Day 20: Landmannalaugar – Hvolsvöllur (46 River Crossings Day !)

Day 20: Landmannalaugar – Hvolsvöllur (46 River Crossings Day !)

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Today was a slow and late start, with a late sleep-in, followed by a swim in the natural hot spring river next to the camping ground. This was very refreshing, yet quite odd, as a hot spring met a cold stream, resulting in a perfect hot tub temperature. However, the waters did not mix perfectly, which meant that you had to find the right spot in the river, to gain the benefit of the natural hot waters. There was also lots of bubbles seeping through the river bed, where hot geothermal waters were also entering the river.

Natural Hot Springs at Landmannalaugar Campsite

The weather was mixed throughout the day, with sunshine, showers, rain, cloudy, blue skies, and sunshine – constant mix of weather conditions, which changed rapidly.

Interesting Weather Conditions

Driving into Wilderness

After leaving Landmannalaugar, we drove east along mountain road F208, to begin what resulting in being one of the most epic drives of this expedition.

Interesting River Corssings Ahead...

River Cossing Warning

Not only was the landscape totally phenomenal wherever you looked, with interesting and challenging driving most of the day, which included 46 river crossings !!!

Waterfall River Crossing

Here is a short video of one of these 46 river crossings…

 

The drive took us along the NE and E side of Mýrdalsjökull, forever downwards to the coastal plane and finally to the ring road, Highway 1.

Interesting Passing Conditions

Once we reached Highway 1, we drove west, via Vík, to Hvolsvöllur, where we camped the night.

Day 19: Fluðir – Landmannalaugar

Day 19: Fluðir – Landmannalaugar

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Day started very nicely, with a warm sun-lit tent, which we have not had too many of, so far this trip.

Once we packed up camp, we had to spend a couple of hours writing 3 blog news articles, to get back up to date, as well as recharge a lot of our batteries on laptops, phones, etc.

Once we were up to date, we drove from Fluðir to Landmannalaugar, in beautiful weather.

This proved to be a very interesting and occasionally challenging drive, with quite a few river crossings.

Awsome Views along the road

Once again, we reduced our tyre pressures from 25 to 12 PSI, to handle the very rough and sharp gravel & rock roads conditions.

Snowcapped Helka in the Background

When we finally got started on mountain road F225 to Landmannalaugar, we stopped to take a tail-gate lunch from the back of the pickups, before flying the quadcopter for a short flight. However, the wind was occasionally so strong, that it posed challenging flying conditions.

Quadcopter flight

As we got closer to Landmannalaugar, we passed the mighty snow-capped volcano Hekla, which typically erupts every 15 years, and is currently 5 years overdue, so we kept an eye on the volcano as we passed (just in case…).

Intersting Driving Conditions

Once we arrived at Landmannalaugar campsite, we set up camp just in time, before the weather turned from beautiful blue skies, white clouds and sun, to low cloud and pouring rain. So we were thus confined to tent, to keep out of the bad weather, which was unfortunate given the fact that we had hoped to see a lot more of the spectacular landscapes Landmannalaugar area offers.

Landmannalaugar Campsite

Tent Life

We were quite surprised by the sheer numbers of tents and campers at this remote campsite location – looked more like base camp of Everest, just before a major climbing season, rather than a very remote campsite in the central highlands of Iceland.

Landmannalaugar Campsite

Day 3: North Sea – Tórshavn (Faroe Islands) – Gamlarætt Ferry Terminal (Streymoy)

Day 3: North Sea – Tórshavn (Faroe Islands) – Gamlarætt Ferry Terminal (Streymoy)

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Reasonable night for all, despite ferry rocking & creaking more & more as we sailed further north into the North Sea.

Everyone slept in, so we had a late start to day, and missed breakfast serving.

Spent afternoon back in swimming pool, hot tubs & sauna. With the waves outside being choppy, the water inside the swimming pool was once again offering a “natural wave machine” effect, which was great fun.
Gunnar filmed us in the pool with a GoPro.

 

Rest of the afternoon was spent either chilling out, snoozing, updating ICE2015 website / blog, preparation reading, or taking a tour of the ship to see what other facilities it had to offer.

In the evening, we packed up and made ourselves ready to leave.

Weather & sea conditions gradualy worsened throughout the day, with dense sea fog & rain and larger wave heights.
This made walking the corridors in the ship interesting – just like walking when you are drunk…

Getting back into the cars was a real nightmare, even for us, and even worse for some folks, with virtually no room at all to open the car doors to get inside – extremely tight squeeze.

Extremely Tight Parking on Smyril Line Ferry

The ferry arrived in Tórshavn Harbour / Ferry Terminal at 22:30 as scheduled, although it took ca.1 hour to actually got off the boat, due to our cars being located on the raised sub-level floor. The roof clearance was so minimal for our cars, that ferry car deck staff had to guide us carefully off the car deck, to prevent hitting the ferry roof structures – another tight squeeze…

After departing the ship, and clearing Faroe Islands Customs, we drove to Tórshavn Campsite, where we intended to camp for the night, but found the campsite quite full and not particularly inviting.

Gamlarætt Ferry Terminal (Streymoy)

We therefore drove on into the thick fog / low cloud and rain, exploring the suburbs of Tórshavn, before driving on to eventual stop at Gamlarætt Ferry Terminal (Streymoy), where we decided to sleep in the cars overnight, due to the poor weather conditions.

Tuva asleep in car

Despite sleeping in the cars, a reasonable night was had by all.

Dina asleep in car

Day 2: Hirtshals – North Sea (on route to Faroe Islands)

Day 2: Hirtshals – North Sea (on route to Faroe Islands)

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Day began with an early wake-up call on the Fjordline Ferry – arrived Hirtshals Ferry Terminal at 07:30, on scheduled arrival time, despite our 2 hour delay in departure from Stavanger yesterday.

The crossing was relatively calm, and we had a reasonable night sleep on the ferry.

Exploring Hirtshals Harbour

Once we departed the ferry, we drove into Hirtshals town centre, parked the cars, and spent a few hours walking around, exploring the town centre, harbour area, walked the long sandy beach, visited the lighthouse & second world war German sea defence bunker systems.

German WW2 sea defence bunker system

The weather was excellent, sunny and calm, so we could enjoy our walk around.

I am sure that dot on the horizon is the Smyril Line Ferry

We also experienced a house fire, with smoking house, fire department arrival, firemen breaking into the house, and the situation been brought under control.
Tuva filmed some of the action.

 

Dina working beach sand art project

 

We then boarded the Smyril Line Ferry M/S Norröna, at the same Hirtshals Ferry Terminal we had depated the Fjordline Ferry, earlier in the morning. The packing of the cars in this ferry is the tighest we have ever witnesed, with virtually no room to exit the vehicles or depart the car decks – Very tight squeeze…

Once we moved into our cabin, we immediately went to the swimming pool, where we exerienced “natural wave effects” as the boat moved through the North Sea waves, with the pool water literally climbing & falling ca.half metre, which was great fun. We then used the hot-tubs & saunas.

After dinner, we went to the cinema, to see “Tomorrowland“, which we all enjoyed.

Overall it was a day full of events, so we were quite tired by the end.

Day 1: Stavager – Hirtshals

Day 1: Stavager – Hirtshals

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Our epic journey began today at Fjordline Terminal in Tananger, Stavanger, Norway.

Queue at Tananger Ferry Terminal

We boarded the ferry MS Stavangerefjord, and left Tananger at ca.22:00, ca.2 hours behind scheduled departure time.

Waiting ferry departure

The crossing was very calm, with virtual flat seas all the way to Hirtshals, Denmark.

Due to the very late / delayed departure, we didn’t have too much time to do much more than a quick walk around the upper deck, do some quick Duty Free shopping, and grab a quick bite to eat before going to bed – everyone was tired after a hectic last week of packing and final preparations.

Borth Tuva & Dina had a great time, and are aleady really enjoying the trip.

We noticed that the Arctic Trucks created a lot of attention, and we certainly noticed quite a few folks really taking a good look at the Expedition Vehicles.

This was a great start to out epic trip.

Expedition Quadcopter – Flying Practice & Modifications

Expedition Quadcopter – Flying Practice & Modifications

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The good weather this weekend was utilised to practice flying the Expedition Quadcopter.

Gunnar and his good friend Ola Skjeldal was out for hours, and conducted several practice flights, in both LoS (Line of Sight) and FPV (First Person View).

Several minor modifications and tuning were conducted on-site, to improve the flying behaviour of the Quadcopter, as well as improving the flying experience.

Ola has been a good supporter in selecting electronics and making adjustments on the Expedition Quadcopter Project from the first day.

After flying, the rest of the evening & night was used to equip the second Expedition Quadcopter with electronics. All experience gained during these last months with the Untested Prototype r.300 frame have now been put to good use. Both Gunnar and Ola had many thoughts on how to position and mount the electronics in the most optimal way.

Second expedition quadcopter in finished state and fully assembled

First of all, connecting the Quadcopter to the computer for programming and tuning has always been difficult, since the USB connector is on the rear end of the flight controller. To make the connector more accessible, we turned the flight controller 90 degrees, so that it would be accessible from the side of the frame.

First problem associated with this solution, was that there is a small screw in the way. After experimenting with the positioning, we decided to flip the flight controller on its head, so that the USB now steered clear of the screw.

This also had another advantage, in that all the cables to the ESC (Electronic Speed Controller) would go straight down, subsequently keeping the wiring in the top part of the frame very tidy. This also means that the Quadcopter can now handle some rain, since the flight controller board is not open for direct exposure on the top via the ESC connectors.

The flight controller flipped upside down, resulting in a tidy area around it. Batteries are strapped on using Velcro.

When flying FPV, we had many problems with noise and signal drop-outs of the video feed. We agreed that position of the transmitter and antenna had a major impact on this, so when installing new electronics into the second Quadcopter frame, we moved the FPV transmitter to the front of the frame, and put the antenna directly on top of the frame.

We also used a better transmitting module on this second frame, that will hopefully also help improve the quality of the video feed.

To reduce FPV transmitter interference with the control signal to as little as possible, the RC (Remote Control) receiver has been positioned in the rear underside of the frame (placing it underneath the frame instead of the top, where we have with the FPV transmitter antenna). This makes good logical sense, since the RC transmitter will always be below the Quadcopter during flight.

FPV camera positioned on top of the frame with the antenna right behind it. Video transmitter is located under the top plate, above the battery

Almost all the cables have been shortened, to make installation as tidy as possible. Combined with the power distribution board, the result was really good.

We also preapared cables to power LED lights under the frame, to make it easier to see the orientation of the Quadcopter during flight. We are still waiting for the LEDs to arrive, but we hope this will be a good addition to the Quadcopter.

All four ESCs  and power supply cables soldered onto the power distribution board

These Expedition Quadcopter builds have been heavily inspired by Ola Skjeldal and his many years of experience flying RC helicopters and we kindly thank him for all the great support! Consequently he have been added to the Acknowledgement Page.

Ola flying the Quadcopter, using the FPV Headset

Vehicle Tracking Project

Vehicle Tracking Project

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To keep track of exactly where we have been on Iceland, we are going to equip both Expedition Vehicles with purpose built Tracker Devices.

Gunnar has implemented tracking solutions before, and has good working knowledge of pros and cons for different solutions.

These Tracker Devices will provide exact location coordinates for later reference, as well as a nice way for our family and friends to see where we are, and where we have been.

Raspberry Pi model B+

To get the most versatile solution possible, we are using a credit card size computer called Raspberry Pi  to handle data collection and distribution, combined with a GPS module attached to it.

Raspberry Pi with GPS module

Raspberry Pi have become very popular for prototyping projects such as this, due to its small size, low power consumption and low price. It is also fairly powerful computer for its size, which makes it the perfect candidate for our purpose built Trackers. This way we can easily adjust our trackers to suit our needs.

 

To read more, a Project Page called Vehicle Tacking has been created, to present details about the project development and provide updates as the project grows.

 

If you wish to help us develop these Tracking Devices, with information, experience transfer or equipment donation, etc., we would really like to hear from you.

Expedition Vehicle 1 Upgrades

Expedition Vehicle 1 Upgrades

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To make the drive more comfortable, Expedition Vehicle 1 got its first upgrade today in the form of better soundproofing. The weapon of choice for this task is Gladen AERO-Multi which contains sheets of butyl and neoprene damping material. It’s the fast and cheap way to reach an almost perfect result of required noise reduction.

Expedition Vehicle 1 Upgrades 1Expedition Vehicle 1 Upgrades 2Expedition Vehicle 1 Upgrades 3

The carpet has also been washed, since we had to take that out to be able to do this job.

After many years and kilometers of service, this car deserves a couple of upgrades like this one.

There will be more maintenance and upgrades for this car throughout the next months, so that it will be as ready and as comfortable as possible, before we leave for Iceland.

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