Having finally got the health, safety and insurance bureaucracy out of the way, we’ve been able to get properly stuck in with the network dig. Now, there are a couple of ways of going about this: from picking the smallest, least disturbing tools possible and proceeding in a sensitive and non-disruptive manner, to throwing the biggest damn digger you can find at the job, on the principle that it won’t find anything it can’t handle. So guess which we went with?
For the last two days then, we’ve been tearing up the tracks at Stronvar, to create the start of the backbone from our fibre cabinet to Monachyle Mhor. Our intrepid team, including maestro Dick Lewis on digger, aided and abetted by David Johnston, Quintin Lyle, Richard Harris and Andrew Leishman, has installed five breakout chambers to serve different clusters of houses, dug another 200m of backbone in and replaced a large culvert at Stronvar Farm with an even larger one. We’ve also got power on to the network link to the outside world, after Openreach finally turned up with a bit they’d forgotten on their previous visit. Meanwhile, Alcuin Arkotxa has been clearing trees, vegetation and dead sheep from the onward route west up the glen, Nyaka at Danakhosa has been laying their local ducting and Quintin and co have been working out their route through Craigruie.
With the backbone ducting and chambers in place, we then need to lay the small ducts that serve each property, after which we hand over to our network partners, Bogons, to blow the fibre into the ducts and knit the whole ensemble together. At that point we can provide connections to each property, switch on the first batch, make sure they’re working properly and then move on to the next part of the network.
Whilst the Monachyle/Bealach team head west towards the hotel, we’re aiming to get the centre of our network ‘star’ into place, to allow residents of Balquhidder village itself, Gart and Ballinluig to then get started on linking their properties in to the network. Our project office is now at the old Sula shop at Kingshouse, which will become more apparent once we’ve got some signage made up.
We’ll also be installing a wi-fi base station at the cabinet to allow people to come and sample the wares. We may even be able to set up a temporary coffee shop there – more on that anon.