20 posts • joined Friday 4th June 2010 17:34 GMT
Re: Parachute cord and springs?
Didn't the cage always get hung up on the pole at the last minute? Mousetrap kinda sucked.
Parachute cord and springs?
I initially thought of using the parachute as the trigger, but at high altitude it may not open, so I came up with this idea that uses gravity as a trigger instead:
1) Take a length of parachute cord and make a double figure of eight shape, making sure the cord doesn't pass through itself and that the continuing lengths of cord 'depart' from roughly the middle of the 8.
2) Fit a small rubber band over each loop of the eight to secure them in place. These bands should not be tight, so use very small bands at low tension.
3) Now create a metal plunger wired to the launch battery + and fit it to a powerful spring. The face of the plunger should be smooth and flat, but should also be larger in diameter than our figure 8 cord is long.
4) Fit the plunger and spring into a casing that will see the plunger in contact with a copper stop plate at rest (but still under considerable tension from the spring). Connect the copper stop plate to the + launcher circuit. This is our trigger mechanism. The casing should be open and unencumbered at the bottom, so either the stop plate is mounted separately on the truss or it is fixed to the spring casing at the top only.
5) Fit the trigger mechanism to the Truss on the centre line. On the outer left strut, directly in line with where the plunger and stop plate meet should be a strong cable anchor.
6) Tie the uppermost free end of the figure 8 cord to this Anchor.
7) Tie the other free end of the figure 8 cord to the bottom of a small weight. This weight is held in a cage mounted on the right strut in line with where the plunger and stop plate meet. This cage is open at the bottom so the weight falls out easily, but has a small hole in the top. A cone shape would be ideal in a closely mated cone-shaped cage...
8) Tie the top of the weight to another length of parachute cord which is attached to the balloon tether directly - that is above the parachute mounting. This cord should be shielded from atmospheric buffeting, so running it through a drinking straw attached to the balloon tether would protect it.
9) Place the figure 8 of cord between the plunger and the stop plate so that it prevents the two plates touching. It should stay in place through the force of the plunger trapping it against the stop plate.
Note: Before launch, cut the two elastic bands to make doubly sure the figure 8 cord will 'zip' out of position.
The method of operation is pretty simple.
a) The Balloon bursts
b) Tension is released from the balloon tether and the cable holding the weight in its cage
c) Weight falls free from cage and pulls figure 8 loop from between plunger and stop plate
d) Plunger and Stop plate meet and launch circuit connection is made
e) LOHAN launches
f) Weight fall stopped by anchor.
The only issue I can see is the 'yanking' factor that may be applied by the weight being arrested in its fall by the anchor cable pulling LOHAN off course. This could be alleviated by use of pulleys or a really long anchor cable ensuring that the weight remains in free fall until LOHAN has launched successfully. However don't be tempted to add all that extra anchor cable between the plunger and stop plate because the more cable between the two, the longer it will take to close the circuit. Perhaps coiling the anchor cable up inside a small parcel of tissue paper attached to the truss would be the way to go....
Contact transferplates may still work...
I promise I'm not a contact plate junkie but...
In your closeup diagram of the Lohan mounting interface, the Aluminium plate from the truss is shown very close to the top of Lohan's fuselage.
So build into the surface of Lohan, just behind the rear-most Teflon guide, two copper contact patches. Then run two electrical tracks down the Aluminium plate which would terminate in, you've guessed it, spring loaded contacts. These contacts would then hang below the aluminium plate, and rest atop the contact patches on Lohan's fuselage.
The springs should be of a very low resistance, so Lohan can rock about and keep free of the ice on her rod, so don't think of these springs doing any stabilisation of the plane, they are merely there to keep the contacts touching.
Anyway at launch the toasty warm motor fires and Lohan streaks away, pulling her smooth contact patches away from the spring loaded contacts like a tablecloth out from under a plate. The truss-mounted contacts then either fall away under gravity or simply dangle from their power wire which is still soldered to the aluminium plate.
This system doesn't actually need to be attached to the aluminium plate as wires would be used to supply the current to the spring contacts, so the contact patches could easily be mounted elsewhere on the fuselage - the top of the guidance loops, for example. The trick would be to find a place on the Truss that is sufficiently close to Lohan's fuselage for short, weak springs to maintain contact, and that won't foul any 'trailing' fuselage, that is bodywork to the rear (motor end) of the contact patches that will pass the spring contacts when the motor fires...
Why not use the blast plate for the power connection
I may be missing something but why not use the blast plate for the power transfer?
Instead of it being one piece of aluminium, why not have it split electrically in two (perhaps a chunky circuit board with two big pads) and then have two spring loaded copper pads (use biro springs) in the rear of LOHAN that then transfer the power to the heater (with the whole thing being held in the rear of the plane, which makes for easier wiring).
So long as Lohan remains in contact with the blast plate, the power should be transferred. The only difficulty I can see is if Lohan slides away from the blast plate during her ascent, but this would also affect the performance of the rocket motor so may have already been solved... In fact the contact pads may actually help protect Lohan from any lateral buffetting she may receive during the ascent...
Where are they?
I'm thinking of getting a tablet, I'm quite interested in the Surface pro, but where the fudge can I get my hands on one? Try it. Poke it a bit. Pull the stupid port covers off and have a fiddle. Find out my hands don't fit on the thing. HMV have a range of tablets to play with. Every phone store on every high street in the country has iPads coming out their wazoo, so why the fornication should I pay MS over-the-odds for a device I don't even know if I like yet. I can't even visualise how big the thing is.
MS should have simply released it to all general retailers with an RRP. If it's a well built as people say, they will be picking up sales from people (like me) who don't want an iPad. If it doesn't sell, the retailers will knock the price down and it'll pick up.
A tablet is an expensive luxury. I don't need a fancy eReader or portable video device, or touch toy. I need something that will run full fat programs, can interface with all the other computer gear in the house and at work and in an always on, highly mobile form factor . The Surface appears to be able to do all of this but, right now, no sale
Gravity removes pin
Why not have the pin held in place against a stop by the upward lift of the balloon? Run a fine cable from the base of the balloon to the firing pin in a loose hole. The pin is prevented from being pulled out the top by a stop on the underside that is larger than the hole in which it sits, and prevented from falling out the bottom by tension on the line to balloon. When the balloon goes pop, the tension on the restraining cable is released and the pin is pulled back to earth by gravity.
It may be necessary to springload the pin to ensure that it is ejected when the tension is released, but the principle is the same... Modern monofilament fishing line should be enough to take the load.
BBC Tech News reporting is lamentable
... anyone seen a report by Rory Cellan-Jones? He was in Shoreditch a few weeks ago on radio 4 going on a one day programming course. He built a website. He was then heard reporting quite breathlessly that he was proud that his website contained HTML, CSS and some Java apps. Wow, well done...
Now, reporting on the rise of programming awareness in non-coding environments is a good story (his course partners were all marketeers trying to understand the workload that goes into building a website) and there's a good tech story there - but Rory, as usual, bypassed it through apparent ignorance about the subject.
Compare anything by Rory with reports from the Beeb's science correspondent David Shukman, or medical correspondent, Fergus Walsh, or defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt. Since Tomorrow's World died a death, the BBC hasn't bothered with science or tech news at all...
How about a Garmin Edge 705. It has a GPS, a bariometric altimeter and is sealed in a waterproof & dustproof case.
Has a two way USB port on the back and has a set of open APIs available so sites can download and make use of the device's data (though I don't know any more than that). It also is an ANT+ device which the latest generation of Smartphone can communicate over, so that's another possible avenue to explore.
I can vouch for its toughness and reliability as well as its accuracy and long battery life. It also doesn't weight very much and could be easily mounted to the truss...
Pay-to-Play is nothing new, it's now just less obvious
Games have been used as a tool to get money out of your wallet for years - Pinball with the 'buy in' option, Arcade games with the '1 more life for 1 credit' option and the well-known mechanics of fruit machines and quiz machines. Ultimately all of these things are there to get a much money out of you for the entertainment of playing them.
Sames true with these bait apps, but it's much sneakier as the purchase is effectively invisible. Instead of your wallet rapidly becoming empty of coins, in-game purchases are just a button click and *ping* extra smurfberries are credited. Some games have in-game monetary systems that are false - think of it like playing poker with matchsticks as counters. Other games have monetary systems that are real money. How can you tell which is which? A nine year old will have a hell of a time differentiating between the two, so I can't really blame her.
Can't blame the parent that much either. The same confusion/ignorance mentioned above applies plus the obvious fact that they didn't know about the setting to turn off in app purchases (I didn't - is there such a thing for Android?).
Can't blame Apple too much as well, I mean they have provided a way to disable this kind of thing, even if it isn't well known. And if people want to play micropayment games, why not let them - especially if you can claim 30% or each transaction... That's capitalism, after all.
I do think that Apple/Google need to be clearer about what these apps demand at the app store level. The information for most apps is the bare minimum, so I think they should have an agreed upon system of icons/warnings to explain that this Pony game will demand micropayments, or that purchase of Smurfberries is required to play.
That's what I'd expect to see at the resolution of this case, I doubt any damages will be paid, but a code of conduct may be enforced...
Re: "we are hopeful that a going concern sale of the business is achievable."
Noticed this weekend that the smaller Game store in Swindon has "relocated" to the other Game store (less than 50 metres away) which has been in existence for as long as I've lived in Swin (9 years now).
You get what you pay for
Talk Talk provide a connection between your house and their ISP. That's it. When everything works they are fine - not stellar, but fine.
However if anything goes wrong (which it seems to do quite regularly) their first line support are nothing but dreadful. Second line, however seem to get the job done quite efficiently, but it is such a battle to get through to them.
They have most of middle England sewn up and those puppies complain if they are getting poor service. If TT invest in their 1st line support and get them up to the level of the 2nd Line, I suspect they'd see a lot of their complaints drop. But involves spending money, and I doubt TT can really be bothered in investment...
I've just moved from O2 to BT. I had no quibbles with O2, though I did get annoyed that they didn't support their Wireless Box as a router, only as a modem. When my Wireless Box II stopped routing, O2 didn't want to know.
I've now had BT infinity for a month and the install was painless, the speeds are excellent and once you've spent a day or so figuring out how to turn a lot of the HomeHub's BT bollocks off (FON, for example), it all seems good ATM.
Same bunch in charge??
I don't understand this. Are they turning the company around and then buying it back? How does that work? Do this mean the current creditors get shafted and the same monkeys stay in charge of the business?
Considering that Game group, as the largest Game software retail firm in the country, couldn't get supplied by major game publishers such as EA and Ubisoft, why do they think this sticking plaster effort will change anything - isn't it a case of "meet the new boss, same as the old boss"?
I haven't bought anything from Game in ages, mainly 'cos their stock is poor and the stores impossible to get into/out of, but I will miss Gamestation. After this I doubt those sentiments will change. At least HMV has expanded its Games section recently...
Been failing for 15 years +
I used to work for Game ... when I just left Uni so it must have been 1997. They just bought Electronics Boutique and were happily running a fairly large Game store (two floors) and a tiny EB store. They did the same trick several years later with Gamestation which resulted in a stupid number of stores on the high street - in Swindon we have two Games, a Gamestation and a Game concession in Debenhams all with 500m of each other - surely this is insane saturation?
It seemed like Game management had only one plan - to get as many retail outlets as possible, drive any independents out of business and sew up the entire marketplace. But that doesn't work when every store is the same, all you do is increase your costs. If one shop dealt in 2nd hand games for example, then there might be some logic in it, but otherwise....
The online ordering was a mess, the staff poor, the lacklustre assorted tat by the tills, the fact you can't even get into their stores as they are so poorly laid out and, thanks very much I'm off to HMV and/or Amazon.
You could see this coming years and years ago. Rent a single larger store in each town, carry more stock across a wider range of platforms, invest in some staff training and you'll probably be okay. At the very least you'd reduce your overheads by simply having fewer staff and less rent to pay. I'm no MBA, but even I can see your business model is flawed...
As for the second hand stores, all they do is rob money from the game developers and, in an industry where a £20 million product can be judged a flop in a handful of weeks, those of us gamers who give a sh*t about innovation and quality instead of "yet-another-FPS" (Syndicate EA, really?) should always try to buy new copies from their retailer of choice.
Good bye Game, you won't really be missed
Knomo bags too
I have a Knomo Saxby - very expensive, but extremely good, especially now it has stretched out a bit (always the mark of a good product). Though the Laptop pocket isn't especially well padded (I have my beloved Macbook Pro in a protective sleeve inside the case) but it is large and would easily take all 15" laptops slim or not. There are pockets galore, space for documents and small files, pen holders and enough room for all the mice, power cables and usb dodads you could want. Oh and the wax coated canvas material is water resistant and the bag stands up on its own when your laptop is inside it, which can be a real boon. It also offers a tracking service via Knomo.com if you lose it...
If I'm picky I'd say the bag takes a lot of stretching out before it's really useful, I would have preferred a bit more stretchy bag space for the assorted powercables I carry with me and the price is really very high for a bag, even if the quality is excellent.
X10 getting better all the time
The X10 was my sixth SE phone, but has proven to be the best yet.
When It first came out (I got mine the day of release) the software was ... ... woolly to say the least. The camera was sluggish, the OS interaction could be slow and things like the keyboard could be more than a bit sleepy. The worst part was the appalling battery life, even with everything off you'd be lucky to get 8 hours.
Ditching the O2 build and the hugely improved SE PC Companion software made updating to Android 2.0 a doddle, an upgrade that brought on a massive improvement in battery life, but when 2.1 was installed I felt the X10 was finally unleashed. Battery will now do three days on standby, a day and a half with moderate use. I've yet to find an app on the Market that doesn't work on the thing. Chuck the Dragon Flext9 keyboard on it and the interface is awesome.
If I didn't have another year to run on my contract, I'd be changing the X10 for the Arc. Having played around with it SE have taken everything that was eventually great on the X10 and brought it over to the Arc, but adding really worthwhile features - HDMI out, 720p video and improvements in screen and camera tech.
Regarding the headphone jack placement - The X10 came with a bundled M600 BT Headphone set in the nordic regions (the M600 also added FM Radio capability which the X10 lacks). I bought one after my old BT set met a sticky end and I can heartily recommend this device. It has a standard 3.5mm headphone socket on the top, syncs immediately and delivers really great quality sound. I use it with the half length 'retro' headphones the X10 shipped with and they sound superb. I've also used the M600 with my beloved Sennheiser Pros and can't discern any difference between the Wired and Wireless versions.
Basically if the headphone socket placement is a deal breaker, look into an M600. Then sit back and enjoy your Arc. Me, I'm looking forward to Android 2.2 on my X10 and loving the fact that SE have finally, finally got their act together.
"... their system was down too..."
It doesn't surprise me that the phone service wasn't working either - in my experience the drongoes are simply looking at the company's website anyway.
I spent a painful month sorting out a washing machine purchase with a DSG competitor a process that began something like this:
Me - The washing machine you sold me doesn't have rinse hold, I want to return it.
Comet - What appears to be the problem with the machine.
Me - erm... it doesn't have rinse hold. I wanted rinse hold. Your website said it had rinse hold. your store said it had rinse hold. It's arrived, I can't access rinse hold, the instructions don't mention rinse hold. i think it doesn't have rinse hold so I want to return it for a machine that has rinse hold.
Comet - Let's have a look
Comet - Aha, here it is, yes it definitely has rinse hold.
Me - says who?
Comet - my computer here.
Me - But, it doesn't.
Comet - everything we have here says it does.
Me - Well [the manufacturer], who I phoned before I phoned you says it doesn't have rinse hold.
Comet - Are you sure? My system says it does have that feature.
Me - what system?
Comet - the intranet.
Me - is it yellow, with a spelling mistake on line two?
Comet - er... yes. how did you know?
Me - You're looking at your website.
Comet - Oh.
Me - I think your database is wrong, and I've been mis-sold this machine. I'd like to return it for a different model and I'd really like to do it without being patronised any further.
Comet - Ah.
Me - Anyone else I can talk to about getting a return?
Comet - I'll put you through
PC World are a joke though - £17.99 for a memory upgrade NOT including the cost of the memory is hilarious. Ours is next door to Maplin and a Staples both of which undercut them on price and availabilty. PC world is a dying store IMO.
I agree with you ... to a point.
I agree with you that 90% of customers want a service, not a product. So they buy a broadband service, get a modem (cos they need one), plug it in as explained in the glossy pamphlet and ... away they go.
Great, right? No.
Because customers are canny now, and they shop around for the best deal for their broadband. When their year's contract is up they decide they're going to change to another broadband service, so they receive another modem and glossy CD, follow the instructions and ... away they go again.
If they're lucky. I promise you three cycles of this will cause all sorts of chaos in the average home PC. I've had the distinct pleasure of having to sort out a PC that had BT, Orange, Freeserve and finally BT again attached to it. The easy CDs were full of poorly written code hanging off shockwave graphics and, surprise surprise, completely nonced up Windows' settings, the Hosts file was enormous and it took a fair amount of work to straighten everything out again.
However a simple set of instructions detailing what buttons to push and what data to enter would avoid all of these problems. Most customers will run a mile from this - arrgh! Too scary!, so the Easy CD has its place, but why then make it so difficult for someone who knows what they're doing to find the settings required and bypass the easy CD - I'm looking at you O2 and Orange? Most customers know someone who works as an unpaid technical advisor - usually their son/grandson/son-in-law who can do this, so why so tricky??
Most customers will run a PC for four, five years so will probably change broadband providers two or three times. How's a support line going to be able to unravel the internal mess on their PCs? Why should they? It wasn't their CD necessarily that cocked it up in the first place.
I agree things should be simple - wifi setups on PCs and Mac show that it can be done (Detect, click, enter password, go). I also believe that ADSL setups should be as simple - it only needs a batch file to be run FFS.
Don't get me started on companies that supply ADSL Modem/Routers and then don't support anything but the modem (yes, you again O2), so when the routing table gets f**ked up they refuse to assist. Fine, I could handle that if there was any other form of help for the device, but no - even Thomson, who make the thing, couldn't help because the SW in it was bespoke O2. Twats.
BB providers don't help themselves in many cases...
Tissue Paper + Cellulose dope
Skinning is simple - layer of tissue paper, light cell dope. Repeat several times (four or five at least) then don't smoke near the thing - unless they've made a more safety conscious Cellulose dope as opposed to the vicious stuff I used in my youth which was basically an excuse to get high in my bedroom...
Here's to PARIS
Seems a weird request
I'm a bit confused about what Tom wants here: Does he want to copy the piece, change it a bit and slap HIS name on it for submission, or someone else's name for submission to support his organisation's point of view? Weird submission procedure too, must be a very local paper.... for local people.
Either way, as a professional writer myself I'd be wanting my name to be associated with my work and, if the piece had already been published (esp. if I'd been paid for it) that publication would have to agree to its republication (even if for free) before it could be released. At the very least I would I would expect to have my byline and the original publication's name at the bottom of the piece (see El Reg's re-pubbed articles as an example.
I certainly wouldn't let someone take my work, re-write some bits, and then re-publish under their name unless I either didn't own the copy (if I'd written something for a company for example and they agreed to the re-distribution) or unless I got paid (or unless i really liked the dude and his ideals).
Sadly, as many have pointed out, most people wouldn't ask and just plagarise the thing anyway, so props to Tom for at least getting in touch.
I like electrics
I've had the pleasure of having a good poke around a Tesla at the past two Goodwood Festivals of Speed and here's my tupp'ny worth.
The car's a Lotus Elise, very light, very strong and plenty of room for a battery pack. It's also comparable in weight to a small hatchback, about 400kg more than an Elise, but still pretty light.
It has one moving part so it will be significantly more robust than any IC car (I own a 112k mile Audi TDI who's engine is still as good as new. I also own an Elise S1 as a weekend/fun car and it doesn't do many miles - it's 14 years old and done 62k miles). Add in a bonded aluminium chassis and plastic body and I expect Teslas to last at least 20 years or so.
It's way faster than an Elise 0-60 as an Electric motor gives 100% available torque immediately, there's no gearbox so the thing drives like a moped (I know, I asked Kev McCloud who was driving it at the time). Going up the hill in the Supercar display it was right up there with Porsche 911s, Veyrons and Weissmans.
Top speed Vs Battery discharge is always going to be a problem for an all Electric sports car. My Elise S1 has only about 100hp and a top speed of 120, but the fun is had at 60 on a twisty road - I can imagine that the Tesla is a hoot in similar conditions.
Batteries do eventually die over time and discharge cycles - we all know this. I suspect that some form of Battery Replacement scheme will be offered by Tesla - it will be a profit maker for the company. It's about the only replacement part - Audi have thousands to make profits on it makes sense
Personally I'm excited about Electric cars, but the battery technology is not there yet. However Fuel Cell cars, such as the FCX Clarity, are exciting. Available now we should be using some form of small IC engine that just provides electricity to the motor, not driving the wheels. This would mean the thing can use the existing infrastructure, but just sip petrol. Hell, use a small Gas turbine running LPG. The Chevy Volt is a good example of this approach which is much more effective (and efficent) than the Honda Prius approach, which is lazy IMO.
The Tesla is blazing new ground, and we should celebrate that. Hopefully the demand for larger batterieswill drive further development of the tech, or accelerate the productisation of the fuel cell technology.
Now if someone can explain what the hell Audi's regenerative braking on a diesel A4 is about, I'd be much obliged...