Freesteel Blog » Not very large extensions

Not very large extensions

Sunday, November 25th, 2012 at 12:44 pm Written by:

This weekend I am staying home with a sore throat to tidy the house (and generally stay off the computer) while Becka goes caving to Yorkshire. I’d have just been a drag.

Last weekend (17 November) we went digging in the mud at the far end of Large Pot where one of the biggest passages in the Yorkshire Dales travels 500m in a straight line and closes down for no reason.

Unfortunately the dig has slight waterlogging issues. Last year we built a dam to bail the water over, but it still leaves an incredibly muddy situation. (Skip to 1:30minutes to see it if you get bored.)

It’s not a very good video. The camera doesn’t work in the dark when it’s dangling around your neck so you can’t see that it is pointing squiff. Also, I need to get some video editing software that is capable of overlaying the cave survey map onto the image in a way that allows me to track the progress through the cave. (I’d borrow a piece of that awfully expensive Autodesk video editing software for this, but it only works on Mac.)

The exercise — of aligning cave images with points on the map — does point out flaws in the cave survey. The long term goal is that, rather than leaving these maps in books or on wall posters where it doesn’t matter if they are wrong, we take these surveys down underground with us, either on paper which gets completely muddified and scrunched up, or on a small-screen PDA in a plastic bag.

I was thinking, what if we could project it onto something bigger. Leaving aside that there is not much that is flat and white and suitable for projecting such an image against, what if all these new funky caving LED headlights with their microcontrolling software could also double up as digital projectors. You’d hit a switch on the inside of your helmet and, voilĂ , there was the steadified map of the cave projected on someone’s back so that the rest of the team could pore over it to work out where they were going. It would be like that time on Expo many decades ago when the cave was a lot simpler and the complete map was printed on the back of the T-shirt. There you would be sitting on a bench and reading a book, and suddenly there would be two or three cavers drawing with their fingers on your back as they planned out their next trip.

Those were the days. The T-shirts weren’t of such shoddy material they actually lasted to the end of the month and sometimes many years beyond. I’ve already had to retire this year’s T-shirt due to holes and stains. On the other hand, the cars were pretty bad. A 50% attrition rate on arrival at Base Camp (and improvised scrap yard) was not unusual as vehicles limped in or were towed the last few hundred miles by breakdown cover.

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