that job another day.

Tonight is the last night for Helen and Cecelia on station before they head out to Bechervaise Island so we celebrated with a pizza night and a quiz which was good fun. Latter we watched a really crappy movie in the evening which I cant even remember what it was called.


Deep snow drift on the way down to Warren


The Transmitter building

Thursday 26th December 2013

Today I didn't wake up till one o'clock and by the time I had a shower, read the news and had a bit of lunch most of the day had gone. It was another nice day so I went for a long walk around the station and started to think about home so I dropped into the transmitter building and anything that I was not using I started packing up, finding boxes and making labels. This kept me busy for what was left of the afternoon before heading back to the red shed for dinner.


The sea ice is really starting to deteriorate now and large pools are forming near the tide cracks


Wednesday 25th December 2013

It was another lovely day here at Mawson with no wind and a sunny blue sky. The day started with a special Christmas breakfast and ten o'clock and I enjoyed a hot ham and cheese croissant and some smoked salmon. After breakfast I had to go and do the ARPANSA filter change and then I went down to the shack and made a few calls for an hour or so. At one thirty everyone gathered down at the jetty for the summer swim which was a good laugh.

At three o'clock we had Christmas dinner in the mess and it was a pretty good spread, just a pity the prawns and crayfish were a year old. In traditional fashion we all stuffed ourselves and then laid around like fat pigs for the rest of the day drinking wine or beer. At six o'clock we had gift ceremony where we were all given cards and when your card was called you could pick a present or take one of someone else. It was all good fun and went on for ages until we had exhausted all the cards and we were left with one present each. 

I got a bottle of black Sambuca so that will be put to good use on new year's eve. I'm not too sure what happened next but I do remember waking up in the cinema next to Paul and Jeff.









Tuesday 24th December 2013

It was another nice day and I'm really enjoying these barmy +3c degree days and I haven't had to wear my jacket and gloves for weeks now, it's bloody great. 

This morning I threw two more Nelly bins full of gravel on the snow around the ANARESAT building to try and melt the snow and ice away. It really needs to be dug out with the excavator but at least this should speed up the melt process and might help prevent the new guys next year having to dig it out every time they need to enter the building. I'm also concerned the blue ice will eventually engulf the whole building if nothing is done about it. No one seems too excited about it, but at least I'm doing my bit.

This month’s Australian Antarctic Magazine - Issue 25: December 2013 featured a story about my achievements using moon bounce from Antarctica. You can view it online at :


Either down load the magazine or go to “Technology” and click on the link for “Moon bounce from Antarctica”. We knocked off early today and enjoyed a few beers out in the sun before dinner which was fish & chips. Later we watched a movie called “Bad Santa", and yes he was a VERY bad Santa.





Monday, 23 December 2013

Monday 23rd December 2013

Once again I woke up very early and couldn't get back to sleep so I got up and sorted out all my emails and then read the news. Yesterday’s high temperature had caused our main ARPANSA gamma ray detector to crash so I had to use the spare detector. This problem is now getting serious as we can’t keep the room cool enough to keep the equipment operating. It sounds crazy, but we might have to install an air conditioner in the building to keep things cool. In the meantime I have to find a way of cooling the equipment. 

Even though it is only about +2c outside, the intense sun heats up the outside of the building too hot to touch and the room can get up to +30c. I covered the front single glazed window with reflective bubble wrap insulation to keep the sun out and then I opened the rear service door to get ventilation throughout the whole building. I also opened the bleed air fully and blocked up the cable ducts to try and improve the air circulating in the building. 

During the filter change the door detector on the filter cabinet was playing up again so I pulled the whole unit apart to repair it. I got a call to say the paging unit was not working so I tested the UPS and found it was only holding up for less than ten minutes so I replaced all the battery’s and then brought the paging system back on line. I also checked the Wombat UPS and this one was working fine. Later I finished extending my portable tower and after work I went and wrote up my blog for the past few days and watched this weeks episode of Homeland. Yep, I'm sucked in too.


Mawson winter crew 2013

Sunday 22nd December 2013

I woke up early for a Sunday with a lot of things on my mind. I messed around for a while on my computer, then got up and had a shower and then did the ARPANSA filter change wearing only shorts, T-shirt and thongs. The +3c warm weather we have been experiencing has been playing havoc with our -180c coolers for the gamma ray detectors, so I had to leave the door open all day to try and cool the room down.

I had some breakfast and then did some more washing, vacuumed my room and corridor and then cleaned my bathroom. I did some more down loading from the media server and then went outside for a walk and gave the guys a hand making our Merry Christmas sign.

 Again I spent the whole afternoon finishing setting up my laptop to replace the computer I have been using all year in the transmitter building. There were some real tricky applications to get going and a lot of things to copy across but finally I think I’m finished and sometime this week when I’m confident with my laptop I will shut down that PC and return it to the red shed.

Slowly I am packing things up and getting ready for my departure. By the time I had finished it was too late to do anything and I was tired so I went back to the red shed and warmed up some scraps for dinner and then watched a nice movie called the Intouchables.

Merry Christmas from everyone at Mawson station 2013


Also, make sure you check out the time laps video on You Tube

Saturday 21st December 2013

Today I had a lovely sleep in. It was another beautiful day outside and I’m wondering how long this nice weather is going to last for? I did all my washing and then restocked Woolies, started to copy the media server, backed up all my photos and cleaned up my hard drives. Amazingly I found my long lost movies from the sail down that I nearly deleted as they were hidden in a folder in amongst some old copied photos. 

Later I had some breakfast and then did the ARPANSA filter change and then went for a walk. I dropped into the workshop and did some work on my portable mast for a couple of hours, then I worked on my laptop for about four hours trying to get com0com virtual com port emulator working and with the help of Jerry, I discovered I was using an unsigned copy and once I down loaded the correct version it worked perfectly. I then cleaned up the hard drive before wandering up to the red shed for dinner. After dinner I watched a real crappy movie.


Mawson fire team 2013. I'm the chief so I get to wear the red hat

Friday 20th December 2013

Another beautiful day with no wind and blue sky, After doing ARPANSA I put my power supply back together and packed it away for TRA and then I ordered replacement transistors for when I get back home. I also packed up all the project equipment and put it all into the RTA container. I then got all the equipment ready for fire training later this afternoon. 

At two o’clock we all did fire training and SAR training. This went for a couple of hours and then we had a BBQ out in the beautiful sun down at the tradies workshop afterwards. Late in the evening I watched a few documentaries and I woke up very late in the cinema all on my own.



Thursday, 19 December 2013

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Thursday 19th December 2013

Today was another fine day. Richard was away, so I spent a couple of hours printing the morning news papers, then I started backing up the media server and then went down to the workshop to label and box up all the media server spares, then it was off to do the ARPANSA filter change.

After this I modified two power supplies and repaired a portable radio, then I packed up all the project gear and then RTA’ed it back to Kingston and placed it into the comms container. In the afternoon I got all the equipment together for tomorrow’s fire training and set up and filled the fire drums. I decided to go for a walk out to east arm to make some measurements on one of the HF balun’s and on the way back I dropped into the transmitter building. 

I loaded some new software onto both my laptop and the radio computer and spent quite a bit of time configuring both the PC and laptop and documenting the configuration. After dinner I worked on my blog till late again.


The balun I wanted to measure the termination resistors was now in a lake

Wednesday 18th December 2013

Today I spent most of my time loading new software onto the geomag computer. Sounds easy but there were corrupt files and it took ages to sort it all out. When I thought I had it sussed I headed over to the absolute magnetic hut to do the weekly observations with the new software and it crashed about an hour into it, so I packed up and went back to the office. Back at the office I started cleaning up, removing crap off the notice boards going back to 2002 and cleaning out draws and filing cabinets. There is just so much shit down here that has accumulated over the past sixty years and now that everything is now stored on computers, most of the stuff in the filing cabinets is now just a fire hazard. I took a ute up to the red shed and picked up all the field equipment I packed up last night and took it all back to the field store.

Later I loaded some programs onto my laptop for the trip home and then tested my laptop with my radio and configured all the software and tested it on air making many adjustments. This time I am planning on taking my radio with me onto the ship as it is going to be a long three week crowded trip and so I’m going to setup my radio in the radio room and this will give me plenty of opportunity to kill time on the long trip back home. After dinner I spent many hours working on my blog.


I'm going to miss my all terrain vehicle with free fuel card

Tuesday 17th December 2013

This morning I cleared heaps of emails and then did the ARPANSA filter change. After this I got a heap of tools and materials together and then ran a new UTP cable and installed two new outlets in the ARPANSA laboratory ready for the new spectrometers we are going to install at resupply. Later I cleaned up the workshop then went for a walk to check out the oil spill cleanup activities. Now all the snow and ice is melting we can continue to clean up the fuel that leaked out ten months ago. 

Late afternoon I went down to the transmitter building and installed the new release of PowerSDR software and cleaned up the hard disk on the shack computer. This new version of PowerSDR deleted my entire configuration so I had to spend the next two hours reconfiguring the whole application. Today I bought a ten litre cask of wine off Luc to supplement my rations and along with the carton of Corona, bottle of Vodka and bottle of jagermeister I bought off Jeremy I should be OK till the ship arrives. 

Tonight I started packing redundant clothing and I also cleared out all the non required field equipment from my spare room to take back to the field store as I don’t want to be unorganized and flapping at the last minute to get ready to leave. After I down loaded and sorted out all my photos from the weekend.


This building is called "Wombat" and is the science building. I have no idea of its history? I'm guessing circa 1960's

Monday 16th December 2013

When we woke up the whole valley was full of clouds which is something I haven’t seen up in the Framnes before. It looked amazing but at the same time I was a bit concerned we might be caught out in a white out shortly. Fortunately the cloud followed us but never engulfed us leaving us with blue sky’s all day. We headed for the Central Masson’s for the day to check a few places I have driven past but not stopped to see. 

We went for a few very long walks and John and Darron climbed another high ridge while Steve and I enjoyed the area below. The sun was relentless and even though I was hot I had to cover up with a balaclava and goggles or be fried to a crisp with the radiating sun. Around five o’clock we decided to head for the long trip home. Coming down the plateau was an experience as the ice was melting making the surface very slippery and dangerous. 

We had to cross many melt streams and at each one we had to get out and probe the depth to ensure we didn’t get stuck. Eventually we got back to the station around nine o’clock exhausted, burnt and hungry. Needless to say I slept well that night.










Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Sunday 15th December 2013

Today after breakfast I went with Darron, John and Steve to the newly installed automatic weather station (Installed by the project people) about thirty kilometres south east of Mt Henderson way out in the middle of nowhere. Darron had to do a bit of work on it, and when we finally got there it was such a dodgy install, I’m amazed it had lasted this long. Lots of nuts and bolts were loose and it looked like a down town Bangkok power pole.













The Bangkok power pole


After we down loaded all the dated and fixed all the problems we headed off back to Mt Henderson hut for the night. John and Darron headed off for another one of their marathon hikes to several different summits while I went for a walk to a nearby wind scour. 











I climbed down hundreds of meters while above me John and Darron climbed up hundreds of meters to the summit above me. The wind scour was amazing and one of the best I have seen in the Framnes Moutains. On the climb out I stopped under the hundred plus meter ice wall and sat on an ice shelf and listened to the water dripping and a river running nearby. It was one of those serene moments in life. Back at the hut we cracked a few tinnies and told a few lies before having a bite to eat before bed. I spent most of the night shivering and trying to keep the sun out of my eyes.