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Rasp Pi skydive: Ballsy Baumgartner best beware Brit bionic Babbage Bear

SATURDAY: 'Ted Bull' mascot stuffed with electronics in 39,000m plunge bid

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Pics Austrian high-altitude geezer Felix Baumgartner had better watch his back, because there's a furry Brit contender for the world skydiving record preparing to leap into the void from a breathtaking 39,000m.

Tomorrow (Saturday), weather permitting, Raspberry Pi Mascot Babbage Bear will ascend to the stratosphere over the green fields of Blighty before making his jump into the history books.

Bionic Babbage dangling and ready for action. Pic: Dave Akerman

Those readers who've been following our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project will already have guessed that the man behind this audacious "Ted Bull Stratos" bid is Dave Akerman, balloon and Pi-wrangling head honcho for our spaceplane mission.

Dave has got previous form for entertaining High Altitude Ballooning (HAB) flights, including his geekgasmic Tardis and an invasion of Belgian airspace.

Dave Akerman and his Tardis rig

Along the way, he been honing his Raspberry Pi flight computer system, which first flew back in July last year, and now boasts a Picam rig capable of delivering exceptional live images from aloft.

As you can see from the above snap of Babbage, he's undergone a few mods ahead of tomorrow's mission.

First up, the poor chap's had his right eye surgically removed to allow installation of the PiCam, which is attached to the very model A Raspberry Pi, GPS unit and radio transmitter which recently successfully recorded the white-knuckle stratodangle of our Covert High Altitude Vehicle (CHAV) aircraft.

Here's the Pi before insertion into Babbage...

Babbage and the Raspberry Pi rig before insertion into Babbage. Pic: Dave Akerman

...and if you take another look at the first photo above, you'll see he subsequently ended up with the yellow cable transmission aerial "protruding from the logical place".

Ouch. Dave has lovingly crafted a foam launch capsule for Babbage, which also packs a camera. Both cams will grab and transmit stills throughout the flight, except for eight minutes from around 38,000m when they'll record video - which is plenty of time to capture the epic moment.

There's more from Dave right here, including this summary of how Baumgartner's Red Bull Stratos and Bionic Babbage's Ted Bull Stratos stack up:

Red Bull Stratos Ted Bull Stratos
Pilot Felix Baumgartner Bionic Babbage
Cameras Capsule and Suit Capsule and bionic eye
Budget £30,000,000 £300
Capsule Weight 1300 kg 200 g
Balloon Volume at launch 5000 m³ 3 m³
Jump Altitude 38,969 metres 39,000 metres (est)

As ever, you'll be able to follow the action live, with vid feeds from the launch site at Blighty's Baikonur (Brightwalton in Berkshire) here (chase car 1), and here (chase car 2).

Live images from aloft will land here, and the tracking map is here.

The rest of LOHAN team will be kicking back in front of their PCs tomorrow with a nice cup of tea tomorrow to see how the attempt pans out, and we wish Dave a successful day off from constructing the LOHAN Iridium-Arduino emergency sandwich and its preposterous abort box. ®

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