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WIN a RockBLOCK Iridium satellite comms module

Name LOHAN spaceplane mission's preposterous abort box

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Competition As followers of our epic Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project will know, we recently laid our grubby mitts on a RockBLOCK Iridium satellite comms unit, courtesy of Rock Seven, and we're now giving one linguistically deft reader the chance to do the same.

Top and bottom views of the RockBLOCK

In fact, this is our second RockBLOCK, since we rather carelessly ditched the first one in the English Channel. Accordingly, we needed a new bit of kit capable of sending and receiving short messages "from anywhere on Earth with a view of the sky".

As a condition of the LOHAN launch, the Agencia Estatal de Seguridad Aérea (State Air Security Agency) and Aeropuertos Españoles y Navegación Aérea (Spanish Airports and Air Navigation) have asked that we have an emergency cut-down for our payload, to detach the meteorological balloon in the event that our mighty orb menaces a centre of population.

Cue the RockBLOCK-Arduino sandwich, lovingly crafted by LOHAN team member Dave Akerman:

Top and bottom views of the RockBLOCK-Arduino sandwich

The are more details here on just how, in case of emergency, we can command the the Arduino, via the RockBLOCK, to cut short the mission.

Suffice it to say, our beloved readers quickly demanded an abort box with a proper red button, and Dave obliged with this magnificent, if entirely preposterous, piece of garden shed tomfoolery:

Dave Akerman's emergency cut-down box

As you can see, there's a key switch to power the beast up, at which point the red LED indicates "power on and booting". The amber LED shows RockBLOCK connection status. To command the abort Dave has to sit in a big black leather swivel chair, stroking a long-haired white cat with one hand, while lifting the toggle switch cover, and holding the switch up while pressing the red abort button with the other hand.

The green LED will flash to confirm the cut-down command has been sent, then light continuously when the the deed is done. At this point, we will attempt to make our escape from the burning LOHAN volcanic lair command centre by either maglev monorail, amphibious car, personal jetpack or autogyro.

So, as is the local custom, we now need a backronym for our box of doom, and Rock Seven has offered one RockBLOCK to the person whose suggestion ultimately beats off the competition to rise to LOHAN glory.

Our plan is to invite suggestions, and whittle those down to 10 finalists who'll go head-to-head in a reader poll. Simple as that.

We've already had a few submissions, and Dave Akerman was straight out of the blocks with "HORROR" (Hand Operated Remote Release Over Rockblock).

Try these alternatives for size:

  • RIHANNA - Rockblock In High Altitude Nimbus Needs Abort (Phil E Succour)
  • ORAL - Orb Release Apparatus Link (Vortex)
  • BAPS - Break Away Panic System (Mike Richards)
  • JUBS - Jettison Umbilical payload Balloon System (Splodger)
  • G-SPOT - Gadzooks! - Space Plane Operation Termination (Breakfast)
  • NIPPLE - Network Integrated Plane Permanent Launch Equipment (TheDysk)
  • BEERS - Balloon Eliminating Emergency Rupture System (Rob E)
  • ARSE - Automated Range Safety Equipment (lawndart)
  • LADYGARDEN - Lohan's AESA dictated yellow geographically aware remotely detonatable emergency nullification (Ged Perryman)
  • TITSUP - Termination-Initiate Transmission System Uplink Panel (Mike Moyle)

Hmmmm. Entertaining stuff, to be sure, but bear in mind that a family publication such as El Reg has to keep its backronyms within the bounds of common decency. Most of the above, therefore, and indeed easy k's "Floatation Elimination Control Krank", will not make the final cut.

Do try to keep it decent, then, as you make your pitch either as a comment to this story, or directly to me at the SPB's mountaintop headquarters right here.

The deadline for submissions is 5pm BST on Thursday 5 September, and we'll announce the 10 finalists for your voting pleasure on Friday. The winner will walk away with a shiny new Rock Seven RockBLOCK, so if you fancy a piece of that, get to it... ®


Further LOHAN resources:

  • New to LOHAN? Try this mission summary for enlightenment.
  • You can find full LOHAN coverage right here.
  • Join the expert LOHAN debate down at Reg forums.
  • All the LOHAN and Paper Aircraft Released Into Space (PARIS) vids live on YouTube.
  • For our SPB photo archive, proceed directly to Flickr.
  • We sometimes indulge in light consensual tweeting, as you can see here.

LOHAN - A Special Projects Bureau production in association with...

  • 3T RPD logo
  • University of Southampton logo
  • Applied Vacuum Engineering logo
  • Escher Technologies
  • Flashpoint Fireworks logo
  • HAB Supplies logo
  • Rock 7 logo

Paper Aircraft Released Into Space

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