just beautiful! Enough pints to warrant a replacement liver for all involved!
The Paper Aircraft Released Into Space team has spent the last three days sipping champagne and analysing data and images following last week's triumphant space plane mission. Here's an quick snap of the launch (.kmz location here), and the same seen from the main payload Kodak Zx1 video camera: The PARIS launch by José …
I love the slight banking as the plane separates - it would have been brilliant to get a camera into the plane also - imagine the footage from that (I've been reading though and know this wasn't possible - pity, it would have been breathtaking!)
As it is though, very, very impressive stuff.
I'm sorry but I doubt I'm the only one who thinks the results of this project are one huge anti-climax.
You managed to attach a video camera to a weather balloon - wow.
Two objects falling through the atmosphere happen to land close together when one is supposed to actually have wings and be able to glide? Perhaps some flight testing of the design was required?
Perhaps you should also have listened when another reader commented that using metallic paint on something that is supposed to use radio waves is a bad idea.
Yes, it's an epic fail and no messing. We at PARIS look forward your breathtaking space plane project in due course. You do have a breathtaking space plane project on the go, don't you? Of course you do, you smartarse, so try this for a callsign: ODFO.
I had really enjoyed following this story up to the final day - that's why it is a huge anti-climax. Good for you for embarking on the endeavour, it was great entertainment, but what were the actual results? You know, those things that people in the real-world are normally judged on. We have a video and telemetry from a weather balloon - and can you honestly say that is a great achievement and has it not been done countless times before? As for the "plane" part, we have no video and no telemetry, you could have saved yourself the effort and simply stuffed playmonaut in a paper bag and we'd have the same results.
A round of applause for the effort, but a big thumbs down for refusing to acknowledge failure.
Didn't really hit a sore spot, it's just this kind of tedious, negative gobbing off that's tiresome.
Who cares about the balloon? Sure, world+dog has done it, and good for them.
"As for the 'plane' part, we have no video". Well, yes we do, which proves it released at the stated altitude. And it survived, so there you have it.
In summary, then, we completely failed in our primary objective to build an entirely paper plane, send it to extravagant altitudes, release it by purely mechanical means and then recover it.
See, we've acknowledged failure. You now owe us beer.
I'm a long-time RC flier, and, for the record, NOT interested in pointless carping about the perceived deficiencies of this project. I think what you've achieved is brilliant. First-run tests always have glitches, so being able to build, launch, release the payload, and recover both carrier and bird deserves MUCH praise.
Now to the burning-curiosity part. How well does the Vulture 1 FLY, when, say, hand-launched in dead calm off a slight rise over a field of grass or the like (to avoid damage on landing, natch)? A few such tests could go far toward understanding the bird's behavior when released at altitude.
From the video footage, it looks like the bird did a full roll when released, then seems to have settled down into some sort of conventional flight. One wonders if its weight distribution or control trim caused it to circle; that would account for its landing near the carrier vehicle, I would expect.
Of course, the Vulture 1 is now a priceless artifact (any interest from the Guinness Book folks?), but have you folks any interest in characterizing the bird's flight behavior for posterity?
Built paper plane - Tick - and it was very nice, even with silver paint that might have blocked radio signal (warnings from other reg readers ignored).
Sent it high into the sky - Tick - 89,000 ft - very good.
Release it by purely mechanical means - Fail - Balloon popped contrary to original objective.
Recover it - Ooops, needed a very large helping of luck due to tracker failure and also aided by lack of horizontal "flight" by the "plane".
Overall a good attempt but a bit of a flop in my opinion.
Better luck next time!
Have a beer anyway to hopefully put you in a better mood and avert further insults.
might have blocked radio signal - Clearly not GPS Track recorded, Beacon Transmitted, only the APRS GPS messaging Failed and backups were in place and worked successfully.
Release it - Ultimatly it released, actually at a better altitude than could have been dreamed of!!
Recover it - by means of Radio Beacon - Tick - beacon was not there by accident no luck involved.
lack of horizontal "flight" - 89,000 Feet! - go read up about air density and altitude, U2 can only "Fly" upto 70,000 feet, the absolute altitude record for sustained Horizontal flight of 85,135 feet is held by an SR71. Just what are you expecting?
That also depends on the time difference between separation and landing of both parts. If the glider went into a spiral flight, as suggested by the footage, it could land quite close anyway.
To test the difference, next time round they should also release a brick from 89,000 ft, shouldn't they? All in the name of science.
No evil scientist icon?
Of course it's going to come more or less straight down, it started with zero horizontal speed (stall). If you want it to glide miles then you would probably need a gyro and some actuated elevators, to start a dive and pull it out in a controlled fashion, probably ailerons and rudder too to stop any turbulence turning it over or spiralling - but then it's not a paper aeroplane is it! (It's an aeronautics degree!)
It's a great achievement, and on the first go too, and here's a pint to Lester for seeing it through!
A properly balanced glider will pull out of a dive itself given 89,000 feet of potential energy to recover. You can try that out yourself with a properly made conventional paper plane and an upstairs window.
It's a superb achievement, telemetry mostly worked, the release worked and the video is superb.
PARIS 2 with full flight video and a balanced glider will be a truly spectacular.
nor a brain scientist, but I don't see wind as much of a problem. You're launching from a balloon, which will be drifting with the wind; the plane itself has no propulsion and its (horizontal) speed respective to the surrounding air will not be vastly different from lower altitudes. Only air density and thus air resistance will be a factor.
Of course, if Chuck did indeed perform a steep dive from the release height to somewhere between 5000 and 10000 ft (165..330 double decker buses) his craft will have reached an appreciable aerial velocity which it would have retained initially when pulling out, but given the plane's aerodynamic profile and its weight it will have slowed down rather quickly and settled at a thrown-paper-plane airspeed and flight attitude.
Full marks on what's been achieved but PARIS was (I thought) more about the Paper Airplane than the balloon; the clue is in the PARIS naming - In that respect Badvoc has a point.
Brilliant balloon ascent
Brilliant PARIS release
Brilliant balloon descent
But for PARIS herself; it can be said to be not so different to dropping a brick from a great height. A spectacular great height admittedly.
Brilliant that PARIS was recovered with minimal damage.
I think, for those expecting our playmonaught to take her for a spin twice round the earth, landing neatly at Barcelona airport, it came up a bit short :-)
The real success I see was in getting this all to work and first time too. So many things could have failed but so much worked out. Maybe good fortune played its part but it did work. And kept people interested in progress. These days it's rare to have something to cheer for. So I can't help but say well done.
You don't want to build the plane too well. A good model glider will stay up for ages and catch thermals and stuff. A good paper aeroplane wont and will descend at about one foot per second.
At one foot per second, Vulture-1 would have been aloft for 25 hours and would never have been found. Of course there's not much air at the higher altitudes, so it'll be somewhat faster than that in practise. However if you want a chance of finding the thing I imagine that you will want it to come down in something less than an hour, (the payload took 40 minutes,) so I'd guess a good design for PARIS would not make a good paper aeroplane for throwing across the room..
This would be somewhat fiddly but...
Add a much smaller bit of expanding rubber hose, inside the aircraft. One end of it is attached to the elevators. At 10,000-ish feet and below, the elevators are trimmed to glide. Above that, the hose ensures a dive of decreasing severity the lower the aircraft gets.
That way you get an aircraft that actually glides, without it taking all day and then some to get to ground level.
Eh, roll on Mk II, I say. Either that or a micro-satellite attempt. Considering a sounding (d'oh, not a "signal") rocket can get quite close to orbital velocities anyway, a 90,000 foot head start could be... scarily feasible.
0-1320mph in six SECONDS. At ground level. With wind resistance. Okay, it's a pretty large rocket, but it's also carrying a little more than a toyphone and a radio transmitter.
A brick surely would have been falling much faster and the touchdown would have been messy.
If there was no "glide" involved, it would have come down hard on the nose or tail, and I imagine there would be visible damage to them.
Or to put it another way: imagine a brick falling from space and hitting your head. Now imagine Vulture 1 falling from space and hitting your head. Now imagine a small object with the density of brick but the mass of Vulture 1 falling from space and hitting your head. The only survivable one is Vulture 1....
Of course Vulture1 was found close to the launcher.
1. It was unpowered.
2. It was released above 98% of the atmosphere. (Higher than cruising U2 spy plane.)
3. Being made of paper it had to have low aspect ratio wings.
So when released it dropped like a stone. Literally. 'Cause it was at the edge of space. As the last picture shows.
Making it a super-awesome glider would have been both impossible and stupid. Impossible because high aspect wings made of paper would have ripped off given the high speed attained during the free-fall descent. Stupid because if they didn't, the glider would have traveled forever, never to be seen again.
Congratulations. Marvellous pictures. What a shame Vulture-1 did not have its own video in the end.
I notice the damage to the wing is a single simple tear outwards. It seems likely that if it was caused by a tree on landing that the hole would involve inwards-facing distortions and probably be larger. I wonder if it was caused by a very small lump of ice sticking the wing to the main payload.
So now you know what the problems are, when is the next flight? ;-)
Perhaps one of these (with an external Lipo):
Shouldn't be a weight issue there! especially if you can strip it down, if you replace the internal 150mah battery with a 2000mah phone battery it'd be superb. (would be even better if you could add a wideangle lens!)
There are some insanely small video cameras - like this one: http://www.dcctrain.com/shop/item.asp?itemid=1793 (dime sized, 4 ounces including batteries), but would it work at altitude? I doubt it - I've played with slightly larger cameras than that one, and they did NOT like getting cold.
> Yes, it looks like the Vulture 1 got iced to the main payload, hence the non-release at the expected altitude.
Another possibility: I notice that the Vulture I release mechanism involved quite a long wire with a hook on the end. Is it possible that the release worked as planned but the hook caught on the rim of the hole in the underside of the main balloon payload rather that dropping clear? That would also be consistent with the plane falling clear when the balloon burst and with no rips or other damage on the top of the wing, which I'd expect if it had been stuck to the main payload box firmly enough to be carried up the final 30,000 ft.
> To get a viable video camera into the plane, the latter would have to be a lot bigger - to support the weight.
The on-plane camera could be very small and light. Take a look at key-fob cameras: totally self contained, 15.6g complete with micro-SD card and will film for about 60 minutes on its internal battery. As it has a single cell Li-poly cell inside, it shouldn't be hard to add a bigger external Li-poly cell (a 250 mAh cell weighs 6.5g and costs £3.50 -this is probably at least 10x the internal battery capacity). You want the #3 (808) cameras, which are currently going for between £6 and £12.50 on eBay. More details are here:
These cameras film for about 15 mins / GB, so an 8GB card and an external battery should let it film for 2 hours. Putting the camera in a styrofoam block for insulation and adding a second 500 mAh battery to run a small heater should just about do the trick since it looks as though the balloon landed 80 minutes after the tracker was switched on. Better yet, Carry two cameras with one rigged to take a still every 5-10 secs - that should be more than enough capacity to cover the entire flight.
is maybe a bit bigger and heavier than the keyfob/spypen cams, (133g total, with the camera at 29g), but it has the advantage of having the actual recorder separate from the camera, which would help with weight placement and the keeping warm of the recorder battery.
If you pause the video shortly after release, you can see that the playmonaut knew of the damage and wanted to get it documented, so cleverly steered the damaged port wing into shot.
There is definitely something at that point of the wing, but the clarity on the tube isn't clear enough to say it's definitely the hole, but it's in the right place.
Maybe it's clearer on the original video?
Just a thought for mkII... how about adding some small wings to the main payload box so that it's also more stable after the balloon goes pop?
Excellent work all round though... as others have said though, a 'nauts eye view would've been superb!
If Vulture-1 was released at 89,000 feet and didn't encounter any significant air drag until it got down to (say) 70,000 feet, it would have reached 337m/s - which is comfortably supersonic at that altitude!
There are a lot of variables, and of course there is a little atmosphere up there, so it would have been slower in reality. It'd be nice to see a z-axis analysis of the GPS data though.
Is maybe, just maybe, our heroic Playmonaut's first name Chuck?
PS Awesome project, awesome pics and video. Truly fab job folks.
You put a playmobil figure, in a paper plane, at the edge of space and got it back ... I don't know why, but I find that idea at the same time ridiculous and utterly amazing. It surely put a silly smile in my face today.
Hopefully Vulture II will overcome the insulation issues and give us footage of the wild ride our Playmonauta enjoyed.
For the sorts of things we're looking for in this, GPS might not work. Refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_Positioning_System#Restrictions_on_civilian_use for the explanations. If Vulture1 reached 89,000ft, that's nearly 17 miles... somewhat more than the 11 mile limit on domestic GPS.
In an airless environment, there's little to call, between a falling man, and a falling paper plane. In his jump from 19 miles up, Kittinger reached over 600 miles an hour before he opened his chute at 18,000 feet. This sounds terrifying, of course - opening a parachute, when you are falling at 600 miles an hour - but remember that the air breaking, even at 18,000 feet, would have been fairly modest (he was still 3 and a half miles up).
So, yeah, falling from sixteen and a half miles up, this paper plane will have fallen like a stone - almost straight down, for upwards of three or four minutes, and reached some fairly astronomical speed, before it began encountering air resistance. The air resistance will have been modest enough not to tear the thing apart as it slowed, however. Once it's gliding, it's gliding, and it clearly glided to ground, or it would have been in bits.
but there is a company that put an SD video camera (HD version might be out already, if not it's in development) into a pair of sunglasses. How did the intro to the 6 Million Dollar Man go... "We can do it... we have the technology"?
Regardless... this is a triumph! Why did we climb the mountain? Because it's there! Why did we dive to the very darkest and deepest depths of the ocean? Because we could!
Congrats to all involved!
I have followed the project from the start and am amazed at the release footage, truely awesome.
This is the sort of typically British on a shoestring, sticky tape and luck project that I thought had died out with John Noakes and a pair of Val's old knickers.
Guy's I will a raise a pint to you tonight, and the plucky little playmonaut, and hope in an alcoholic moment you scribble something down on the back of a fag packet that can become Vulture 2
Excellent job, guys. Any project that gives you a shot like that last one has GOT to be deemed a success. Genius.
(and the struts didn't splode, and the plane didn't plummet, and the ETs didn't abduct the Playmonaut... All those disastrous scenarios failed to occur. Roll on Mk II)
Helium balloon, small (relative to a SpaceX design) signal rocket, and an insulated toyphone doubling as a guidance system and main processing core for a micro satellite. Main engine ignites at 90,000 feet and takes it the rest of the way.
Let's show NASA how to reach orbital velocity on a shoestring, eh?
It doesn't work. Gravity is the same 90,000 feet up as it is on the ground, and balloons are stationary (near enough). The signal rocket would still have to accelerate up to over 5 miles/second just the same as if it started from the ground.
But it would be interesting to see just how high it was possible to get in a ballistic flight.
It's true that there isn't a significant difference in gravity (I don't think that becomes significant for several hundred miles of altitude, at which point it's job done as far as getting to space is concerned), but there is a huge advantage of launching from high altitude in that you don't have to punch through so much air resistance - at 89k feet, you're at less than 5% of surface air pressure. PARIS was well above the MaxQ altitude of the space shuttle, for example. Cool stuff.
Google "air launch". It's something that comes up now and again - I think the scaled composites x-prize winner has some of this going for it.
Gravity reduces as the square of the radius from the centre of an object.
Radius of Earth = 20 925 524.9 feet
Radius of flight = 20 925 524.9 + 89 000 = 21 014 524.9 feet
Ratio of radii = 0.995764834
Ratio of radii squared = 0.991547605
Gravity at top of flight = 99.15% of surface gravity
The Legrange points are much further out, over a hundred thousand miles: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagrangian_point
The two questions that all of you have dismally failed to answer about Lagrangian points are: a) will our beloved Paris's gin and tonic be held in quivering suspension in the glass at the critical gravitational moment, and; b) who will, if this is so, be giving it to her at this most provocative of space locations?
The gin and tonic I mean.
What is needed is more competition - the good sort not the nasty capitalist way.
To this end the PARIS Cup should be instigated to reward advances in the field of getting paper aeroplanes containing toy figures into space.
Next step up from Playmobil is probably a 5 inch Power Ranger (though getting two Playmobil 'nauts into space would also be a great achievement).
The ultimate accolade would surely go to the first team to get an Action Man into high altitude and then recover him safely.
This one seems appropiately dressed http://www.actionmanhq.co.uk/pages/soldierpages/astronaut.html
"You can't join the club alone.
It got to be at least two and our Playmonaut was alone."
I think you'll find the Playmonaut was inside Paris all the way to the top, at which point there was a large explosion and he pressed the release button.
Well done to the team - really impressive stuff! Another one next year, with improved design (and no spilt booze on the wing so it doesn't stick to the payload - that's a potential disaster AND a waste of good booze) and a camera up front. 12 months to figure out how to get that camera in should be plenty.
Speaking of which, how about an iphone? Dissemble it, bin the case and screen (if it'll run without), put the camera on a wire so it can be mounted at the front to keep the weight distribution nice. You then have GPS, accelerometer, and a decent video capable camera with sufficient storage. And it text you its position every 15 minutes after it lands!
Was expecting some indecent video, instead I got a weather balloon and a view obscured by a yellow ball with what looks like glasses on (or was that Paris?).
I eagerly await the V2.
Though would have though as a technology website your budget (or ability to "tap up" a supplier) would have allowed for a small camera onboard the brick err..... I mean plane.
Mine's the one with the small camera purloined in the pocket.
I like how you get two glimpses of PARIS staggering away from the saloon...errr...BALloon after the release!
I also think PARIS's next flight should include first person video. I like the idea of using the surveillance pen recorder. It's small enough that you might easily take it apart and add insulation to keep it all nice and toasty while it records PARIS's journey.
Goddammit - an extra 11 000 feet* would've been technically space. Not much further than my walk to the city. Reckon either John or the bloke with the cigar were chatting too long, and filled the balloon a tad too much?
So, the 'pop' released it, huh? Bet that caused the little chap inside to foul his breeches, and press the release button. I would have done, too, and forgotten about the button...but Playmobil folks are made of sterner stuff than me.
* Converts to approx 3,4Km. It's about 2½kM for me to shop.
Great build work of the plane itself, by the way. Clearly it survived the conditions, which are hard to imagine, they're so extreme, but your research into foam types, plastic straws and paper properites was research time well spent. Again, nice work, and a wonderful idea brilliantly done.
The small prototype worked well.
We wan't to see a follow up with a bigger plane that can carry a video camera in the front.
I don't mind if it's a higher altitude when the release happen.
You got all you need to do it except from the helium and a couple of baloons.
Just go back to the salt mine :-)
I think you will find that over the years the definition of where space begins has changed a little, now it is taken as 100km approx 62 miles up. so nearer 350,000ft then. A long way up from 89000.
As for gravity getting significantly less a couple of hundred miles up, no it doesnt. You would need to go a LOT further than that.
Having said that congratulations job well done definately not a fail, loved every minute of the project.
I have to say a really good first attempt/proof of concept but what next?
How about a shuttle or NCC1701A shaped craft. The aerodynamics can be sorted out as we all know that the shuttle is supposed to be the definitive shape for re-entry and there are plenty of flying (powered) enterpise models around.
Dont tet the grauniad or telepap get wind of your success otherwise you will hear of balloon launched gliders (possibly packed with explosives made out of chewing gum/flour/mintos+7up/... - a prominent gov expert cited) as the new threat. A new EU wide institution to vet, xray and peado check everyone involved in a non commercial balloon launch industry will be required - with ID cards being suggested as the solution.
Typical troll playbook - if you call them out on their stupid comments, they "hit a sore spot". If you laugh at them or ignore them, you're secretly "butthurt".
I'm amazed that a paper plane could drop from 90K feet and land with a tiny little hole in the wing and no other damage. Sure, it's super light and therefore has the terminal velocity of a helium-filled bee, but seriously, if it was flopping out of control most of the time, you'd think the stresses would have ripped off a control surface or even a wing. And the tiny pictures of the plane in the distance after release (Hey Bastok, did you see that?) don't look like it's falling like a brick; it's clearly seen from the top down, and at least appears to be traveling in a semblance of the right way forwards (that release video was the coolest thing ever - the plane peeled off almost like it knew what it was doing). It probably did a spiral for the entire trip down - this is not a brick type of flight regime now, is it?
Do you have any accellerometer data? It would be really neat to know how hard it hit the ground, and how many Gs it was pulling during the trip down.
This was an ambtious task, with only 50/50 success rate, if that, well done guys, and as said up there many times, a picture of the blackness of space showing the curvature of the earth made this all worth while.. and btw, oficially SPACE begins at 70,000 i think .. according to the USAF so err, well done for actually getting our brave iccle pilot into SPACE!
Did no one else spot the intrepid glider flying into shot at 1.05minutes into the clip (top right hand side). Proof if proof were needed that this was a great success.
However, if the Vulture team were to repeat the exercise I would hope that they mount the glider pitched down about 45 degrees to git it some forward momentum as it dropped. You can clearly the see the start of the stall as it drops from the balloon.
There simply isn't enough air for the wings to do anything with... This thing was higher than an SR71 can sustain flight at for goodness sake... It was always going to drop like a stone on launch - I can't believe that you could make a glider that could maintain any kind of glide angle at that altitude and survive to get to the ground... If it could it would probably be up there for about a week, and be in major trouble in turbulent air at lower heights.
Great job guys... a splendid addition to the annals of gloriously pointless pommie eccentricity.
Interviewer: "So, Mr. Playmonaut, your aircraft ascended to over 89,000 feet above the earth before release from the motherballoon.
Chuck Eccles; Yeah... yeah... yeah...
Interviewer: And when you were that high up, did the earth look round?
Chuck Eccles: Yeah... I don't think it saw me, though,
...Because , let's face it... launching a paper plane into space would TOTALLY fit as a Goon Show plot!
(Although perhaps the intrepid pilot was not the Famous Eccles... I could almost suspect that I heard a boyish East Finchley-type voice fading into the distance as the Vulture-1 was released: "YOU ROTTEN SWINE, YOO-O-O-O-o-o-o-u-u-u-u-u-u...!")
er I thought there wasn t much air at 90000 ft ? so its not gunna glide any way, its always gunna come down nearly vertcal . . A lightning jet figter once reached about this height but the pilot said it was very tricky to control n he was doing about 1000 mph . the U2 spy plane had huge wings and at this height and 600 mph was just on the edge of stalling . .
Vulture 1 was in no way bricklike. If it was, it would have hit the ground hard enough to wreck it. The only damage is that little hole in the wing, and it probably got that at 89k feet when the balloon popped and pulled the plane free.
Watch the slow motion parts of the release video. It acted like a plane, at least for a while.
I mean seriously, build up or not, anti-climax or not!!!!
Surely you pedants must agree this was an amazing achievement.
God, just goes to show the pareto principle applies to insufferable pr$*ks vs get-up-and-doers.
I would love to take on a proj like that eventually, i hope you wouldnt mind the imitation/copying, etc. (they say it is the most sincere form of flattery...).
In the meantime I hope you're are getting properly seen to (like the yeagers et al of old) - as well as getting thoroughly sheeetfaced at the Happy Bottom Riding Club.
You guys sure are the right stuff!!! (cheap I know - but hey - I'm Irish).
have plotted the release and landing points onto the APRS system for those interested. looks like the plane flew for around 23km. Sadly the plane GPS only got a lock close to the ground, but at least we managed to get a fix on it and retrieve it.
But it was a maiden voyage, and so many things could have gone wrong, but didn't. The fact that the plane only released at balloon burst turned out to be a bonus
Thanks to the Reg for getting me involved. A fantastic experience, if a little stressful at times.
how well they work at 25 miles up. Burning requires not only fuel but also oxygen; the latter is pretty scarce already at the summit of Mt. Everest, let alone three times higher.
You'll also have the problem that controlling the resulting temperature (lithium batteries dislike overheating even more than freezing) will not be a simple task. Beef up the camera battery a bit, add a controller and a heating element, and you're set.
Any non-guided glider will always have at least a tiny tendency to turn either right or left, thus insuring a downward circling pattern. A perfectly straight flight with no corrective control would be equivalent to balancing a sharp knife on its point. Ain't gonna happen. Therefore there is no need to "explain" why the glider and balloon reached the ground in the same general area.
Commentators have mentioned the possibility of a small camera onboard the plane itself. While that's one possible idea, how about either turning the camera 180°, so we can see the ascent rather than the underside of the plane; or experimenting with lenses / mirrors so we can see both the plane and the ground simultaneously?
OK, so the camera's not one that you can physically attach purpose-built lenses to, but if you pleaded / begged with a school physics department or an opticians, they might be able to provide one that could be attached to the box containing the camera...
I have looked at the data file from Paris GPS. Is shows that only 5/6 satellites are properly received from the GPS. I suppose that in a totally open environment the plane should have seen more sats, so maybe it actually suffered from the coating of the plane, or something else was jamming the GPS signals.
Here's a little idea for a follow-up project: Release a proper RC glider (controlled by one of those thumb-sized embedded computers) from a similar balloon. For a longer flight duration, one of these electric prop gliders equipped with some thin solar cells on the wings might work.
In essence, this thing might fly for hours on end at a great altitude. Which means you just build your own reusable high altitude spy drone for probably less than 2000 Euros (beer & vine not included).
I'm not sure if this will work, but it would be an interesting project, don't you think?
Gents, thanks so much for the wonderful ride, it was truly splendid. The fact that not everything worked perfectly actually makes it so much better. Let's face it, if you get everything right on the first go there isn't much to prompt another round. Why you might have sparked fires in many readers who are now planning to build their own PARIS in the fine spirit of oneupmanship.
Breathtaking pics, I wish you had another cam in the lift box to capture more of that awesome skyline. Do say you'll do it again. Same time next year? Perhaps a Halloween theme and we'll throw simultaneous global parties to celebrate or something.
To hell with the naysayers. This was bloody excellent. I enjoyed every one of the articles, and I think it's a spectacular achievement. You and your entire team should be proud: it's a hell of a thing you folk have done here.
Thank you all for the entertainment and I hope you all take away a justly deserved sense of acomplishment.
If you think about it, you actually WANT to release when the balloon pops - the maximum possible altitude. If there is going to be a next time, I'd work on this.
Also like the idea of releasing from the tail - a small wire hook there would be far better than the long wire in the current design, and less chance of icing up.
Congratulations - awesomely silly project, but all the more fun because of it.
Some mechanism with a tensioned spring that can only pull back the release pin once the balloon bursts, most easily implemented, I think, with a cord running from the spring to the balloon.
And the plane hanging nose-down under the launch box will probably make it drop away faster, decreasing the possibility of a collision (as I think has happened, judging from the shape of the hole in the port wing).
When the balloon bursts the main payload drops like a stone. Actually it looks like about 53 ft/sec initially. After the point of release (aftermath?) the plane is clearly seen flying far below the payload so the payload must still have been supported. i.e. the balloon must have been intact for the duration of the video clip.
My guess is that the release mechanism may have been retarded because it had to overcome the additional resistance of ice gluing the pin to the loop. When the mechanism gains enough power to break the ice the pin is pulled away with explosive force. Hence the bang on the sound track.
Did anyone else notice, in the video, after the first shot of release, there's a moment when PARIS's left wing reappears at the right hand side of the frame. The vulture logo is clearly visible, as is a small spot a couple of logo diameters inboard. I don't suppose that spot might be the "small hole"?
Anyway, really great job, and, now that you know you can do it, tell us when PARIS II will be!
Once the balloon pops the payload is retarded by its parachute (inline on the baloon cord).
the PARIS drops freely, but as it is paper falls at a similar rate to the heavy payload & chute, hence the close proximity at all times, video glimpses and landing zones.
Really couldn't have done better!
If the balloon burst before of at the same moment as release both would initially have been in free fall until the parachute was deployed. if both are in free fall then there is no difference in the weight of the payload and the plane. Release cannot be achieved. If the drag on plane makes it fall more slowly than the payload we would see the plane move towards the payload camera or turn the whole thing upside down.
I still maintain that we would have heard a bang, a second or so at least of free fall, the parachute deploys slowing the payload and returning a weight difference to the coupling. as the weight hit it would break the ice and allow release. The plane would then fall away. That wasn't what happened.
The effect on the payload/balloon of the sudden release of the plane may have had the destabilising effect witnessed.
Awesome stuff, and to hell with anyone who says otherwise --- I wish *I* was doing something this interesting.
But now that the concept has been proven, it's time for the *real* mission!
I do have one suggestion: if you put a big tail fin on the main payload box, the balloon won't rotate as much, which leads to much better pictures.
If you force the balloon/main payload to not rotate, you stand a far smaller chance of getting the plane in camera view after it separates, as you'll force the camera to look in more or less only one direction--which will most likely be the ground. Rotation is not only desirable, but essential if you want to have video footage of anything but the ground...
One small step for Man. One giant leap for Vultures.
Re Vulture 2. The National Geographic channel spends a fortune on a series called 'Air Crash Investigation', the point of which is to remind viewers it's safer to walk everywhere on foot and especially on a motorway than fly.
The current series of ACI has come to an end, and the producers appear to be having some slight difficulty in finding new crashes of interest.
With a budget of over half a £mill an episode, ACI is surely going to be the ideal partner for Lester & Co, beginning with an episode which documents and re-enacts this first flight.
Lester and the team would benefit from the fees paid by ACI and ACI would likely get the biggest audience it has ever had. The fees received would fund Vulture 2 and the subsequent documentary of Vulture 2 would fund Vulture 3. The Wright Brothers never got this kind of sponsorship.
Meanwhile. . . awards, medals, Buckingham Palace garden parties and Gawd only knows wot else to all involved in the Paris project: at a time when the world grows more dismal by the day, we need Vulture just as much as we needed Sir Walter Drake to discover the potato and so invent smoking. Well done, El Reg!
if vulture was just a bit bigger , a barbie girl camera could have been used .Then she could have been dressed as Paris, hope fully wearing knickers tho as its a bit chilly up there lol . or if that was too much for mk2 , I ve got one of the key fob cameras , weighs nothing , may be could have been made to fit in side the playmonaut? Any way great attempt and prob a bit better result than was planned . The vid of it banking away after separation was superb . Wonder if it went faster in its inital dive than a ww2 mosquito plane , which I thought was the fastest ever wooden plane
link to quality of barbie cam
This is clearly the most important flight since the Wright brothers and any dissenter should go back to staring at the wall in their cube. I have really enjoyed the run-up, the launch and now the slow release of video showing amazing results.
I am in awe of the team. Fantastic stuff.
Buzz Lightyear had it about right - "this isn't flying, it is falling with style". 11/10 for the playmonaut.
what about drawing up plan's for a hi altitude stereo HD telescope for the next project to beat NASA's Fermi telescope on the cheap using off the shelf toy parts and micro gyro etc, at least for a short time.
at these hight's your above the distortion of the atmosphere right, or at least very little to filter off
and rather than wait for the balloon to pop as it reaches max hight , why not use a simple pressure release valve to let the gas out slowly, or use that the fact its about to pop, and actually push on gas at high speed to give it that little extra kick to reach an even higher altitude.
the possibilities are endless, how far do you need to go before you can sustain space flight and actually keep something up there thats carrying actual Useful vulture inspired stereo HD telescope and an 11n long range wifi to ground link multicast video streaming that anyone within reach can see.....
I think that by looking at the videos we should be able to tell more about the dynamics of the release / balloon pop. Anyway, in my opinion, the best explanation is that ice (formed when water from the clouds condensed on the plane+box and then friezed when temperature dropped further) has kept the plane stuck to the box (after all, plane is very light and the air was calm, as we can see, so no wind to rip it off the box) also because if I get it right from the video, the plane was firmly kept pressed under the box by the release cable, so we have a big contact surface between the box and the plane that can become stuck with ice.
Then the balloon popping made the plane break free because of the shock, not because of the gravity or of the parachute deployment, because otherwise we could have seen some seconds of descent with plane and box still stuck together.
The video (box spinning) and the audio (wind noise) make it clear to me that the balloon popped exactly at release time, not one second after.
Thinking of Vulture 2, a new release mechanism is needed, I suppose. But consider that if you hang the plane by the tail from a long wire, while it's good to avoid ice and to make a proper acceleration when launched, it is not good then going up in strong winds. The plane could swing and hit the box.
You'd then want the box vertical as well. With a short U-shaped loop protruding from the rear of the plane (grabbed by a pin just like on PARIS 1), both ends of the U anchored inside the plane, so that there are no knots, twists or ends to snag on the edge of the hole. I'm still thinking about a mechanism to keep the plane from swinging (excessively) relative to the box, which would not be susceptible to icing.
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