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Darryl's Olympic Diaries

Brought to you by Radioactive Networks. This diary is a generally unedited view of what I was working on during the Sydney 2000 Olympics. They have been taken from an email diary that I circulated through email during the games, which is why they sound quite informal. Enjoy.

Dateline 1-September-2000

One week down - Four weeks to go.

For me, one week down, 4 weeks to go... For the general public 14 days to go... Until the Olympics come to town. Or should I say until the Olympics start in ernest, since the Olympics are definitely here...

The work I am doing is setting up a network of equipment to track the location of our video camera vehicle, 4 motorcycles, 6 helicopters, fixed wing plane, and a Manly Ferry. If I we are lucky we will get this data onto the net... So that the actual position of these can be placed onto a digital map...

I am working directly for a company called Winemiller Communications Inc, of Carlisle, PA in the USA. They are the largest RF contractor to SOBO, the Sydney Olympic Broadcast Organisation...

As of today I have even managed to secure off street parking a few blocks from the Olympic Stadium in the SOBO compound.

I have also been working on wiring up the Marathon/Triathlon/Cycling/etc control room for video and audio, which has been interesting... The room is small, but it is filled with everything we need... It looks a bit different from the last time I was there. I will put some photos of the room onto my WWW site in the next week or two... There are some on the Winemiller WWW site, but none of me [ ]

On Wednesday I got to visit the NBC field workshop near Smithfield. That was interesting... The car I was driving was an Olympic one with 22 Km on the clock... I joked that we change the car rather than fill it up with petrol, which is almost the case :-). The NBC site was amazing... I was asked if I wanted lunch, which I got... Salads, pasta, bread rolls, bread etc... smorgasbord style... Well packed fridge[or 8 of them], Starbucks coffee etc... All free... They said they also serve breakfast there which would be amazing if lunch is anything to go by.

The motorcycles, and a van we are using were shipped from the USA, and have USA plates on them... On of the things i needed to do was get a copy of a NSW police report about how some plates were stolen from the van... so that they can get replaced and sent back to Australia... These vehicles are being driven on Australian roads with USA plates... Bizzare... Someone else's job now to get the police report as I was unable to get it...

I still have not got my official olympic clothing, but have got my unofficial company clothing, that I am not allowed to wear at any venue... Seems the clothing contains the words "Sydney 2000" and this does not refer to the post code.. This is not legal in australia but is in the USA...

A bit of gossip... the ID tags that all the poor security people are going to have to swipe with a bar code reader are unfortunately unreadable much of the time thanks to the built in holograms.. and certainly will not work unless it is very clean... Also the ID tags are coming apart at the edges... But you will destroy them if you try a repair with an iron... A member of our team has tried.

At the moment I am based at Lidcome in a warehouse... Interesting place... All the 'Camera Corps' have just set up their equipment there.. Stuff like grips, etc... I saw a few loads go off to the Entertainment centre on friday.

Speaking of ID's, I have picked up a few more... I can go to any Olympic venue before the games start and get in... I will also be getting games time accreditation to Sailing, Equestrian and a few others.. I wear 2 id passes at the moment, as well as the phone book [100 names], cell phone and mobile radio... Sometimes I also wear the laptop too... I purchased a LAPTOP backpack so I can actually carry it with gear without breaking my back.

I am working with some interesting people... The person who I was working with friday should have been in the USA this weekend... His company [he owns it] is covering a major golf thing this weekend, and they were having a few problems...

Anyway I need to get going... I have some more work to do...

Dateline 10-September-2000

One Week to go.... Uniform Delivery...

Greetings People...

Another week down... Today [Yesterday] I have safety training - Occupational Health and Safety stuff - so that those who are not used to Australian conditions do not get killed... Also I will be trained in local procedures... and what to do if something goes wrong... [And of course it will not :-) ]. After that 43 of us are going to dinner in Centrepoint. [Dinner was great... Looking over the wonderful city... I think some people will want to stay]

Safety Training: All 36 inch Microwave dishes must be taken up ladders in SOBO issues back packs, which are certainly not large enough for the dishes... Hearing protection will be supplied for use when transiting the plant room to the roof of the UNSW. Torches will be supplied and must be carried when there in case there is a blackout and you find yourself in the middle of the plant room with no lights. ID Tags should be worn UNDER clothing when on rooftops as they do not want a repeat of a guy who hurt his eye when the accreditation blew up and hit him, but the accreditation must also be visible at all times.

Last night I went to the dress rehearsal of the Opening Ceremony, thanks to my Olympic Club membership. Dare I say it the Olympic Club membership was worth it... I would now be prepared to pay over $1,000 to see the real thing.

There were a few failures last night, such as the compare dropping his notes and delays between segments. I was at the southern end, which had a great view, but was some windy. I was also under the flag. Also on the subject of flags, it tore last night. And when you see the ceremony you will see what I am talking about. After the opening, I feel sorry for Athens who will have a problem with topping it in 4 years time.

I visited the Main Press Centre yesterday, and it was quiet... In the Olympic store there they had T-Shirts 'I SURVIVED THE MAIN PRESS CENTRE'. I bought some pins saying the same thing.

Last night I was on the southern side of the Stadium having just walked from the International Broadcast Centre [IBC]. I was outside the gates and wanted to get to the press centre... All the Support Services people pointed me back to the IBC, exactly where I had come from... I had to tell them that the press centre was on the other side of the stadium and that I just did not know how to get there... Whilst I was asking a journalist wanted to get to the baseball stadium. Support did not know where that was, so I was able to tell him where it was, just not how to get there. 3 weeks later I found out I should have used another entrance to get to the MPC from the IBC, via the superdome car park.

I finally got my official Uniform... My haul was
Olympic Uniform Bundle
  •  3 SOBO Polo shirts
  •  2 pairs fawn pants [Which cannot be worn since they get so dirty whenever you kneel down]
  •  2 pairs socks
  •  1 SOBO cap
  •  1 bum bag
  •  1 water bottle
  •  1 SOBO backpack
  •  1 pin - SYD the Camera Platypus - But only one and you cannot buy them...
  •  1 SOBO stopwatch - which some people found are quite slow
  •  1 SOBO Thermos flask - Stainless Steel
  •  1 SOBO Sloppy Joe or Jumper or Fleece depending where in the world you come from
  •  1 SOBO 3/4 rain jacket
  •  1 clear plastic rain coat [similar to a clear garbage bag with a hole in it].
  •  1 Press Guide - Only good for telling people who stop you in the street where to find the venues
  •  1 Broadcasters guide showing where every camera is - Or is supposed to be
  •  1 accredited media transport guide - Which came express post since they did not manage to get it in my uniform pack on time.

In addition to the crew clothing that does (or does not) comply with relevant law...

Winemiller Uniform Bundle
  • 1 purple winemiller T-Shirt - Sydney 2000 Olympics RF Crew
  • 1 Olive winemiller T-Shirt - Sydney 2000 Olympics RF Crew
  • 1 waterproof jacket - Sydney 2000 Olympics RF Crew
  • Several 'Illegal' Winemiller Olympic Pins

Please note that I am not admitting to having any clothing or pins in Australia that have the words "Sydney 2000" on them without permission. If you see me wearing them you will find this is a figment of a deraigned imagination...

On Thursday I was also sent an official MEDIA transport guide. I was also contacted by SOBO[SOCOG] wanting to make sure where I start work friday. Yepp... the same place I have been working for the last 2 weeks...

I am still amazed at the $$$ in the games...  I saw 6 shipping containers in the parking lot... They had come from England for the games, by AIR. It is amazing... Security is interesting. No-one cares about leaving laptops or anything else lying round... When there are cameras and other equipment around not being nicked, why bother with small stuff.

Traffic is still manageable - It is taking me 40-50 minutes each way, which is certainly not bad. It is about 37Km each way. I do not think I would want to do it for the rest of my life, but it aint too bad. Last night for the rehearsal I parked in Nyrang street in the compound, and found that it was a very fast drive both ways. Definitely faster than the train, but I have parking...

As for the work we are doing, we have put a TV Camera on a MANLY ferry... the one that will be used for the torch relay the final day. That will be on TV world wide. I will be adding a GPS so that we can track its location from Auburn.[We never got around to putting the GPS on the ferry]

I have also built up a bit of equipment. Over the last couple of evenings I have built remote controls for the video switchers so that someone can choose which is the best TV picture to use from each downlink location.

Today I installed my equipment on the lead vehicle of the MARATHON - neglecting of course to get any photos... I will maybe get those tomorrow.. [I now have the photos]. I also helped putting on a closed circuit TV on the lead, so that the driver knows about how far away he is from the runner. Under international rules the lead needs to be at least 20m in front of the lead so that they are not given an unfair advantage...

Our team has basically finished the video link from the Manly ferry. This will be a remote control camera that is on all the time whilst the games are on... 24 hours a day... It will also provide live video during the torch relay... It is one of the few digital video RF links.

I have been doing more driving people around... It is a rare day that I do not have to drive someone around... after all it is safer for me to be driving than for an american used to driving on the wrong side of the road.[As you will hear later, we have already written one car off]

Being a local certainly helps with some things... Half my workshop is appearing at our field workshop... Everything from electronic parts to power tools.. I brought in my Circular saw, jigsaw, angle grinder, tyre pump in the last few days. I have not yet needed to make sawdust, but have helped others make it...[Later you will hear how my boss gave away these tools after the games thinking they were his]

I finally met the president of the company I am working for... She came over for a few days from the usa to see how things are going... After all she only gets to see some of the people during the special events... [most of the team contract in for each event I have worked out]

SOBO, the Sydney Olympic Broadcasting Organisation, has an official mascot. Syd, the Platypus is ours. For us he is standing up using a video camera...

Today I actually got to visit the airport and say the helicopters... They look very small and flimsey... Too small... I am told we will have 2 up for the opening.. I do not know about the torch yet...

I also got a new digital camera.. The one from the USA never arrived so I purchased one from Dick Smith... Great... I will have lots of photos available soon.. Today I got to do some electrical engineering... working out how to get a generator to the roof of the UNSW Library... The problem is the ladder to the roof is too small, you cannot have the generator inside, etc... And it is 15 stories up... So have the generators on the ground with a long cable... but will the cable break... I came really close to bringing in PPI... I still do not have a solution that is acceptable, but it will come.

Am I enjoying myself? YES. Would I do it again? YES. Would I pay to do it? YES YES YES. What could compete with this. Not only is the Olympics the pinnacle of sport, it is the pinnacle of technical pursuits, and I am there for that reason. Anything I do in the future will be a let down... Sure I might help to keep the lights on, but that aint the Olympics.

Tuesday 12 September 2000

Testing GPS... And being an Olympic Driver.

Went to Auburn Hospital.... Everyone is late of course. This is normal. I expected this. Tests on aircraft, sending one up at a time and then looking at a motorcycle from under-neath. Found out that the WESCAM helicopters are not sending out GPS data so I need to work on them tomorrow morning before work. We have a major test scheduled for 10am tomorrow... Generally my stuff is going OK... It was nice just sitting on the roof in the sun talking some of the day.

 Of course I have also been an Olympic driver for some of the day too, buying parts... I am getting the money back eventually :-) I went shopping because I had a car... Nice being able to drive to work. This evening I went to Samsung for a reception which was almost worthless, apart from the free food... I went because mum is hosting a family from New Zealand here, who have a son in the New Zealand Judo team. With my new camera I am taking tons of shots.. I am up to 93 in the last 2 days.

Wednesday 13 September 2000

Bankstown Airport

Went to bankstown airport and saw the lack of any security... NONE. Amazing... I could have placed a bomb on a helicopter and no-one would have known... Have laptop, will travel. Found bad hardware so replaced it... Lots of driving though. I Bought a gas soldering iron on the way back... I think it will be useful. The roads seem a bit busier than they have been, but that might be an illusion. I need to find a better way to get to where I need to go at Aurburn. I also had a GPS unit fail before the rehearsal of the opening. I spent a few hours on the roof of the hospital just talking today...

 Also this was the Opening rehearsal. The TV pictures looked great. I am pleased to say that I am involved with this. Any photos that come from helicopters that appear on TV will be mine.

Thursday 14 September 2000

One Day to Go... Rehearsal

Another WOW day... Unfortunately the rehearsal started quite late... by an hour... I had some equipment not working on a BMW motorcycle, but that turned out to be an on/off switch I think... By the time I got to look at the cycles this afternoon all I could do is open the equipment bag enough to work out that the modem was not turned on. I decided not to stay for the torch, but I did walk back via the opera house. The photo is attached... I could have staid where I took the photo on the stairs in the rock near Govt House during the  relay... I am tired, and need to be at work early tomorrow... I expect an late night tomorrow with the opening...

It was cool seeing the rehearsal for the medal ceremony - they had some SOBO people on the dias getting presented with their lunch, and then looking at the flags that were not lifted during the anthem that was not played... I have a photo of the screen to prove that this happened.

Our boss is good [and a model for all other bosses out there, hint hint]... when things go well, he gets money out of his wallet, and gets someone to take orders for lunch.  He also told someone to go out and buy an Esky, but I had already brought one in from home.. along with an old car radio for the roof... He has a good sense of humor [at times].

Also attached is another of the helicopters that I am working on.. This camera is worth close to US$1 million, and it gives great pictures... You should have seen the couple of women in our control room swoon for a bronzed Aussie just before he went for a swim on the triathlong course... and that was at over 2000 feet away...

Friday 15 September 2000

Opening Ceremony

I did not need to work. I was offered to watch it in the control room, but I figured I needed to be up early for the triathlon the next day, so went to the large screen at the local church... Great. Had lunch at Sydney Olympic Park that day, and it had a feel about it... Great time.

Anti-Aircraft Fire

During the opening ceremony we had a helicopter over the stadium for the lighting of the cauldron. This was delayed of course - but they started playing the music that was supposed to start about the time that the cauldron got to the top... But was still down low...

Our helo had instructions to get out of the immediate area as soon as it was up - and so it waited until this happened... or tried to. It was not this easy! You see the people with the fireworks started them cued to the music and not to the vision. And so our helo was in the local area during the fireworks.

Now, there fireworks are like artillery shells, going up and then exploding... just like in war time... And this is what happened... Our helicopter was in the middle of the fireworks... EEK... Lets just say they got out of there quick smart.

Saturday 16 September 2000

Our first event - and a written off car.

One of our team members managed to write off a new Holden Commodore Station Wagon with less than 1000 km on the clock. Making a right hand turn on Paramatta road did not see another driver. Was almost stopped at the time. The airbag deployed and there was not much hurt except for a bruised knee [which would not have been hurt if they guy had been wearing his belt]. Two people in the other car were taken to hospital with minor injuries. I have bought my boss an Olympic matchbox car as a replacement for the one that was written off.

Sunday 17 September 2000

Mens Triathlon

What a week... What an Olympics. Where do I start? I guess the first thing is the mens triathlon on Sunday morning... What a good result technically. Almost everything went right, and the pictures were fantastic.

I actually did work which appeared on TV. During the triathlon I was vision switching between two of the three motorcycles. My job was to decide which rooftop downlink from the repeating helicopters provided a better picture. Thanks to the professionalism and ability of the people I was working with, my job was VERY easy - which was good since I also needed to monitor positions of helicopters on the computer at times.

The women's triathon was also good, but not quite so good. I think the people on the roofs and the pilots got better - cynically I would say this is why they have the women's events on the day before. Our boat was late arriving for a couple of reasons. Firstly we were told that we needed a police escort to take the boat from rushcutters bay to the opera house. The other thing was that there was a bomb scare - so we needed to have divers check out boat.

Monday 18 September 2000

Day Off

So I went into the city for a look round. I am impressed with the place. Looks great. Took lots of photos... Also saw the dead sea scrolls. The scrolls were a bit of a disappointment. Good to have seen them though. I need to see the Leonardo Da Vinci CODEX at the powerhouse now... Darling Harbor has so much restricted area at the moment, but not as much as I thought it would have. Pity I do not have access there... Maybe I should attempt to get a day pass. Other members of my team went to Equestrian for some work there... and had to get quarantine passes, promising to be fumigated if they even thought about touching a horse.

Tuesday 19 September 2000

Day off...

Day off, but I just did not know it... Still, I get paid for some time :-) Went into the city with one of the other workers... Had a great time... Recorded my talk for Friday night USA time.

Found out that one of the guys that I am working with works for Turner Broadcasting [CNN] and they run the Goodwill Games. And those games are in Australia next year... Might be a chance for some more work. Also there might be some in Salt Lake City... Wow... I am really lucky to have picked up this job.

Wednesday 20 September

Marathon Rehearsal

... Marathon rehearsal... Started very late. Of course. Technically quite good, except for air traffic control... Not giving up permission to enter air space, and also Olympic Security not giving us permission to enter Olympic park with aircraft or vehicles... And this is the rehearsal! Found out that my boss is coming back out from the USA on sunday for 6 days... She left on thursday last week. Bizzare.

I got a cheque today for $US 1500 which is close to A$3000. Next time I am in the city I need to cash it before the US $ crashes the same way the A$ has.

Prices at Sydney Olympic Park are strange. At the press centre, a 600 mL Coke is $2. It is $3.80 at the food hall, and $4 in your seat at the stadium. Cans of Coke are $0.50 at the SOBO Logistics compound, and free at some of the broadcasting compounds.

Friday 22 September 2000

20 KM Race Walk

Can you spell FARCE... My team turned up to Auburn hospital 90 minutes after I was told to be there... and we were having a test at 7:00 or 8:00... I got there just before 7:00... But the test was put off late last night and no-one told me, or the spanish riders... Mistakes happen...

We tested Mountain Bike and did Race Walking... Mountain Bike, the video camera bikes did not move most of the time. And we were continually getting complaints about how low the helicopters were... They were at about 1000 feet.... My boss promises that he will bring in photos of Helicopters in Atlanta where they had 5 helicopters at 200 feet for the end of the mens marathon.

The race walk was a joke. This one was 20 KM around the outside of the stadium, with few people watching... The excitement came from the slow motion action replays of the referees giving warnings to the walkers for running... I am not kidding... This was about 75 minutes... In the next few days there is going to be a 50 km race rather than a 20 km... It should last the best part of 3 hours...

It is like a farce having replays of warnings given to athletes... The guy who came first I think was disqualified - as far as we could tell...

My boss decided something strange... I bought an Olympic matchbox car for him to give as a replacement to the guy who crashed his Olympic car. The boss got out his hammer and crashed the model too... As a memento - but only front end damage.

This evening, but USA time I have a presentation in the USA to give. The Powerpoint presentation has been done. I have now recorded the audio for the presentation and sent it by email to the USA. This presentation is on my work on APRS in the games. It is at an international conference in Florida - I wish I was there [And I know there are a few people on this mailing list that think the same....]

I have not heard anything about the closing. When I find out anything I will let you all know. One question I have been asked is have I actually gone to any events? No. I might try to go to an athletics final or something - I will see how things go... I think I can go to all Athletics venues, and get into the spectator areas. I know that we will be working - or some of us will be... The rest will probably be unpacking everything...

One of the other questions I have been asked is have I met any nice women... No... at least not any that are not married. This is unfortunate, but not unexpected. All the inhabitants of the nurses hostel now used by uni students have been moved out for the games, and have been replaced by medical personnel who I have yet to see.

For years I looked at the Olympics as the biggest event on earth, and now here I am working for them, because of my skills... This is extremely satisfying - I am really pleased to be working this event... Professionally what could be better than doing the Olympics.

Anyway this is enough for this update... more next week...


p.s. For those that have not seen it I have included a proposal for the 2008 Olympics.
Subject: Mt Druitt bid for 2008 Olympics
Mt Druitt is to make a bid for the 2008 Olympic Games.  In order to
increase the likelihood that the successful bidders will win at least
some medals, the competition has been modified somewhat. However,
fierce competition is expected from rival areas such as Bankstown,
Campbelltown, and Cabramatta.

The Olympic Flame will be ignited by a petrol bomb
thrown by a native of the city wearing the traditional flannelette
shirt, jeans and no shoes, with his defacto wearing the traditional
bike pants and short top with oversized stomach.


100 Metre Sprint.
Competitors will have to hold a video recorder and a microwave (one
in each arm) and on the sound of the starting pistol a police dog
will be released from a cage 10 metres behind the athletes.

100 metre hurdles.
As above but with added obstacles, car bonnets, hedges, gardens,
fences, walls, trains, etc.

Hammer Throw.
Competitors in this event may choose the type of hammer they wish to
use (claw, sledge, etc).  The winner will be the one who can cause
the most grievous bodily harm to members of the public within the
time allowed.

A strong challenge is expected from the men in this event.  The first
target will be a moving police vehicle.  In the second round
competitors will aim at a post office clerk, bank teller, console
operator or video store attendant. A sawn-off shotgun will be the
official weapon for the games.

Entry to the boxing will be restricted to husband and wife teams and
will take place on a Friday night.  The husband will be given 15
schooners of VB at the Mt Druitt Hotel followed by a quick peek in a
lap dancing joint, while the wife will be instructed not to make him
any dinner when he gets home.  She will be wearing the regulation
bike pants, short top and thongs.

Cycling Time Trials.
The competitor will attend the city skateboard area where they will
obtain a stolen bike from a mummy's boy (preferably from Newington
College or Grammar).  They will then be racing against the clock.
Bonus points will be awarded should a helmet be obtained at the
time of taking the bike.

Modern Pentathlon.
Amended to include Robbery with violence, Burglary, Unlawful use of a
motor vehicle, Arson, and wilful exposure.

Men's 50km walk.
Unfortunately this will have to be cancelled as organisers
cannot guarantee the safety of anyone walking the streets of Mt

The beam will be replaced by the strip of gutter outside the Mt
Druitt Hotel.  The event will commence at closing time - we expect
some extremely difficult dismounts to be performed on this
apparatus.  The floor routine will be conducted in the padded cell of
the Mt Druitt watchhouse.

Closing Ceremony.
Entertainment will include the local Torres Straight Islander
dancing group accompanied by a local AC/DC cover band. The Olympic
flame will be extinguished by local representatives by urinating
from the base of the spire in a cascading effect.  The stadium
will then be boarded up before local athletes break in to it and
remove all the copper piping and air conditioners.

Sunday 24 September 2000

Women's Marathon - and bad pictures at the start

I had to be at work at about 6:30 for a technical check about that time. I got in just after 6:15. We had just got our fixed wing plane up, and were trying to get out Helicopters up - 6 of them. The camera men had not arrived, and they were trying to decide if to stay on the ground or leave before the fog closed in. In the end they decided to wait, which would prove disastrous for us. The fog closed into bankstown and closed the airport.

We checked the ground equipment - 4 bikes and a lead car, and they worked OK from the Aircraft so we nervously sent the plane to Mascot for fuel. About 8:10 we then found the fog a bit clearer, and got the opportunity to get the Helicopters out. But it was too early and we did not want to re-fuel during the marathon... So we just sent up one of the videocamera helicopters - to fly to North Head to refuel before the race. By the time we got anyone to say OK to get the others in the air the airport closed again.

We got the Helo and the Plane over the race at 8:45 as required - and the pictures were OK... Sometimes the pictures coming from the ground vehicles through the plane were not perfect, but it was better than nothing. The plane at 14,000 ft was there just to replay the signals, and used the system that I was in charge of to navigate and stay over the race.

We also need to change the frequency of one of the motorcycles from 1994 MHz to 2016 MHz borrowing a frequency from Sailing so that we would not be hit by interference by Channel 9 with one of their fixed links getting into the plane.

As the race started there was a bit of breakup of pictures because of the way we were working. We were feeling pretty bad when my mother rang me and asked if we knew the picture on TV was breaking up a lot...

We had some good news at 9:10. The Helos had taken off and would be on site within 10 minutes. This was great news. When they arrived about 9:20 the pictures improved and things were fantastic.

Monday 25 September 2000

Road Cycling rehearsal and Evacuation

Rehearsal and Technical Check of the Road Cycling. One thing that we are used to is refueling the airplanes. What we are not used to is refueling the motorcycles - especially on air... But this happened today. We had to send the 3 motorcycles off the course onto the public road to find a shell service station, with 3 helicopters; and a fixed wing plane. Reminds me of that old BP add where they have the train, 747, care and motorcycle going to an outback service station... Did I forget to say that the motorcycles were driven by Spanish who basically do not speak english. And They had passengers with video cameras. Dressed up in racing suits as used in the Tour De France race.

Unfortunately we did not get to see the live video of this... Just as they were preparing to go, we evactuated since there was a fire alarm. 2 floors down we found out later someone had burned some cheese on toast... The fire brigade came and everything... Just at the wrong time. At least we were not going to air at the time. Oh, and at the same time we were trying to re-fuel another helicopter at the same time.

After work I went over to the Stadium and ran into one of the women there from the church who is working in the stadium - who told me about all the problems at the venue for food retailing... I am glad I am not working there. I got to the Stadium by actually running from where I parked my car, or running much of the way... I must have looked strange to the spectators in busses that saw me running in jeans and polo shirt - at least I was wearing joggers.

Tuesday 26 September 2000

Road Cycling

Rain... Rain and no storms... Problems with aircraft meaning that my work was important again. Also because I was recording the data I am able to tell managers where planes and helos were at any time - which is important since Air Services Australia and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority have been involved with some comments one of our pilots made when he suddenly was in cloud, not being in an instrument rated helo. I never thought I would need my work to prove what our aircraft were doing for these organisations.

This morning I was asked if I would be interested in working on a world track and field championship in Edmonton, Canada some time early next year. Would I ever... Get someone to pay for my overseas holidays... I had a quick think of where I would extend that holiday...

The rain today was bad enough for our motorcycle people to be constantly cleaning their lens'... This must have been a pain for them. Of the three cycles, I am sure that they only used one of them for a few seconds during the whole race.

Thanks to the scanner I was listening into NBC which had their own motorcycle and helo, but no where near the number of assets that we had... Very insightful.

I may be able to get some more work in this area. There is a Marathon in Chicargo in 4 weeks and they may need people to take stuff back to the USA as well as work the event. There are a few others too... The Goodwill Games in Australia next year... And some others...

We have started packing some stuff up already, since there is little time after the games to pull everything out. I suspect that I will have a car full of extension cords, power supplies and the like given to me following the games.

At the international broadcast center I picked up a cool book... A lonely planet guide for Sydney. UPS is giving them away to Journalists, which I think means me :-)

Wednesday 27 September 2000

Road Cycling - Mens - 5 Hours 29 Minutes

Ok... Boredom yesterday. YUK today. Our video recorder ran out of tape with the race and the medal ceremony - and it was in long play. We were happy it was ended... And none of us thought that it would be so bad. We all thought cycling would be fun and exciting... But after 5 1/2 hours.. HELP... We want to get out. We delayed setting up on one of the receive sites this morning due to lightning. This was SHOCKING :-).

The Manly Ferry was also off line this morning. We think that the bad weather dislodged some of the equipment. The manly ferry must have been fixed properly since Channel 7 just displayed an image from it on the TV, saying "The harbor bridge looks pretty good from the manly ferry"... It is good to have been a part of that.

Today some of the video camera helos had problems. One of them lost power a few times, and the other had a jammed iris near the end of the day, stuck so that no light got into the camera. The same problem was also happening earlier to one of the motorcycle cameras.

In the cycling they have pitt crews on the roads to get bikes fixed. They then run with the bikes pushing them off. We noticed some differences in the technique between races. During the mens race they put their hand on the back of the seat to push the bike, but during the women's race they had their hands on the woman's bottom as well as the seat... Of course all the mechanics we saw were men.

We found out that NBC's helicopter was forbidden from flying again in the road cycling area after flying too low yesterday. Turns out that they were flying about 200 feet above the ground, which is about 75m. Checking out our logs we found that our helos got down to 300 feet above ground, a lot lower than the 500 absolute minimum... My boss promptly told the powers that be that we had been unable to get the data out, which was true for a period - but which we fixed.

My boss came to me today and said "We will have to get you to do a talk on all this [work that I have done] at Dayton [A huge Geek Fest in the USA]". Sounds fun... Or should I say, sounds like more frequent flyer miles for me when they pay for me to come over. Also they are looking at selling some of the equipment to some company in Australia. They would then need someone to work on the GPS stuff as required. Looks like I could be busy in the next year [Craig Graham, please ignore the previous paragraph. I have no intention of getting a 2nd job part time. I am dedicated to Pacific Power. I will stay here until I retire]

One of the things that is an issue around the venues is the height of helicopters. One of the projects I am working on at the moment is getting the data on the height of the aircraft straight to the IBC... This is an economics question as well as a technical one - After all is it worth the $250 to rent a professional unit? Or can I borrow one?

Thursday 28 September 2000

Women's 20Km Race Walk

Ok - So this was not so bad... Because it was not too long... well, compared to yesterday and tomorrow. This was all interesting - we were not so sure that we would be able to get the helos up. Eventually we prepared to get the plane up as well, but ended up not needing it. What scared us was that during the morning we had a shock... Literally. The roof had a hit of static electricity that we thought was lightening... The people at UNSW saw the flash it was so bad...

After the race I took a technician to Olympic Park to do some work on the motorbikes. I did not know where to go so I dropped him and had to go to park my car a few blocks away. I then got a bus back, and beat him to where he was going.. I was just there to look round. They were doing security checks on cars coming in, including inside the engine. Then I saw a car come in without a number plate, which I worked out was driven by the guy who got me this job...A photo is attached if I remember it...  Strange that we met up here... After grabbing some lunch we went round the park, which was interesting. I found a polo-shirt for the International Olympic Photographic Pool 2000 for only $25 on special. This is great value... I will have to pick up some more.

For the pacific power people they might remember Chris Howard [I think] who was working in the Electrical drafting Office. He has been working as a stroreman at SOBO for the past 6 months... I saw him today... Wow...

I finally got round to photographing one of the notes next to the phone at the control room today. It had the following message
 "In case of air piracy or Hijack, please call SOBO Operations on 8114 xxxx"

The thing is that the largest of our aircraft is a six seater, most are 4 seaters, and of those one is taken up with equipment. The odds of someone hijacking one of these aircraft is quite small, given that the message went up DURING a race...

I got my mobile phone bill yesterday for the Olympic period, only about $40... I thought it would have been more for the number of calls that i have made.

Also attached is a photo of the software I am using, showing the positions of the assets I am dealing with during the race cycling...

An Olympic related cartoon...

Friday 29 September 2000

Visit the Ham Radio store

Things are starting to wind down. The boss of the company has left australia again after being here 3 or 4 days... And we are starting to pack up. Oh, and it is only friday morning.

One thing I forgot to add after yesterday's message on race walking was on the race walking. After the race I was talking to one of the broadcast officials [Roy] and he informed me that even to his untrained eyes he could tell that she was running. And he was there.

After the walk today I arranged to take some people to the local ham radio stores. Some had to come from the city so we picked them up at lidcome station... I saw Michael Nasser from PacPower there. Then got a call on the radio - they are at Denistone. Yeah, I will come to get them. YUK. I do not know that area. Took them to the first store. The other ham from our USA company just happened to be there with his left hand drive OB van... Sent him morse code on the horn to say hi... Had great fun with him and the other hams in that store and another local store. They picked up a few radios.

Saturday 30 September 2000

Women's 20Km Race Walk

The comment made today was 'I do not know what day of the week it is. No seriously, I do not know what day of the week this is.... This is saturday isn't it?'. Yeah, I felt the same way. Found out my boss had given away my power tools since he thought he had bought them... He is working on getting them back. I should have told him to replace them, with boshe or something...

Time trials was un-eventful... I had not much to do. At lunch I went to UNSW to pick up a microwave receiver that we needed... It was only worth A$18,000! and is the size of 10 computer disks. It is worth more than my car. At one stage I had to take A$50,000 of them.

A few days ago I heard a horror story about Atlanta and the mens marathon. The rumors goes that the cloud dropped right down, so the chopper was flying at 200 feet above ground level - through the middle of Atlanta. 200 feet is about 20 stories up... Imagine looking out the window of an office building and seeing a helicopter BELOW!!!!

2UE Helo

There are stories going round about 2UE helicopter pilot David Jones. I have worked on his helo, and he seems very nice... I have heard of 2MMM people thanking him on air for joy flights... and there is a report of he and his wife hosting USA track stars in their $4.5 Million home... This I would believe - he is fairly quiet and takes a lot of pride in his helo.

Sunday 1 October 2000

Closing and Marathon

As I write this I am trying to remember what happened. And it is only Tuesday. Those who know me well will be surprised to know that I did not check my email between Sunday morning and Tuesday Morning...

Sunday was cool. Before work I went over to Paramatta Westfields, where there were so many athletes it is not funny. So many. The atmosphere was great - There was a buzz in the air - something magical. I got to work at about 12:30 pm, and we did not have much to do until 1:30, so we just talked, and had a great time. 1:30 was the rehearsal, and it was not much of one... not like the Triathlon where we had triathletes running the course... This time the lead truck did not really leave the compound, which caused us problems later...

The rehearsal went well, as far as it went, but after the rehearsal we had problems. Our camera technician was thrown from the vehicle at the last minute for the official documentary film maker... Which caused us problems. Seems that the camera operator did not know how to speak english or operate the camera. For the first 30-45 minutes of the race we had a camera at a huge angle... My boss commented that the camera on the manly ferry was more stable. Production also decided to have the runners in the center of the bridge, [one on the east side] and didn't provide the millions of cameras they promised... Basically we were it, and our cameras were breaking up... YUK.

That did not last too long... we were soon on our way to Anzac Parade... And Air Traffic Control would only allow 2 helos in, and at 4000 feet. Now, we normally use 6 helos, at 800-1300 feet, so much of the time we were relying on our fixed wing plane that could not do too well in 45 knot winds at 14,000 feet. A 747 took off under our helo.

During this time I was Quality Control on two motorcycles, which meant making arbitrary decisions on which downlink was providing the best feed, as well as doing general air traffic control activities... Lots of work... Once we got back to the city things settled down, and the pictures improved.

After this finished I got out the party food I got earlier and we enjoyed ourselves.

Once the race finished we worked out who was to stay and go. I stayed, but I took one of the woman, who had been sort of our producer much of the time, to the Bankstown Airport so that she could attend a party with her husband. Coming back I stopped for some soft drinks for our acting producer, and then my car refused to go into gear. YUK. Restarting the car fixed the problem.

When I got back we did a quick order for Pizza, which I collected during the opening.. That took 5 minutes... We needed the food. Soon after we went onto the roof to see the F 111 plane... It was cool waiting for that since the wind was so cold... I had a jumper on, and that was not enough... It was interesting trying to guess what was the plane as it was coming in. And it made a lot of noise!

I was also on the roof for the wireworks, but I was too far away to really get a good look. When I get a chance I will watch them on TV. Our helo was up there for aerial shots - but most of the time they were not actually used.

I loved the french farse when the people were chasing all over the stadium at the beginning. This was truly amazing... although the video in the tunnels was pre-recorded. Well done. Immediately after the fireworks I went home... What a night...

Also, just before the race, our helo saw a boat on fire near dee why. I saw this and got it punched up to the International Broadcast Centre, and also fired it up on the video recorder. Because of it being so far away, pictures were up and down, but they were basically good... It was interesting being there having to switch video for something that really mattered - and really was life and death.

Monday 2 October 2000

Packing Up

OK - I arrived too early, again assuming that the roads would be busy - They were not. And my team members were late of course - that is to be expected. Combined I was there about an hour or so too early. I spent my time just sitting thee waiting for people to asking questions about the motorcycles which were there ready for shipping. Quite interesting...

Once everyone arrived we started packing things up. Everything from radios to computers had to be logged and packed up and put into boxes. Then the boxes were put in an area for air mail [over 50 boxes will go this way], or into a large shipping container for transport by sea. We have over 200 boxes in the container - where a box can be anything up to an 8 foot rack with 4 video monitors bubble wrapped and cling rapped for shipping. We had three 5 foot satellite dishes in there too. This was a lot of work.

I left a bit before 5:00 so that I could come in for dinner to the city. This was cool. Before I left my boss was horsing around, throwing water around, so I pointed to my windscreen, which he then washed with spring water and his hand... And then put his hand out for payment. I paid $1... They also attempted to pack my car in plastic wrap, but it did not stick... I just cracked up at this.

Dinner was good, and  met a few vendors that I had not yet met. I also met a couple of people working for us that I had not met... I was trying to remember all the people I had met  on the first day, and not seen since. I met some interesting people - the person who had my power tools, and also a vendor from Vic. Both were interested in the work I had done, and were interested in commercial applications of the work. This I came across a few times..

Tuesday 3 October 2000

Back to work with Pacific Power

Tuesday 10 October 2000


Made Redundant. Offered a lot of $$$ to leave the company, but even if I do not, then I have no work. Am trying to develop a business selling GPS applications to the world...

Darryl Smith VK2TDS

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