Bella Coola Heli Sport’s has the largest heli-ski tenure in British Columbia. With the Tweedsmuir Lodge located deep in a valley, its impossible to determine the visibility beyond the front door. Due to navigational standards, ’visual flight rules’ restrict the range of the air craft to areas with good visibility. Like most heli-ski tour operators, the day started with an expensive recon flight.
Hakai was approached by the lodge operators to build and deploy a remote camera system that was durable enough to operate in an exposed alpine environment with minimal maintenance. Weather extremes in this area include sub -30C temperatures and high variability of snow conditions. High wind and ice accumulation add to the challenge of installing any kind of stand-alone technology.
The existing solutions on the market were general purpose systems that did not address the requirements of this project.
We custom engineered and manufactured an easy to use mounting system utilizing aluminum and stainless steel components. A special solar panel was selected based on its ability to withstand harsh conditions and sized to meet the station’s calculated power budget. A long-life, maintenance-free bank of batteries is stored securely within a sealed and insulated enclosure. These batteries are designed for low temperature operation and provide a high-capacity energy storage block that exceeds other systems. Our high-capacity planning allows the camera station to reliably operate through times where solar production is low.
True autonomy was realized by economizing power with the integration of intelligent control devices. Our past industry experience with renewable energy and telemetry system design is exhibited in the stability of the final product.
The camera selected for the project met the requirements of being feature rich, power efficient and weather hardened. Images from the camera are emailed on a high frequency schedule to the war room. Here, the days events are preplanned by meteorological experts in charge of safety and cost effective use of flight time. Rather than reading points on a graph or data from the next closest weather station, to the trained eye the camera images tell a story of how the day may evolve.
Our remote cameras have already become a big competitive advantage for several operators in BC. Less time guessing about weather means more time impressing guests with epic skiing adventures.