Friday, April 06, 2007

Behind the scene

First of all, congratulations to F5 - today their route tracer reported that they reached the first 100 km (in reality they did it already sometimes ago because the tracer does not record all nitty-gritty route windings).

Now back to my "behind the scene" theme. Last evening I felt like a decrypter from the Bletchley Park. Kim called Sylvia (a head of the backup team in France) asking to check about... well, about the "Swiss pools". His voice, torn by wind and storm, was obscure and impenetrable. Sylvia made an evening call to England, transmitted us the Kim's voice message, and deciphering started. What the hell, could he mean?

Was it a subconscious message reflecting Kim's hidden thoughts about a thermal pool in the luxury of Switzerland? :-)

Of course not. Finally, after few dead ends, Jitka hit the jackpot: Kim's resting email box shown that he negotiated a deal with a sponsor about the ski poles (ski sticks), which have not arrived before the expedition started. But they are on the way, and Kim definitely wants them. And their name? Well, "Swix poles". Melodically not so far from the "Swiss pools", is it?


PS. At least, we think we solved it... Let's wait for after Eastern.


Anonymous said...

I'm curious, what is the technology behind the expedition's "route tracer"? I know of sat phones and PLBs, but this sounds like a passive device that uploads GPS coordinates? I'd be interested to learn more.

- Ed.

Martin said...

Let me answer what I know: when F5 are back they can definitely give more details (I think it was Kim who negotiated a deal with Guardian Mobility). The company link is

The tracer, if it is turned on, transmits its coordinates and the Guardian Mobility's satellite catches the data and makes them available on the company web site (an authorised, access-restricted part of the web site). I and Kim, we wrote a program that periodically (twice or three times in an hour) fetches data from their web site and converts them into markers on Google Maps, into graph of daily distances, into OziExplorer waypoints and into few other handy formats.

The program is written in Perl, it is an Open Source program and is available for anybody (it is not specific for the F5 pages). I can release it anytime but as F5 continues I am improving and slightly changing it - so I have not yet made a final release. But it is available from the F5 pages (


Anonymous said...

Thanks, that's very helpful! I always thought something like this would be a good idea, and it's great to see you put it into practice. It gives a sense that we are just a little closer to members on the expedition.

- Ed.