Getting Technical on the Blue Planet Odyssey

Ivan 'sysadmin' Cornell is getting Aventura's marine electronics up and running.

Ivan at Work

Jimmy Cornell

Today the wind hasn’t risen above 12 knots, which has given me the opportunity to continue to configure the various electronic systems on board Aventura. This is a case in point – as we’re now logging a lot of environmental data I can see what windspeed we have experienced at any time since leaving Stromness.

There are a total of three networks running on the boat. The ‘Iridium Pilot’ provides our satellite communications with two phones (captain and crew get their own lines!) and a permanent 128kb/s data link. Due to bandwidth charges of $7/MB, I’ve limited this to only allowing connections to our email service provider and a web service for when we need to download ice charts, weather maps, etc.

Then we have the fully integrated Brookes & Gatehouse instruments which display all the navigational data, including charts, radar and autopilot, and are configured to share their network out over wifi to allow iPads to connect via a custom app. I’ve bridged this via a firewall into another wireless router to create a single wifi network for all onboard laptops to connect to – this gives the advantage that we can easily download weather forecast (grib) data over email and upload it directly to the chartplotters for display. The firewall is also configured to continuously capture data from the instrument network, which should allow us to make automated reports via email of wind conditions, sea temperature and barometric pressure to the World Meterological Organisation using the WMO Code for Ship Weather Reports.

All in all, we’ve certainly come a long way since our first circumnavigation in the 1970s with the electronics grand total consisting of an echosounder and shortwave radio for receiving time signals.

-Ivan "sysadmin" Cornell