10/22/2011 – Field Phone Installation

Permit #:  1110-2B
Trip Leader name:  Cyle Riggs & Andy Isbell

Trip date:  Oct/22/2011
Trip purpose:  Field Phone Installation
Areas of Cave visited:  Upstream Thunder
Trip participants:  Cyle Riggs, Andy Isbell, Mike Camden, Greg Herin, Kayla New, Pradeep Sapkota, Joshua Shock
Entry Time:  11:30 AM
Exit Time:  9:00 PM
The trip report:  Friday night, on the way to Carroll Mike Camden (a Communications Technician for the US Army) and myself stopped at the Fire Station in Camdenton to inspect the field phone gear and retrieve a working set. We found 2/3 of the phones to be in good condition and took one of two 1/2 mile spools of military comm wire. While there Mike Camden trained myself and the two on duty employees at the fire station on how to use the phones as we tested them. The operation of the phones is quite simple:

1. The handsets are attached to the same piece of comm wire. No specific polarity is required on attaching the wires. The wires are attached with the sprung buttons on the end of the wires. This is more apparent in person than it would seem from this text.

2. While holding the phone as usual in the right hand the thumb button is pressed a few times, this rings the other side while simultaneously charging your handset for sending your voice over the wire. There are apparently no actual batteries to speak of in the phones.

3. The other side will audibly and visually ring. The visual ring is by the circle in the middle of the handset changing colors. This side should also now press their thumb button to charge their handset and confirm receiving the ring. It was not made clear to me how long the thumb button action would charge the phone for, but it seemed like it would be more than enough for one conversation. There is a dial on the bottom of the phone to control the volume of a ring. This should be set to Max, the phones are quite quiet on any other setting.

4. The two sides can communicate by pressing the “send” button with the index finger, the two phones operate essentially as wired walkie-talkies.

Saturday at the silo:
I rigged the rope for the day and inspected the harnesses and other vertical gear for the novices on the short trip as each began descending. After the short trip was completely in we started in at 11:30. As the last one down in our group I started the process of pulling down the comm wire. The comm wire got hung up at some point about half way down the ladder, which I left as it was for the time being until somebody could help me from the top to get it safely unsnagged.

We made our trip into upper thunder observing a few cave fish, and not much else in the way of wild life. We followed some old trail markers, but noted that in many cases the trail markers didn’t follow the most efficient route. Andy observed that a potential project in this section of the cave is to mark alternate, more efficient trails with different markers. We stopped for lunch past the CSL cairn at the “map stop” marker. At this point we turned around and headed out. From leaving the base of the ladder it took us 4 hours in each direction to and from “map stop” cairn.

On the way out we got the wire untangled and fed all the way to the bottom. The wire was cut, with a good loop at either end for reachability. The wire was then ziptied to the ladder at appropriate intervals. The field phones are stored in containers at the top of the ladder with the purpose of bringing one of the phones down into the cave for each trip in which it is intended to be used and brought up at the end of the trip. Although the phones are tough and waterproof there is no reason to store the phones continuously in the moist environment when the silo is available for storage and bats don’t use phones.

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