It will take all of 1996 to plan and prepare for this Expedition. The initial tasks are to assemble the team, locate appropriate transportation, and identify major financial resources. Once these are in place, we will concentrate on preparing the technical aspects, including Internet operations, onsite computer network, testing and tuning equipment, acquiring the remaining resources, and arranging travel schedules.
We will assemble the team 28-29 September 1996 in the San Francisco Bay area for training and checkout. The purpose is to develop personal relationships, become familiar with the specialized equipment, test electronics and instruments, assemble and mark antennas, rehearse procedures, and generate publicity. Arrangments have been made through the Mountain Medicine Group and the Wilderness Medicine Society to provide the team with training on harsh weather operations and safety. The equipment will be packed in crates and shipped.
Participants will arrange their own transportation to the point of disembarkation, currently planned to be Reunion Island. Reunion is served by air daily from Paris. As members of a scientific team, we will have access to a special fare of approximately $800 US roundtrip.
The trip from Reunion to Heard Island will take 9 days, and will provide accommodations, gear stowage, time for preparations, and extraordinary sights. There will be a short stop at Crozet on the way down, and one at Kerguelen Island on the way back. As currently scheduled, the vessel will make a side trip to Amsterdam/St. Paul during the time we are on Heard Island.
The tentative schedule is as follows:
[Image from the IFRTP]
The Marion Dufresne was especially built to supply and service the French subAntarctic islands (Crozet, Amsterdam and Kerguelen). It is a no-compromise vessel that can sail and work under any weather conditions in polar seas. It has the most sophisticated safety features, including polar life crafts, helicopters, and complete electronics. It is used to transport mission personnel, tourist passengers, and all types of cargo including food and motor-fuel supplies. The ship was put into service on 23 June 1995, and has visited Heard Island, 200 miles from Kerguelen, several times.
Specifications of the Marion Dufresne are as follows:
The Marion Dufresne was built by Ateliers et Chantiers du Havre in France. It is owned by Compagnie Generale Maritime and chartered by TAAF (Terres Australes et Antarctiques Francaises) and IFRTP (Institut Francais pour la Recherche et la Technologie Polaires). It is certified by the 'Bureau Veritas' under the following mark: I 3/3 E *Special purpose ship - supply and oceanographic research vessel High Sea - ACA - AUT PORT - F - RMC V - ALM - ALS
Expedition personnel will assume personal responsibilities for camp management, service and maintenance, environment, and safety. Daily meetings will be held to discuss scientific results, operations, and plans.Team members will have opportunity to explore the island and carry out individual projects if desired.
The shelters are of the same type as used on the Peter I expedition (see the book 3YØPI Peter I 1994 DXpedition, by R. W. Schmieder). We will have two shelters 12x24 ft, one 12x12, and two 8x8 ft., plus a variety of additional smaller wood shelters from storage and operations. These shelters are made by Exploration Products.
We have assembled a large amount of equipment for the expedition. The radio amateur setup consists of five full legal power HF stations, one barefoot HF station, one HF beacon on the ship, a full power VHF/UHF autotracking satellite station and an Inmarsat satellite telephone.
The antennas include: ·
The radios include:
Linear amplifiers include:
Supporting equipment includes:
We will adopt many of the innovations from the 1995 Easter Island/Salas y Gómez expedition (XRØY/Z), and extend them. These include:
John Devoldere, ON4UN, designed two new monoband antennas for 80 and 160m. Each of these 17m high verticals has two toploading wires and two (only two) elevated radials. We aim to test these antennas against the more conventional and proven technology of the inverted-L designed Battlecreek Special.
A switchable automatic beacon will run 24h/day, switching over 20-17-15-12- 10m continuously, each time giving its full call, and a series of tones at 100W, 10W, 1W and 0.1W. This beacon will run from the ship, with an R7 vertical antenna. As the beacon will be started from the moment we land (i.e., before the radio operation starts), our pilot stations will be able to give us feedback on the existing radio propagation to all parts of the world, and compare the observed openings to the predictions. One other high powered beacon will run on 160m during the night and 10m during the day. This beacon will transmit its callsign in CW at short intervals. Using a beacon on these edge bands will reduce the time spent calling in vain on 10/160 when there is no propagation. The radio operators will be informed on higher/lower bands of openings by the amateur audience. ·
Though computer logging nor networking is not new to amateur stations, it is the first time such technology would be fully used in a DXpedition. Each stations would have the computer linked to the radio so it can read/change the band/mode information. These data, together with the log data, are transmitted over a RS232C line with level converters and RFI filters to the other computers. Thus each computer can see the activity (stations logged, frequency) of all other stations. As the radio stations will be spread in pairs of twoover a vast area, the communications network between them is important to exchange band/station information, and even allow limited conversations (Gabs) between the different operating sites. ·
The communication with the pilot stations spread over the world, the transmission of digital audio, images and video, the radio log data and mail to/from the pilot stations goes over 9600 baud packet radio links via Pacsat radio amateur satellites. The data are automatically uploaded during one pass, and downloaded in Belgium during the next, after which it is forwarded to Internet. ·
As backup for the Pacsat link, full function internet connections will be established via Inmarsat.
A vast number of radio amateurs have Internet e-mail addresses. 14,000 e- mail addresses are stored in a database which is used to send off a confirmation of a radio contact over e-mail.
We will make two DXpedition logs accessible both via Internet e-mail and via Packet Radio Mail. Sending a simple mail with a callsign in the body text, to specified addresses will return the details of all radio contacts for that callsign. The DXpedition radiologs databases will be updated every day, during the operation.
A WWW homage will be updated every day with information on the expedition and with digitized pictures from the expedition site.
We plan to make audio recordings of at least some of the on-air radio operations.
Amateur pilot stations in Japan, Europe, and USA will monitor our transmissions. They will give us daily feedback on our performance and we will update them with information from the island. This information will be distributed by the pilots over Internet, HF infonets and the vast PBBS mail system all over the world, which at the same time is also used to gather information on our performance from our audience. ·
We have DSP enabled radios and use external DSP filters to enhance received signals in Morse and digital modes.
Every day, the computer logs will be analyzed both on the expedition site and by the main pilot station to assess the performance of the radio operation, and to compare the acquired information on HF propagation vs the propagation predictions.
Elsewhere we have described the operations regarding collection of cryptobiological specimens. These may be modified if we become associated with another group.
We will have at least one GP physician and one EMT in the team. We are working with the MARCO group to develop a first-aid kit for expeditions, and will use it if it is available. We will have training on first aid, CPR, and harsh-weather survival. We will implement a set of procedures for preventing and dealing with emergencies.
In case of emergency or threat of emergency, the Expedition Leaders have the authority to terminate or modify any operation, participation in the expedition by any person, and to require procedures necessary for safety of persons and property. All participants must provide to the Expedition any information that may be necessary in the event of an emergency, such as medications, medical history, and preferred physicians.
We will remove every trace of our occupation when we break camp. The operations will be staged to prevent leaving anyone in a vulnerable position. We will complete documentation and logs during the return voyage.
All scientific records from the expedition, including specimens, photographs, logs, and other data, will be secured by the Expedition Leader. Personal photographs, video, sound recordings, and other personal records will remain in possession of the participant who creates them. Specimens and other data that may be desired or required by Australian institutions will be transferred to appropriate custody by the Expedition Leader(s). All laws and regulations regarding international transport of plants, animals, or other sensitive objects, will be respected.
We will be developing alternative plans for a major event that prevents operations from Heard Island. It is likely that we will have authorization to operate radio on the other islands (Crozet, Kerguelen) that we will visit.