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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

Vid 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, 8 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, 7 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, 5 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, 1 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

Poll 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
The Sunswift solar car

World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record

The University of New South Wales' Sunswift, the third-placed car in the Cruiser class of the 2013 World Solar Challenge, claims to have set a new record for the swiftest single-charge traversal of a 500km course. The record attempt took place on Wednesday at the Automotive Research Centre's 4.2km track. Sunswift travelled 500km …
Simon Sharwood, 24 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
A proposed LOHAN mission patch

That stirring LOHAN motto: Anyone know a native Latin speaker?

We asked for it, and we got: in spades. In response to our call for a stirring motto for the proposed Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) embroidered mission patch, we were buried under suggestions from all corners of Regosphere diaspora. A proposed LOHAN mission patch Indeed, so great was the response that it's …
Lester Haines, 18 Jul 2014

German brain surgeon flies in for vital LOHAN operation

We invite fans of our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission to raise a foaming stein or two today to Linus Penzlien - the man who has recklessly volunteered to perform brain surgery on our Vulture 2 spaceplane's Pixhawk autopilot. Linus poses with a quadchopper Linus, 34, will fly from his native Hamburg to the …
Lester Haines, 17 Jul 2014
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