McMurdo Nerd Questions

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    Good Evening everyone… Sent in my details for Communications Op this year..
    Crossing my fingers this time.. It says 1 opening, so I am guessing that the returnees have already been placed?

    Few Tech Questions/Ideas to bounce off of those interested
    1) How does the ham radio station look this season? Did they ever get the new antennas up and/or the antenna problems fixed?
    (I might bring my own rig down and even was considering something as simple as a screwdriver antenna.. never thought of trying that down on the ice.

    2) Do all housing rooms in the dorms have cable feed for television? If this is Analog.. Ok… Major Nerd thoughts…
    a) I am thinking that if that is analog that a PVR (computer DVR) could work for recording programs on hard drive due to time changes from the US.
    b) Now the big question… I am trying to figure out how to get a wireless non internet network going, if what i think would work, then a slingbox and
    a kindle fire could be used to watch content on the fire.. Also.. the thought of using a chromecast could come in handy, though I think I would get a Hard Drive
    full of movies/shows/music and play them on a tv/monitor using a stand alone media player that uses video & hdmi out..

    3) Now this is the hard one… I know that wifi is discouraged by the working class.. a big bummer.. would love to try to figure how to get my kindle fire and/or my cell phone
    hooked to a wired connection… Maybe a small wifi that i plug in and use from there and unplug when done.. Keeping my Kindle Fire updated with the latest software updates
    and also the occasional game play would be nice (the internet based games).. I guess I would just have to find out how to do this without stepping on any toes..

    I want to thank everyone for their posts over the years and ask for positive thoughts on my quest to make it down to the ice.
    (of course if anyone has any contacts in HR or in the comm ops department, that could help also)




    Good luck. It’s been a few years since I was last at McMurdo so I was hoping Mike or someone would chime in about the ham radio status. I think we we talked to McMurdo from Palmer last year, I assume the system was running (then).

    @MrGuard_Mi wrote:

    2) Do all housing rooms in the dorms have cable feed for television? If this is Analog.. Ok…

    AFAIK, yes. Probably analog.

    @MrGuard_Mi wrote:

    Major Nerd thoughts…

    Major nerd reply… The things you want to do are worthy and would be loads of fun, but they’re most likely against the rules rules rules. However, if you turn your dorm room into a giant Faraday cage, I’m sure you can do whatever WiFi mischief you like and the IT/Comms department will never know. But then, the housing department would probably be annoyed. Don’t expect good Internet connectivity to the outside world, regardless.

    Not trying to discourage… only giving a dose of reality. My recommendation is to do whatever you want and don’t tell anyone. That goes for just about all activities there. If you get caught, it helps to have a job where they won’t immediately fire you.


    Thanks for the reply… I have no intent on connecting the Wifi to the internet.. I would be making an Intranet to use the chromecast with my computer..
    Also looking at what PVR (personal video recorder – a computer DVR) options are available to tape anything that would aid during sleep/work hours
    as due to the difference in time to the US and also airing on the AFN network.
    Only thing about Wifi I would have to figure out is how to hook up my phone and kindle fire to the network (even if I am sitting there at the plug) and
    do the updates and other things if I cannot do a wired connection to the network.

    I have no intent on rocking the boat and/or violating any of the rules & regs on the ice.. Just trying to get ideas on what would work..


    @MrGuard_Mi wrote:

    Thanks for the reply… I have no intent on connecting the Wifi to the internet.. I would be making an Intranet to use the chromecast with my computer..

    Hmm. I doubt it matters. As I recall, it’s the act of transmitting that ruffles feathers, regardless of the device. Arguments to the contrary would fall on deaf ears.

    I’m not an apologist for the petty rules, it’s just a fact of life there. I stand by my assertion that you should do whatever you like (safely), not tell anyone, and be contritely apologetic if caught.


    If I can remember back I do believe that the Ham radio station was not in operation. Due to money cutbacks. This was in 2010 or 2011. Things might have changed now.


    This the job you’re applying for? Or something new? It just popped up on a search tool I use…


    No.. I applied for the Communications Operator rather than the Technician position.
    I was catching up with some blogs of old and if things have not changed, there would be 4 people for the position.
    (PAE handles the hiring for this position) The posting says there is 1 position, so I am guessing that the other 3 spots have
    been filled.
    I guess I have given up on using Chromecast to do an in-room wifi for video transfer and playing.
    My thoughts have been on using another laptop to record things off the Analog cable using the laptop as a PVR.
    Although a Tivo could do the same thing, and the Tivo gets the daily program listings for AFN Television.
    So if i pick up a cheap used Tivo that can call out daily via phone to get the data.. that could be something there.

    I would love to use the ham station and if offered I would try to have enough materials to get things decently on the air.
    It has been about 4-5 years since I tried to get my resume in for consideration..
    I am not looking at this from a tourist perspective but as an employee in an interesting locale.


    The ham station was up and running the last I heard. I too, have not been down for a few years. I did hear the amplifier went down, so you are stuck with 100 watts. That should work fine on 20 meters if the band is up. The station is computer connected so if you want to try your hand at PSK31 or SSTV give it a try. Those don’t need much power. You must have a ham license and you can only operate in the portion of the spectrum you are authorized to use.

    The station in general tries to limit RF noise in general, hence the ban on wireless. This extends to FRS walkie talkies , RC planes and helicopters, as well as all the computer wireless. There is a fair amount of science going on that listens to radio signals in the ionosphere. On top of that the everyday safety workings of the station and the links to the real world, keep them somewhat susceptible to harmful emissions. Emissions are not controlled by the FCC. Instead they are controlled by the Antarctic Frequency Coordinator (who follows FCC ham guidelines) and there are some odd things. The pagers operate in the ham bands and there was a very sensitive science experiment listening to signals in the 6 meter band. We had to go to a lot of trouble to get ham use authorized at MCM. Because it has demonstrated life saving capability it was approved.

    That said, you can go through the process of applying for a permit to operate your particular wireless unit. If it is deemed to have a benefit to the community as a whole that would offset any potential interference issues, you might get it approved. But, it sounds like this is more stuff for your enjoyment only. I wouldn’t hold my breath.


    It’s understandable about keeping the spectrum clear for the scientific research.
    I was just thinking of what could be done with Chromecast and the Slingbox, along with a dvr.

    Still have not heard anything yet on my application, and still thinking positive.
    Next weekend is the annual Field Day exercise. 100 watts on the bands is still something.

    Thanks to the generous folks at Sprint, I have a new Android Tablet, that I can hook directly to the network via cable
    so keeping busy with my few android apps will be done via that.


    New to the forums, thought I would poke my head in and say hey.

    I applied for all three of the SATCOM positions GHG had posted on their website, including the winterover at Pole. Got my fingers crossed.

    On the note of an intranet Wi-Fi setup, if you bring a DD-WRT enabled router, you can actually adjust attenuation and power settings inside the router. There might be some antenna mods (I say mods, it’s more like purposely breaking) you could do as well to help make it more directional and less efficient. After that, just crank it back up a tiny bit at a time until if functions for whatever you’re trying to accomplish in your room. From the pictures I’ve seen, most of the dorm buildings are corrugated metal anyways so that adds another line of Faraday-like RF mitigation. I agree with Sciencetech, don’t say anything to anyone, turn off the RFID broadcast, and unless someone goes looking for rogue RF signals, it would most likely go unnoticed.

    Also, fellow HAM here.



    I have applied for 2 additional jobs and it says I am being considered… I hope they update everything.


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