Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Blitzortung coming soon to Doha!

As some of you may already now, I built a lightning detector as part of the Blitzortung network which lives on the roof of my house in Aberdeen.

Now that I am also in Qatar, I thought it would be good to add a second station to my account and take it out with me to Doha. It will (or should be) the first station to be added in Qatar, further extending the reach of the network. I say should as I still have to get it into the country and you never know what the customs might think of electronics and ferrite rods with wires sticking out of them!

I ordered the kit a few weeks back with the intention to build it and test it next time I was in Aberdeen to then take out with me to Qatar.

Yesterday I commenced the build, and completed the antennae amplifier board and today completed the main controller board. Hooked it all up, GPS got a position lock, connected it to the internet and registered the station against my account. Success!

As this was the 2nd system I had built, it was fairly easy the second time round, I wrote an article when I built the 1st system over on CodeProject at the link below, which has more details about the system;
http://www.codeproject.com/Articles/809240/Lightning-Never-Strikes-Twice-Blitzortung

Amplifier board (left) Controller board (right)
Now just to get it out to Qatar and work out how to mount it and run the cables in....probable future post!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Schooling Finalised - At last!

As you have probably worked out from my other posts relating to schooling, getting places can be an absolute headache.

Let alone getting two places for two different grades at the same school to make things easier!

Following the recent visit to Doha of Nadia and the girls during which time we took the opportunity to go and visit a few of the schools that we had applied for and also allow the youngest to complete necessary assessments that were outstanding.

Following these visits and some more discussion we decided on our final choice.

The girls will be joining the GEMS Education schools here in Doha (Al Wakra). Yes that is plural and here's where the plot thickens.

The existing GEMS school in Doha is GEMS American Academy, which as you can guess in an American curriculum. They are also opening a new school in September 2015, GEMS Wellington, which is a British curriculum and of course our preference.

However, the British school is not opening a year group for the eldest until 2016-17 session, this means that she will have to attend the American school for 1 year and then move across to the British school. The youngest will go directly to the British school.

Fortunately both these schools are on the same campus and next door to each other, so they can still travel together which makes life much easier. The schools are about a 30 minute drive from the villa, but they are planning on running a school bus with a proposed pick up point about 5 minutes from the villa. The school bus is essential, as I don't fancy 2 hours in traffic everyday!

One of the most confusing things is the year groups, the schools (not just GEMS) have different year/grades and use different methods for determining which group the children should be going into. I have a feeling that they might be skipping years, but the school will carry out early reviews at the start of the new school year to ensure they have been placed correctly and will move accordingly if possible.

The main thing is however, the school places have been confirmed, the seat places have had the reservation fees paid so now we can get after planning their relocation!

Here are a couple of videos relating to GEMS;




Monday, 1 June 2015

AirCon Failure! I'm melting.......

Last night, I was woken by the bin men doing their rounds...at 2.30am! Suppose it keeps them out of the rush hour traffic and prevents chaos like it does in Aberdeen.

Anyway, when I woke up and went to look and see what the noise was, I noticed that the bedrooms and hallway upstairs were a tad warm. Went down to the kitchen to get another bottle of water and it was still nice and cool down there.

Going back upstairs I noticed there was no noise, The air con unit for upstairs was still switched to 'On'. Tried a magic reset i.e. Off/On again and heard the fan kick in, so went back to bed.

Woke in the morning melting, no fan running and the temperature in the bedrooms/hallway was 28'C

I reset it again, and the system only stayed running for a little over 2 minutes then died again.

Time to see how good the compounds maintenance response is!

Wandered over to the management office, Never been in before and introduced myself to the guy at the desk and before I even said my name he already knew what villa number I was in, so they are at least paying attention to what's going on.

He said they would get someone over when they are free.

About an hour later, the maintenance guys comes over turned the system off/on and felt the air from the vents and then said he would check outside at the chiller. Next thing I hear is watering draining out the system and then a little while later the sound of gas escaping. Peering out the window I could see them hooking up the recharge hoses and a bottle of refrigerant gas.

10 minutes later, he said they would come back after lunch to check, but that is it working again.

Sure enough the system has stayed on since and the temperature is slowly coming down.

Success!