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  • WINISK TO THE BAY: TECHNOLOGY


     We learned a lot about getting pictures to Canoe from our 1997 trip on the George River. We even managed to photograph that whole trip on one digital camera battery after we'd forgetten the charger by accident!
     
     We have brought an evolutionary approach to this trip's technology - small changes and updates which should improve things. We are using an updated version of the Mitsubishi satphone we had last time. That model (ST-151)weighed in at 25 pounds - 46 in its waterproof case! This time, thanks to the people at INFOSAT Telecommunications, we have the OmniQuest (ST-251) from Mitsubishi - at a mere six pounds! The great thing about this phone which looks like a small laptop is that it is so reliable and easy to use. We also have twice the transmission speed of last trip - 4800 baud - not exactly blazing but enough to do the job.
     
     The pictures are taken by Toronto Sun photographer Michael Peake on a Nikon E3 digital still camera. The great advantage of this camera is that it uses all NIKON lenses and at their regular focal lengths. Many high-end digital cameras have a lens multiplication factor of up to 1.6 times. The pictures of up to four different file sizes are stored on a small data card that is put into an APPLE G3 Powerbook computer. The pictures are then sized for transmission (JPEG) and sent with the stories through the satellite phone.
     
      Like you, we have an ISP, in this case iSTAR whom we use to log on and off with. Our phone is only 4800 baud so between that and the precious battery time there's no Internet browsing for us. We are sending the picture and story files directly to the FTP server using a specific information transfer program called Fetch. The folks at Canoe simply open the files in the HACC folder and process them for the pages you see here.
     
     The data which relays to the offices at CANOE through the MSAT satellite, 36,000 km (yes, kilometres!) up in space and to satellite dish in Ottawa. They then patch it through to the normal phone lines and you end up seeing it here. The expedition has a solar charging system designed by ENVIRONERGIE of Quebec with 50% more capacity than last trip. The solar panels will lay on top of the canoes as we paddle, and charge a gell cell battery (see below) which in turn powers the satphone, laptops and digital camera. We found one of our biggest battery drains were the two CBC radio interviews we gave. We're ready this year with more power and will talk to CBC Radio's This Morning program once each week.
     
      That's how it is supposed to work. And you'll find out every day if it really does!
     
      WHY A GELL CELL BATTERY?
     1- No acid spilling, if the battery case is broken
     2- Deep cycle battery, it can support a higher discharge than car battery
     3- It doesn't have to be up-side up to work like a car battery
     4- Gell cell battery will be less affected by low temperature than a lead acid car battery.
     5- You will get more than twice the usable power fron a gell cell battery as compared to a car battery, and the two batteries will weigh about the same
      6- The sealed gell cell can be taken on a plane, something you cannot do with lead acid car batteries
     
     -- From Clement Bergeron, ENVIRONERGIE
     
     




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