In the last iteration of this blog series, we talked about what equipment we utilize to bring Internet up to our cabin on Vassfjellet. This time we’ll talk about some of the equipment that requires said Internet connection, and why we have chosen to place it up on a location that’s practically left inaccessible half of the year.

Picture before moving the 5.8Ghz-antenna earlier this year.

The two most recent parts of the setup are a couple of webcams serving us environmental pictures for observing the mast, plus giving us a brief overview of the general weather conditions before travelling up there. Even though their field of view suggest them being installed rather hastily, we haven’t had any major problems with them up to this point. We have a server collecting pictures from the cameras throughout the day, accessible here.

The other rather scary looking camera is seen on top of the mast, with the 5.8Ghz-antenna right below.
Our second camera – the rather crude mounting still seems to be holding up.

Two other installations we maintain are a couple receivers; one for ADS-B and a AIS-station. The latter had its antenna crushed last year, and has been temporarily installed with a small VHF antenna for the time being with rather poor results. The former unfortunately has suffered a similar fate this winter, as the antenna was blown or torn off. Luckily we now have cameras to confirm the rough environment our equipment is exposed to each winter. Yikes.

A little crooked, but still there…
…aaaand it’s gone.

Another point in the installation is that Ethernet and high-power VHF and UHF transmitters don’t necessarily coexist together that well, especially when the antennas are positioned inside, along the wiring. We’ve encountered a number of dropouts on several points in the setup, some where all of our equipment has been left disconnected for longer periods of time.

Unstable connections to the camera are usually presented like this.

We tend to experience this phenomenon on longer Ethernet-cables, one of which has been the uplink for our second switch. Through the management interface we have been able to locate the flaky connection, and although it doesn’t confirm our theory of RF-interference, it certainly is helpful in in troubleshooting the setup over the Internet. Luckily the radio-link down to Samfundet still has remained working, which means we could eliminate any theories of power loss or other more serious fates to our equipment.

Pictured is the switch serving one of our cameras and the two receivers.
Although not the prettiest setup it still remains working.

Since the first post we’ve had some time to monitor the stability of the setup, and while not as stable as hoped, we have still been able to reach our equipment most of the time. There has been a recent visit to help solve the aforementioned issues, and by removing a troublesome switch we hope to have a lasting connection to our equipment throughout the winter.

Planning a trip to Vassfjellet in December is a tough call –
but some are crazy enough to do it for saving the sacred uptime

During our last visit in October we also installed a Linux-host and a relay-box, assisting us in turning on and off the beacons if needed. We connected it to our IRC-channel, and are notified there every time the network is down at Vassfjellet. We have only tested this briefly, and will be talking more about it in another post.

The tiny Linux-host, doing its thing.

The plan for next year is to remove most of the longer cables and replace the remaining ones with fibre-cables to remedy any potential for noise pickup. We also plan on adding more monitoring for our beacons, and are considering more equipment for gathering data about the weather conditions. More to follow!

A recent video explaining why being a antenna at VFJ is a strenuous task.