Monday, September 24, 2007

More Zen -Big Blows - First Post Winter Trip - Doc's Birthday - Leg Update - Neil's Birthday

In my last entry, I had been testing some zen stoves. These are tiny alcohol (meths) stoves that you can make out of coke cans. To make them smaller you can use tonic cans. One of the ones that I made earlier was a mini top vent one. The disadvantage of this, compared to the side vent also show in the last entry is that you have to have a pot stand. I have now made one using a tin that held kodak film chemicals. I cut holes to allow flames and air in and it works very very well.

The mini top vent with pot stand.

We tested it properly and it required about 20 ml of alcohol to bring 0.5 litres of water to the boil (boiled for 60 seconds) in about 8 mins. I think it is actually a bit faster than the side vent but you do have to carry the extra 30 grams of pot stand. The extra advantage of this is that the stove fits in the pot stand and is protected when travelling. I expect this one to last a lot longer that the purely aluminium ones.

We have got more and more light and with this returning light we have had more and more blows. We sort of define a blow when the wind reached about 20 knots (we measure this about 10m above the surface), at this point working outside becomes nearly impossible. You can easily walk between buildings but actually working outside is not nice. At 30 knots you start to lose sight of the other buildings and for someone on crutches its not great. Above 40 knots its best not to linger too long outside. One thing that has happened is that this year's weather haven nearly blew away. The wind was above 40 knots and somehow it worked open a bit of the tent. The weather haven is a very very large tent that is used to store the blimp. The blimp is filled with helium and the Simpson people use it to measure low level ozone by attaching special instruments to the bottom. Anyway the wind was so high the weather haven nearly blew away. The blimp inside was damaged so much that after we had fixed everything we were able to crawl into it through the gapping holes in the side.

So we decided to have a wake for the blimp inside the blimp.

It was a good celebration and very kind words were said about the blimp because it has been one of the most successful blimp seasons ever. This is all down to the good work of the Simpson met babes.

With the returning light, it has also been time for the first post winter winter trips to go out. Luckily for them the wind died just before they were due to leave. They got out and spent a 8 days sleeping in tents with mixed weather.

Tom warms up all the skidoos by sitting on them.

As usual we have been trying to have as many parties as we can. This time it was Richard the doctors party and he decided that he would have London Underground party.

As you can see we made our usual effort. I am sure that you can guess the stations.

Finally after weeks and weeks (well only 6 and a bit) I have my plaster removed. This was a bit of a traumatic experience. One of the problems with plaster of paris in the antarctic is that due to the cold it takes a long time to harden fully consequently people find it easy to damage. Richard decided that he would try to reinforce it and added more and more plaster over the weeks. His last reinforcement was when he added the rocker.

The cast just before being removed. As you can see I have worn one edge of the rocker. All the white stuff is extra thick plaster.

Richard fairly whipped through the unreinforced pink plaster in about 20 seconds then came the pain of trying to get though what felt like 50 layers of plaster. Richard is using some plaster shears.

In fact I had to help him. I think he got a bit tired. What you can see me using is a set of pryers, we made a cut with the shears then pryed the cut open with this things.

Richard strains to break through the last bit.

Success! After 20 mins of hacking we got rid of the smelly pile of plaster.

The leg after a quick shower. There wasn't too much smelly skin and my leg wasn't too shrunken.

We took some more x-rays and I saw how they are developed. Its exactly the same process (and chemicals) as black and white printing but with a large film like x-ray.

Looking at this x-ray we can see where the crack was but it doesn't seem to bad. In fact it looks like it might have filled in a bit. From the other angle its not so good.

From this angle you can see the crack is still very visible. This is not good and indicates that I still have a bit of a way to got before I don't have to worry about it. If I better healing I should have a larger callus, a bone growth around the break.

Comparing these with my original x-rays, you can see that I have much more movement of the ankle which is great. Richard had a good feel of the bone and clinically it is all good, there is little pain and this apparently is more important, but because the x-rays don't show ideal bone growth its better to take it safe. I will still be hobbling around on crutchs and I can't get off base. I am however doing physio and already my ankle is becoming quite flexible.

For some reason September is the month for birthdays, maybe its to do with the cold northern hemisphere winters and next on the list was Neil's toga or greek God party.

Zeus plays pool with Spartan Ant.

A roman centurian trys to attach Hermes who had a bad landing and hurt his leg, hense the crutches.

The birthday boy himself showing off his body as usual. He is of course Atlas.

Kirsty as Artemis, Godess of Hunting.

The next day I had my first wander around outside without my cast and enjoyed the new sensations on my leg.

Chris made me very jealous by kiting all around.

My leg situation is due to be reassessed in 2 weeks and soon I hope to be kiting.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Precious Bay - Zen Stove Testing - Leg Update 2

Sorry again for not writing anything for a while, I've been a tiny bit busy with organising and sending out Tom and Neil to put up a remote instrument site about 20km away on the Precious Bay coast. This is west of Halley and is interesting because there is a polyna (weak bit of ice caused by currents) which opens up regularly. In spring there are low level ozone depletion events caused by chemicals produced when forming new sea ice reacting with sunlight and the ozone. The instrument put down there was an ozone detector and a spectrometer. The ozone levels are measured and the spectrometer works out what chemicals are in the air. Of course you need a power source for this and that is what I was supposed to be putting in. Then I broke my leg.

Since I broke my leg I have had to do a load of modifications. Make sure everything is going to work, then write a method of how everything goes together so that Tom can put it all together.

Photo courtesy of Tom.
The site at precious bay. The caboose and in front he wind turbines. The box on the right has a solar panel facing north and the tent at the far right is the loo tent. Neil's instrument will sit on the stand on the left. As you can see Tom has done a great job and everything went together as planned.

Another thing I haven't been able to do since I have broken my leg is make much. Moving heavy stuff and standing for much more that 15 mins has been difficult. I have however been experimenting with zen stoves. These are little alcohol stoves that are made as lightweight as possible. The classic one is made from coke cans. There is great website called zen stoves with instuctions how to make these. They are pretty amazing. I have also been testing them to see how fast they boil water.
Photo courtesy of Kirsty.
This is the mini-zen which is a hybrid side vent burner. It has holes in the side and I made mine out of schwepps tonic water cans. Holes drilled in the side and a double wall mean that as the alcohol (meths in this case) heats up it pressurises and comes out the side. It weights 8 grams and the pot just sits on top of it. It boils a cup of water in 3 mins from lighting which is fantastic.

Pete the WBC and me watch as the coke can top burner burns. Sune the GA is behind me. Photo courtesy of Kirsty.

Another shot of the coke can top burner (24 grams). In the foreground you can see the tonic can top burner (8 grams) and mini zen side vent burner (8 grams).
I can now hobble around and put weight on my leg. I need to do this now since it will trigger the bone to get stronger. Of course I need to be careful so that I don't rebreak the bone. I have to be very careful, even so I can now put all my weight on the broken leg.

Me showing off my cast with the rocker on the bottom. I also have had a hair cut and apparently look 6 months younger, yay! Photo courtesy of Kirsty.

The rocker.
The rocker is essentially a roll of plaster that is then plastered onto bottom of the cast. The cast is then stengthened. This was done by the Doc last weekend. I can now walk with only one crutch and have been hobbling to the Piggott on my own twice a day with no help. Thats about 2km on crutches a day which makes my wrists hurt. Oh well no pain no gain.
I should be out of plaster in a week and a half.