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back to article Autopilot guides Texan plane home from a dizzying 30,000m

In some highly encouraging news for The Reg's Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) team, a Texan high-flyer recently used the ArduPilot Mega (APM) 2.6 to guide a glider back to base from a heady 30,780m (101,000ft). A still from the onboard camera during the flight of NTNS 4 Larry Grater's North Texas Near Space 4 ( …

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You guys really know haw to build up excitement!

Go LOHAN, GO!

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Re: You guys really know haw to build up excitement!

The tease! Wouldn't be the same without it.

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This is getting more impressive by the day!

Also: congrats to Larry Grater!

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Spin

It looks like the first part of the flight is a full-on spin. I wonder if it comes out of that automatically or whether a spin recovery action is required (AFAIR full opposite rudder, elevators forward until spin stops then centre rudder & pull out of dive). Fortunately it's not a flat spin...

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Linux

Re: Spin

"Fortunately it's not a flat spin ..." -- http://www.f-106deltadart.com/580787cornfieldbomber.htm

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This post has been deleted by its author

Just to be sure you know the limits of GPS: http://makezine.com/2011/07/25/gps-units-disable-themselves-if-they-go-faster-than-1200-mph/

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GPS 1200 MPH

Good to know. lol

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

We do, and it's all part of the planning.

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Re: Good to know. lol

It's pretty easy to get to those sorts of speeds in the upper atmosphere. You know that Red Bull fellow who jumped out of a balloon? 1,342 kph, and he wasn't particularly aerodynamic.

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It's worth noting that the artificial limit of commercial GPS 1,900 km/h AND over 18,000m.

Of course, you can get round those limits either by constructing your own receiver, or asking a supplier very nicely, like the Copenhaagen Suborbital guys did:

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/09/bypassin-us-gps-limits-for-active-guided-rockets/

It would be interesting to know if GLONASS also shares those limits.

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Spinning and Audio - GPS

That was pretty kick ass. You should put a little disclaimer in about the audio should be turned down. I popped it up on the 37" TV through Chromecast. Scared the crap out of me when it cut lose, and then the spinning. I wonder if the GPS was all like drive straight ahead 101,000 feet. Whaaaaaa a aa a a a a! Turn around when possible, turn around when possible ... turn around when possible, you have reached your destination. :-D

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How the heck did the glider not rip itself to pieces pulling out of that dive? It was going something like 350 mph, and just pulled up like it was no big thing.

They should have let the autopilot land the plane - you could see the loss of control right away, without seeing "manual" on the inset.

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Boffin

"It was going something like 350 mph"

unless my calculator is broken, you're about 140mph slow on that guesstimate... 790kph = 490.8832mph

still, that's pretty fast and one would think there would be a bit of stress but we also have to look at the mass of the vehicle... more mass means more stress, right? ;)

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It was pretty high. Not much air up there to do the ripping apart.

Aerodynamic forces are proportional to density, and speed squared.

Air density at 16,000 m is about 0.1 that at sea level, so a speed of 790kph at 16,000m, all else equal, will produce similar forces to a speed around 250kph at sea level.

Still fast, but certainly not difficult to manage.

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@Waldo Kitty

It was not at top speed when it pulled out of the dive - I saw '347 mph' flip by on one of the displays shortly before.

I get the the atmosphere was thinner at the time (I think it was at 50,000 feet when it pulled out of the dive), but still, it had to have pulled some gees leveling out so quickly. Very cool stuff, can't wait to see it work with Vulture.

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NAHAR

Not Another High Altitude Rocket? This project is starting to sound like a scaled down version of NASA now. By the time you launch it will weigh 450 tons and be capable of interstellar flight. Talk about mission creep! <LOL>

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Altitude auto pilot

could you just let the thing 'fall'

till it got into an atmosphere that it had a chance of working in,

then turn on the auto pilot.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Altitude auto pilot

Yup, one of the obvious lines of attack is to have the autopilot off until after launch. That's a coding issue, and we're working on just what parameters turn on the autopilot...

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Re: Altitude auto pilot

" and we're working on just what parameters turn on the autopilot..."

Miley Cyrus in her undies?

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Re: Miley Cyrus in her undies?

If you like horses, yes. For the rest of us, Katy Perry in anything

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Altitude auto pilot

If the rocket fires immediately after release, at that altitude will there be enough airflow over the wings/control surfaces to create any controllable lift, autopilot or not? Or will the thing just go in the direction the rocket sends it until it reaches some denser air?

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Re: Altitude auto pilot

The rocket doesn't fire after release - the Vulture 2 exits a launch rod on ignition. Yes, at the speed it'll be going, there should be enough airflow.

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Ah, Texas....

Gotta be nice to live somewhere where you can do this kind of thing without getting advance permission from ye powyrres above and without having the plods show up to nick you for breaking a rule they made up five minutes before...

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Auto-play video adverts: No.

Dear The Register,

Apologies for being a bit off-topic, but please don't allow auto-start video ads to appear on your articles - especially if they have audio.

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Paris Hilton

1 Meeeellion RPM

Firstly, this is made of 100% pure extract of fecking awesome.

Second, a useful lesson there on the terrifying spin rate that little plane achieved. LOHAN is rather more well endowed (though not spectacularly so) and we'd all hate to see her bits come flying out when screwed around that quickly.

Oh, hang on....

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Euro LOHAN

Well done to Larry Grater. In my naivety it didn't occur that there may be others doing a similar thing. Begs the question about out-doing the other teams in some respect or other - higher/faster/etc. A bit of healthy competition and a spur to keep pushing the technology and knowledge.

Remember, there's a Union Jack and a bit of a Spanish flag on that there fuselage!

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Its a great time for the maker community, loads of nice tech toys to play with these days and this just shows how high we can fly =)

Can't wait for LOHAN to show her colours.

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