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12 December, 2000

Today was a relatively stressful, well at least the morning was. When I got to SPARCLE central at about 7:30 AM to check e-mail and maybe take a look at my TEA web site to see what images I have sent. I found the buildings were without power. They were cold and dark. The main SPARCLE Building, where my office is located, was down to 5 degrees C, or about 45 F. It is a good thing that it wasn't windy or it would have been really cold. The first thing that I did was to check the circuit breakers and when I found that they were ok I called Comms to let them know that we were powerless. Comms was pretty calm about the whole thing and said that they would send an electrician as soon as they could. About then Von came in and said that he had heard that the power had gone off at ARO and that we were slaved to one of their panels. He called Comms and found out that the power had gone off twice during the night and somehow "they" forgot to notify him and to turn SPARCLE back on. Von promptly checked the SPT which Penny had shut down when the power first failed at midnight, and then had me run out to the FPH's and make sure that they were turned off and that the polycorders were recovered. We then went through a systematic shut-down of all our electrical devices from battery chargers to computers. After we got everything shut down the electricians showed up and said that the problem was at ARO. So that is where we spent the next several hours watching the electricians determined that the problem was slightly bigger than a blown fuse, possibly a transformer was blown. By about 10 AM we were up an running again but by then the satellite was down and so was the Internet.

Since I explained what the HYVIS does I thought that it might be a good idea to let you see what it looks like. The box has two camera, a fan to pull crystals from the clouds and a light source. The crystals form on 35 mm leader film and are imaged by the high and low resolution cameras. After a fixed time period the leader film advances to allow new crystals to be observed. We are actually going to be flying these boxes below the Blimp.

As the day progressed I was kept fairly busy finding the parts and putting together the antenna system for the HYVIS. This entailed scrounging a three foot chunk of 2 x 4 and a few wood screws to put the mounting bracket on the roof of our humble hut. Or as Penny calls it our magnificent mansion! The 1680 Mhz antenna will be used to download video and the 403 Mhz antenna will receive "Radiosonde" data, which is actually air pressure data to help tell the elevation of the HYVIS package. The silver and black boxes in the image are amplifiers for the signal before they go to the receivers. The HYVIS data is saved on video tape and the Radiosonde data is saved on an old 90 Mhz Gateway. The neat thing about the HYVIS is that it actually takes high and normal resolution images of ice crystals from the few clouds that flow over the Pole.

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