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A proposed LOHAN mission patch

LOHAN seeks stirring motto for spaceplane mission patch

Competition The Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team has decided that in the best tradition of space endeavour, our audacious Vulture 2 spaceplane mission needs a proper embroidered patch so that we may reach for the heavens in style. In fact, having something to sew on your flight suit/lab coat is pretty well obligatory, and …
Lester Haines, 14 Jul 2014

Beer in SPAAAACE! London Pride soars to 28,000m

Pics "Pics or it didn't happen" is a common commentard cry down here at El Reg, so we're disappointed to report that last week's audacious mission to send a pint of London Pride to the upper atmosphere ended without airborne imagery. The BALYOLO - BAL (Balloon) YOLO (You Only Live Once) - flight launched last Saturday from the The …
Lester Haines, 11 Jul 2014

Reg reader fires up Pi-powered anti-cat garden sprinkler system

Vid It's a tip of the hat today to Reg reader Joshua Thumim for putting the humble Raspberry Pi into the service of humanity with a simple but effective feline repellent system. Joshua explained: For the last few years, pretty much every time I (or my two small kids) wanted to use the garden I'd first have to remove 3-5 cat …
Lester Haines, 8 Jul 2014

Alabama quadchopper hits THREE THOUSAND FEET next to AIRPORT

Vid An Alabama UAV enthusiast has been told by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to steer clear of airports after he sent a quadcopter up to 1,100m (3,609 feet) within five miles of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM). Michael Mayhew posted an impressive video of the DJI Phantom 2 flight on YouTube, and shared …
Lester Haines, 7 Jul 2014

Going up: Fancy a virtual flight to 30km above the PLANET?

Those of you who've always fancied a trip to 30km above the Earth's surface, but have neither the money nor a pair of cojones the size of a plucky Playmonaut's, are directed to this interesting KickStarter campaign in support of a "Virtual Ride to Space". Dr Aaron Knoll - a "lecturer in the field of plasma propulsion" at …
Lester Haines, 7 Jul 2014
The Warlipiri Education and Training Trust

Help us out readers: How would you sniff and store network traffic?

Having successfully averted the XP-ocalypse at the Wirliyatjarrayi Learning Centre in the remote Australian desert community of Willowra, Vulture South's operatives felt pleased with themselves. As regular readers will know, our encounter with the facility, run by the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, led to …
The Pi in the Sky board mounted atop the Pi in the Vulture 2

Vulture 2 fills beak with Pi in the Sky

It's all go at the front end of our magnificent Vulture 2 , and following the recent taming of the spaceplane's cantankerous canards, we've now mounted a hot-off-the-press Raspberry Pi in the Sky - the dedicated telemetry board for the Raspberry Pi. Fans of our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project will know that …
Lester Haines, 4 Jul 2014

Booze in SPAAAACE! Brit rocket boffin preps bold stratobeer mission

A British rocket scientist with a sideline in High Altitude Ballooning (HAB) tomfoolery will tomorrow push the envelope of space endeavour by attempting to send a pint of London Pride bitter into the stratosphere. When he's not boffining it up down at European Astrotech, Chris Smith can be found propping up the bar of his local …
Lester Haines, 4 Jul 2014
The canards bolted to the Vulture 2, with Playmonaut in his seat

Experts suspiciously eye LOHAN's cantankerous canards

As ever, we're grateful for our reader experts' feedback on the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission, and today we have a round-up of your comments on the Vulture 2 spaceplane's cantankerous canards. As we reported last month, the aircraft's forewings have finally been tamed, and here they are attached to the …
Lester Haines, 3 Jul 2014
The Tharsis payload at 30km

Brit SPACE HEDGEHOG team flies student Mars payload

We're pleased to report that the team behind the 2013 space hedgehog drama - which saw a knitted mascot dramatically go awol over Blighty - has finally got a cluster of student experiments in the air without mishap. Last March, CASSiE (Cosmic Ambassador for Space Science and Engineering) accompanied 70 miniprojects packed into …
Lester Haines, 2 Jul 2014
Our intrepid party playmonaut on a sofa, surrounded by blondes

LOHAN laid bare in intimate interview

Vid podcast Fans of our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project might enjoy an interview I did earlier this week with Christiaan van Vollenstee of DIY Drones. The chat, beamed live from the SPB's mountaintop HQ on Wednesday, features discussion of various aspects of our audacious ballocket mission and a particularly fine pair …
Lester Haines, 26 Jun 2014

Drone-assisted Swiss construct virtual 3D castle

Those readers with a penchant for castles but a disinclination to visit Switzerland can enjoy a virtual shufti Château de Chillon, thanks to UAV image processing software outfit Pix4D. A view of the virtual 3D Chillon Castle In half a day, the company snapped "6,200 aerial and terrestrial images using DJI Phantom 2 Vision, …
Lester Haines, 25 Jun 2014

iFind: Critics slam Kickstarter campaign for miraculous battery-free phone finder

As the old saying goes: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. It remains to be seen if that adage applies to iFind - hailed as "The World's First Battery Free Item Locating Tag". As of Monday morning, iFind - the brainchild of "WeTag" - had attracted over $500,000 of funding on Kickstarter, thanks to the support of …
Lester Haines, 24 Jun 2014
The Turbo Ace Octocopter. Pic: Turbo Ace

Fearful of the drone-filled skies? Get some protection

Those fearful of a future where the skies are darkened by swarms of camera-bearing drones peering over their garden fences and peeking through their bedroom windows should proceed directly to Kickstarter and the "Personal Drone Detection System". Rattling the tin in defence of personal privacy is Domestic Drone Countermeasures …
Lester Haines, 24 Jun 2014

VIDEO SELFIE DRONE: 'AirDog' UAV follows you everywhere you go

A Kickstarter campaign to take the art of sports videography to new heights with the stalking "AirDog" quadchopper has thundered past its funding target. Described as "the world's first auto-follow action sports drone", the AirDog will lift a GoPro and then chase its owner wherever he or she runs with a programmable tracker. …
Lester Haines, 20 Jun 2014
Close-up of the canards connections, with Playmonaut a miniature fireman

LOHAN in FIGHT to DEATH with brace of cantankerous canards

Our plucky Playmonaut is back in his seat in the Vulture 2 spaceplane following the recent servo meltdown which had prompted his rapid exit from the vehicle. The miniature emergency required a servo swap-out, and while we were about it, we decided to upgrade the linkages to the canards, and bolt the cantankerous forewings to the …
Lester Haines, 20 Jun 2014

LOHAN seeks X-Plane bod for simulating relationship

If you're a dab hand with X-Plane's Plane-Maker who just happens to fancy eternal internet glory as part of the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission, then today's your lucky day. The current state of play with our Vulture 2 spaceplane is that we've replaced the smoking servo which recently gave our plucky …
Lester Haines, 17 Jun 2014
The LOHAN team poses with the finished spaceplane

Spaceplane design nipper Ariadne gets a promotion

We're delighted to announce today that Ariadne - the young nipper responsible for the design of our Vulture 2 spaceplane's fetching vinyl wrap, has been promoted to "Sub-orbital aesthetics consulting engineer" for the Special Projects Bureau. To make it official, she now has her very own badge, courtesy of Chris Pyper down at …
Lester Haines, 13 Jun 2014

FLYING SAUCER 'designed for Mars atmosphere' in Pacific US military base

NASA reckons the weather in Hawaii is looking vaguely hopeful for the launch later today of its Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) - the flying saucer ballocket mission designed to test inflatable deceleration airbags for possible deployment on future Mars landings. The agency slapped a photo up on Twitter yesterday …
Lester Haines, 11 Jun 2014
Aerial still of the Dallas Cowboys stadium

Dallas Cowboys to return 'dumbass' Texan's chopper

The Dallas Cowboys have located the quadcopter which a self-confessed "dumbass" pilot planted on the roof of the team's AT&T Stadium in Arlington, the local Star-Telegram reports. The unnamed operator's DJI Phantom Vision went into "return to home" mode when he "let the building get between me and the transmitter", as he …
Lester Haines, 11 Jun 2014
Aerial still of the Dallas Cowboys stadium

Texan parks quadcopter atop Dallas Cowboys stadium

A self-confessed Texan "dumbass" is attempting to retrieve his quadcopter from the roof of the Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington after interrupted radio comms prompted an unplanned touchdown atop the lofty structure. Aerial still of the Dallas Cowboys stadium The vehicle in question is a DJI Phantom Vision, which went …
Lester Haines, 10 Jun 2014

Cunning Reg reader cracks LOHAN hot coupling condundrum

We invite fans of our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project to raise a glass or two today to the Reg reader who finally cracked the problem of just how to hook up our Vulture 2 spaceplanes's rocket motor heater. To summarise, we've got a space-grade Polyimide Thermofoil flexible heater wrapped round our aircraft's …
Lester Haines, 10 Jun 2014
The servo doused in foam as a fireman, doctors and workers gather around our Playmonaut

Plucky Playmonaut bails out of smoking Vulture 2

Our plucky Playmonaut has decided to take a long weekend off after a servo meltdown during a ground avionics test of our Vulture 2 spaceplane prompted a sharpish exit from the vehicle. Here's the scene immediately after the scare, as emergency crews rushed in to cordon off the area, douse the offending kit with foam and gave our …
Lester Haines, 6 Jun 2014

Russians turn Raspberry Pi into fully-fledged autopilot

Anyone with an interest in Raspberry Pis and autopilots – in common with the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team – should nip down to Indiegogo to check out the Navio: an impressive-looking autopilot shield for the diminutive fruity computer. The Russian team behind the Navio is already well on the way to raising …
Lester Haines, 4 Jun 2014

New development in 'stadium-sized' FLYING SAUCER orb invasion

Pics NASA has clarified the exact size of the mighty helium balloon that will later today lift its Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) over the Pacific Ocean. As we reported yesterday, the agency vaguely described the whopping 963,000 cubic metre orb as so big you could "fit a professional football stadium inside it". The …
Lester Haines, 3 Jun 2014

SPB's mountaintop HQ menaced by WOLVES

It's with one eye on the distant sierra and a shotgun close to hand that I report today that attempts to expel wolves from the Spanish province of Ávila have failed. Despite vociferous and emotive exhortations, mostly from farmers, the Junta de Castilla y León has rejected a call to declare the province a "wolf-free zone", …
Lester Haines, 30 May 2014

US sheddies knock up flying plastic toolbox

Vid If ever there was a bit of kit with shed written all over it then the Box-O-Copter is definitely it - a flying plastic toolbox knocked together by the chaps at FliteTest. The Box-O-Copter Apart from being agreeably silly, the Box-O-Copter was built on the principle of "brain not frame" - investing cash in avionics and not …
Lester Haines, 28 May 2014

Beautiful balloon burst caught on camera

Vid + Pics Watch Video It's a traditional tip of the hat today to Tim Middleton of Replay XD for providing a couple of the company's vid cameras for a recent Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) imaging test flight, during which they captured the moment of mighty orb burst in all its glory. The Replay XD The above video speaks …
Lester Haines, 23 May 2014

French teen fined for illegal drone flight

Video The 18-year-old French lad who strapped a GoPro to a drone 'chopper and used it to produce a noteworthy aerial video of the city of Nancy has been fined €400, Le Figaro reports. Nans Thomas bought the vehicle on the internet and sent it aloft without realising he needed proper training and air authority permission. The online …
Lester Haines, 23 May 2014
Still from downwards-facing camera on the EDGE 11 flight

El Reg chats with stormchasing Edge Research Lab

Pics + Vids One of the great pleasures of the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project has been the chance to hook up with kindred spirits worldwide, such as Colorado-based Edge Research Lab, which recently donated a HackHD hi-def camera to our ballocket cause. Edge formed around two-and-a-half years ago, "the result of a …
Lester Haines, 22 May 2014
The Carrotcopter

Scoff ye not: Chap carves crunchy carrot-copter

Video We're obliged to Gary Mortimer of sUAS News for flagging up an entertaining piece of tomfoolery in the form of a quadcopter hewn from vegetables - the entirely convincing "Carrotcopter". The Carrotcopter Sadly, there's no information on the avionics, or indeed the variety of carrot used to create this magnificent flying …
Lester Haines, 21 May 2014

NASA preps flying saucer ballocket flight

NASA has announced it's poised to do an airborne test of its Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) - a test platform for technologies that may one day safely deposit larger payloads on the surface of Mars. The LDSD at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Pic: NASA/JPL The LDSD flying saucer at NASA's Jet Propulsion …
Lester Haines, 16 May 2014
Colin Furze joyfully showing off his fully retractable Wolverine claws

Time-rich Brit boffin demos DIY crazytech WOLVERINE talons

Video Youtube Video Perhaps you thought the bits of cardboard you meticulously painted metallic grey and sellotaped to your hands were an awesome Wolverine costume last Halloween. If you did, you lacked the sheer naked ambition, engineering knowhow and oodles of time available to one Colin Furze, who has made his very own fully …

Urinating teen polluted 57 Olympic-sized swimming pools - cops

A Portland teen collared last month for urinating in a reservoir at the cost of 38 million gallons of lost drinking water has raised some interesting scientific questions. There's more here on just how cops charged 18-year-old Dallas Jeffrey Delynn for taking a slash at the water repository at Mount Tabor, prompting officials to …
Lester Haines, 16 May 2014
A microscopic view of the biometric shark skin. Pic: James Weaver

Boffins 3D-print biomimetic shark skin

Scientists from Harvard University have used 3D printing to reveal just how sharks lower their energy consumption in a cruise thanks to miniature teeth-like "denticles" on their skin. Sharks are coated with million of these "overlapping tooth-like scales", known to reduce drag, but until George Lauder, James Weaver and Li Wen …
Lester Haines, 15 May 2014

Our Reg reader 'mutt's nuts' dictionary is le chien's biens

Last month, we provoked quite a linguistic rumpus when we unwisely described our Vulture 2 spaceplane's magnificent livery as les noix du mutt. This immediately prompted protests at the use of noix for French goolies, and we threw the matter over to our beloved readers, inviting them to also provide international translations …
Lester Haines, 14 May 2014
Close-up of the HackHD

US alliance strengthens LOHAN imaging arsenal

Vids Watch Video Fans of our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project know that we've recently been working on the spaceplane mission's imaging capability, with airborne tests of the budget DBcam and the prototype CENTR Camera four-eyed panoramic beast. Amid all this excitement, we expressed doubts about our GoPro 3, …
Lester Haines, 9 May 2014
Parrot Ar.Drone

Spain clamps down on drones

Spain's Agencia Estatal de Seguridad Aérea (State Air Security Agency - AESA) has issued a declaration in which it reminds citizens that the commercial or professional use of "drones" is illegal, and that amateur UAV operation is restricted to "authorised areas". The document (PDF) stresses that "the use of remote control …
Lester Haines, 7 May 2014
Dave Akerman and Heston Blumenthal

Potato in SPAAAAACE: LOHAN chap cooks up stratospud with Heston Blumenthal

Pics Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team member Dave Akerman confirmed his status as one of the UK's go-to guys* for high-altitude ballooning (HAB) launches when he popped up on Channel 4 last week in Heston Blumenthal's Great British Food series. Dave Akerman and Heston Blumenthal The celebrity food-botherer wanted …
Lester Haines, 7 May 2014
The full Spanglish breakfast: mealy pudding, bacon, black pudding, sausages, fried egg, toast

El Reg Quid-A-Day Nosh Posse back on the bacon

Pics We're pleased to report that the El Reg Quid-A-Day Nosh Posse has emerged in fairly good shape from last week's Live Below the Line challenge, although team member Toby Sibley hasn't told us whether he walked up the aisle on Saturday or had to be carried by his best man. Toby certainly deserves an extra round of applause for …
Lester Haines, 6 May 2014

El Reg Quid-A-Day Nosh Posse crawls towards finish line

The El Reg Quid-A-Day Nosh Posse has entered the final furlong, with less than 24 hours to go before members can enjoy something considerably more substantial than the meagre rations which have sustained them since Monday. And as the finish line comes into view, the effects of the Live Below the Line challenge - to exist on just …
Lester Haines, 2 May 2014
Another grab showing images from the camera at altitude

Classified LOHAN payload is four-eyed beast

As regular readers know, the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team likes a nice bit of imaging kit, and we can now reveal that the classified payload which flew atop our recent "Judy" test flight was in fact a prototype four-eyed beast capable of capturing hi-def panoramic video. The chaps from CENTR Camera got in …
Lester Haines, 2 May 2014