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Google's Project Loon

Old 7th Apr 2019, 00:32
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Google's Project Loon

Maybe these are common elsewhere, but I've never seen one on FR24, let alone over Australia!

Dee Vee is offline  
Old 7th Apr 2019, 00:44
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I have seen these around occasionally over the past few years!
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Old 7th Apr 2019, 00:45
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Hello Dee Vee,
Yes they have been around at various locations in oz for a few years, from memory Google are testing this technology to provide internet to third world countries.

Rather apt they are in Australia (mostly due to our uncluttered upper airspace) considering this Governments utter balls up with the NBN!
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Old 7th Apr 2019, 01:22
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I saw two on FR24 within about 30 miles of each other over the NT about a week ago
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Old 7th Apr 2019, 01:40
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Hi ball or similar were in Australia in the 80s, I actually saw one between Mt Isa and Alice Springs from our aircraft.
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Old 7th Apr 2019, 03:26
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Originally Posted by Godknows View Post
------- considering this Governments utter balls up with the NBN!
Sorry for the thread drift, but I must comment ----- in recent times I have heard Labor roundly criticising the present Government over the NBN, and in the same breath praising the UK rollout.
As a matter of interest, the "technology" mix is the same in both countries ---- a mix of FTTH, FTTP, HFC and copper ----- depending on what makes most engineering economic sense. If Godknows means it should have been the Labor "fibre for all", that was never realistic, either in cost or timeframe. Repeat bollocks often enough, and it becomes conventional wisdom.
The original Labor steering committee has ONE SINGLE person on it who knew something about such matters ----- the rest, chaired by Ken Henry (now of Banking Royal Commission fame) did not have a skerrick of practical knowledge about such matters.
How do I know ---- that one person, who had actually built networks, was a good friend of mine, (and a well known aviator) and a close friend of the then Minister, Stephen Conroy, but he couldn't convince Conroy that 100% fibre (excluding space served remote areas) was not possible, let alone practical, except in really high density areas. All the non-technical public servants, accountants and barrow pushers knew better.
Don't confuse the capabilities of the system with what some retailers have been doing, or the complaints from those who only bought low speed plans. As for those needing 100 and up, a very small market, but mostly there for any who need it.
Tootle pip!!

Last edited by LeadSled; 8th Apr 2019 at 01:35.
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Old 7th Apr 2019, 06:10
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Hello LedSled,
Thank you for your post and providing your opinion on the NBN, I could of course serve the ball back to your court based on my experiences as a long time consumer (of seeking fast internet) and talking to many engineers crying in their beer about the state of the NBN through political (and one ex-Australian citizen-and-now-a-US citizen-who-will-not-be-named influence) interference in this seemingly extremely important 'nation building' infrastructure project - think 'fast-cheaper' etc etc.

However I did post that my comment about the NBN to invite comment and comment i did receive - thank you. However I must to settle with agreeing with you to to disagree. And i suspect that the Mods may well decide that this is not an aviation matter, more a matter for Whirlpool!

A quick question, why do we still have carburetors in GA? can anyone tell me why in 2019!!
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Old 7th Apr 2019, 12:58
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Because you'll never convince a CAR21M engineer that you can have a safe, reliable, independent, dual EFII system on a certified bugsmasher for under $10,000 installed and all those experimental guys are flying on borrowed time with their systems...
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Old 7th Apr 2019, 22:11
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Back to the Loon - was that what landed near ti-tree (NW of Alice) early on Sat evening?

Mulitole hazard alerts on Area as “a high altitude balloon” descended to impact.
compressor stall is offline  
Old 8th Apr 2019, 01:34
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My contribution was not "opinion", it was a statement of fact.
Tootle pip!!
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Old 8th Apr 2019, 05:18
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I find Loon interesting because Australia’s NBN for bush dwellers zoned for Satellite is woeful for anyone who actually wants to use it for more than email.

NBN satellite has good speed, total coverage, and reasonable pricing, but the bit that bites is the maximum monthly 90GB peak limit. You aren’t even allowed to pay more for more if you want to, and there is no indication it will increase.

Maybe it’s simply the bandwidth limit of the satellites. But it’s annoying to note that a local airline can get terrabytes/day from the same satellite just to serve unlimited Netflix to it’s customers.

Loon could provide competition for NBN satellite - if indeed it is more than a pipe dream, and would consider deploying in this country (I know that’s not it’s stated business plan).

From a technical point of view, it is completely beyond my comprehension that they consider maintaining a fleet of balloons floating above a location with the endless vagaries of winds and weather even a possibility worth investigating.

Seems fanciful to me, but they’ve been testing for quite a while now and haven’t been put off yet, so either Google is onto something or they have more money than sense.

Is it timely to remind ourselves that in 2015 it was promoted widely that a Google driverless car would be available at a dealer near you by 2020? I’ve got my deposit ready... 270 more sleeps!
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Old 8th Apr 2019, 07:15
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Give it a break Leaddie.

The “multi-mix technology” is a huge basket case. It was meant to save money, all it has done has given us a handicapped, inconsistent system with no longevity - and it’s turned out to be just as expensive. In ten years time we’ll be back at square one.

One of the first steps was to purchase the Optus cable infrastructure for hundreds of millions of dollars to use. They bought it, then discovered it was completely incapable of doing the job - so they scrapped it. Hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money wasted buying a piece of sh**. Optus laughing all the way to the bank.

FTTP nationwide was the right solution. The cheapest/fastest option always costs the most in the long term.

Pay peanuts, get monkeys.
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Old 8th Apr 2019, 09:34
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Slippery Pete, funny you should say that.

we are on the Optus HFC cable and we get 100mbs reliably. The nbn guys installed the prewiring to our house and said “you will love the nbn! The speeds will be great! You should get up to 50mbs!” I said “oh god I hope not!” “Why he says?” ”I get 100mbs at the moment”..”oh you won’t get close to that” he says.

so while the popular opinion is that the Optus Hfc system is crap and a dud buy, it is delivering, reliably, double what nbn promise, so it can’t be too much of a dud.
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Old 8th Apr 2019, 09:35
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Leadsled I have a terrible feeling I know who you mean by your aviating internet expert. Is that the chap who did time for fraud?

I am in the UK and the internet ain't THAT good here (although I am getting 37 MB/sec download and 9.7 upload in Bath at the moment) but far better than regional Australia.

Slippery Pete has it right.

As for
in 2015 it was promoted widely that a Google driverless car would be available at a dealer near you by 2020?
my hire car got upgrded to a Volvo C90 and its autopilot steers within lanes, accelerates, decelerates, maintains distance from the car in front, and navigates itself. I feel the difference between this and driverless is more in the software than the vehicle capability.
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Old 8th Apr 2019, 10:25
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Back to Project Loon, for some years they have been evident on FR24, in South America's remote regions, with the callsign HBAL**. Mostly over Venezuela, Brazil (Amazonas), Ecuador and Peru. The operate at around FL600. I have no idea of the quality / speed of internet.
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Old 8th Apr 2019, 12:22
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Originally Posted by Horatio Leafblower View Post
Leadsled I have a terrible feeling I know who you mean by your aviating internet expert. Is that the chap who did time for fraud?
Slippery Pete has it right.
Certainly NOT.
Quite apart from his engineering qualifications and network experience, and his heading up a major player in the telephone business in Australia, he was an industrial advocate, FAIM and FAID in good standing, and interestingly, as will as aviation qualifications in AU and US, he had an ocean going master mariner's certificate, that he kept current.

As for your or slippery Pete's opinions, that is all they are opinions. Reread my original post, it was a list of facts, I offered no opinion.
Tootle pip!!
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Old 8th Apr 2019, 13:06
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Originally Posted by Horatio Leafblower View Post
As for my hire car got upgrded to a Volvo C90 and its autopilot steers within lanes, accelerates, decelerates, maintains distance from the car in front, and navigates itself. I feel the difference between this and driverless is more in the software than the vehicle capability.
According to Google, any step up from this is the most dangerous combination of driver/automation possible. Some even argue that this is approaching a step too-far. You can’t incrementally increase automation from here. You either go fully autonomous, or stay where we are.

And I agree.

Just enough automation to make you think it’s doing ok, you can relax, take your hands off the wheel, feet off the pedals, drink coffee, send texts, watch Netflix, but all the while you are still the driver in charge. If you hit someone, it’s still your fault.

That is actually a very close parallel to the current level of automation in modern airline cockpits.

So why is that bad?

It’s really bad for these reasons:

Aircraft: The pilot has gone through extensive training to use automation to relieve workload, but knows it must be monitored at all times and be ready and trained to take over and fly manually at any moment. He has to be licenced and tested to achieve this with medical standards and countless hours of regular retraining and assessment. These assessments will dedicate training time to his ability to recover the situation in the event the automation fails. He also has to demonstrate the attitude and discipline to achieve this challenging goal of man vs machine, day in, day out. Only a certain percentage of the population will ever have what it takes to accomplish this.

Cars: Drivers of a car with similar automation levels will never have anything like an order of magnitude of those standards, understanding, discipline, or training. It just can’t work.

And to top it off, a pilot considers it “a very close call” if he comes within maybe 30 seconds of a collision. And for most of his day, he remains at least several minutes away from any potential collision. A driver in a car with passing opposite direction traffic is literally 2 seconds from disaster the entire time. Any abnormalities that occur outside of the scope of the “partial automation” will provide little chance for the distracted, untrained driver to take over and save the day. From that principle alone, risk analysis would dictate that pilotless airliners should in theory exist long before anyone puts their trust in a driverless car.

Your average semi-autonomous Volvo driver has no training, no standards, no medical requirements, no human factors training, no discipline, has screaming kids in the back, is half asleep, possibly pissed, and probably watching Netflix. And his 18yo son earned his “L” plates sitting in the driver seat for 120 hours without touching the wheel or pedals while filming himself on Instagram. How’s he supposed to takeover when the partial-automation fails? He doesn’t care because he’s preoccupied by the fact that his Instagram won’t upload because this is Australia, NBN sucks and Project Loon hasn’t launched here yet. This is how politicians confuse us. Give a 15 minute soliloquy about what they want to say and then in the last sentence mention the topic at hand so they can “stay on thread”

Google is right, semi-autonomous will never work in cars. It works in aircraft, but without aviation-level discipline, it can never work in cars. All or nothing.

A bit of extra technology thrown in such as radar autonomous braking is great. That’s just a manoeuvring characteristics augmention system, nothing wrong with that, just a software improvement to a proven safe design - in fact, odds are it should never even activate.

But the minute drivers think they can take their hands off the wheel and watch Netflix, shit’s gonna get real.

Fully autonomous or not at all.

And we’ve a long road ahead for fully autonomous. I might get slightly more interested when they can build a vacuum cleaner that doesn’t do this.

Go Loon!

Last edited by Derfred; 8th Apr 2019 at 14:41.
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Old 9th Apr 2019, 08:08
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I am now living in Thailand....I never had internet like I get here in Australia and probably never will.A fraction of the price too. If a "Newly developing country" can do it I cannot understand why Australia cannot.
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Old 10th Apr 2019, 04:12
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The tyranny of distance.

When I moved to a newly-built suburb in 2007, where the power, telephone and services are underground, I mistakenly hoped that there would be cables also for the cable TV.

Bong. Wrong.

For Pay TV, it is a dish on the roof.
When I went to [email protected] to get the landline connected, I was told that ADSL internet was not available over the new wires - too far from some base station. Some dial-up was available, so I used that until eventually got ADSL 1. Dismal speeds, poor service with dropouts on a regular basis.

Fast forward 10 years, still on ADSL 1. Then along comes NBN and tells me of their wondrous abilities - but they still use the same crappy copper wires to the hub as I was on before. And there is a distance limit of 800m, at which it pretty much can't push through the copper. I live around 700m from the nearest hub. The service will still be rubbish.

So, I cancelled my landline, work only off mobile phones, and for internet I get a signal radiated from my neighbour, who has a dish pointing at the base a few km away, and there it goes straight into the fibre. I pay for 45 down and 5 up, and usually get 60 to 80 down and 50 up.
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Old 10th Apr 2019, 11:44
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Victim of a bored god

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Location: Utopia
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I live in the heart of an Australian City. I get 6.5 Mbps down and 0.8 Mbps up. No mobile signal in the house, I take mobile phone calls in the street outside.

And that last century standard service costs me far more than the cost feeding our flock of pidgeons we use for urgent communications.....
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