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Lester Haines

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Video still from Saturday's Edge flight

LOHAN avionics survive 27,700m stratospheric ordeal

It's beers all round today as we announce a successful final Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) test flight, which saw our Vulture 2 spaceplane's avionics rig sent to 27,700m over Colorado and return to terra firma in fine fettle. Video still from Saturday's Edge flight Our US allies at Edge Research Lab kindly …
Lester Haines, 28 Oct 2014

Moment of truth for LOHAN's servos: Our US allies are poised for final test flight

The matter of whether our Vulture 2 spaceplane's servos will freeze at altitude will be resolved on Saturday by our US allies at Edge Research Lab, when they send a complete spaceplane autopilot/battery/servo rig stratowards. Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) regulars will be aware we've been fretting about our …
Lester Haines, 24 Oct 2014
The SPB shirt in close-up

Luscious LOHAN t-shirts fly into Vulture Central

It's all go at Vulture Central today as skilled operatives prepare to ship our LOHAN Kickstarter reward t-shirts, which flew in the door late last week and will shortly be flying straight back out. We're sure those of you who stumped the cash for this top-notch apparel will be as pleased as we are with the finished products, …
Lester Haines, 21 Oct 2014

Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box

Amid all the LOHAN excitement over the last couple of weeks - which saw a right royal knees-up at Vulture Central, our audacious spaceplane mission crash-land on CNN and me apparently called "burly and bald" by Die Welt - we have actually been doing some real work ahead of our relocation to Spaceport America. LOHAN regulars will …
Lester Haines, 17 Oct 2014
Lester poses with the Vulture 2

LOHAN crash lands on CNN

It's a tip of the hat today to CNN, which has unleashed a news report nicely capturing the spirit of our audacious Low orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission. CNN operatives were down at Vulture Central last Friday during a right royal spaceplane knees-up, as was Nina Trentmann of Die Welt. Those of you of a German …
Lester Haines, 15 Oct 2014

Beers all round as Vulture 2 lands in Blighty

The Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team has just about recovered from a lively night last Friday at Vulture Central, which saw mission sponsors, Register hacks and a select group of our individual Kickstarter backers mix it up with the international press. The spaceplane landed in Blighty a couple of weeks back …
Lester Haines, 14 Oct 2014

Tearful LOHAN Playmonaut bids adiós to Spain

Our plucky Playmonaut is feeling a tad emotional today as he prepares to bid adiós to Spain and travel to Blighty with the Vulture 2 spaceplane, before shipping out to Spaceport America. Our rocket ship is back in LOHAN's substantial box, which will on Monday once again cross the Bay of Biscay, en route to an encounter with the …
Lester Haines, 26 Sep 2014
The forward view from the aircraft in the stratosphere

US team claims PARIS paper plane launch crown

A US team has announced it's broken El Reg's Guinness World Record for the highest launch of a paper plane by releasing a substantial paper dart at 96,563ft (29,430m). A group of cadets from Fox Valley Composite Squadron of the Illinois Wing, Civil Air Patrol, sent their vehicle aloft on 13 September from Kankakee, Illinois, and …
Lester Haines, 23 Sep 2014

LOHAN wraps Kickstarter tin-rattling at £30,725

We invite all of you who backed our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission Kickstarter tin-rattling to award yourselves a beer or two, in celebration of the campaign closing yesterday at £30,750. Yup, a total of 653 generous souls gave it up for Spaceport America ballocket tomfoolery, and we very much appreciate …
Lester Haines, 22 Sep 2014
Our LOHAN mission patch design

Last chance to snaffle LOHAN Kickstarter goodies

There's just one day to run on the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) Kickstarter tin-rattling, and as our plucky Playmonaut celebrates already hitting the £30,000 target needed to take the ballocket mission to Spaceport America, we're busy getting ready to ship our generous backers' magnificent rewards. If you haven't …
Lester Haines, 20 Sep 2014
Our Playmonaut celebrates with three members of his fan club

Plucky Playmonaut parties as LOHAN hits Kickstarter goal

It's with the traditional portentous drumroll and mighty fanfare of trumpets that we announce we've hit our Kickstarter target to take the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission to Spaceport America. Thanks very much to all our generous backers, and we're right on the case sorting the magnificent rewards which will …
Lester Haines, 19 Sep 2014

Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight

We're on final approach for the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) ballocket mission to touch down at Spaceport America. Since we're relocating Stateside, it seems appropriate that the final high-altitude test flight should be carried out by our US allies at Edge Research Laboratory. As we reported yesterday, we appear …
Lester Haines, 17 Sep 2014

Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS

It's with a great degree of relief that we can report today we appear to have cracked our Vulture 2 spaceplane's pesky servo power supply issue. As Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) regulars know, we were having a few issues with juice to our Pixhawk autopilot and servos. We originally had the whole rig powered from …
Lester Haines, 16 Sep 2014

LOHAN tin-rattles to a whopping £27,000 on Kickstarter

With six days left to run on our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) Kickstarter campaign to take the Vulture 2 ballocket mission to Spaceport America, we're tantalisingly close to hitting our £30k target. We thank the more than 560 backers who have so far chipped in for a total of 60 LOHAN sticker sets, 160 mugs, 120 …
Lester Haines, 15 Sep 2014
Our LOHAN mission patch design

Who wants to be there as history is made at the launch of our LOHAN space project?

As our Kickstarter campaign to get the Vulture 2 spaceplane off the ground at Spaceport America rattles along nicely, we're offering our final reward today: the chance for two people to meet the team in New Mexico, spend a few days and attend the historic launch. The way it works is this: you get yourself to the airport in El …
Lester Haines, 12 Sep 2014

It's official: LOHAN's arboreal avoidance algorithm is PANTS

It's official: Our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) arboreal avoidance algorithm will henceforth be known as PANTS (Pixhawk Avoidance of Nearby Tree System). A round of applause and some mission stickers for Sir Sham Cad, who topped our poll to determine a suitable acronym for the sensational APM parameter …
Lester Haines, 12 Sep 2014

LOHAN invites ENTIRE REG READERSHIP to New Mexico shindig

Our Kickstarter campaign to take the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission to Spaceport America in New Mexico is going tin-rattlingly well, but we still need a final drive to reach the target before we can start packing our bags. We've got plenty of goodies on offer as rewards for backers, and as an extra incentive …
Lester Haines, 11 Sep 2014

LOHAN enjoys some hot hardware-in-the-loop action

Take one spaceplane autopilot, a German brain surgeon, and throw a virtual Vulture 2 courtesy of a Tennessee X-Plane ace into the mix, and you've got the perfect recipe for some hot Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) action. Screen grab of the first Vulture 2 HIL simulation While we at SPB …
Lester Haines, 11 Sep 2014

LOHAN premieres spaceplane mission summary vid

Video summary of the entire LOHAN mission. In response to calls for a Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) summary video in support of our ongoing Kickstarter tin-rattling to launch the Vulture 2 spaceplane in New Mexico, we've put together a bare-bones overview of just how our audacious ballocket mission will work when …
Lester Haines, 08 Sep 2014

Vote NOW for LOHAN's arboreal avoidance algorithm acronym

As we recently reported, Vulture 2 brain surgeons Linus Penzlien and Andrew Tridgell are working on an advanced autopilot arboreal avoidance algorithm to combat the menace of magnetic trees, which prove strangely irresistible to balloon payloads and aircraft. This being LOHAN, tradition dictates that we christen the incredible …
Lester Haines, 05 Sep 2014

Beer in SPAAAACE: Photographic PROOF

We're delighted to report that rocket boffin Chris Smith has finally delivered photographic evidence of beer in space, a couple of months after he first dispatched a pint of London Pride to the stratosphere. A frozen pint of London Pride in the stratosphere Chris, of European Astrotech, launched his first flight in July from …
Lester Haines, 05 Sep 2014
Kati with the box on the scales

Crack team weighs LOHAN's substantial box

While our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project moves rapidly forwards on multiple fronts, it's worth noting that behind the scenes, there's plenty of grunt work going on that doesn't involve the excitement of strapping spaceplanes to van roofs, rescuing stranded Playmonauts or shaking Middle England. For example, …
Lester Haines, 04 Sep 2014
Our Vulture 2's dismantled avioncs

Our Vulture 2 rocket spaceplane crammed with MORE POWER

Our magnificent Vulture 2 spaceplane is in bits for the last time as we make the final modifications before declaring the aircraft fully operational - at least in the hardware department. Our Vulture 2's dismantled avioncs During a recent test, we identified a couple of problems - a dodgy port canard servo and a a lack of …
Lester Haines, 03 Sep 2014
External view of the Vulture 2, with launch rod

Vulture 2 X-Plane soars over Spaceport America

It's hats off to Tennessee X-Plane ace Billy Bargagliotti this fine Monday morning, as we announce he's wrapped no less than four virtual versions of our Vulture 2 rocket ship. Our Tennessee X-Plane ace Billy Bargagliotti Billy (above) answered our call back in June for someone to construct a virtual spaceplane, rolled out …
Lester Haines, 01 Sep 2014

Exclusive SPB t-shirt flies into Kickstarter

Our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) Kickstarter tin-rattling is, er, rattling along nicely, and we offer sincere thanks to those who've already chosen to back our audacious spaceplane ballocket launch in New Mexico. Our quality merchandising - which includes stickers, mugs and t-shirts - has been flying out of the …
Lester Haines, 29 Aug 2014

LOHAN wrapped in vinyl as Kickstarter campaign hits £18,000!

Our Kickstarter bid to raise £30,000 for the New Mexico launch of our Vulture 2 spaceplane hit £18,489 this morning (Monday 1 September), shortly after we took delivery of some sample Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) vinyl stickers. And very classy they look too. Here are a few suggestions as to how those pledging a …
Lester Haines, 28 Aug 2014

LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio

Our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) Vulture 2 spaceplane has taken a massive leap in transmitting power with the installation of a mighty 900MHz ultra long range radio module - the RFD 900u Radio Modem by Oz's RF Design. the RFD 900 rig The diminutive module plugs straight into the Pixhawk autopilot, replacing the …
Lester Haines, 28 Aug 2014

Nearly there! LOHAN Kickstarter pot o'gold breaks £29,000

Our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) Kickstarter campaign has reached a rip-roaring £29,000, as we build momentum towards the launch of the Vulture 2 spaceplane at Spaceport America, New Mexico. Thanks to all the backers who've so far snapped up our juicy rewards. If you haven't already shown your support, proceed …
Lester Haines, 27 Aug 2014

Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000

Our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) Kickstarter campaign got off to a flying start over the weekend, attracting 160 backers who pledged a total of £6,000 toward the New Mexico launch of the Vulture 2 spaceplane. So inspiring was this first flush of support that our plucky Playmonaut and apprentice Special Projects …
Lester Haines, 26 Aug 2014
The LOHAN team poses with the Vulture 2

LOHAN Kickstarter bid IS GO: Back our Vulture 2 spaceplane launch

We're excited to announce that the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) Kickstarter campaign, which will fund the relocation of our audacious ballocket mission launch to Spaceport America, is now live. Following the reveal of our substantial mugs earlier today, we've given in to reader browbeating and have added an …
Lester Haines, 22 Aug 2014

Brit balloon bod Bodnar overflies North Pole

Hats must be tipped today in tribute to Brit balloon bod Leo Bodnar, whose ultralight B-64 payload is about to complete its second circumnavigation of the planet. The 11g B-64 rig – comprising radio transmitter, LiPo battery and a couple of solar panels slung under a transparent film envelope (pics here) – launched on 12 July …
Lester Haines, 22 Aug 2014

LOHAN gets laughing gear round promotional mug

As we reported yesterday, the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team has scrapped plans to launch the Vulture 2 spaceplane above Europe and is instead taking its audacious ballocket mission to Spaceport America in New Mexico. To fund the basic extra costs of the relocation, we'll be rattling the tin down at Kickstarter …
Lester Haines, 22 Aug 2014
Our LOHAN mission patch design

LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!

The traditional portentous drumroll and fanfare of trumpets has added timpani and a throbbing bass synth crescendo today as we announce that the planned launch of our our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission has been relocated to New Mexico's Spaceport America. This shock news comes at the end of an epic struggle …
Lester Haines, 21 Aug 2014
Our playmonaut tries out a jetpack, watched by a circling vulture

Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run

Watch Video The Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team is still crunching numbers from last Friday's test run of the Vulture 2 spaceplane, which came at the end of an intensive week of brain surgery on the aircraft's Pixhawk autopilot. Hats off to Linus Penzlien and Andrew Tridgell for crafting and installing the …
Lester Haines, 19 Aug 2014

Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success

We're pleased to report that following four days of intense graft, including some hair-pulling over our Vulture 2 spaceplane's cantankerous Raspberry Pi rig, we've finally got some custom Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission parameters loaded into our rocket ship's Pixhawk autopilot. Linus Penzlien flew into Spain …
Lester Haines, 15 Aug 2014

Vulture 2 spaceplane brain surgery begins with remote incision

The programming of our Vulture 2 spaceplane's autopilot was going pedal to the metal yesterday as we finally resolved a cantankerous Raspberry Pi issue and got down to some proper Pixhawk wrangling. Linus Penzlien is in Spain to work with APM:Plane lead developer Andrew "Tridge" Tridgell on implementing some custom Low Orbit …
Lester Haines, 13 Aug 2014
The Pi in the Sky board mounted atop the Pi in the Vulture 2

Pi palaver perplexes LOHAN Pixhawk pair

The planned brain surgery on our Vulture 2 spaceplane's Pixhawk autopilot got off to a shaky start yesterday as the aircraft's onboard Raspberry Pi decided it didn't much fancy booting up. Autopilot wrangler Linus Penzlien touched down in Spain on Sunday ahead of an intensive week of graft during which he'll be working with APM: …
Lester Haines, 12 Aug 2014

LOHAN acquires aircraft arboreal avoidance algorithm acronyms

We invite readers to raise a glass or two today to autopilot wrangler Linus Penzlien, who touched down in Spain yesterday afternoon ahead of an intensive week of Vulture 2 spaceplane Pixhawk custom parameter programming and testing. And here is the man himself meeting local lass Ruperta this morning ahead of an intensive …
Lester Haines, 11 Aug 2014

Fanfare of trumpets as LOHAN reveals mission patch

Cue the traditional portentous drumroll and fanfare of trumpets as we today reveal the final design for our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission patch. And here without further ado is the motif that will shortly be adorning flight suits and lab coats worldwide: Our LOHAN mission patch design Readers are …
Lester Haines, 08 Aug 2014

Check your Clungene, Irish women warned

Ireland's Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has advised any woman who's trying to get pregnant to check her Clungene, if indeed she's using the Chinese pregnancy test kit to confirm she's up the duff. In some cases, the product has been providing false positives, so just when you think your Clungene is telling you …
Lester Haines, 07 Aug 2014

Vulture 2 strapped to speeding van before delicate brain surgery

On Sunday, Pixhawk autopilot brain surgeon Linus Penzlien touches down in Spain ahead of some serious Vulture 2 spaceplane wrangling. Working with APM:Plane lead developer Andrew Tridgell, Linus will be hewing custom Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission parameters from the living code. These include an "ascend …
Lester Haines, 07 Aug 2014

Kickstarter hopefuls promise high-res aerial maps for the masses

San Diego-based Drones Made Easy is nudging the Kickstarter target of $30,000 it needs to bring "mapping to the masses" with an site allowing people to "upload raw aerial imagery for processing into high quality stitched aerial imagery". The idea is to take the grunt work out of creating your own stitched imagery "at up to 20 …
Lester Haines, 05 Aug 2014

Plane grounded so cops can cuff semi-legless passenger

A Thomson flight from Tunisia to Edinburgh was diverted to Gatwick airport on Wednesday night after a female passenger allegedly threatened cabin crew with a false leg. As cops escorted her from the aircraft, other passengers bade her farewell with a rendition of The Hokey Cokey, STV reports. A Sussex Police spokesman confirmed …
Lester Haines, 01 Aug 2014
The path of the balloon yesterday as it returned to UK airspace

Brit balloon bod Bodnar circumnavigates planet

Brit balloon bod Leo Bodnar has pulled off a bit of a blinder by successfully flying an ultralight radio payload right round the planet. Launched on 12 July from near Silverstone, Northamptonshire, B-64 yesterday returned to Blighty, and was this morning still going strong over Sweden. The path of the balloon yesterday as it …
Lester Haines, 01 Aug 2014
The path of B-64 shown on a world map

Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH

It's a tip of the hat today to Brit High Altitude Ballooning (HAB) bod Leo Bodnar, whose B-64 payload is poised to complete an epic 25,000km circumnavigation of the globe. B-64 - comprising a 12g solar-powered radio tracker rig - lifted off on 12 July from near Silverstone, Northamptonshire. Its most recent position showed it …
Lester Haines, 30 Jul 2014

LOHAN's stirring motto: Ad Astra Tabernamque

It's official: The stirring motto for our audacious Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) ballocket mission is Ad Astra Tabernamque. The public vote came down firmly in favour of us heading both to the stars and the pub, and we're not going to argue with that. Per Cervisiam Ad Astra ("Through Beer To The Stars") and …
Lester Haines, 28 Jul 2014
A proposed LOHAN mission patch

Vote now for LOHAN's stirring mission patch motto

It's been a blast, but after some serious linguistic tomfoolery, the time has come to decide on a stirring motto to adorn our proposed Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission patch. A proposed LOHAN mission patch Thanks to everyone who contributed, and you can see how our beloved readers gave Latin a right shoeing …
Lester Haines, 25 Jul 2014
A proposed LOHAN mission patch

Reg Latin scholars scrap over LOHAN's stirring motto

It's fair to say that the quest for a stirring motto for our proposed Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission patch is proving to be the most fun we've had in a long while. A proposed LOHAN mission patch So great was the response to our call for suggestions that we're buried under a magnus congestus of Latin, a …
Lester Haines, 23 Jul 2014

Ever wanted to be a Playmonaut? El Reg's Vulture 2 spaceplane sim reveals what it's like

Last month, we put out call for an X-Plane Plane-Maker bod to enter into a simulating relationship with our Vulture 2 spaceplane team. Straight out of the blocks was Billy Bargagliotti of Memphis, Tennessee, who enthusiastically emailed he'd be delighted to get involved with the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) …
Lester Haines, 23 Jul 2014

Kickstarter tin-rattlers offer reboot of '80s Integrated Space Plan megagraphic

Those readers with a large blank wall space and a penchant for enormous flow charts outlining mankind's future beyond the surly bonds of Earth should nip down to Kickstarter where for a mere $25 you can secure yourself an updated Integrated Space Plan (ISP). The original ISP was an impressive piece of work made back in the …
Lester Haines, 22 Jul 2014