Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dress rehearsal

Today we put the entire setup together, got it on the mule, and did a 2.5 hour ride taking measurements.  It was successful, although the data was somewhat different than expected. In this post, I will describe the setup. In a subsequent post, I will have a discussion about our initial data and also some modifications we have made in response to today's work.

First things first. Here is a picture of William with the fully loaded mule.  I had a moment of surprise when I saw it thinking that it looked awfully like the schematic I had drawn back at Stanford.

The instrument is packed vertically (nose down) into a hard-shelled aluminum saddle pack. We have foam packing on all sides of the instrument, in addition to the rubber shock absorbers between the instrument itself and it's metal confining frame.  The back end is sticking out which ensures that no cables or tubing are being stressed and that the computer can have proper ventilation.  We have an easy-to-deploy tarp tucked into one side and can simply pull it over the instrument if it looks like any kind of precipitation is imminent. We also may use it just to guard against dust as well.

The tube runs along the back of the mule, held in mostly by leather straps on the tack (saddle and bag rig) and is strapped in one place on the bottom of the leg.  This configuration withstood several miles of walking through varied terrain, including heavy bush (see below).  In addition, the mule was not bothered by the tubing.

We covered varied terrain, which included bushes, sandy dry river beds, and fairly steep slopes.  The instrument logged data throughout the entire run until the battery ran out of juice unexpectedly early.  More on that in a subsequent post.

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