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Wind-up robot in near-space musical experience

Lucky Elephant lifts toy to 95,000ft

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It seems that world+dog has either sent something into the upper atmosphere suspended under a meteorological balloon, or is poised to go airborne with some form of stratospheric mission, so it's nice to hear of a project which has a little something extra.

Back in 2010, James Trosh was studying for a Television Production degree at Bournemouth University, when he was inspired by MIT's Project Icarus – a near-space launch done on a budget of just $150.

James explained to El Reg: "I thought it was amazing that this was possible for such a low amount of money, so I started doing some research on how this could be done using video rather than photography. I was going into my final year of my degree, and decided that I was going to attempt to make a music video in near-space for one of my graduation projects.

"I came up with a story for the music video, which involved a wind-up toy robot making an epic journey from an ordinary bedroom into space. We shot the build-up to the space launch over two days in Bournemouth, and then we were eventually able to film the last part with the robot flying into space."

Here's the result, showing the plucky robot hitting 95,000ft (29,000m) above Cambridgeshire to the sound of Lucky Elephant track Edgar:

The entire project cost just £400, and involved some classic garden-shed boffinry. James explained: "Using balsa wood from a local model shop in Bournemouth and a rocket made out of papier-mache, we built the frame to house the robot and put all the tech in a garden tap warmer from B&Q to keep the camera and GPS warm."

The low-budget vid has proved a big hit. James told us: "It's been shown in festivals around the world, shown on the London Underground platform projection screens as part of an art project, screened on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim in the US, and also is currently part of a nationwide advertising campaign in the US for GoPro, the manufacturers of the HD camera we used."

James is now working as a freelance filmmaker, and provocatively says he may have another high-altitude mission in the pipeline. There's more on "Edgar" right here. ®

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