back to article Beautiful balloon burst caught on camera

Watch Video It's a traditional tip of the hat today to Tim Middleton of Replay XD for providing a couple of the company's vid cameras for a recent Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) imaging test flight, during which they captured the moment of mighty orb burst in all its glory. The Replay XD The above video speaks …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Wyrdness

    Amazing photos. This is the kind of thing that we read the Reg for.

    The Replay XD camera looks really good too. I'm looking for a motorbike helmet mounted camera, and this might be ideal to capture those near-misses caused by brain-dead drivers.

  2. SW

    Is that the 'globe' of helium that remains for a few frames?

    Fantastic quality images.

    As per subject, is that the helium that remains visible for a while?

    1. Monkey Bob

      Re: Is that the 'globe' of helium that remains for a few frames?

      I was wondering the same, or condensation from the inside of the balloon maybe?

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

        Re: Re: Is that the 'globe' of helium that remains for a few frames?

        Yes, it's interesting. Could be some kind of talcum powder, if they use that to stop the latex sticking to itself.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: Is that the 'globe' of helium that remains for a few frames?

          Probably talc for the abovestated reason.


          FANTASTIC pictures!


          1. Wzrd1

            Re: Is that the 'globe' of helium that remains for a few frames?

            "Probably talc for the abovestated reason."

            Probably, but it sure remained in close to the same volume for a *very* long time. I believe that model records at 60 FPS, which is quite a long time when gas (and debris within that gas) becomes rapidly decompressed by confinement loss.

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge

              Re: Is that the 'globe' of helium that remains for a few frames?

              rapidly decompressed

              There is not that much pressure difference between the inside of the balloon and the outside, and seeing the way the balloon disintegrates, there's also little disturbance of the enclosed volume.

              1. Peter2 Silver badge

                Re: Is that the 'globe' of helium that remains for a few frames?

                It's a good question.

                How about finding some boffins who can answer it for sure? I'm assuming that the cloud probably is the helium but an expert might at least find the pictures interesting enough to explain what we are looking at in detail.

                1. daveake

                  Re: Is that the 'globe' of helium that remains for a few frames?

                  It is talc.

  3. Michael H.F. Wilkinson
    Thumb Up

    Wonderful footage and images

    One to show my kids for sure

  4. Mike Flugennock


    That's insanely gorgeous. I love the symmetrical pattern of the burst in the second and third images. Suh-weet.

  5. VeganVegan


    But maybe puzzling for someone on the ground subjected to a latex shower.

    <happy globe icon>

  6. Rick Brasche

    now eagerly awaiting

    your review of the replay XD. Size, numbers and price look amazing, even in comparison to the HD Hero series.

  7. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Nice One

    Rather pretty really.

  8. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    Good show.

    Carry on!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surprised at all the little pieces

    Guess it is a different type of balloon than the typical party balloons, which when bursting remains in a single piece.

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: Surprised at all the little pieces

      It is COLD at 30k feet. If you froze a household balloon then popped it, it would shatter too.

  10. Tim Roberts 1

    interesting fragmentation of the balloon

    IIRC the fragmentation of the balloon seen in the video does not happen where we mere mortals and El-Reg stalkers live. Regardless, an amazing clip from the LOHAN team. Well done!

    Perhaps someone with more experience than me (nil at this point in time) can tell me if those balloons disintegrate like that here on mother earth. My limited experience with party balloons suggests no, but I'll be be very happy to be proven wrong.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: interesting fragmentation of the balloon

      There's loads of slo-mo balloons popping on youtube, so you can decide for yourself...the balloon fragmentation doesn't look too unusual; but the (possibly talc) ghost balloon is a new one on me.

      1. M Gale

        Re: interesting fragmentation of the balloon

        The powder is actually on quite a few weather-balloon popping vids on Youtube. It tends to continue rising upward along with the helium, while the rest of the fragments follow the laws of gravity.

  11. oldcoder

    You know.... an idle thought occured...

    If there were a pressure release valve (based on the differential inside/outside pressure), the balloon should be able to go higher...

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: You know.... an idle thought occured...


      Lift is generated through the displacement of the ambient air; more specifically, the weight of the displaced volume. As the balloon rises, the outside pressure drops, and with it, the weight per unit volume of the outside air. So the balloon needs to displace a bigger volume to keep positive buoyancy. And as long as the balloon is capable of expanding (pressure difference between inside and outside, versus 'stretchiness' of the balloon skin) it will keep rising.

      If you start venting pressure to keep the balloon from bursting, you will simply not reach maximum volume, so no maximum displaced ambient air, so no maximum height.

      1. oldcoder

        Re: You know.... an idle thought occured...

        Yes... true. But what is happening instead is that the balloon bursts BEFORE reaching the maximum height - due to the pressure overload on the skin. Releasing that overload should allow a higher altitude. Venting some gas would also reduce the weight (less gas needed to maintain the same volume). Of course there is the offset of the weight of the valve..

        In the old days, this was handled by having a balloon only 1/3 filled. As the balloon rises, the envelope does expand... and due to the larger envelope, does not burst. (reference to the "rockoon" launches --- still going on).

        Now one advantage to having the balloon burst is that you don't have to worry about cleanup :)

    2. daveake

      Re: You know.... an idle thought occured...

      You could, but the end result is the same as putting less gas in the balloon in the first place.

  12. EddieD

    Raplayer vs GoPro

    If it keeps working, then it's no competition. My GoPro gives good quality images, but it has a very narrow operating range - if it gets hot it stops, if it gets cold it stops.

    I now mainly use it for timelapse work, and will get something else for my lid.

  13. Richard Altmann


    There should be an Award somewhere for HAB footage like that.

    If you ever happen to come to Munich i would be honored to take you out to the Forschungsbrauerei (Research Brewery) for a beer or two. It does not come in Pints but in Mass (1 Liter).

    Xlnt work! Both LOHAN and the Booze

  14. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge


    I hear sound on the video. Although there's not much to hear at 30 km, the structural vibrations are recorded. Does this camera have the option to turn sound recording off? That might no save much space on the SD card, but for longer flights it could be worth it. Or perhaps the sound track could be used to record encoded flight data.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Sound?

      Or it could be used to record the sound of the rockets firing, and the plaintive screams of the playmonaut as he's launched into the mesosphere.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm sorry. I'm so so sorry..

    I like those cameras, the mountings look rather good too but does anyone know how easily the Heimlock maneuvers?

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021