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back to article How our shaken Reg Playmonaut survived a 113,000ft stratodangle

We're pleased to report that the intrepid Playmonaut who last weekend soared to 34,571m (113,421ft) during the test flight of our Special Project Electronic Altitude Release System (SPEARS) control board is, although somewhat shaken, otherwise none the worse for suffering a dramatic stratodangle. Our intrepid miniature pilot was …

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Your boffinette is sporting a pipe, I see

Good show, carry on.

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boffinette?

Boffine! /baˈfiːn/ (bah-FEEN)

To paraphrase Professor Pnin and Chancellor Gorkon, bouffin and bouffine sound better in the original French.

<span attribute="foghorn-leghorn">That’s a joke — I say that’s a joke, son!</span>

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Anonymous Coward

You guys get paid for this, eh? :)

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Happy

I don't know how much is The Reg paying to the person who came with the idea of using the Grauniad for the plane's left wing and Daily Mail for the right... whatever amount it is, it's not enough!

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

I agree wholeheartedly.

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Too bad it did not work out.

Probably saved those for a next endeavour, with wings and nuts.

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Boffin

I'm not sure I understand exactly what happened to CHAV. Did it did detach, but hung nose-down from the payload box (tangled up in one of the hanging lines)? When I first read this, I was thinking that it stayed in launch position the entire time, but a nose-down dangle makes the video make much more sense.

Is this considered a successful igniter test? In the full mission, it has to light off rocket propellant, which will probably happen just fine if it burns at all, even if it can't burn through a nylon line.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

It did detach, but only when the metal attachment wire snapped off. It was left dangling by the parachute static line.

It was a successful test of the SPEARS board and clockwork back-up. We now need to see why the igniter PIC didn't burn, and sort that issue.

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Aha!

...the igniter failed to burn through the release cord...

Right. So the igniter burns. Eventually the flame reached the cord, which burns through.

One question: Exactly where is the oxygen to promote combustion of the cord material coming from?

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Aha!

No, the PIC in the igniter didn't burn, so no flame ever reached the nylon cord. In theory, the thin cord should just melt...

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Re: Aha!

Why not have a piece of fuse wire in-line on the cord? Or is that not strong enough?

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No video of the release?

I'm surprised there's no video of the white-knuckle stratodangle moment itself --- surely that's one of the primary reasons to have the camera aboard the mothership at all? Was there a camera failure, or is this just yet another Tory/Labour/Green/Reptilian coverup of Things They Do Not Want Us To Know?

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: No video of the release?

Ask the makers of the HD Hero 3. Camera shut itself down at 60,000ft. May have been the cold, but other people have reported similar problems with this model. We're looking into it, and getting more cameras (not all 3s), and more insulation, to make sure we're covered in future.

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Re: No video of the release?

Having a camera that will record everything is as important as all the release/trigger components, any one without the other is a poor show.

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Re: No video of the release?

If you're looking at other cameras, this one might be of interest: http://www.techmoan.com/blog/2013/6/9/sj1000-at-lasta-good-cheap-action-camera.html

I'm thinking of getting one for on my bike, would be interesting to know how it copes with altitude :)

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Re: No video of the release?

I agree. We'd never used a Hero 3 before. The Hero 2 is tried and trusted. As I said, we're going to get more cameras, to be sure.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Re: No video of the release?

Looks like a budget back-up option. I'll get one and see how it goes.

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Coat

Re: No video of the release?

I'd be interested to know how your bike copes at 60k altitude too :)

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Unhappy

Re: No video of the release?

Ah, so a cover up it is, then.

That sucks. I wonder if it's cold or pressure the camera doesn't like...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No video of the release?

It's always wise to be covered when there's a video camera about.

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Re: No video of the release?

I see a new article coming, get a bunch of action cams and try to kill them. Start with water and keep trying different things until you reach the weather balloon trip.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Re: No video of the release?

Cold. That's going to be the problem here.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Re: No video of the release?

Yup. Cue loads more video cameras.

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Boffin

Re: No video of the release?

Condensation inside the case could kill it as easily as direct cold. If the case looks airtight (and I wouldn't be surprised if the HERO is), you may want to drill some holes to let air pressure equalize, as odd as that may sound.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Re: No video of the release?

We always use the skeleton back, exactly because of condensation inside the sealed waterproof case. I suspect cold getting to the battery is the issue here. We're looking into insulating the back of the camera.

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Outsourcing

Can't tell, was Lester there? Or have you outsourced this particular venture? A protest at the use of hydrogen? :-)

Disappointed not to see any pics of the mighty orb though!

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Outsourcing

I was there and am working on an entertaining short vid which proves it, and also features the mighty orb. Tune back in next week...

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Coat

Video

Im would'nt be suprised if the little man was coughing his plastic guts up after that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Video

The astronaut sounds like a bit of a coward -- given there was no mention of the frogman who was strapped to the side of a box and seemed to take it all in his stride.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Video

Typical, the SAS get all the plaudits and the SBS go unnoticed...

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MrT
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I hope that...

... the University of Southampton will be awarding their coveted Doctorate of Boffinry to all involved. Long may this kind of thing continue.

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THIS is what you get...

This is what you get when you don't involve your beloved commentards in your construction process.

100 other sets of eyes could have seen that particular potential flaw in your plan and assisted in correcting it.

Your PRISM-like secrecy surrounding this project (I certainly saw nothing regarding it prior to launch in the SPB section) has caused science itself to suffer and deprived us all of an opportunity to ogle some CHAV-tastic footage of the glide and descent.

Shame on you! Shame on you ALL!

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: THIS is what you get...

Actually, I saw the flaw coming a mile off. The flaw started with the requirement to have a parachute at all. It's this kind of thing which has strangled British science initiatives, Now, when I was a lad, etc, etc.

Regarding secrecy, the "Covert" bit kind of gives a clue. Didn't want our American cousins getting wind of it, did we?

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Re: THIS is what you get...

So what perceived mischief does the parachute requirement claim to address?

... and can't it "accidentally" fall off just after release?

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Boffin

Re: THIS is what you get...

It's hilarious how wonderfully structurally solid paper straws, bulkhead, and laminated shell construction looks. The removable nose reminds me of a photo I saw years ago of a ridiculously large 747-based cargo jet prototype where the whole front of the aircraft came open.

It's a shame CHAV didn't fly. Did it get any wind tunnel tests?

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Boffin

Re: THIS is what you get...

If you need to have another go with this config, put an arm on the main box sticking out backwards, at least one linguini past the CHAV's tail. Then attach the chute pullout line to the end of that arm, so that it is more or less taut. This will keep the chute from tangling.

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(Written by Reg staff) Bronze badge

Re: Re: THIS is what you get...

Alternative solution: take aircraft to country where parachute is not required, throw parachute in bin, get down to business...

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Happy

Risky, risky!

So soon after our hero hit the drink you send another one up in a dangerous craft? They guys must have steel balls etc

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Re: Risky, risky!

Plastic balls, Shirley?

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Pint

Re: Risky, risky!

So soon after our hero hit the drink you send another one up in a dangerous craft?

My parachuting friends used to call it a "bottle jump". If the main canopy failed, and you had to deploy the reserve, you needed to get back up straight away before you lost your nerve...

They guys must have steel balls etc

As long as they're not brass, it's nippy at 100K ft.

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Are you saying...

...The parachute is a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) requirement, ...

...that the CAA won't allow an aircraft to make a descent under autonomous control or radio control? and that all descents have to be ballistic, retarded by a parachute?

Other countries don't seem to have made that ruling... :(

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Re: Are you saying...

Anything dropped from weather balloon *must* descend by parachute.

No gliding, guided or otherwise.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Are you saying...

Is this a new rule since PARIS dropped her load over the Iberian Penisula without a safety harness or does it only apply here in Albion?

(yes, it was a typo, but worth leaving in!!)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Are you saying...

Surely the requirement is that it -has- a parachute... Now, if there were to be an unfortunate failure, or if there was a design error which caused the Chute's size to be a factor of 100 too small, surely having gliding as a backup option is acceptable... :)

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So...

...paraglider then?

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Re: So... ...paraglider then?

Believe me, I've tried to work out how to make a paper paraglider. I believe it is possible, but I can't see how we qualify the bits of string as paper... also, while a solid wing section is not too difficult, doing it with a flexible paper pressurised by airspeed ain't quite so easy!

(But if it helps, I got some paraglider airtime at Long Mynd the day after the attempt!)

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Re: So... ...paraglider then?

Paper chain, along the same lines as those used at Christmas time?

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Just as last time..

This airplane did not "fly" so much as it "plummeted."

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Re: Just as last time..

Surely it's called "falling with style?"

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Devil

Re: Just as last time..

Well, we might call it 2D - "dignified descent". Next time, 3D would be better though - "deliberate dignified descent"...

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