The observant viewer of the web cam images may have noticed that it seems a little darker at Mt Mawson this week. Its actually not, but our webcam guru Ian Stewart has been working some behind-the-scenes magic with the webcams that help us to see what is going on at the ski field.
One of the challenges we have faced in the past is that when the snow comes (often in blizzard conditions) and everyone wants to watch the snow buildup, the camera lenses tend to get covered with ice. Ian has tried various methods to melt the ice to restore the image, and the latest idea is to use a special glass which has an electrically conductive coating on one side. (This is unusual, as most modern glass is designed to minimise heat transmission). Ian tested this at home, and found that application of an electric current allowed 5 mm of ice to be defrosted from the glass in about 3 minutes.
Last weekend Ian travelled up to the ski field and installed the new defrost system, and also replaced one of the cameras looking up the slope (Mt Mawson Base Cam #1). The new glass has a tinted finish on it (which is why it appears darker at Mt Mawson than it actually is) and the camera also has a much wider field of view than the previous one (in fact it is so wide you can see the Golden Stairs and the peak of Mt Mawson itself to the left of the image – meaning of course that you are also seeing rocks and bushes that are not on the skifield!)
Hopefully the snow forecast for this weekend will arrive tonight and provide the first opportunity to test the new camera defrost system in real-world conditions.
Thanks again to Ian Stewart for all his volunteer work on the camera system – it gets many thousands of views and helps people to plan their trip to the snow (as well as allowing others to watch the skiing activity from the comfort of their lounge-rooms!)