During their time on the ice, the team will be able to communicate between themselves and the UK HQ, thanks to a 3-Way Person-to-Person communications system, developed especially for the Catlin Arctic Survey.

Hands-Free Voice System

The system combines analogue HF radio with a satellite link to allow effective conference calling between the UK base and the Ice Team. Each member wears a duplex radio that allows simultaneous transmission and reception by operating on split frequencies. All transmissions on the first frequency are picked up by a radio repeater on Pen’s sledge and retransmitted on the second frequency. By routing all speech communication through the sledge, the two way speech on the satellite link can be mixed in so that anything said by an ice team member is heard back at the UK base and anything said in the UK can be heard by all the ice team.

Pen’s sledge also contains a speech archive system. This has two uses. Firstly, to provide a memo facility for Pen so that all ice observations and measurements can be captured off the radio link for onward transmission to the UK each night. Secondly, it provides a long term archive of all speech communication during the expedition. The sledge radio repeater and speech archive are known as the HUB.

The duplex radios worn by the ice team members are carried in a pouch in the small of the back and worn underneath the outer garment. This helps maintain a reasonable operating temperature. Internal batteries give 100 hours life and will be replaced at intervals. User controls are kept to an absolute minimum and are located on a small box worn on the sledge harness straps. One button gives the usual PTT (push-to-talk) function and also allows entry to a hands-free VOX (voice activated transmission) mode. The second button enables the MEMO facility with a feature to allow replay of the last three memos as an integrity check. A throat microphone and single earpiece (to allow normal ice-sounds to still be heard) provide the audio link with cabling being routed inside the outer garment.

Satellite calls to the UK base are initiated via a button on the HUB, a switch allowing a selection of called number. Once the call is established, a conversation can take place via the radio link whilst on the move or if the highest quality speech is needed (e.g. during an interview) then a headset can be plugged into the HUB. Incoming calls are not allowed as this would imply always keeping the satellite phone always powered.

The design of this 3-way communication system will allow conference calls to be established and live commentaries can be fed through the website. Overall this will allow a far more intimate connection with the explorers for those following from the comfort of their homes and offices.

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Comms gallery, photos of team and expedition.

"Technology" Blog Posts
The Polar Woodpecker
Posted by Dominic Hilton
Manual drilling takes CAS expedition leader Pen Hadow approximately four hours a day. He’s developed a routine of heading out from the tent in the early evening......more
Thursday, 16th April 2009
Team turns to traditional survey methods as technology battles force of nature
Posted by Dominic Hilton
The Catlin Arctic Survey has now released its first set of ice and snow thickness measurements, showing the floating sea ice cover it has travelled over in the early stage is predominantly new ice......more
Wednesday, 15th April 2009
Muscle Immobilisation
Posted by Dr Craig McLean
The effects of lying on your back inside a frozen tent for 5 days awaiting resupply has grave effects on mental and physical wellbeing....more
Saturday, 21st March 2009
Perran on Power Supplies for the expedition
Posted by Perran Newman
Traditional polar expeditions have a modest power requirement that is usually met using a combination of primary (non rechargeable) Lithium batteries and seconday batteries recharged.....more
Friday, 20th March 2009
Chivalry on the ice
Posted by Ann Daniels
Before the re-supply, all I could think of was The Re-Supply. Now that it’s been and gone of course, my mind is onto the next thing!...more
Friday, 20th March 2009
Department for International Development Conference
Posted by Rod Macrae
Today Pen addressed the DFID conference on development and was interviewed by satellite phone live from the ice by the Secretary of State for International Development Douglas Alexander....more
Monday, 09th March 2009
And they are off
Posted by Ian Wesley
A big day today and spirits were high. After a prolonged packing session the Ice Team are out on the ice for their first mini expedition together. They left with sleds packed high and bristling with antennas....more
Friday, 16th January 2009

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