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Bionic Brit Babbage Bear boards brilliant balloon, bests ballsy Baumgartner

Plucky Raspberry Pi mascot 'Ted Bull' skydives from 39,000m

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Vid and pics We're delighted to report that Raspberry Pi mascot Babbage Bear wrested the world skydiving record crown from Felix Baumgartner on Monday - by leaping into the void from a breathtaking 39,000m.

Stepping from his foam launch platform, Babbage took the plunge into the history books, pipping the Austrian's 38,969m jump, as this video shows:

So it's hats off to Raspberry Pi wrangler supreme and Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team member Dave Akerman for showing that when it comes to high-altitude tomfoolery, we Brits still have the Right Stuff.

As we explained last Friday, Babbage was packing a Pi board and camera surgically implanted into his right eye socket...

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


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

...which delivered some cracking live bear's-eye views via Slow Scan Digital Video (SSDV) as he soared westwards from the launch point in Brightwalton, Berkshire:

A view from Babbage's eye-mounted Picam


A view from Babbage's eye-mounted Picam


A view from Babbage's eye-mounted Picam

Babbage poses for the webcam after his record-breaking jumpThe plucky bear finally parachuted to land in a field* just south of Shaftesbury, Dorset, before posing (right) for the audience who'd been following the action live at batc.tv.

In fact, yesterday's triumph followed a highly entertaining first attempt on Saturday, which ended in a complete stratodangle as Babbage failed to detach from his launch platform and came down still attached to his release cord.

The reason, Dave explained, was that the MOSFET-driven resistor intended to cut through the nylon cord simply didn't have enough welly for the job. He told us on Saturday night: "I'll use a lower resistance resistor, swap the weedy AAAs for some AAs**, and run it for 10 seconds instead of five."

We advised: "Just crank it up to 11."

Last night, Dave was able to report with a smile: "11 worked well."

It certainly did. Bears Beers all round, we reckon. ®

Bootnotes

* Or quite possibly up a tree, since Dave was seen on the live webcam feed sneaking off with a telescopic pole. Anyone who's ever launched a stratomission - or indeed a humble RC aircraft - knows they are magnetically drawn to trees, as was our own Paper Aircraft Release into Space (PARIS) Vulture 2, and our Covert High Altitude Vehicle (CHAV).

** Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries - the power cell of choice for High Altitude Ballooning (HAB) missions, due to their resistance to low temperatures.

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