back to article SPEARS fired up for explosive climax

Our Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) project reached a major milestone over the weekend with the completion of the first Special Project Electronic Altitude Release System (SPEARS) control board. Click here for a bigger version of the LOHAN graphic Neil Barnes, who put together LOHAN's silicon heart with the able …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    so when will you be selling tickets for the first seats available on a manned version?

  2. Justice
    Thumb Up

    Yeah, I can fly...

    "Neil Barnes, who put together LOHAN's silicon heart with the able assistance of Anthony Stirk"

    Surely with a project this impressive it should have been Anthony STARK?


  3. Gonebirdin

    Women eh!

    PARIS was such a simple girl, this LOHAN is such high maintenance. She had better be worth it

  4. IHateWearingATie

    Get on with it!

    While I very much enjoy the detailed articles, will you get on and launch the bloody thing!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    LEDs and big toggle switches

    heartily approved

    1. The First Dave

      Re: LEDs and big toggle switches

      But why have you left the unnecessary washers and mounting nuts on the switches?

      Nothing but dead weight.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: LEDs and big toggle switches

        Good point well made. I'll have a minion remove them immediately. That might save as much as, ooh, five grams.

        1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

          Re: Re: LEDs and big toggle switches

          Neil - I'll get the work experience lad to do it. I'll also have him shave some of the insulation off the cabling. That'll be another 0.046g saved, by my reckoning.

  6. RainForestGuppy

    Looks suspiciously like a Floggle-Toggle box.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Surely you should blast off regardless of turbulence ? Better a delayed messy ejaculation of the craft then no release, the latex popping and crashing to the ground ?

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      The plan is to go for two flights if necessary. If the first is an abort, we'll recover the aircraft with the truss. It'll come down under a parachute, so it should be ok.

      On the second flight, we'll go for a launch no matter what.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I never thought I'd see an article with both Lindsay and Britney in the same topic. The question is which one can climax the best?

  9. Annihilator

    Code release?

    Go on, you know you want to! :-)

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Code release?

      Hmmmm. We shall see...

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Code release?

        After all the rude things that got said about my last code, without them even seeing it? Meh...

        1. Annihilator

          Re: Code release?

          You've just discovered there are jackasses on the internet? Rest assured that for every rude comment there will be at least 10 people interested to see it :-) I'm interested in your approach to compensating for drift on the accelerometers for example, having struggled with it over a year or so (on and off anyway!)

          Pretty please, with sugar on top?

  10. NomNomNom

    sad. i was hoping this was a post about britney.

  11. Eugene Crosser

    What does it mean?

    SPEARS is programmed to issue the launch command only if the current altitude is above 20,000 metres (to be clear of air traffic) and we achieve the desired launch height.

    You said it before, too, but the "and" does not make sense to me. Presuming the desired launch altitude is greater than 20000m, the first part is redundant:

    if ((x > 2) ∧ (x > 5))

    is equivalent to

    if (x > 5)


    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: What does it mean?

      Yes, but...

      There's another couple of launch strategies, assuming it doesn't get to the target height.

      1) if it falls more than a set height below its maximum altitude, we assume it's on the way down and launch.

      2) if it goes into free fall, we assume the balloon burst, and launch.

      Both of these require us to be above the safety height; they only run if they're above 20,000 metres.

      1. Eugene Crosser

        Re: What does it mean?

        @Neil, well, that makes more sense. Thanks.

  12. Paul 185

    Your NTX2 transmitter seems to be very susceptible to temperature variation - operating range of -10 to +60, and it's likely to die if it drops below -30.

    This module is designed to function in lower temperatures,

    Though they don't give a storage temperature for it, the operating temperature alone beats the storage temp quoted for the NTX2 here:

    The TX3H is also handily pin compatible with the NTX2, and will push out a considerably more powerful signal (several orders of magnitude), though I'm not sure whether battery life will become an issue. It's on the higher wave band, but it's still unlicensed.

  13. Edwin

    Previously discussed

    I believe there's a lot of safety and redundancy built in now, but you still have a single point of failure that relies on mechanics - the relay.

    Are you sure it'll work at altitude?

  14. Terry Cloth

    What about the accelerometer?

    In the sentence about the accelerometer and turbulence, there's an asterisk after `accelerometer', but no Bootnote. I'm dying of curiosity here.

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