Industrial Ethernet helped rescue Chilean miners

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The scope of the operation could not be overstated: 33 miners trapped for 69 days more than 2,000 feet below the surface. Conditions inside the rescue tunnel were 95 degrees Fahrenheit and wet.

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A small (3-by-5-inch) industrial Ethernet unmanaged switch, manufactured by Sixnet of Ballston Lake, NY, with a small camera attached to it was prepared to be mounted inside the "Phoenix" rescue capsule. The purpose of the network-connected camera was to get images to allow inspection of the rock structures in the tunnel prior to human transport.

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The Sixnet SLX-5ES-2ST switches (left) feature five wire-speed non-blocking ports. Four operate at 10/100Mbps and the fifth at 100Mbps over fiber. They are designed to withstand operating temperatures from -40 up to 185° Fahrenheit.

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The SLX-5ES-2ST and the camera were mounted inside the "Phoenix" rescue capsule head. Rescuers wanted to inspect the tunnel and perform test runs before any humans traveled in the capsule. They also wanted to have the camera look up, down and inside the capsule so they would know what would happen during capsule movement. (You can see a video of a test run here.)

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The Phoenix capsule with the Sixnet switch and camera is lowered into the tunnel to evaluate conditions before the rescue is attempted.

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Once conditions are determined the rescue proceeds. A rescuer inside the Phoenix capsule gives a "thumbs up" to indicate that the operation is ready to commence.

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One of the 33 miners is successfully raised from the mine to the surface. One-by-one the Phoenix will raise all 33 miners out of the mine they've been trapped in for 69 days.

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All's well that ends well. The rescuers and the miners and their families and friends celebrate a successful mission accomplished.

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