A Lantern story

Forenoon watch

DSCF7844Yesterday was one of those sunny days like you get them in ireland, this time of the year, coming out of nowhere, without prior warning and conveniently arranged between a solid gale and nice portion of sticky mist... We got sun... Yes we did!


Well for me, it was a perfect day that started in Rochespoint lighthouse with two of my colleagues Marine IT Technologists from the NMCI Marine I.T. Course. A field trip, to assess the possibility of bringing some form of internet connection into the lighthouse for one of our school project articulated around maritime traffic monitoring. Actually the moment we came up with this idea, NMCI Research and Development came to us with a research project that could use our feed of data. It wasn't planned at all! This is great because it shows the marine IT Course in NMCI is also becoming a forum, a hub for marine IT technology connecting problems with sulotions.


That is what we do, us Marine IT Technologists, we brainstorm technical ideas, before we start assembling, programming bolting and cabling. I should pay credit here to Pat O'Leary one of the Engineer on our marine IT Course in NMCI, firstly for the great photos he took in Roches Point, but also for digging out this word from Thomas Edison: To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. I think it is the best way to describe in a nutchel what a Marine I.T. Technologist does... 


The students of the marine IT Course are building a monitoring station using recycled computer parts. A few old laptops and linux are at the core of this project running so far on small budget and buckets of good will. But who knows we might find more benefactors as we start assembling our monitoring station. The first people helping us were the Commissionners for Irish Lights, welcomming us in Roches Point. It is just in front of this very Lighthouse that Titanic weighted anchor at 1.30 pm on 11th April 1912 so for as sad as this sound it is not just any light house we have been offered to use.


I don't know what was best, climbing up and down a lighthouse like a kid, working with people trully passionated, or listening to Jim's story about a lighthouse he's been looking after for years... The Commissioner of Irish Light gave us a DSCF7896special permission to run our school project in Rochespoint so we felt great about this too. On a clear day we wanted to find out if we could bring some form of wireless internet access into the lantern room. But as it appears, we will have to look into other alternatives involving line of sight or regular landbase connection like adsl. We tried a gprs connection with little success and 3G is not exactly ideal. We will be running another series of test in a couple of weeks.

The reception for AIS is trully amazing though!

Before leaving the premises, Emeka, Pat and I got to signed the guest book, a few line below famous names one of them being Melvina Dean


Last dog watch

FOCNS 01As it goes for now a month, after the first bell of last dog watch, the day ended in NMCI, in room 024 with our study group, we looked into networking protocols and scratched a bit the OSI model... When (surprise!) Commodore Mark Mellett (DSM) Flag Officer Commanding the Irish Naval Service, came into the door to pay us a little visit. It's not every day I receives such a guest in my class, I have to say. I was probably as impressed as the students in the room were themselves. Commodore Mellett spoke to us about the vast opportunities for Ireland to develop its sea resources. Ireland has the largest maritime area (220 million acres) to land mass in the eu (iMerc - Dr V. Cummins) yet said Commodore Mellett it derives only 1% of it's goss dommestic products. As a comparison we learnt Norway gets 20%. Commodore Mellett also spoke to us of the importance of data communication and problems facing when data is harvested at sea such as processing, storage, or the fact it becomes quickly obsolete. He was also questionned about satelite communications which he described as very expensive. Ultimately we ended up talking about kites... 

Kites? yes kites... But this is another story for some other day!


Written by : Arnaud Disant