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Willowra Road Closed map from the Northern Territory government

Australian desert deluge demonstrates why we're doing it

It rained in central Australia last week. And in Willowra, the remote community we visited to figure out what happens when the Internet comes to town and performed a Windows 7 upgrade, it rained so much that last Saturday the town got three times its mean monthly rainfall. And that was on top of Friday's rain, which doubled the …
Simon Sharwood, 14 Jan 2015
Plate of lengua ready to serve

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Hot Spanish tongue action

Let's face it, anyone with any sense knows cows are far more agreeable when they're in pieces, and while throwing prime bovine bits on the barbecue is one the discerning gourmet's preferred methods of serving Miss Daisy, there are parts which, for whatever reason, have fallen from favour among Brit carnivores. We can't speak for …
Lester Haines, 10 Jan 2015

LOHAN sponsor Pulse-Eight: Supplier of hi-def TV to dogs

It's fair to say that providing high-definition video to dogs was not a mission priority for the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team, but when a certain Pulse-Eight answered our Kickstarter tin-rattling last year, we were suddenly presented with the chance to push the envelope of canine entertainment solutions. UK- …
Lester Haines, 7 Jan 2015

Festive post-pub noshtastic neckfiller: HEARTY HOG MAW

We're now well into the season of festive excess, and doubtless readers will already be sustaining a severe pummelling to livers and credit cards in equal measure. We can't do much to mitigate the effects of excess Yule spending, but we can offer you something substantial and yet a bit different to soak up the booze: the hearty …
Lester Haines, 26 Dec 2014
The Wirliyatjarrayi Learning Centre

Reg Oz chaps plot deep desert comms upgrade

It's been a while since The Reg travelled to the remote Australian community of Willowra to perform a Windows XP upgrade, and longer still since we updated readers on our plan to improve the internet connection in the town's adult learning centre. We'd like to fix the internet problem because the Wirliyatjarrayi Learning Centre …

Vulture 2 design hero describes epic 'hobby' project

It's a traditional SPB tip of the hat today to Vulture 2 spaceplane designer Chris Dodd, who's been chewing the fat with The Engineer about his involvement with the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project. Chris Dodd and the virtual Vulture 2 on a computer monitor Long-term LOHAN fans will recall Chris (pictured …
Lester Haines, 19 Dec 2014
Lester firing an AR-16 at the gun range

American bacon cured with AR-15 assault rifle

It's been quite a week for the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team, as myself and Edge Research Laboratory's David Patterson travelled to Spaceport America in New Mexico, and took delivery of the Vulture 2 spaceplane in Denver, picking up a couple of rocket motor reloads along the way. We covered plenty of road …
Lester Haines, 17 Dec 2014
Our LOHAN mission patch design

El Reg's mighty rocket spaceplane Vulture 2 arrives in US of A

The Vulture 2 spaceplane arrived safely in the USA last week, and is currently resting at a secure facility in Denver courtesy of Jeff Anderton of video production outfit Mass Transit. Our rocket ship's relocation came as part of my own trip Stateside, which saw myself and Edge Research Lab's David Patterson on a reccy to …
Lester Haines, 16 Dec 2014
Our Playmonaut on the runway at Spaceport America

LOHAN's Plucky Playmonaut touches down at Spaceport America

Our plucky Playmonaut sensationally landed at Spaceport America in New Mexico last Thursday, although sadly not this time at the controls of the Register's soaraway Vulture 2 rocket ship. The diminutive Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) pilot walked the tarmac of the fabled gateway to the heavens as myself and David …

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The fantastical Francesinha

Legend has it that in the 1960s, one Daniel da Silva returned to his native Portugal following a stint in France and Belgium, with a vision of adapting the classic grilled ham and cheese croque-monsieur for local palates. The result was the Francesinha ("Frenchie"), an example of what happens when you take a simple sarnie, crank …
Lester Haines, 6 Dec 2014

LOHAN sponsor Lucidica explains the benefits of being French

Back in October, the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team welcomed our magnificent Kickstarter sponsors to Vulture Central, and among those who rolled up to be frisked by security at the door were representatives of London-based IT support firm Lucidica. The Lucidica team at Vulture Central With fighting livers at …
Lester Haines, 26 Nov 2014

Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray

Wannabe Bond villains who'd been planning a world-domination strategy involving sharks armed with a frikkin' lasers should be aware that Wicked Lasers has announced it's withdrawing its "horrendously dangerous" handheld death rays. Long exposure shot showing laser in street According to a brief email from the company's press …
Lester Haines, 24 Nov 2014
Our plucky Playmonaut celebrates his riches with a bevy of beauties

NXT: The first SPAAAACE cryptocurrency

It's fair to say that our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission has attracted a broad spectrum of sponsors, and among those who've climbed aboard is NXT, which aims to be the first cryptocurrency into space, or at least the stratosphere. NXT is a Bitcoin rival launched in 2013, "currently positioned at #5 by …
Lester Haines, 20 Nov 2014

Vulture 2 spaceplane tumbles onto BBC World Service

We invite Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) fans to stick the kettle on, make a nice cuppa and enjoy a recent interview myself and Vulture 2 rocket motor wrangler Paul "Lord Shax" Shackleton did with Gareth Mitchell for the BBC World Service's Click. Good stuff, and we'd like to add that the Southampton Uni design boys …
Lester Haines, 18 Nov 2014

Give it up for SecQuest - a rabbit-hunting spaceplane sponsor

We invite Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) fans to give it up today for SecQuest, one of the magnificent corporate responders to our Kickstarter tin-rattling to take the Vulture 2 ballocket launch to Spaceport America. We'll be bringing you details on all our splendid sponsors in due course, but let's kick off with a …
Lester Haines, 17 Nov 2014
Selection of eggs on the bar

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg

It's been two years since we at El Reg's Special Projects Bureau brought hungry readers the last of our post-pub nosh deathmatches – a lively head-to-head featuring souse versus scrapple – and by popular demand we've decided to reheat the concept as part of Vulture Central's Weekend Edition. To recap, the idea was to present …
Lester Haines, 15 Nov 2014

Lindsay Lohan ignores El Reg's tender twitterly advances

We're distraught to report that thesp Lindsay Lohan has ignored a recent Twitter request for a few words on our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission - the audacious namesake ballocket initiative which will see her moniker written gloriously across the stratosphere. Our tweet to Lindsay Lohan No doubt Ms Lohan …
Lester Haines, 7 Nov 2014

Spaceplane fan sips sweet nectar from LOHAN's copious cup

We're obliged to spaceplane fan Mike Kimber for sending over the first evidence we've received of our magnificent Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mug in the wild, and being put to extremely laudable use. Mike wrote: "A while ago you published a recipe for a super strength mead in honour of the LOHAN project... Well …
Lester Haines, 5 Nov 2014

LOHAN test flight: Results in from Oz jury

Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) brain surgeons Linus Penzlien and Andrew Tridgell* have scrutinised the log flies from the recent test flight which saw a Pixhawk autopilot, batteries and servos (pictured below) sent aloft to 27,700m to determine in real-world conditions how the Vulture 2 spaceplane's bulging …
Lester Haines, 3 Nov 2014
Video still from Saturday's Edge flight

LOHAN avionics survive 27,700m stratospheric ordeal

Pics+vid 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

Pics 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
3D Robotics drone in Richard Branson's house

Drones swarm over bearded Brit billionaire's island getaway

Youtube Video Richard Branson has invested in 3D Robotics and set the firm’s drones loose over his tropical island Necker. The hirsute entrepreneur was captured by the drones playing tennis and kitesurfing, while the wee machines also captured “drone’s eye views” of the island. “It’s amazing to see what a little flying object …

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, 8 Sep 2014

Vote NOW for LOHAN's arboreal avoidance algorithm acronym

Poll 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, 5 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, 5 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, 4 Sep 2014