This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Installing I-Light cables

When I rode through the SJC campus Wednesday, I noticed something new, a strange box along the road by the Core Building. None of the people I asked knew what it was.

Two hours later the box was no longer alone. A small backhoe had dug a hole next to the Core Building. By chance I met Mike L, and I asked him if the box had something to do with the I-Light project. He said that it was part of the campus cabling for I-Light.
For an Internet junkie like me, the prospect of really fast broadband access is very exciting. SJC has had a number of renovations and building projects in the last few years, but I consider connecting to I-Light more important than any of them. The future of education will be tied to the Internet.

Back to the story. I noticed activity near the baseball field, so I wandered over that way, taking pictures as I went. There I encountered a machine unlike any I had ever seen. It was drilling horizontally through the soil, not vertically. It had a shaft that rotated, and when it had penetrated about eight feet, it would insert a new section of drilling pipe and drill another eight feet. And it seemed to be aiming at a target.

A hose connected it to a truck with tanks of some kind of fluid. Maybe it was just water. I did not ask. You can see that it was aiming for a spot near Sparling Avenue.
Walking in the direction it was drilling, I found a man who explained that he had a device that told him exactly where the drill head was. He then radioed back to the operator, telling him in which direction to make adjustments. I was totally mystified how such a system could work, but he explained that the drill head was angled. If the head was rotated, it would go straight ahead, but if it was pushed, it would angle off in a direction that could be controlled by the operator. I cannot claim I really understand this, and I am quite amazed at this technology.
When they hit the pit that they aimed for, they attached a flexible orange pipe or conduit to the drill head, and then by extracting the drill head, they pulled this orange pipe through the hole back to the drilling machine

A bit later I looked out a window of the Core Building and saw that they were now drilling from the baseball field toward the Core Building. Again I went out and took some pictures and also some video.
This time I got a good shot of the drill head just before the worker attached the end of the orange conduit to it. Here he is in pit by the Core Building, where in another hour the box that I had seen initially would be placed.
The entire conduit was installed without any trenching and it was done in about three hours. I do not know exactly how this part of the system will connect up with the rest of the system. I do know that I-Light has a boosting node in Mount Ayr, and that somehow the campus part of the system has to connect to that node in Mount Ayr. Maybe someone who knows more can provide additional details.

Here they are burying the box a bit after 3:00. You can also see the orange pipe that they inserted into the hole and which will contain the tiny optical cables will actually carry the digital messages of computer talk. The optical cable itself is on the smaller spool in the bed of the truck.

On Thursday they finished up work, pulling the actual optical fiber cables through the conduit and smoothing the dirt. This crew was only doing the part of the cable that is on campus.

If there are no complications, I-Light should be connected and providing SJC fast broadband access to the Internet in mid January of 2009. Given how many times projections have been wrong, we will wait and see.

Here is a video version of this important bit of SJC history.



On a completely different note, there was talk on campus Wednesday of a deer encounter on Tuesday. A buck crashed through a window into the Schweitermann dining room, made a mess by bleeding and knocking over tables, a coat rack, and plants, and then ran off. Efforts to track him were unsuccessful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Since it went without fanfare, it is good to see the event documented.

On a side note I just happened to be listening to the instrumental song on the new Metallica album while I watched the video. The pace worked really well as a soundtrack to the video.

Bob Brodman