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back to article LOHAN slips into tight rubber outfit

Last week, the Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team welcomed rocketeer Paul Shackleton aboard our audacious spaceplane mission. Click here for a bigger version of the LOHAN graphic Accordingly, it's an opportune moment to report on progress on the Vulture 2 motor heater, which will hopefully prevent the aircraft's …

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Headmaster

"Last week, the Low Orbit Helium* Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team"

*Hydrogen. Tra la la la-laa....

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A low friction connector?

Spring loaded pins pressing against metal pads, as per a walkie talkie charger. The connection is made while the payload is still locked in place by whatever you are holding it with during the accent.

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Re: A low friction connector?

.. or some (weak-ish) magnetic connectors, so you don't have to rely on springs / external forces to hold them in place.

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Re: A low friction connector?

Yup, magnets.

A couple of steel contact patches on Lohan's skin and a pair of wires from the external power pack ending in small magnets should do the trick. The slight drag on detachment should not be an issue if you ensure that the wires are short enough that this will occur while the spaceplane's still travelling along the launch rod so the trajectory cannot be affected.

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Re: A low friction connector?

Or braided brushes, a la Scalextric cars/track?

Or don't use wires, use foil strip and pass that behind the exhaust. It should melt rapidly. In fact, foil with a small notch cut each side should just tear apart as LOHAN's powerful drive thrusts its slim body along the supporting member to penetrate the unknown void...

Sorry, getting carried away there, as you were.

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Re: A low friction connector?

A male and female connector is traditional for quick-release coupling. Lube may increase satisfaction and a rubber barrier is recommended...

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Coat

@SW10

I prefer a viton barrier, due to the higher level of heat generated. Rubber tends to break down.

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Paris Hilton

Re: @SW10

perlcat, you completely missed what SW10 was alluding to, didn't you? I'll give you a clue: the person depicted in the icon to the left of this post is famous for the activity in question.

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Coat

Re: @SW10

> higher level of heat generated

"Do you smoke after sex?"

"I don't know, I've never looked"

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Headmaster

You CAN change the laws of physics, Captain - apparently...

>> less atmosphere to allow heat to radiate away

Citation needed?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You CAN change the laws of physics, Captain - apparently...

"less atmosphere to allow heat to conduct away" Maybe.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Re: You CAN change the laws of physics, Captain - apparently...

Fair enough, point taken, and so forth

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Re: Re; Re: You CAN change the laws of physics, Captain - apparently...

Er... *convect* away, surely?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re; You CAN change the laws of physics, Captain - apparently...

like centrifugal force, convection is a myth.

Heat is conducted to the gaseous atmosphere, where so called 'convection currents' move the air around, in reality it's just density, gravity and momentum doing it all.

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Ceramic blanket, anyone?

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Bubble Wrap & Space Blanket...

to wrap around the body to keep the heat in...

or if you want to go high tech low mass insulation, use aerogel...

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Bubble Wrap & Space Blanket...

We haven't really got room for external insulation, that's the problem.

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Re: Bubble Wrap & Space Blanket...

Have you got room for, say, four layers of space blanket?

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Facepalm

Polystyrene? Bubble wrap? Aerogel?

Someone hasn't thought about atmospheric pressure at altitude! Bubble wrap will pop, aerogel will deconstruct, and polystyrene will be useless, as its cells will rupture, evacuate the trapped air, and won't be a whole lot of use as an insulator!

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Re: Polystyrene? Bubble wrap? Aerogel?

popped bubble wrap and ruptured polystyrene STILL has structure that hold things apart and the air that has gone is replaced by vacuum... a far better insulator with the only mode of heat transfer from one side to the other being conduction through the plastic and radiation across the vacuum... bubble wrap and expanded polystyrene have the additional mode of convection inside the cells...

all in all, popped bubble-wrap and ruptured expanded polystyrene will still have a very good insulation figure...

I'm not sure aerogel will deconstruct as it is an open celled structure in the first place so the air will be replaced by vacuum...

in fact, aerogel was exposed to open space in the Stardust spacecraft as a trap for particles from comet Wild 2

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stardust_%28spacecraft%29#Sample_collection

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Happy

A hangar for LOHAN?

Perhaps it's time to rethink the whole setup, what with all these appuratances anticipated to be wrapping around her, hanging off of her, sticking up her rear end, and such, potentially hindering her free deployment.

How about an insulated box / hangar, where she can be protected and warm, with some cunning exit portal that she can easily pass through on her way out. Maybe one of those millions-of-bristls type.

of course, the hangar must have a name: The commentards can be find a good backcronym for JAIL. Oh, and the portal might be called COURT?

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Joke

I am surprised

nobody has suggested duck tape yet

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Coat

Re: I am surprised

Actually, as we're talking about making an electrical connection, wire coat-hangers would be more appropriate there.

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Double space blanket?

Have you space for multiple layers of space blanket and heatshrink?

Can you crumple up the space blanket(s) so it's more likely to have small airspaces too? Assuming the heatshrink is strong enough to contain the overpressure air if it's completely trapped - it certainly looks strong enough...

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Variation

How about passing the wires behind the motor where the ends are joined using wax to hold them together that 'instantly' melts/burns away to separate the two ends. Obviously the thickness would need to be rated to avoid resistive heating within the wire avoiding premature separation.

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How much help does the heater provide? Is it worth at all?

If could be useful to make measurements with the heater disconnected from the battery, for comparison.

If all you can get is 5℃, it may be not worth the effort. -60℃ vs. -55℃ - not likely to make any difference.

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Nice beefy DC-DC converter

Or some other variety of voltage-stepping jiggery pokery to allow more current to penetrate the resistance of the circuit and get that heater up to more of a toasty temperature. Maybe just two battery packs in series if you want to KISS.

If you're using a thermocouple and an onboard computer anyway, you could possibly make a slightly more intelligent thermostat than just "on, off". Call one of the computer's analogue IO pins "heater out", feed it into a couple of MOSFETS (maybe via a cheapo signal transistor), and you're laughing.

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Use a transformer?

It would only require a few components to make something like an isolating power supply, running at 40 kHz or so, with each of the two transformer coils in separate halves of a ferrite-cored transformer. The two halves could be held together by Vulture 2's weight if they were to be mounted on the rubber pad at the end of the titanium rod.

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Heat loss from inside the tube?

Did you cap the ends of the tube, or were they left open, thus allowing (air in) the inside of the tube to conduct heat away?

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Heat loss from inside the tube?

Good question. I plugged them with cotton wool, otherwise the loss would have been excessive, I reckon.

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Boffin

Radiation & Convection

Lets get your understanding of heat radiation up to speed:

Heat radiation takes place even in a vacuum (obviously, otherwise we couldn't see/feel the Sun).

Heat **convection** is what drops as the ambient density goes down, because the currents of air wafting past your heat source can carry away less heat because of their lower density. I remember 1 of my lecturers commenting that heat loss is dominated by radiation for a small temperature difference like 4 deg. C. Hence the results of your REHAB experiment are what I would have expected: Now, if you had put a more powerful heater in your hyperbaric chamber (bigger delta-T) maybe the result would have been different...

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IT Angle

Meanwhile, back in LA

Just as an FYI, the project's namesake escaped prison with an enforced home-based 90 day rehab. However, later that same evening Lindsay was photographed with friends by paparazzi outside a Los Angeles nightclub. When she realized she had been spotted in the back of her friends car, Ms. Lohan ducked down in the back seat and threw a blanket over herself.

Just thought you should know!!

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Meanwhile, back in LA

Yes, our Lindsay is certainly flying the flag for the REHAB bit of the project at least. Good stuff.

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Re: Meanwhile, back in LA

Was it a ceramic blanket?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_temperature_insulation_wool

Thin layer of that, held in place with your pilfered heat shrink tubing.

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When might we expect a test launch to verify the launch angle and behavior immediately after launch?

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Well, the problem here is that a ground-based launch won't have much in common with a launch at high altitude, due to the lack of atmosphere for the control surfaces to "bite" into. We're mulling...

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How feasible to make a low-pressure wind tunnel for testing this? Doesn't need to be quite on the scale of the full hypobaric chamber.

Something like a tube of metal with a glass or polycarbonate window in it, in a circuit with a fan somewhere in it? Have a bulge in the viewing section large enough to put LOHAN. I hear RVK do some pretty neat inline ventilation fans with a quite formidable throughput. The 5" one I've played with creates a veritable hurricane at normal atmospheric pressures. Failing that, see if any model flyers have ducted fans you can borrow?

Add a variac (or if you're cheap, a dimmer switch) for adjustability in the case of the RVK. Standard speed controller if it's the model aeroplane ducted fan. Use stress sensors on the model mounts to see if there's any lift/control when the surfaces are moved? Perhaps use a smaller section made to be shaped like a part of LOHAN, if you can't fit it all in the tube at once.

But mostly, use a variac for the steampunk factor.

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Another disconnection method

fuse wire, in the path of the exhaust (perhaps even a length of solder?). I like the foil idea as well, and the spring-pressure knobs could work.

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disconnection method

Wrap the wires in Thermate-TH3 or another incendiary, kind of like using thermite but a much lower ignition temperature. Rig up a fuse that can be triggered electrically shortly before your rocket release. You don't want to rely on the rocket plume to trigger the break in the wires, because it might not hang around long enough to provide heat to do the job - and you'll end up with wires still connected. Triggering electronically gives you far more control on timing, and a good incendiary means you can have decent sized insulated wires that aren't going to break easily, but still cut through them in short order when you need to.

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Boffin

Re: disconnection method

No need to muck about with anything incendiary - just use a short length of fuse-wire in the right place, and a circuit that is capable of providing the required overload. Even if your burn-out circuit fails to fire, fuse-wire is so soft that it should break anyway once the rocket motor fires.

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Paris Hilton

Aluminium pole?

Apart from the relative flimsiness of aluminium for a stripper pole, you're going to get some nasty grey smudges all up their thighs. Chromed stainless steel would be the preferred medium.

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Re: Aluminium pole?

Good point! It should be kept for the Vulture Festivus celebration and airing of grievances.

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Boffin

Quick disconnect

A neat little trick is to solder a flat metal tab onto the ends of two pieces of wire, and then hold together the tabs by sandwiching them between two rare-earth magnets, the size of the magnets determining the force to pull the tabs apart. K&J Magnetics is a great place for magnet shopping.

If you are worried about shorting against something, paint the tabs with liquid electrical tape to insulate them.

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oops

I mean paint on ONE side of each, obviuously!

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Just use fuse wire?

Really thin stuff will survive the job with some proper stress relief and wont make much difference when Vulture 2 is launching up and off her mighty greased pole!

In memory of Playmonaut:(

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Likely too late in the design cycle but as I cannot find details of the Vulture 2 design I am left wondering if the cavity for the rocket motor could be enlarged slightly in diameter to accommodate a cylinder of insulation material and perhaps a mm or two in additional depth for an insulation hat for the non-functional end of the motor.

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What about the mag connectors off an old wrecked macbook...

Handles the current, comes off with an entirely predictable and repeatable force rather than breaking wires etc

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Go

Clothes pegs!!!

This is a back-yard shed project, right? Hold the stripped ends of two wires together with a clothes peg: enough squeeze to hold the wires in contact with each other, loose enough that the wires will pull out easily when LOHAN launches, and exactly the right amount of shed-bodge-ness.

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Re: Clothes pegs!!!

This is in the PARIS spirit! LOHAN is in danger of getting too far away from the shed-fettling that made it so fun!

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