"So is "Gale" not your real name then?"
I don't know, is it?
Is Paul yours?
3552 posts • joined 22 Apr 2007
What I do know is BMFA liability insurance (which is highly limited and only applies on approved land, etc, etc, consult their site for more info) does cover you for up to class M rocket engines, which is pretty fecking huge. We're not talking "firework on a stick". More like "amateur suborbital missile."
I'm gonna guess that Lester has probably done research in this department though, and might even have larger rocket classes planned.
At least, I'm sure we're all hoping he has. Teehee.
Hoisted on a weather balloon.
I think this may need several though. I'd go for nine or twelve arranged in bunches of three, for a little redundancy. Put enough helium in that you can lose two clusters and still have lift. The more expansion room you have, the higher those balloons go before the rocket has to kick in.
Are there any relevant records that could be challenged here?
These tend to be accelerometers, which would be as useless as trying to fly a plane at night in clouds by looking out of the window. Unfortunately the acceleration caused by getting kicked up the backside by a rocket engine will severely skew a smartphone's idea of where "down" is. This is where using a solid state gyro (three of them, they cost about £30-£50 each from an RC supplies shop) would come in handy, alongside horizon detection. The ready-for-RC gyro blocks are quite lightweight, or you can buy the raw components themselves from CPC or Maplin or whoever for even more weight savings. Hell, I have a Blade mCX micro-copter here with a 7 inch rotor span, that has a single-axis tail gyro welded onto the logic board. They are tiny, on the order of Microchip-sized.
See the reason you need additional horizon-detection measures (be they optical, IR or whatever), is that gyroes don't give you an absolute attitude reading and accelerometers are useless for this purpose when you're undergoing acceleration (or even just wobbling about a bit). Gyroes will tell you how much you've rotated by, but they don't know where "down" is. By using horizon detection, you get an absolute measure of where up and down is that can be taken, say every second or so, whereas the gyroes respond much faster and can be used to interpolate by saying "well up and down was THIS way 0.02 seconds ago and the gyroes say I've rotated THAT many degrees, so up and down must be THERE." Accelerometers can be used for their intended purpose of logging the fact that "holy crap, I'm pulling 10g on this rocket burn, woo fucking hoo!"
Now you could use solid state barometers to measure both airspeed AND altitude. Airspeed barometer would be attached to a pitot tube, the altimeter one inside the airframe out of any significant draughts. Of course they'd both need calibrating, but the mathematical formula for turning millibars into feet above sea level is pretty well documented. If nothing else it would be a backup or redundant telemetry system in case the GPS module does decide that Lester is trying to bomb the White House and craps out until it descends by a few thousand feet/slows down a touch. Yeah, apparently if the GPS does crap out there may be a bit of hysterisis - it won't just flick back on the minute you go below 60,000ft/1150mph, and there may be a considerable delay.
This is turning into another long post isn't it?
Still, if the module aboard Vulture 1 performed okay, maybe it can be re-used. The thing I'm scared about is that some forums are saying the height+speed limits are imposed on a lot of modules as an "OR" operation, so height exceeded OR speed exceeded. Some are imposed as an AND operation, so height AND speed exceeded. If the Vulture 1's GPS module is an AND, then it'll be fine for measuring a slowly floating balloon's height all the way up to space. However if this rocket plane goes above 999kts, then you could end up with GPS cutting out just when it's needed most: to measure peak height. 1150mph might sound like a big ask, but not out of the range of even a modestly powerful rocket engine in the upper atmosphere with nothing substantially heavy attached to it.
Though as this is El Reg, and not some bunch of random schmucks, maybe they could be trusted with mil-spec kit?
However a single balloon would have to be inflated quite a way to lift all the gear, and would therefore pop at a lower altitude. Multiple balloons would be inflated much less so, and could go higher before going boom.
That and the cluster could be arranged so no balloons are touching. Think balloon-----string----balloon----string---etc. Or triple cluster of balloons----string----another cluster----etc. The triple cluster would mean the string can go up the middle of the three and not rub against taught latex. Any failures mean only a single cluster goes ka-pop.
Of course, you could have sensors that measure internal vs external pressure and vent gas accordingly, but that's a whole new complex kettle of fish on top of the existing rather complex autonomous rocketcraft.
Well it's not so much horizon detection as attitude detection, and horizon detection is possibly the only way of doing it that's within reach of Garden Shed Engineering.
As for why, well the idea according to the article is to fly the thing back to base under autonomous control. As well as you build any airframe, all it takes is a gust of wind to completely fuck your orientation up. Under any realistic conditions, simply relying on dihedral wings and rudder control is not going to work very well at all. While there are free-flight gliders that can circle around, they aren't really guided and may well end up anywhere. They also tend to be flown in conditions that are relatively calm compared to whatever might be blowing about up at 30, 40 or 50,000 feet. So long as you can detect attitude, you can keep the wings at a sensible level and therefore not have to worry about suddenly being flipped upside down - or at least, quickly correct things if you do get flipped. Plus at the speed a rocket engine is likely to take you, anything other than sharply swept or delta wings are likely to get ripped straight off. I really want to see that F19 airframe in fibreglass!
Using a hacked smartphone (or multiple if Lester goes for detachable engines) for everything is a plan though. Cheapy droidphones are under a hundred quid and have more than enough computational grunt for the task. Plus GPS, plus a 3G chipset, unless there are smaller, lighter System On Board platforms that have 3G to talk to home with.
Mind you, what would it take for a long-ish range nav beacon to send gpsd-compatible messages over rtty? Much better than trying to triangulate a simple ping, and no need to rely on mobile phone coverage.
Problem is, whatever signal you're getting from the gyro has to be converted to digital at some point so the onboard computer can deal with it. Digitisation means quantisation, which means quantisation error, which means drift. Unfortunately we don't have infinite-bit ADCs just yet, nor computers that can deal with infinite accuracy. That and a piezo gyro from a model shop is probably vastly cheaper.
Still, there are no silly ideas when compared to the overall goal of flinging a model aircraft into space. Let's keep going and give Lester some inspiration!
So long as you stick within model aircraft limits (3m wingspan, 7.5Kg weight), no license is required for a UAV. For larger airframes, a specialised license can be obtained. I'm going to hazard a guess and say Lester probably knows all this, or knows a suitable "pilot" (quotes due to it being, err, a UAV).
Of course the rules in Spain may be different to the rules in the UK. Go have a look at the BMFA's website for the latest Handbook and other resources.
...and you could probably achieve it with fibreglass sheets and resin. Pretty cheap stuff, usually used for making/fixing model helicopter bodies. Could make for an awesome monocoque airframe, leaving plenty of room inside for rocket engines. Will you be just buying off-the-shelf Estes stuff, or making your own engines? Also are you considering solid, liquid or hybrid rocket engines? From what I recall, the Top Gear shuttle attempt used latex and nitrous oxide. Could be worth contacting Rocket Men Ltd to see if they'd like to join forces or find out how much it'd cost to hire their expertise.
As you're going above GPS heights, I'm going to guess you'll need to work without it, at least at the start of the launch. Solid state barometers can be fettled to work as altimeters, and you already know about solid state gyroes and accelerometers. Problem is, gyroes will tend to drift so you will need to find a way of detecting absolute orientation every now and then (as opposed to the gyroes just telling you how much you rotated since the last measurement). You could go for optical horizon detection (probably a good option as you'll be way above cloud level and presumably launching in the day, even if it would be computationally expensive to analyze a couple of webcam feeds). Another more iffy method is magnetic detection. Apparently the difference in the Earth's magnetic field is measurable over a pretty short altitude difference, so sensors in the wingtips could detect whether you're flying level or not (at the expense of not knowing if you're upside down or not).
Another (better) method of horizon detection is putting IR sensors in the wingtips and looking for a warmer earth versus a cooler sky. This is used in auto-land mechanisms that are already available, however they have their own drawbacks. You'd need extra sensors above/below to detect inversion, and the behaviour of an autoland system might get a little odd if it approaches a tree line or hilly terrain. I've seen some reports saying the aircraft will automatically bank away from the tree line, but a sharp bank at low altitude will likely end up with a nosedive into the floor.
Have you thought about possibly taking manual control of the aircraft once it gets low enough, presuming you can find the thing in the sky? Can we have a re-attempt at trying to track the craft via telescope? Also, please put a forward-facing camera on the aircraft this time. PARIS was awesome in very many ways, but it was a shame to not be able to see the ride down from the Playmonaut's perspective.
Also, perhaps it's possible to have the engines as external modules that get jettisoned after exhaustion? Extra brownie points for having them come down via parachute, shuttle-SRB-style. Extra extra brownie points for sticking cameras on them too.
For location, maybe you could use a lightweight, hacked smartphone with GPS in addition to the radio beacons? It's likely the batteries would freeze at very high altitude, but so long as it wakes back up properly once things warm up a little (and presuming it comes down in an area with some signal) you'd have a very precise way of recovering your spaceplane (and perhaps SRBs).
Maybe put a radio beacon on the floor somewhere and see if the plane can home in on it?
My word, this post is getting long. Hopefully not too long. Dammit Lester, there's just so much stuff to think about here. I'm envious you're getting to do it at all though!
While it's easy to confuse the two, ext* is not GPL. There are plenty of GPL implementations yes, however there are also implementations of ext* under different licenses. Just as an example: http://sourceforge.net/projects/ext2fsx/ is an implementation for OS X, dual licensed under GPL and BSD.
Microsoft have no excuse other than continuing their vendor lock-in and making it hard for anyone else to use anything other than their godawful FAT32. This has nothing to do with the ext* devs. Though yes, Microsoft's patents are not only silly, they are downright dangerous. As are software patents in general, really.
Not only that but it doesn't have to be, either. The only place a MAC has to be unique is in relation to other MACs on the same network. If my MAC address is the same as some guy down the street or in another country, nothing stops working asides maybe someone's attempt at wifi-based geolocation.
Anyway, if you're that paranoid you can change the WAN MAC (and accordingly, the BSSID) of most home routers. Just set it to be 00:11:22:33:44:55 or some other unlikely-to-be-unique value. If you have some techie ability and fancy really fucking around, write a little script to log into your router and swap the WAN MAC around every five minutes. That may, however, cause you to stick out like a sore thumb amongst the rest of the normally-behaving routers.
"The EPC in a barcode that is scanned at check out is unique to the device being purchased and identifies that particular device."
No, it identifies that particular product. The barcode for say, a Netgear DG834 will be the same as the barcode for other Netgear DG834s, at least within the same batch of however-many hundreds of thousands.
..I'm pretty sure that airodump-ng defaults to slurping everything it can, and you have to do further processing on the .cap file to grab the SSID/BSSIDs. It wouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility for the guys who wrote the data-slurping software to have just used an existing tool rather than re-invent the wheel.
Now whether Google would have just extracted the identifiers and deleted the rest of the data, I'll let everyone else form their theories on that.
They used to collect personally identifying information about handsets, but then Google got a shitload of flak over their wardriving and it was too good a PR opportunity to miss.
Microsoft, you are as bad as Google and Apple for this. Worse, possibly. At least Google admitted they fucked up. To take it to an extreme, it's a little like one serial killer being caught and another saying "yeah but I don't kill people ANY MORE. At least, after that last one got caught anyway. That means I'm better."
Oh god I just made an analogy.
A cheeky way to get around this however, is to nip into Tesco (or Wal*Mart, or whatever megastore of your choice) and buy a shit PAYG mobile phone for £10/$10/whatever. You know, the ones that cost ten quid and you get ten quid of top-up with them anyway? That or a SIM card if you already have an unlocked phone to put it in. Use once, then toss or give to a frenemy.
Though I haven't seen phone verification for gmail yet. I know because I had to make a couple of throwaway accounts to activate someone's iSomething for them. Unless of course it's changed in the last couple of months.
Did need phone verification for a Google App Engine key though.
"The message was sent to email@example.com. If you don't want to receive these emails from Facebook in the future or have your email address used for friend suggestions, you can unsubscribe. Facebook, Inc. P.O. Box 10005, Palo Alto, CA 94303"
There's your "security" setting. Apparently a whole bunch of people I know are on Facebook and would really like me to be on there too. These are all people that know my email address and phone number, so if they want to contact me they already know how.
As for the "unsubscribe" link, sorry. That's how email spammers find out an address is valid, and I don't see Facebook as any different. Bayesian filters do a far better job than believing an unsubscribe link will do what it says.
Just an idea. Have the balloon vent gas when internal vs external pressure reaches a critical point. Anything to squeeze a few extra thousand feet before ignition. Launch when the device has definitely reached its ceiling, if you can detect that from the ground. Emergency launch and go for broke if you can detect the balloon popping with on-board systems.
Likelihood of Team PARIS forming an N-Prize entrant? None or merely slim?
..would probably only last a few days anyway. The ISS scrapes the top of the atmosphere and is being continually re-boosted. If it wasn't, you'd have flaming debris covering large portions of the Earth in a matter of weeks.
At lower altitudes, you'd probably be pushing it just to go around the requisite 9 times, and the only satellites at that altitude aren't lasting very long anyway. Also, a little reference of just how high the ISS and various other satellites have gone:
If you can get a 19.9g weight even as high as Sputnik for under a grand, I'd be amazed.
Possibly doable. According to the rules, the little sparklet bulb or whatever you're inflating the thing with needn't be part of the 19.99g payload either. So long as everything separates, I imagine you could pack quite a lot of mylar into just under 20g.
Another problem, even assuming you can build a rocket that can go from 0 to orbital velocity, and do so in a light enough package that a helium/hydrogen balloon can lift it up to the edge of the atmosphere, is guidance. I've seen a lot of comments on the N-Prize site to the effect of "oh just get the angle right and you're sorted", but I just can't see that happening without a just-suborbital projectile bouncing off the atmosphere like a skimming stone and losing precious speed through unintended aerobraking. That or ending up in a very highly elliptical orbit with a perigee of somewhere in the middle of the Pacific. For a bit of fun, download yourselves a copy of Orbiter (it's freeware, go google for it) and see what happens when you just point the Delta Glider "somewhere in that direction" and give it some welly without any control.
Also, doing this WITHOUT some kind of System On Board-derived guidance system just isn't geeky enough. You can fit a capable-enough computer into a SIM card these days and servos are nicely lightweight too. Solid state gyroes are relatively inexpensive and light enough. Horizon detection would be tricky but the hardware component is essentially an array of IR sensors and maybe a second SoB. You might also want to be able to keep the delivery vehicle stable enough to be able to fire a second stabilising burn halfway around before flinging your mylar jet-can out. You'd be pushing the bounds of the £999.99 budget, but so long as you can McGuyver a lot of ingredients it does only seem ALMOST impossible.
On a parting note, did the X-Prize lawyers seriously send one of their legal love letters to the N-Prize organiser?
Low Orbit Helium Assisted N-Winner
Although, 19.99g max? Don't know if you'd even be able to carry a battery into orbit, let alone anything else. Can you fit a solar cell, capacitor and a pulsing radio transmitter into a coin-sized container? And could you pick it up through all that atmosphere? How does anyone intend to prove 9 orbits with a payload that small?
Severe odds indeed.
Granted there's some really awful sites made entirely in Flash for no good reason. Those sites I navigate away from post-haste. But, Flash games are something of a special case. HTML5 still isn't quite there yet if you want reasonably complex game graphics, though I imagine it will get better. Only real problem is there's some devs out there that need to realise that an increasing number of viewers are only going to have a touch interface.
And it beats downloading an app that wants to know everything about your phone, your location, your contacts and emails just so you can waste five minutes of an Afternoon.
As opposed to the iSomethings that hit a plateau some three years ago and have been dropping steadily ever since? You did see that statcounter graph I linked to, right? EIther Android users are a very busy bunch viewing a hell of a lot of pages just to twist a graph in their favour, or the Android platform has far from peaked.
Maybe you'd like another set of graphs?
Really, which platform is outselling which is a matter of who you ask. Most people will tell you that Android phones are outselling iPhones. Tablets are only a matter of time. Of course, carry on believing that an OS able to run on many different devices has hit a peak if you like. If it'll make you feel better, it's unlikely that iOS is just going to fade away. Much like the Mac OS in the face of Windows.
And I still think Honeycomb has an awful UI.
...I did? Results are the same. Granted I was comparing "Mobile Browser" rather than "Mobile OS" as you suggest, but even when you select OS from the dropdown menu rather than Browsers, and then compare "iOS vs Android" rather than "iPod and iPhone vs Android", the only thing that happens is the same trend shows up in an even MORE pronounced manner. In fact by my somewhat unscientific guesswork, that graph indicates Android will pass ALL iOS devices, globally, in about a month or two from now. Don't forget that while Android has been on tablets for much longer than iOS, these have all been unofficial, hacked-in dodgy versions. Officially, Android hasn't been on tablets for very long at all. Come back next year and we'll see what the usage and sales patterns are.
Blinkers? I'd suggest the same, matey. I'd also suggest using the "reply" button. I have better things to do than hunt through a comments section.
Cheapo budget thing, possibly not. A certified device with a 1ghz+ processor, more than likely.
However it has to be said, trying to play most Flash games with a touch screen and no mouse/keyboard can be more infuriating than you think. Fantastic Contraption, I'm looking at you!
There used to be a nice bit of graffiti in Liverpool, stencilled on the side of a pub. On one line it read "The average person thinks they are more intelligent than average", and on the next it read "Do you think you are more intelligent than the average person?"
Nice thought provoking bit of text for anybody driving past or travelling on the bus out of Liverpool. Converse paid to have the question sentence spray-painted over with some shitty faux-graffiti tat. I'd never heard of them before, and I've hated them ever since. At least you can find old pictures of it via Google, but after the advert got sandblasted off the text has been ruined and barely readable. Cunts.
Only a couple of years ago, iWotsits had 100% more market share than Android. Or infinity times, if you like.
What's more important though, is trends. Also who is collecting the results. Asides Net Application's findings conflicting with sale figures massively, you should take a look at the following graph:
Now, err, what platform is plataeuing there? What platform is definitely on the rise? It gets even better when you move the graph start all the way back to December 2008. Now, click all of the other platforms like Blackberry, Nokia and such to remove their respective lines. Keep Android, iPhone and iPod on there. Notice the drop, that coincides with the rising in popularity of, oh... which platform? Notice how it's a continuous drop that continues on to this day? Notice what direction the Android line is travelling in, and quite quickly at that?
(nice troll by the way, it got a reply from me)
Laptop batteries don't get killed from you keeping the device plugged in. Constant cycles kill the battery. Any laptop these days uses an intelligent charger that blasts the battery up to about 80%, then drip-feeds it to full. From what I'm aware, rechargeable lithiums HAVE to be charged like this anyway. At least, I've never seen a lithium charger (be it li-ion phone/laptop or li-poly flying-model battery) NOT have some degree of brains in it.
I have a 6-7 year old HP zv5000 here that still has 89% of its battery capacity, with most of that dropping off after its previous owner (hi, bro) gave it to me and I started using the battery. Previous to that it had just been used as a smaller desktop PC.
Not that I had even heard of Marrickville, what with living approximately on the other side of the planet. However, after a quick Googling I found a little document you might want to read:
http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/BridgeDownload/MR.+COUNCIL+WITHDRAWS+FROM+GBDS.PDF?s=1942604687,docID=24720.11 (Warning: PDF)
..however for a service provider, 10G is still quite slow. All it takes is 100 users on 100 megabit broadband all deciding to hit a torrent at once and suddenly you have more bandwidth required than a single 10G wire can provide. Sure you can bundle them together, but you could also bundle 100G wires together.
Being able to actually use that fat pipe coming into your house without a boatload of contention, throttling and other nastiness? Yes please!
(or alternatively, having the ISP subscribe ten times more users because they suddenly have 100G ethernet, thus completely negating any benefits.. no thanks!)
640KB. Or KiB, in new money. 10 * 64KiB pages if you like.
Later hacks both in software and in the CPU allowed you to address 1MiB through the himem.sys driver, and still later hacks such as ems and xms (and the lovely DOS4GW used by Doom and others) allowed vastly more RAM, however the 640KiB limit was still there and any more RAM available was effectively gotten at through hacks.
Anyway, XP didn't take over from 2000. Both are based on the NT5 kernel, and if I remember rightly 2000 was the "professional" variant used in the office, whereas XP was aimed more at home users. Funny that most of my games ran on 2000 better than on XP though.
Mucking about with config.sys and autoexec.bat and emm386.exe switches and loadhigh statements to get 570,000 bytes of conventional RAM and 4MiB of ems so I could run Second Reality with a soundblaster... I feel old. Damn you.
Depends what you intend to get out of the hack. I imagine you could get a lot of passwords for a lot of services from a lot of devices by hiding in a coffee shop, hostile AP in backpack and a copy of SSLstrip running.
Mine's the one with the custom-ROMmed smartphone pretending to be "freewifi".
Unfortunately, with an attitude like that we could well see heavy-handed government legislation used to bash people over the head, when what should be happening is you absolutely should be putting on a big enough lock. Barbed wire too, if that's what it takes to keep people on the other side of your paywall unless they pay. I certainly wouldn't rely on the browser setting CSS visibility to "hidden" for me, if I were doing something similar. Neither would any competent web designer, and I'm pretty sure I'm talking truth there.
I'll ask again, whoever you are, what other sites on the Internet function like this?
Would you be happy for your webmail provider to work like this?
Maybe your government's services gateways?
I'm not arguing over whether Murdoch should or should not have a paywall. I'm saying that what he has, effectively, is not a paywall but a bit of software that begs and pleads with your browser to not show all the secret stuff. Fat chance!
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