Great Brisbane Duck Race Results

We had a few requests for the race results so we thought that we would post an update.  There was a pile-up at the start off the grid.  One of our props was damaged in the process.  As a consequence propulsion was lost on the port side of the duck.  This meant that the duck was unable to finish the race.  No doubt PIPE will return next year with a more awesome duck.

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  • Robert
    It looks like at least two Ducks had hulls attached to them. If that's considered fair, you may want to ...

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PIPE’s Great Brisbane Duck Race Entry

PIPE has entered a duck in the Great Brisbane Duck Race.  Ordinarily this would be a $5 affair, with our duck competing against 24,999 other ducks in a competition to float merrily down the river.  This year, however, there is also a corporate version in which the ducks are larger – about a foot long, and rubber.  Also modifications are legal and encouraged.

So we set about thinking how we could do this.  After many discussions about the ‘how’ (and a few about the ‘why’) of getting a duck 100m down the river, one of our staff, Chris, realised he had two old RC helicopters at home that didn’t really work so well that could be gutted for parts.

After building a prototype, we had enough of a working proof of concept.  After fitting the propellers, it became obvious that they could move a serious amount of water.  And the duck could move.  Not very far in laundry tub, but move.  After cutting the excess metal off to balance it out, it looked a lot better, and after cutting a port-hole and sealing all the electronics inside it, it was ready for the first run in the water, and looked far less monstrous.

Testing it out in a fountain nearby showed that it definitely worked, but has stability issues.  Front-mounted skis and a keel were fitted.  We were ready for the second round of testing, and looking more professional every minute.  We also fitted a wireless camera, hooked up to a video capture card, so it could be piloted using a laptop from a great distance.  Now we were ready to test in the water (see video above).

The modifications described in the testing have all been performed, minus the passive stabilisers which turned out to be unnecessary.

Now it’s time to see what it can do against the competition!  Thanks to all staff that contributed their time, skills and ideas to this project – it has been a wonderful experience.  Everyone has had an opinion on how it could be done and how the problems could be solved.

Special thanks to:

- Jenny-Lee, for organising our entry and managing the event;
- Dale and Matt, for design considerations and technical implementation advice;
- Chris, who actually built the thing; and
- Heather & Sara, for their assistance in building and testing.

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PPC-1 Shirts

We’ve had some commemorative polo shirts made up for the team that have worked on the PPC-1 project.  We’ve embroidered the names of the two cable ships that are laying the cable, Tyco Decisive and Tyco Durable, as well as PIPE International and Tyco Telecommunications.

The shirts have been given to the crew of the cable ships as well as the team that has worked tirelessly on the project.

The PI team tell us the shirts are a perfect fit!

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  • Chad Leverington
    oh well, i guess i will have to take the images down to the local print place myself :) haha ...
  • Karina Roberts
    Hi Chad, We were taking bets on whether someone would ask that :) Sorry, but they're not for sale. Cheers, ...

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ROV reaches the Marianas Trench

(Photo by: Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution )

It was interesting to read about the Nereus, a robotic sub which has reached the deepest known part of the ocean, the Marianus Trench, where the PPC-1 cable is laid.  The Nereus is remotely operated by a lightweight, fibre optic cable which also streams real time video and data from the ROV back to the ship. Unlike PPC-1 however, which is approximately 20mm in diameter, the tether on the Nereus is the diameter of a human hair covered by a thin protective jacket of plastic. The Nereus completed the dive to 10,902m – deeper than where the PPC-1 cable is laid at 9440m.

Read more about it here.
Read about PPC-1 crossing the Marianas Trench here.

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The PPC-1 Camera

It’s interesting to note that all the recent underwater and land footage on the blog was taken by our CEO, Bevan Slattery with this little Olympus μTough.

When we were looking for a camera, we needed something that would survive the wide range of environmental conditions that the PPC-1 team encounter daily and be tough enough to endure the harsh treatment that our technicians dish out. We’ve been through a heap of cameras before and none have stood up to the task for any length of time. We never really intended to use if for anything other than just photos, but we were pleasantly surprised at its versatility – it’s waterproof to a 3m depth and records audio underwater (as you’ll notice from yesterday’s blog).

In Guam the camera operated on and off over 16 hours taking over 1 hour of video footage and 150 photos on a single charge. So far this little gem has been to Japan (our CEO took the video footage inside the cable tanks on the Durable which was posted earlier on the PPC-1 blog), Guam and will soon head to Sydney for PPC-1′s Australian Landing. Oh and it’s been on our CEO’s family holiday to Port Douglas including lots of underwater shots of the Great Barrier Reef ;-) .

As you can tell, we love this camera and this post is our salute to the mighty Olympus μTough. At less than $500 this camera rocks.

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  • Zoe Hellar
    Olympus PPC-1 Camera Nowadays there is more of a choice of these robust cameras.I want one.
  • Bevan Slattery
    We've already bought another 3 for staff. I've heard Tyco bought another 40 for their guys. I seriously love this ...

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Visiting Tokyo (Part 2)

Following is another traveling bungle with Pipe International’s Matt Whitlock and Lee Harper.

As you have previously read, our trip to Tokyo was not without dramas. I should have been much more careful looking for potential signs of trouble right from the start of the trip.

Lee was flying into Japan from the UK and I from Australia.  We had agreed to meet in the baggage hall of Terminal 2 at Tokyo’s Narita airport, as our flights were scheduled to land within 5 minutes of each other. The aircraft landed on schedule and therefore starting the trip off well, but that was all about to change.

One hour after landing, we were still standing in the baggage hall waiting for Lee’s suitcase (see picture)! It turns out that in a fit of madness, Lee had chosen to entrust his suitcase to the baggage handlers of Heathrow’s Terminal 5 ( As a result the suitcase was still in London!

We then spent another 30 minutes explaining the colour, style and contents of the bag to the British Airways staff whilst they promised to get it to Tokyo as soon as possible. Because we were only in Japan for 3 days it seemed likely that Lee would arrive back in London while his suitcase was arriving in Japan.

Deciding to put this behind us, we embarked on a shopping tour in Tokyo to buy Lee some new clothes.  Having been in the same clothes for quite a while, he was starting to feel a little crumpled, to say the least.  This in itself was a challenge.

We found it quite difficult to navigate the shopping districts of Tokyo with a tourist map and Japanese road signs, as well as trying to find a department store which catered for the European sized man. Once we found a store, it became very clear that the average Japanese man is somewhat smaller than Lee, as finding suitable clothes was proving tricky. After much gesturing regarding special offers for buying 3 pairs of socks and 4 shirts, Lee was finally able to put some fresh clothes on and continue with the rest of the evening.

It ended well with Lee and his suitcase being reunited in the hotel about 24 hours before the flight home. “It’ll be the first time I’ve gone home with a suitcase full of clean clothes,” he said, looking on the bright side.

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Visiting Tokyo (Part 1)

Our illustrious Infrastructure Manager and Engineering Manager returned this week from their visit to Shinagawa, Tokyo, where they met with TATA.

Below is a tale of their adventure of travelling to the meeting in Toyohashi.

“It is Friday morning rush hour in Tokyo’s Shinagawa. We are overcome with fulfillment and excitement as we are about to embark on a 1.5 hour journey on the ‘Shinkansen Bullet Train’ (pictured).

The concept of a train which moves at a speed of up to 250kmph, which arrives and leaves within 40 seconds of its scheduled departure time, otherwise it’s considered late, is unbelievable and truly amazing and not dissimilar as cave man discovering fire.

Little did I appreciate that as a consequence of his boyhood dreams being realised, I was about to presented with a classic situation of “stunned like schoolboy foolishness” developing within my colleague. Like the early cave man, we were both about to get burnt!

When we entered the Shinagawa station we were taken aback from the strange orderly chaos of tens of thousands of commuters going about their daily journey to their place of employment. In many cities it’s a dog eat dog world when traversing a station concourse. Here in Tokyo, it’s the world of a marching army of people and in comparison, silence prevails.

We were both standing on the platform approximately 10 minutes before our departure time, in our designated location (no random queues allowed here). The sound of the platform air raid like siren began to wail signifying the silent arrival of the somewhat stealthy bullet train. Camera’s are out! Both of us are snapping away. As soon as the train halts and the doors open we downed our tourist tools, picked up our bags and boarded the train.

I take the lead through the cabin to find our reserved seats. In doing so, we discover the seats are occupied. The train is now pulling off and we are getting up to speed. We try to work out how we are going to tell the occupiers of our seats to shift or alternatively explain to the ticket inspector we are happy to sit elsewhere. Either way it’s going to be grief and involve a lot of pointing & shoulder shrugging.

Alarm bells are ringing in our heads. Something is not right. The culture here is attention to detail and respect. There is no way our seats should be occupied. The penny begins to drop, we are doing 150kmph+, and there is no getting off the train, and its two minutes before our departure time. Dazzled with the shock and awe of the bullet, my mate has walked onto the wrong train and I too have been hustled into doing the same. ARRRRRH!

So now we realise our bigger problem.  There is a TATA representative due to meet us in Toyohashi (some 300km away), we are on the wrong train with no idea where we are going and in the belief we will have traveled 100km+ before we can disembark the train. It’s too early to beer it up, so we are going to have to deal with the situation in a professional manner.

Suddenly, the train begins to slow, a Japanese announcement is made and we hope we are presented with the opportunity of getting off the Bullet. Matt now realising things couldn’t get any worse, and me blaming him for the mess we are in, finally clues into the fact. We agree to gamble with the idea of pointing & shoulder shrugging on the forthcoming station platform in the hope we didn’t get busted for non compliant tickets.

We bail out of the train with our bags, the immediate affect of the humidity becoming apparent immediately. And yes we had our cameras out again! Soaking wet, we began to figure out our location and by fortune it turned out we had got on a train which shared a common starting route with our intended train. All we had to do was wait on the platform for 2 minutes.

The rest is Pipe History…..”

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  • Ian
    250 mph would be a little fast - over 400 km/h! I think the fastest trains on the Shinkansen network ...

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