Eagle Point Viewing Tower Equipment Installation
Monday, November 02 2009 @ 08:25 PM EST
Contributed by: richardpitt
On Friday, October 30, 2009, David Hancock, Ken Cillis and I (Richard Pitt) met at the Sandpiper Golf Course with all the equipment and cameras that were to be installed in the Camera Platform that Aluma Systems had build for us back in September. We again parked next to the small air strip as we were meeting a helicopter there at 10AM to take us and the equipment out to the now installed scaffold on the Chehalis estuary. Unlike when Aluma built the platform, this day was not just raining, it was windy and truly miserable. The only good thing to say about it was that the temperature was above 10C which is fairly balmy for this time of year.
The weather was so bad - and in fact got worse for over an hour, with heavy winds and sideways-rain - that the helicopter could not take off from Chilliwack airport where it lives. We waited until almost noon. Finally the 'copter arrived and we piled in the first load of equipment and David in the co-pilot seat. They took off while Ken and I got the rest of the hardware ready for the second flight - the fuel cell and some tools; all the cameras went in the first load.
The tower is out in the middle of the Chehalis delta - surrounded by sand when the water is low, and by water up to several feet deep when the water level is high. A fairly major channel runs to the East side of it and there are a couple of piles of rocks (duck blinds from days gone by) to the North West - but otherwise there is little around it that has not washed down from the main river.
See the rest of the images in the album:
The installation went fairly well considering the weather and the isolation. It seems the only things that were forgotten were the signs David had made up to warn people that the cameras were monitored 24/7 and to stay off the tower. I guess I'll have to take them out when I go to put in a new methanol container in about a month. The biggest problem was that all of us ended up with sore backs due to having to hunch over in the little room where the equipment is. It is only about 5' tall and we're all over 6' - oh my aching back :)
While Ken mounted cameras and David mounted some solar-powered lights, I got the fuel cell and other equipment up and running and started plugging in and testhing things as they got mounted. The radio link (Tranzeo 5.8 GHz backhaul units) came up with no problem, covering the 2Km distance to the Eagle Point pump-house with no problem despite a thin band of trees in the way.
Each of the cameras came up and the server in the pumphouse started to download archives immediately. The last things plugged in were the two sets of solar panels we'd brought. These were two of the three originals I'd had in my backyard for the summer of 2007 while initially getting ready to do the install back then. The solar panels just could not keep up to the load we eventually put on the system (about 48 watts continuous with the radio and 3 cameras) and as I wrote back in August this year, power is the key to this project's success - and we were going to have about 1000 lbs of batteries in the little room until Fourstones Ltd. stepped up to the plate and donated the EFOY fuel cell system.
Hauling up 1000 lbs of batteries would have pretty much killed the three of us - even getting the fairly light (heaviest parts are the 75AH battery and the methanol bottle) fuel cell box up and into the equipment room was quite a feat - sorry we don't have pictures but it took all three of us to do it so nobody could man the camera.
We'd had all the equipment set up at David's for the past several months - getting it wired and ensuring everything worked correctly, so it was really just a matter of mounting things and plugging them in. Despite all the planning we ended up moving one of the cameras because it just could not look high enough to see the "perch" that david strapped to the top of the tower in the hopes of enticing eagles to roost there.
The whole install took us just over 4 hours. It was starting to rain and blow again and we were afraid the helicopter pilot might leave us out there - but things calmed down enough that he came and got us with lots of time to spare before dark.
Finally we were all finished and back in the helicopter. This was Ken's first ride in a helicopter (well, second on the way back) - sure wish we'd had time to do some sightseeing - but maybe next time.
In the mean time we have to find a way to hike about 50 lbs of Methanol out to the site every month - but that's sure a lot easier than the 6 propane bottles we'd been planning on originally to run the generator!