Sponsored by Lotus Development Corporation and Hosted by Connectria

Arctic Blast 2001

Education Curriculum & Lesson Plans

Online Classroom Dogsled Expedition


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The team does not carry a radio. Instead, they carry a very complicated and quite incredible communication 3080A system working even from the remote Arctic region.  The communication is so important to the team that they consider the 3080A system their third team member and have nicknamed it "Mette".  Mette is actually a brand new system developed by the Danish company Thrane & Thrane. It is very durable, can withstand this kind of traveling, and is extremely reliable AND works at a very fast speed (up to 64K).

At the Expedition headquarters in Grand Marais, Minnesota, the report is downloaded, read, and published to the website allowing classrooms around the world to read and follow the team’s progress. Most difficult is keeping the IBM ThinkPad computer and batteries warm. The computer has its own "sleeping bag" similar to the other team members! -- The computer itself is put in a large 2 gallon zip lock bag to protect it from condensation. Every morning Paul heats a hot water bottle and slips it inside the bag to keep the computer from freezing. The whole unit then travels in a specially built, 'bomb proof' case on the sled.

The ability to send information in this manner, not only in text and still photos, but also sound and video is one of the primary reasons for undertaking this kind of expeditions. It is one of the team's greatest accomplishments.

Communication Technology at a Glance

1. Thrane and Thrane M4 Communicator
Inmast satellite system which allows the team to send and receive emails, digital pictures, and also make phone calls.  It works by transmitting through an antenna to a satellite orbiting near the equator.  First, they set up the antenna to locate the satellite AROW. It then locks on to the strongest signal - indicated by a display on the phone.  The system connects to our IBM ThinkPad and can even surf the internet at a rate of 64K.

2. Toko Vast DU Sending and Receiving Units
A Panasonic ToughBook lap top computer has proprietary software that encodes digital video, compresses it, and then transmits the images via the M4 system.  The signal is downloaded by the receiving unit which is sitting in St. Louis at Connectria.  The file is decoded and ends up as a Mpeg 1 or Meg2 video.

3. IBM ThinkPad T20
The ThinkPads are hooked up to the M4 and allow the team to email text and send digital still pictures.

4. Lotus QuickPlace and Lotus Sametime
During the expedition, students will be engaged in Lotus Sametime Moderated Chats, designed by Lotus Professional Services, allowing them to have real-time dialogue with the explorers regarding their Arctic experiences. Additionally, 'study circles' using Lotus QuickPlace will create an interactive collaborative environment for students and teachers to communicate and exchange ideas on "hands-on" multi-disciplinary projects.

5. Olympus 490 Digital Camera
We use this camera to take still photos.  It stores the images in smart media cards and can then be transferred to the IBM ThinkPad.

6. Canon GL1 Video Camera
Captures digital video images which can then be sent via the Toko Vast system.

7. 40 watt Solar Panel
Used to charged Gell Cell batteries.

8. Honda E1000 Generator
The generator is used to power all electrical devices.

9. DC to DC Connectors
These are needed to run electrical equipment from Gell Cell batteries.

 

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