Saturday, 17 May 2003


A time of great turmoil.

Staying in Dunsborough introduced us to the ocean and salt. 53 days of rain didn't help and humidity was a really big problem.

Setup was simple, we had a parking bay next to the house and power from the shed next to that. Pointing the dish was becoming simpler and I don't actually recall having to pull out any hair to make the magic happen.

During our stay in Dunsborough it rained a lot. So much so that the tarpaulin invention made in Yangebup was put properly to the test. I got up out of bed several times during the night when another severe down pour came along, one night even getting out in my pyjamas to cover over the electronics, just in case the tarpaulin ripped or came loose. There was never any problem. We'd exchanged the tarpaulin on our pass through Perth, but I was still quite fearful of having the new one rip to shreds and bring our adventure to a premature end.

During our stay, Optus brought the C1 satellite on-line. This affected us in several ways.

Our original satellite was Optus B3. It has been in orbit for a while and I think it was running out of capacity, because it hosted my service, and a whole bunch of others including Foxtel, Austar, Aurora and countless international broadcasters as well.

With the arrival of C1, the signal would be boosted and everyone would get a better deal. Except that of course the B3 VSAT users got to stay with B3. So, they had a process of moving the satellite and having the signal be available on both during the transition phase.

In addition to this, Optus also phased out the 360 modem for a 360E, a firmware upgrade. However Optus did not do any upgrades, they thought it was simpler to swap-out the modems. Except mine was bolted to the dish in a red-box.

I asked my father to ship the plastic enclosure to me, because I didn't want to change the serial numbers and upset the apple-cart, and took receipt of my new shiny 360E. I powered off, swapped out the boards, and powered it all back up. It didn't work.

I swapped them back. It still didn't work. You should probably know that during the board swap, the red boxes with the electronics were still bolted to the dish. The dish was covered in a large tarpaulin and it was pouring down with rain. So much so that there was 5cm of water underneath the dish - seems the driveway wasn't quite flat and we had the low end. So here I was, sitting in the pouring rain, under a tarpaulin, with my feet in 5cm of water, swapping out electronic equipment that was both expensive and fragile.

I spent several days troubleshooting the issue, including connecting the modem directly to the workstation and finally discovered that there was a loose Ethernet cable in the wireless box that was causing grief. After fixing that, it all worked as advertised.

I spent several anxious hours on the phone attempting to find out what would happen when I got to Crossing Falls, because the final transition, when B3 occupied a new location, would be completed in the time it took us to drive to Crossing Falls (some 3000km north of where we were). I was assured that it all would work fine.

On our way through Perth we unloaded the remote aerial masts and the loading crane calling them both a bad joke. I had grandiose plans to create a better crane, but manpower is to date by far the simplest.

Wednesday, 7 May 2003


Setup was in the grounds of the Chapman Valley Primary School. Many hands make light work and the local Macintosh User Group, GMUG, had several of its members out, including the principal and part of his family.

Initial challenges were the trees in the school-yard next door and I made an error with the initial point, so we spent a little while moving the frame around and getting the angles right. We again used the remote wireless antenna mount, but only to cross the school play ground and point at the library.

This setup was used to teach the kids about building their own web-site, though admittedly, not a lot of actual surfing was done, because we had our hands full building a site and I couldn't figure out how to get my machine to act as a gateway on their local wireless network.

The biggest challenge in that was that the modem only gives out an IP address using DHCP, so I needed to find a way to get my machine associated with that address, while not intercepting the IP addresses of any of the other wireless networks. In the end, it was simpler to plug/unplug the cable from the switch and I gave up the experiment as a bad joke, though I suspect that my current set-up would be able to deal with it if the time came.