Peak Cavern Nicola 3 Tests - Alan Brentnall

Sunday, 7 December, 2014

Just a few notes about the Nicola 3 tests which were carried out on Sunday - this isn't the offical report, just the impressions from one of the helpers. For those of you unaware, there really are radios which are capable of transmitting through rock and earth, and they have been in existence since World War 1 when they were used to talk between trenches. DCRO uses a version called the Heyphone with varying degrees of success - they work well enough for us to persevere with them!

The Nicola Project is a French project, part sponsored by the British Cave Rescue Council, aimed at getting a better set made for cave rescue work. In July 1996, Nicola Dollimore from Rossendale and five of her friends were tragically killed in floods in the Gouffre Berger, and Nicola's family started a fund which has given rise to a new generation of underground radio, and trips to the Berger now make use of these sets to routinely call the surface from Camp 1 to check on the weather before setting off either down into the Cascades, or up into the flood-prone entrance pitches.

Nicola 3, which was the subject of Sunday's test is the latest model, and Nicola's main designer, Graham Naylor was there to repeat tests which have been done several times in Peak Cavern during the radio's development and prototype phase. Sunday's testing was very successful, despite the foul winter conditions, with the new radios proving to be much clearer and more powerful than the Heyphones (which we were also using as backup, and for comparison).

We also succeeded in reaching Far Sump from the location normally used for both Treasury and Squaw Junction (first time this has ever been done) and we had successful two way transmissions to Far Sump from just above the point normally used for talking to Victoria Aven - this was an amazing distance of 1km, and an indication that we can probably get to all the locations from this point (although we didn't get a chance to actually try this).

Many thanks to TSG members who helped with this important work, and thanks also for the use of The Chapel before and after the tests.