Friday, 1 April 2005

Graham's Creek

This is getting to be pretty straight forward, soon I'll be wanting to buy a smaller dish so I won't have to lug so much weight from the back of the van, but you get that.

VoIP isn't quite there yet. I've been playing with making the call settle, but at the moment it still takes around 30 seconds before both sides can hear each other and that simply just won't do. I've also been playing a little with Bluetooth and getting my Nokia 6310i to become part of my VoIP network. I can make my VoIP system detect an incoming GSM call and I can make a one-way outgoing call, eg. they can hear me, but I cannot yet hear them.

I invested in a high-gain GSM/CDMA dual band antenna because while VoIP isn't yet working we're currently on the fringes of Optus' GSM coverage. I briefly played with putting my phone in the van and talking to it over Bluetooth, but the hands-free kit doesn't like that and the phone gets completely confused.

And then the storm hit...

There was a little cold cell around Brisbane which caused hailstones to pile up to a meter high in some places. This being the (sub-)tropics and all, this was a regular occurrence - not. Two hours north of Brisbane, were we are, the hail also visited, but a larger problem was rain, lots and lots of rain in a very short time. It filled the dam, it filled the paddocks, the driveway and the electronics box. Fortunately the 240V side stayed dry, but the sensitive side, the electronics were not so lucky. It appears as if the hail damaged the water proofing, which then opened the way to allow water to drip in from the top and drip past the circuit boards to pool in the bottom. The next morning I turned on the equipment only to have the modem not respond.

Open up the box, lots of water.

After tipping out the water and drying the electronics for a few hours and warming the whole lot in the sun, I dared to switch it on. All was just fine and dandy. I hooked it all back up and proceeded to go back to work. I started composing an email to Gilat about their hardware and how it continued to amaze me that it keeps working regardless of how it gets treated, saltwater air, heat and now rain, only to find that the modem would go away for a little while every now and then. This happens on occasion when satellite operations does some work, but because of the water I figured I'd better give them a call. Suffice to say that the problem wasn't at their end.

During my call to the BOC the modem gave up. It refused to see the satellite and kept doing a self-test. After some lengthy phone calls to various departments and my insurance company - electronics insurance is worth every cent. Expensive hobby, satellite equipment.