South Pole Diaries 1997/98




Wednesday 3rd December - The end

From John Storey......

Today was as excellent as yesterday was dreadful. Not only was it beautifully sunny, but I didn't blow anything up and we even fixed a few things. We turned everything on in the morning and, apart from the usual computer crashes, it is still working this evening as I type. The smell of charred circuit board and cremated high-side switch has abated to the point where none of the DVs felt moved to comment on it when they visited later in the afternoon.

Michael is making rapid progress on the software and has fixed the infamous "start nism" command.

At considerable effort the 386 computer was moved to a horizontal position again and all the cables re-arranged for the third time. Michael thought that being vertical might be the cause of the grinding noises from the disk. It wasn't. However, it's more convenient to kick it in its new location, and a swift boot to the side of the case seems to shut it up.

Meanwhile, major progress has been happening with Abu. The instrument is now hooked up to the cryocooler - via temporary helium lines in the lab. It's cooling down well and no problems are anticipated.

Fred has removed the SPIREX secondary mirror, and is working on replacing it with the new lightweight honeycomb mirror.

Dave Pernic has turned up, and been chained to the milling machine.

The comms. people (they of the faulty ethernet cable) spent most of the afternoon trying to figure out why the two Abu Sun workstations refused to print on "Thing", the SPIREX laser printer. I tried not to disturb them too much as I wandered past from time to time to collect output from poodle. Rodney has acquired all the necessary skills to run SPIREX, and has been educated in the art of AASTO maintainence. I haven't said much about Rodney so far, but increasingly he will become the key person on both the Abu and AASTO projects as all the rest of us go home and Rodney stays the winter here to keep things alive.

Ant has fired up the heaters for Abu, plus the PID controllers that will stabilise their temperature to something close to a balmy Tucson day. A couple of minor problems have surfaced, but nothing that won't be solved by reading the manual. Andre had taped the manual to the inside of the controller box in the hope that the controllers would read it and save us the trouble. Alas, they didn't.

The Dallas temperature sensors continue to be more trouble than they're worth, but they're sort of fun to have around when nothing else is working. There's still a couple of infelicities:

The dallas "Mism optics box" is wrongly labelled. It should be "Nism housing (above heat pipe)" or something.

The dallases in the Mism optics box, when connected, cause the super to say:

buscbuscbuscbuscbuscbuscbuscbuscbuscbuscbuscbuscbuscbuscbuscbuscbuscbuscbuscbusc 0

which is a nice change from "preprespres..." but equally unenlightening. Chances are we accidentally did them a mischief when we were repairing the fallen-off mirror. As an interim measure they have been removed from the circuit.

The dallas labelled "Nism box battery" is actually "top of battery chargers", as the wire is too short to reach the batteries now. It's actually measuring the temperaure of the super keyboard, which should be fascinating.

Michael: the PC104 super is fired up (from the floppy disk) with IP number The DCU is connected to port 1. Enjoy! I'd be interested to know what's with the Egyptian hieroglyphics, and why the "numeric" commands don't work. I put it on the PC104 super so it wouldn't interact with the instruments, and so you can work on it independently. Note that the PC104 has a functioning 800 MB hard drive, but is not currently booting from it (for no good reason).

Here's a short list of things to bring down in January, just in case we forget:

A decent cro - something like the 2440 would be ace Six Powersonic batteries Proper documentation (yes, seriously!) New power supply cards without big holes blown in them Two power switches for back panels of nism and mism DB25/9 standoff posts for decent rs232 connection MAX 471 current-sense ICs A couple of A/D cards Two formatted Jaz discs (did I mention this one?) A bunch of replacement high side switches, or cockroaches (depending on which works better) This will be the last missive from me, as I'm flying out to McMurdo at midnight. There's nothing funny to write about in McMurdo anyway except the looks on people's faces when confronted with the canteen food.

Ant will stay on for another ten days or so, by which time Abu should be on the telescope and taking data.

The patient reader who has got this far might have surmised that the trip so far has been pretty successful, and by and large immensely good fun. Helping to make it so have been Ant Schinckel, Fred Mrozek, Bob Pernic, Joe Rottman, Al Fowler, Nigel Sharpe, Mark Thoma, Mike Masterman and Rodney Marks, plus the whole crew at the South Pole station (especially the cooks). Special thanks, too, to the guys at home: the Michaels, Andre, Max and Mick, for keeping us on the straight and narrow.

******** THE END ********




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