January 21, 2016

NEW BLOG - Vessel of Interest | наблюдаемое судно

I've spun out any non-Canadian non-Cold War related blog posts to a new blog called Vessel of Interest (наблюдаемое судно) in order to keep the focus of CampingCDN.blogspot.com with Canadian Cold War topics related to sites I might be able to go and visit, in Canada, or at least posts related to Canada's Cold War effort.  Any old posts here that weren't fully Cold War related have been copied over there, but remain on this blog so the links aren't dead.

So, if you're interested in more than Canadian Cold War things, go check out http://VesselOfInterest.blogspot.com and subscribe!

January 08, 2016

Canadian Forces Ammunition Depots

I'm interested in the architecture and location of all the ammunition magazines that were used during the Cold War in Canada, and abroad, but it's pretty easy to locate the current locations which are in use as ammunition depots, so let's start there...

Run by the Canadian Materiel Support Group (CMSG), a subordinate formation of CFJOSG, the following ammunition depots are currently active.  Most, if not all, Canadian Forces bases have some provision to store ammunition, but these are the main hubs where all ammunition comes from or is stored.
  • Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Rocky Point near Victoria, B.C.
  • Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Dundurn in Dundurn, Sask.
  • Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Detachment Angus at CFB Borden
  • Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Bedford in Bedford, N.S.
Let's start with those which are in use, that I have no hope of taking pictures of, working backwards to those I would like to go and see, with an incredibly minute chance of getting any pictures.

Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot (CFAD) Rocky Point

"A crew prepares to crane a Mk 48 Heavyweight Torpedo from HMCS Victoria to the jetty.  It was the first offload of Mk 48 Heavyweight Torpedoes at Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Rocky Point."
CFAD Rocky Point is located at the southern tip of Vancouver Island and occupies approximately 500 acres. It is a lodger unit of CFB Esquimalt, and reports directly to the Commander Canadian Material Support Group (CMSG), part of Canadian Operational Support Command (CANOSCOM).

Canadian Materiel Support Group (CMSG) is responsible for providing operational-level support through the delivery of materiel and assigned logistics services to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and the Department of National Defence.

CFAD Rocky Point is located in the municipality of Metchosin, British Columbia and in the Federal Electoral District of Esquimalt--Juan de Fuca.

Tasks performed at the facility include maintenance of missiles (including the Sea Sparrow family of missiles), maintenance and refueling of torpedoes (including the Mk48 Heavyweight), ammunition transit to other Canadian Forces facilities, explosive demolition operations, and ammunition loading and unloading at the jetty to Royal Canadian Navy ships, submarines, and allied vessels.

Normal staffing at CFAD Rocky Point is 60 full time personnel, 4 of those being CAF military members.(ref: CFAD Rocky Point Fire Risk Assessment p.6)

There are more than four major purposes for the buildings at CFAD Rocky Point:

Ammunition Storage Magazines (Mag)

Ammunition storage magazines, located within the explosives area, are earth covered magazines built of reinforced concrete and bermed with dirt on multiple sides to reduce the amount of damage to the surrounding area if an explosion were to occur. Lightning rods are grounded and placed on the top of all buildings to ensure inadvertent ignition of the munitions does not occur in accordance with the DND Ammunition and Explosives Safety Manual. Built in 1955, ammunition storage magazines are numbered B043, B045, B046, B057, B058; and likely more.

Torpedo Maintenance Facility (TMF)

The TMF handles maintenance on Royal Canadian Torpedoes; principally the Mk-48 Heavyweight torpedoes (Mk6 or Mk7 variant?) for the RCN submarine fleet, Mk.46 Mod 5 torpedoes for the Halifax-class frigates, and likely additional types for air deployed torpedoes for ASW. Labelled in Treasury Board secretariat documentation as an Industrial Workshop, the single story steel and concrete building was built in 1955, and is now joined with several other buildings by above ground tunnels to allow easy passage at all times of the day or night, in all weather, and without prying eyes being privy to ammunition movements. I'm fairly certain B075 is one of the buildings, but without a site plan I am not sure. (p.16)

Missile Maintenance Facility (MMT)

The information regarding the Missile Maintenance Facility seems to be more redacted in the documents returned by the access to information department at DND, which just peaked my interest further. Why would the Torpedo Maintenance Facility be less sensitive than a missile maintenance facility? I'm still not sure, but here's what I gather. The facility is one level, but does have a basement which is larger than the 1st floor (1122.7m2 ground floor vs 1546.3m2 basement) with a roof which is 1364.5m2. I suspect it's building number is B142, but I do not have a site plan to show which building that is. The building is constructed of reinforced concrete; which makes sense. The MMT building was constructed in 1991 at a cost of ~$4M. (p.15) Officially, it is documented in the CFB Esquimalt newspaper The Lookout as "a large purpose-built structure within the Explosives Area dedicated to the inspection, service and maintenance of naval missiles."

Looking for further information on the tasks performed in this facility I found mention of it in a legal case which has a lot of information entered as evidence; Anderson et al. v. Treasury Board (Department of National Defence), 2009 PSLRB 93. Testimony states that personnel in the MMT would:

"inspect, repair, modify, refurbish, test, perform quality control functions, package and label missiles in accordance with the Regulations. In some instances, he packaged and labelled missile canisters in accordance with the Regulations and shipped them from the MMF directly to the Rocky Point jetty, where the missiles were then loaded onto Canadian naval ships. In other cases, missiles and component parts such as rocket motors, jet fan controls, etc. that were being sold to different countries were packaged, labelled and shipped to magazines for storage, pending their sales."

I find it interesting that the missiles would be prepared to be sold to other countries there, and not sent directly from the manufacturer.

Furthermore, the missiles which are worked on are likely of various types, but the building certainly handles maintenance on the Sea Sparrow, Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile and Harpoon anti-ship missiles for its primary customers, the RCN Halifax-class frigates.  The Halifax-class are undergoing a refit at this time, which is supposed to be complete by 2017; some weapons systems and the missiles they use will be upgraded.

Ammunition Laboratories 

If I understand correctly the ammunition laboratories are workshops for working on the ammunition; exact locations within the facility are unknown, but there are six identical connected buildings viewable on satellite imagery. "Six licensed ammunition laboratories are located within the Explosives Area. The licensed laboratories provide workshop duties including painting booths, black powder work area, periodic ammunition inspections and a workshop for naval fixed gun ammunition.  The laboratories are interconnected by covered walkways to facilitate the movement of ammunition between buildings."

Heavily quoted and aggregated from the following sources:

- CFAD Rocky Point Fire Risk Assessment, by the Compliance Officer CFFM5, reviewed by the Canadian Forces Fire Marshal, October 2014 (via ATIP)
- http://www.forces.gc.ca/en/business-equipment/halifax-frigate.page
Anderson et al. v. Treasury Board (Department of National Defence), 2009 PSLRB 93 

[2016.01.08 Major Update]

Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot (CFAD) Dundurn

CFAD Dundurn is one of the major ammunition depots set up across Canada, and located near Dundurn, Saskatchewan.  From the satellite pictures you can  see it is a massive storage facility.  Clearly from the choke points and guard posts, the facility is understandably highly secure.  As is the case with all ammunition storage facilities, no photos are allowed.

A Brief History of Canadian Force Ammunition Depot Dundurn

The history of Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Dundurn is intermingled with that of the Camp. The Commanding Officer of the Depot up until integration was the Camp Commander. The construction of the Depot was done in conjunction with the Camp. The Camp was first sited and brush-cleared, stumped and burned, in 1927. This was done under the supervision of Captain Blake, RCE, and the Foreman of Works, Sgt E Bailey. The following year land improvements were made but no permanent buildings were constructed. It was first used as a military training area in 1928 by Cavalry and Infantry units such as the 16/22 Saskatoon Light Horse; Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians), Regina Rifles and the Prince Albert Volunteers.

In 1933, widespread unrest and rioting in the Regina area led the Federal Government to establish a work program at Camp Dundurn for the civilian populace. Quartered in tents, fed and employed for construction projects, each person was paid the wage of twenty cents per day.

From 1934 to 1938, the camp remained a Work Relief Project and the camp itself increased in size and shape with the appearance of newly constructed stone and wooden buildings that are currently used to this day. During this period of 1934-1938, the storage, maintenance, issuing and receiving of ammunition was visualized and the construction of five explosive magazines (M36-M40) was completed in 1937.

In 1941, ten Temporary Deployment Magazines (TDM's) (TDM 1-10) were constructed.

In 1947, No. 6 Ammunition Depot was established under the command of WO2 T. Harmston. The ammunition storage area consisted of five ex plosive magazines and ten TDM's.

In 1949, the Depot was renumbered to 36 Ordnance Ammunition Depot (36 OAD).

It was in 1958 that 36 OAD increased dramatically in size. An office building, Explosives Laboratory and transit building plus twenty-five new magazines were constructed. Shortly after integration, Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Dundurn came into being.

In 1977, a new Ammunition Workshop was built.

In 1981, a lecture training trailer was installed in front of the main office.

1990 saw the construction of the Hardstand area and in 1991, the construction of the first Igloo, Magazine 46. In 1993, Mag 49 was built and is in use as the Detonator Storage Building. The construction of Mag 50 was completed in 1993. Although situated in the CFAD compound, this mag is used for 2nd line storage and is the responsibility of the Detachment Ammunition Section. 1994 saw the opening of Mags 47 and 48. These two mags were built in the "3 Bar Igloo" style. In 1995, a brand new Transit facility (Mag 51) and the Ammunition Processing Building (Mag 52) were officially opened as Dundurn continued the process of consolidated repair, disposal and shipping of ammunition. In 1996, a new Non-Explosives Stores magazine (Mag 53) was constructed. The ten Temporary Deployment Magazines constructed in 1941 were demolished. In May 1997, a new CFAD Headquarters building, with a detached 12-vehicle garage was opened. The Commissionaires remained in the old headquarters building until November, when the new alarm system was connected.In 1998, the Demolition Ground received an addition to their incinerator/sorting building and a new Command Post Building complete with running water, was opened. In 2001, the aging Hardstand shelters were replaced with Eleven Pole-barns. In December 2001, CN Rail commenced work to remove the rail spur line from the Depot. By the end of March 2002, 270 000 tons of gravel for the road repair project in the magazine area was stockpiled. Detachment Transport began repairs, widening and gravelling main roadways with the depot until October 2002 when the weather conditions worsened. This project continued in the spring of 2003. In 2002, funding was received for the installation of intrusion alarms in the ammunition pole barns and for upgrades to water lines and services in the magazine area.

Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot (CFAD) Detachment Angus

CFAD Detachment Angus is a CF central/Ontario ammunition storage facility and provides ammunition for many of Ontario's training facilities.  The detachment is located at CFB Borden, and from the satellite pictures cannot be missed.

Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot (CFAD) Bedford

CFAD Bedford, famous to some as the site of the Bedford Magazine Explosion of 1945, is still an active ammunition depot for the Canadian Forces serving Canadian and Allied naval forces of the Atlantic.
Department of National Defence (DND) property, part of CFB Halifax. The Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Bedford, frequently referred to as the "Bedford Magazine", is a major Canadian Forces property occupying the entire northern shore of Bedford Basin. It houses all of the weaponry for MARLANT vessels and has a loading jetty and several nearby anchorages.

January 04, 2016

Extracting Data from a Holux M-1000C GPS Data Logger using Ubuntu

Photo Credit: Jagro - commons.wikimedia.org
When I'm traveling in the back-country I like to carry a GPS data-logger in a pocket, and forget about it.  The Holux M-1000C (or any of its cousins http://www.dx.com/s/holux+gps+data+logger) just logs GPS coordinates, time, speed, and how many satellites it sees, as often as you want it to.  Every second? Every meter? Whatever resolution you like.  With enough storage capacity to keep 200,000 points before stopping (or overwriting the oldest data) it has enough space to be on all day, every day, for many, many days.  I set it to log a data-point every 10 meters. That's sufficient resolution that I can see on a map where I've been hiking or driving, but not so frequent than you waste space with all the extra data (IMHO).  The down side is, it still needs power.  It has a small lithium-ion battery, like a cell phone, and has enough juice to last ~24 hours.  It means I usually have to charge it in the Suburban every couple of days to make sure it doesn't die.

Once I get back home, I use mtkbabel on Ubuntu to download the coordinates to the computer, and potentially overlay the data in Google Maps.  The problem with that is, I forget the exact syntax every time, and re-learn it a couple of times a year.  So, this blog post is really a way for me to document to myself how to do this next time.

Here is the command to download the data, after it is plugged in with the right USB cable.

user@hostname:~$ mtkbabel -s 38400 -f `date +'%F-%H%M%S'` -t -w -p /dev/ttyACM0
Packet checksum error: expected 0x77, computed 0x5C
MTK Firmware: Version: 1, Release: AXN_1.30-B_1.3_C01, Model ID: 005C
Size in bytes of each log record: 27 + (0 * sats_in_view)
Logging TIME interval:       0.00 s
Logging DISTANCE interval:  10.00 m
Logging SPEED limit:         0.00 km/h
Recording method on memory full: (1) OVERLAP
Next write address: 1529206 (0x00175576)
Number of records: 58211
>> Retrieving 4194304 (0x00400000) bytes of log data from device...
Saved log data:   0.00%
Saved log data:   0.05%
Saved log data:   0.10%
Saved log data:   0.15%
Saved log data:  37.40%
Saved log data:  37.45%
WARNING: Sector header at offset 0x00180000 is non-written data
Saved log data:  37.50%
Total record count: 58211

Here is the command to purge the data logger of data, so you dont download the same data multiple times:

user@hostname:~$ mtkbabel -s 38400 -E -p /dev/ttyACM0
Packet checksum error: expected 0x3C, computed 0x64
MTK Firmware: Version: 1, Release: AXN_1.30-B_1.3_C01, Model ID: 005C
>> Erasing log memory...
Size in bytes of each log record: 27 + (0 * sats_in_view)
Logging TIME interval:       0.00 s
Logging DISTANCE interval:  10.00 m
Logging SPEED limit:         0.00 km/h
Recording method on memory full: (1) OVERLAP
Next write address: 512 (0x00000200)
Number of records: 0

Here is the man page (the manual) for the command I'm using:


mtkbabel − Tool for managing GPS data loggers based on the MTK chip


mtkbabel [−abcdEfhilmopRrstvw]


mtkbabel is a command line program to operate GPS data loggers based on the MediaTek MTK chip. It was tested on the i-Blue 747 and on the Holux M-241, it should work also with other GPS devices based on the same chip.

The main features are: 
- Command line interface 
- Save data log in GPX and raw binary format 
- If required retrieve all the data, also the old one being overlapped 
- Change logging criteria: time, distance, speed 
- Change log format 
- START/STOP logging 
- Set OVERLAP or STOP method on memory full 
- Erase the internal memory


In order to use mtkbabel, please follow these instructions:

1. Attach the GPS data logger device to your computer via USB.

2. Now you have to switch the GPS device (at least the i-Blue 747) into LOG or NAV mode, otherwise the device will not be powered on, and no connection will be possible. Beware that in NAV mode the device goes into sleep mode if not connected to any Bluetooth device.

3. In order to use mtkbabel you have to either be root (not recommended) and/or you must have read/write permissions for the USB device file, usually /dev/ttyUSB0. This device usually has permissions ’crw-rw---- 1 root dialout’, so you can either add your user to the dialout group (in this example) by doing

$ adduser USERNAME dialout

or (not recommended) make the device world-readable/-writable by doing:

$ chmod 666 /dev/ttyUSB0

Another option is to write a udev rules file to change the owner and permissions of /dev/ttyUSB0 according to your requirements.

4. You can now run mtkbabel. For example, if you want to download the track log and the list of waypoints you captured on the device, run:

$ mtkbabel -s 115200 -l off -f foo -w -t

The default speed of 115200 baud should work in most cases and you can omit it, for the Holux M-241 you must use 38400 instead. This will turn off the autolog function, which is always turned on when you switch on the device. The track log will be in the file foo_trk.gpx, the waypoints in the file foo_wpt.gpx (both in GPX format). The file foo.bin will contain the binary log file. Downloading the data from the GPS device can take several minutes, depending on how much data has to be transferred.

In order to delete all data from the GPS device, run:

$ mtkbabel -s 115200 -E



Read all the log memory (overlapped data).

−b filename.bin

Do not read data from a GPS device, but rather read a previously saved .bin file. Ignore −f option.


Create a GPX file with both tracks and waypoints.

−d debug_level

Debug level: 0..7.


Erase data log memory.


Base name for saved files (.bin and .gpx). If you, for example, use -f gpslog, mtkbabel will create files which are called gpslog.gpx, gpslog_trk.gpx, gpslog_wpt.gpx and gpslog.bin.


Show a help text and exit.


Ignore some error conditions and try to extract as much data as possible from GPS.

−l {on|off}

Turn logging ON/OFF.

−m {stop|overlap}

Set STOP/OVERLAP recording method on memory full.

−o log_format


−p port

Communication port, default: /dev/ttyUSB0.


Recover from disabled log: erase data and reset recording criteria.

−r time:distance:speed

Set logging criteria (zero to disable): every 1-999 seconds, every 10-9999 meters, over 10-999 km/h.

−s speed

Serial port speed, default 115200 baud.


Create a GPX file with tracks.


Show version information and exit.


Create a GPX file with waypoints.


Please report any bugs to Niccolo Rigacci <niccolo [AT] rigacci.org>.


mtkbabel is covered by the GNU General Public License (GPL), version 2 or later.


Niccolo Rigacci <niccolo [AT] rigacci.org>

This manual page was written by Uwe Hermann <uwe [AT] hermann-uwe.de>. It is licensed under the terms of the GNU GPL (version 2 or later).

 ( copied from http://man.cx/mtkbabel(1) )

Here is the manufacturer's web site:

By the way... I bought the Holux M-1000C in 2011.