back to article Vulture 2 strapped to speeding van before delicate brain surgery

On Sunday, Pixhawk autopilot brain surgeon Linus Penzlien touches down in Spain ahead of some serious Vulture 2 spaceplane wrangling. Working with APM:Plane lead developer Andrew Tridgell, Linus will be hewing custom Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) mission parameters from the living code. These include an "ascend …

  1. Pypes

    The vinyl stayed on, I don't care if the wings fall off and the rocket motor explodes so long as the vinyl stays stuck.

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

      The vinyl's fine. I'm not sure it'll survive the rocket motor exploding though.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Come now, vinyl is the modern, foreign, name for it. Let's use the traditional name, Sticky-Backed Plastic.

  2. Alister

    In the spirit of everything LOHAN your tree avoidance system surely deserves an acronym?

    I would like to propose:

    Automated Realtime Magnetic Arboreal Detection and Impact Limitation with Landing Obstacles


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

      That's pretty good. Award yourself a pint.

      1. Gotno iShit Wantno iShit

        If ARMADILLO proves effective El Reg SPB could fund future ventures by licensing the technology to golfball manufacturers.

    2. Sir Sham Cad

      It's completely PANTS

      Pixhawk Avoidance of Nearby Tree System

      1. NumptyScrub

        Re: It's completely PANTS

        quote: "Pixhawk Avoidance of Nearby Tree System"

        This is LOHAN, so I'd suggest

        Navigationally Obligatory: Pixhawk Avoidance of Nearby Tree System


  3. Gavin Jamie

    Roof rack

    On Roof Gurney for At Speed Measurement

  4. kmac499

    The whole project is brilliantly bananas...

    I'm continually impressed with the technology being baked into this thing and the level of engineering (Anticipate, Design, Build, Test, Repeat again and again ) you guys are doing,

    Out of curiosity will you ever publish a rough cost of the project.. excluding the hundreds of person hours donated to the project.

    Ad Astra.......

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

      Thanks for your kind words. I'm sure we'll add up all the figures we have written on the back of beers mats one day. However, the "sweat equity" is by far the biggest part, and LOHAN simply wouldn't have happened without our magnificent volunteers.

      1. Pypes

        I think an estimate of total pints drunk is also in order.

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

          I'll see if the mainframe's available this afternoon to crunch the enormous numbers involved.

    2. Buiatra

      I agree with all this. This is science and not chidren playing

      Go on guys!

      1. Benchops

        > This is science and not chidren playing

        I get the feeling this is science AND children playing! (and nothing wrong with that)

        1. Buiatra

          Re: > This is science and not chidren playing

          Yes, you are right: children playing with high tecnology

          1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

            Re: > This is science and not chidren playing

            And explosives!

  5. Geoff May

    Do you have a tentative lauch date?

    I need to know when I'll have to put the overtime in for covering the cost of beer.

    1. GregC
      Thumb Up

      Re: Do you have a tentative lauch date?

      I was wondering the same thing, especially as it looks like it's starting to all come together like a coming together thing...

      Brilliant project to follow so far, bringing good old garden sheddery into the 21st century :)

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

      Re: Do you have a tentative lauch date?

      As soon as we know, you'll know. Get the beers on chill...

  6. imanidiot Silver badge

    As always, good work

    And as always I feel like voicing a concern ;)

    Testing on top of the van is certainly useful, but if the goal is control algorithm tuning the airframe will have to be mounted in such a way that local flow conditions approach those of free flight. The current rig is too close to the roof and too bulky to allow free flow over the control surfaces. Ideal would be a single spike mounted into the motor mount from the rear. With the upright part of the support located about a quarter span behind the rear of the plane.

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: As always, good work

      I agree.

      And to misquote you "a single spike mounted into the rear", you are a bit of a pervert. (Or is that me?)

      1. Eddy Ito

        Re: As always, good work

        Yes, the current setup isn't near optimal given the awkward airflow. I expect calibrating the airspeed indicator will give a low reading given the slipstream around the van will be faster than the actual speed of the van so it should be spaced off at least far enough to get reasonably clean air. Being in clean air will also allow for some rather interesting data collection as working a few load cells into the mounting hardware will give an idea of what you've got for lift and control forces. In a pinch you can borrow some load cells from a cheap digital scale.

      2. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: As always, good work

        "I agree.

        And to misquote you "a single spike mounted into the rear", you are a bit of a pervert. (Or is that me?)"

        You don't know the half of it *suggestive eyebrow waggle*

        In all seriousness, this might be of interest to the LOHAN team:

        I realise the LOHAN testing is not really for the purposes of finding the aerdynamic forces on the airframe, but this kind of mounting still allows for uninhibited flow around the model.

        More clearance from the roof of the car will be needed in any case.

  7. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    if you are going to roof-rack it

    then go the rest of the way and put it in a big honking gimbal. That way you can also do a bit of out-of-tunnel wind testing of your control deflections, etc.

  8. paulc

    Flight tested?

    Has it even been near a simulator to check that it actually can fly as built?

  9. Gary Bickford

    Homing method?

    I haven't kept up for a while. Is there a backup system to listen for a homing signal, and steer toward it? That would help the thing bring itself closer to the retrieving team and might help avoid forests and such. Or is the GPS going to be used for navigation as well as monitoring?

    Yes, it's been months. :P

  10. Rick Brasche

    thats a tougher test than needed

    because your airflow is a lot more turbulent going over the hood and windshield than your actual flight envelope.

    If V2 handles that dirty air at speed without issues, the actual flight will be a breeze..natch

  11. G R Goslin

    I'm interested in.....

    How you're going to get the van up to 30,000 metres. A long take off, perhaps and one of those jump jet ramps?

    1. kmac499

      Re: I'm interested in.....

      The only launch vehicle possible is a knackered old White ASTRA Van (Clues in the name.)

      As this is the only vehicle guarenteed to hit warp speed in lane 3 of a M'Way whilst flashing the BMW in front to get outta the frigging way.... Also they usually have some sort of ladder\truss affair loosely attached to the roof in readiness.

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