2023 next generation ice trackers installed

first we installed a new base station closer to the breidamerkurjokull glacier – which had retreated a lot! The new base uses GPRS to send rover data directly to our server.

then installed rover19 at 100m altitude on the glacier

carrying the Fjalls rover20 up to the glacier

new rover20 on Fjalls

We did our first tracker placement using the large UAV (Matrice 300) about 1km away on Breida at an altitude of 130m. We used a camera+release mechanism which gave us a down-looking feed to place it precicely in a safe area (which we can walk to). This tracker 21 has a smaller GPS and radio antenna and a light-weight “quadpod”.

Range testing xbee SX868

Two xbee SX868 modules – with mostly line of sight and a nice 3G antenna at the other end – I obtained a safe 1km range – going up to this 1.5km if a few errors can be tollerated (showing -94 dBm). Over wet an slightly frozen ground I got -95dBm at 1km. I did get a few packets at 2km but it was showing -96 to -100dBm (very weak). This gives us confidence to install GPS units up to 1km away from their base station in Iceland. 1km

Fjallsjokull timelapse camera 2022

We installed a Browning HP4 camera on the Fjalls base station pole to test it as a way of getting a long sequence of timelapse images. It has their solar panel fitted (small one half way up) – and is filled with lithium AA batteries.

The camera will take a couple of photos after sunrise and before sunset – it is very restrictive on timelapse unlike the Brinno cameras.

older camera left in summer 2021 looking at the Fjalls lake from near the footpath

Fjallsarlon time-lapse camera

To see if a time-lapse camera would be useful in measuing rough lake depth changes we installed a Brinno again in 2022. It is set to take one photo every day at noon.

2022 Brinno TCC200 camera looking out across the lake (including measured rocks).

Swarm pico-sat coms tests

We have been doing more tests on the Swarm pico-sat coms with a view to using their system in Iceland.

This graph shows the temperature measurements during 6 days – showing the solar panel charging. On average the modem used 52mA but the battery was providing more like 120mA due to the LEDs and feather board.

Swarm Sat-coms test over a week showing currents
The pass predictor showing the optimum periods for communcation

Range testing new systems

In our mountainsensing project we showed that fully standard communications could cover large areas. For that project we had to add an 868MHz transceiver to our designs. This year we are doing a lot of development with the Atmel SAMR30 based system-on-chip as it includes a sub-GHz radio and has good support in the RIOT-OS. One important thing to test was the typical range to make sure it was similar to our roughly 1km with the previous CC1120. Here is a photo of a quick test in the New Forest which achieved 1km with this set of antennas:

image of test node on trig-point

2019 expedition photos

Prof Jane Hart at Fjallsjökull
Prof. Kirk Martinez
the view over the glacier – near the centre you can see the gps rover
crop from the above photo showing the rover to be in good condition after its winter on the glacier. The normal route we took to get there was cut off so we didn’t visit it at this point.
We carried out an image survey of the area with our quadcopter to produce a 3D model. You can see our dGPS base station in the top right. The Mapir 3 camera uses its own GPS to tag photos – hence the taped on cable and antenna.
Frey controlling the imaging flights with the Tower App – we were lucky to have good weather for our copter-imaging
it takes careful planning of flight areas and a lot of battery changing (we used nine in total)
Fjallsárlón was impressive as usual with ice washed up from ice-falls
Updating a rover on Breida’ – the rovers were physically in good condition after a year on the ice
updating the base station at Breida’ – there are always firmware updates and new ideas to try. It survived the winter very well!
We used an Arctic Land Cruiser in 2019 which made driving close to the glaciers much easier

we moved rover1 higher up and across the glacier – it was very far down the ice after a couple of years.

luckily the equipment is quite light!
our second timelapse camera managed to capture the onset of winter.