A hardened Ethernet switch was used to help evaluate conditions in the San Jose mine in Chile just before rescue operations commenced to free the 33 trapped miners a month ago.

A 3-by-5-inch Sixnet SLX-5ES-2ST industrial Ethernet unmanaged switch with a small camera attached to it was 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.

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. (Here's a video taken with a camera mounted to the Sixnet switch during a test run of the rescue capsule.)

The Sixnet switch features five wire-speed non-blocking ports. Four operate at 10/100Mbps and the fifth at 100Mbps over fiber. They're designed to withstand operating temperatures from -40 degrees up to 185 degrees Fahrenheit.

Conditions in the mine shaft were 95 degrees F and wet.

Although the Sixnet switch only weighs a few ounces, the switch and camera were removed from the Phoenix in order to remove any unnecessary weight before miners were raised from the mine.

All 33 miners were rescued after 69 days in the mine.