Monday, January 31, 2011

Dr. Zooch Vanguard Eagle Build Part 41 Nacelle Motors

The nacelle Motors are cut from the finger grips on fancy toothpicks.
They work very well for small nozzles.

These are tiny! When cutting, be sure to hold down both ends of the cut or they can fly across the room.

I actually lost one and had to make new bells from my own (fancy) toothpicks.

I would recommend painting them black before gluing them on the nose cone.

I set a drop of thick CYA on a scrap piece of cardboard. Using tweezers, dip the end of the motor in the drop of CYA. While still holding the motor with the tweezers, set it onto the lower end of the nose cone nacelle.

Here's the motors in place.

The self adhesive stickers went on without any problems. You can take a few tries to get the smallest pieces lined up. The adhesive backing allows for lifting and repositioning.

Full color illustrations are provided so there isn't any questions about positioning.

LAUNCH! Schoolyard January 31, 2011

This morning I used my new tripod launcher with great success.

Here's the Odd'l Rockets PIPELINE with a German made Quest A6-4.
It had a definite spin at boost with a streamer recovery. (The kit comes with a 12" parachute.)

I'm getting much better at coordinating the launch pictures. Enlarge it and you can just see the igniter falling away.

Here's my Eric Truax Carded SCAMP with a Chinese made Quest A6-4.
These engines are loud!
A good slow launch with a spill hole parachute recovery.

The winds were calm so I flew the CYCLONE with an Estes 1/2A3-2t engine.
(The Cyclone will soon be a kit from Odd'l Rockets)

Incredible maple seed monocopter recovery on the upper half.
The lower half helicopters in separately.

This is my favorite rocket - no moving parts (no burning string, hinges or rubber bands) with full helicopter recovery.

The carded downscale MMX ZOOM BROOM is flying stable again!
An upcoming blog post will show the reasons behind the last unstable flight and the repairs made for today's vertical boost.

No, it wasn't flown horizontally! I just liked the angle.

Also flown:
The Hod Rod Rockets BELL BOTTOM with an Estes A3-4t.
Stable and high for a conical stability rocket. Metallic red streamer recovery.
My Centuri BANDITO clone was launched with a German made Quest A6-4.
There was a slight tail wag during boost. Crepe paper streamer recovery.

This morning I used the beta test model Estes Electron Beam controller with the new LED continuity light for a second time.
Three standard Estes igniters, two Quest Q2G2 igniters and one MicroMaxx igniter were all used with no problems. With the continuity light on, the Quest Q2G2 igniters did not go off prematurely.
All igniters worked only after the launch button was pressed.
The new LED continuity light is much brighter in sunlight than the previous glass bulb versions.

New Launcher!

I finally got a (camera) tripod launcher.

After making an adapter (more on that later) to hold 1/8" and 3/16" rods, I went to the soccer field to fly a few this morning.

What a difference!
I'm off the ground, not putting any more strain on my knees.
I have much better control over the angle of the launch rod.
The tripod also makes it easier to get better launch pictures, you are standing up when taking the pictures.
It's easier, cleaner and just looks more professional.

So, get off the ground! I should have done this years ago.
You can move up for around $25.00.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dr. Zooch Vanguard Eagle Build Part 4

I know, this one is out of order!
This Part 4 Blog Post disappeared and I had to write it up again.
Continue with the build going back to the Part 5 post from January 11, 2011.

In Step 2, you cut some smaller segments from the the T55 body tube.

You could use the supplied marking guide, but mine didn't make it all the way around the tube.

You could still use this guide easily enough.
Make a pencil line as far around as you can, then rotate the guide and finish the line.

Instead of using the supplied cutting guide, I used my Odd'l Rockets Cutter tool. (I know, it's a shameless plug.)

The first cut segment is 1 7/8" long. A second 1" long piece 1" is then cut.

Here's the 1 7/8" long and 1" long piece cut from the T-55 tube.

Dr. Zooch Vanguard Eagle Build Part 40 Sustainer Fins

The upper fins are glued in place to matching the cruciform spacing of the booster fins.
TIP: Here's how to make a four fin marking guide with a scrap piece of paper.

  1. Cut a strip of rectagular paper not quite a tall as the fin root edge. Be sure the edges and sides are square. Make it long enough to overlap when wrapped around the tube.
  2. Wrap the strip tightly around the tube.
  3. Where the start point met the wrap, I ran my fingernail down the joint making a slight crease. A pencil line was drawn down the crease. (Picture on left)
  4. Remove the wrap from the body tube. The wrapped area (between the start and pencil line) was folded in half and a pencil line was drawn down that crease. (In the second picture, the overlap is to the left.)
  5. Fold the outside ends into that middle pencil mark and crease the paper.
  6. Draw pencil lines on those two new creases. (Picture on right)
  7. Wrap the pencil marked guide around the tube and mark the top and bottom at the pencil marks.
Paint will have to be scraped off for better adhesion of the fin.

Here I'm using the fin root edge and a wrap of tape as a length guide to make sure I don't scrape off too long a line.

The trailing root of the upper fins was glued right on the forward edge of the blue trim line.

Dr. Zooch Vanguard Eagle Build Part 39 launch Lug

You'd think the launch lugs would have been glued on earlier. But, positioning of the lugs is important , the lower lug goes to one side of a SRB.

Here's the upper lug being lined up with a 1/8" rod.

Enlarge the picture and you can see a pencil line drawn beside the rod.

This line is for reference. I'll have to scrape and sand off some paint for better adhesion of the white glue.

The paint was lightly scraped off and a little of the blue wrap cut out.

I should have layed the blue wrap on after gluing the lug. The seam would have been hidden on either side of the launch lug.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dr. Zooch Vanguard Eagle Build Part 38 SRB Engine Bells

Here's the four smaller SRB engine bells.

The glued in dowel gives support and helps position the bells at the correct angle.

This shows the drill in place and a toothpick used to widen the hole diameter just a bit.

I used a good sized drop of glue in the hole applied by a toothpick.
When the toothpick was set in the drilled hole, the glue overflowed around the outside edges of the hole.

The toothpick was turned to spread out a round glue bead around the hole edge.

With the right amount of "too much" glue:
When the SRB engine bell was pressed in place, I had an automatic fillet.
Trying to add a fillet afterwards in this tight area would be very hard to do.

Time to take a break!

TIP - Fitting Centering Rings

Sometimes the centering rings supplied in a kit are loose in the body tubes.
You know it won't take much for a better fit.

You can build up inside or outside diameters with fillets of glue.

I've added a thin glue fillet to the inside edge of a centering ring.
Sometimes you may have to do another built up glue ring for the best fit.
Let it dry and you should have a good friction fit.

Thrust Rings (or engine blocks) can get the same treatment for a better fit.

Dr. Zooch Vanguard Eagle Build Part 37 Engine Bells

The engine bells are glued in place, centered behind the SRBs.

Drilling the centering ring for the rear vent holes took a little bit of work.

I first used a sharp awl to mark the center and to make something for the drill to center itself in.

To start the hole, I used a smaller drill than the recommended 1/8" drill.
The 1/8" drill was used for the final hole size.

I covered the front of the body tube with the palm of my hand and blew into the engine mount tube. My breath did come back out through the engine bells!

Friday, January 28, 2011

TIP! Engine Marking Idea

This wasn't my idea, full credit goes to Mr. Bill Gibson.

At the last TTRA launch I saw he marked an Estes igniter tape strip with the engine type.
What a simple, smart idea!

I tend to load up my rockets a few days before I fly them.

Sometimes they'll sit ready for days. By the time a launch day rolls around, I might not remember which engine type or delay is in the rocket.
I really don't want to pull out a friction fit engine until after the flight. This lets me know at a glance what I'm flying.

The "X" underneath the engine designation tells me the wadding has been packed.
Often I'll wait until the launch day to pack the wadding when I open and air out the parachutes.
I'll only mark an "X" after the wadding is in place.

Launch! Schoolyard January 27, 2011

I didn't sleep in this morning, I was at the Soccer field at about 7:15 a.m. to beat the early breeze.

The downscale carded MERCURY REDSTONE had a high ride on a Estes A3-4t. I'd estimate the altitude at 400 feet. After recovery on a 16" streamer I walked back to the launcher. I didn't notice the tower had broken off! I didn't bother looking too hard for it.

I must not have given this rocket a good protective clear spray, the wet grass really smeared some of the printing. This one is retired, I'll reuse the capsule, shock cord and engine mount. I'll print and make another soon.

The downscale carded PATRIOT had a great stable boost with an Estes A10-3t. The altitude was around 450 feet.

I tried to take some launch pictures, but it was just me handling both the camera and controller.
I snapped the shutter when I heard the engine "hiss". This was all I got! But, it's a step in the right direction.

The Semroc ASTRON was launched with a Quest A6-4.

This is my new favorite small field engine. These Chinese made Quest engines have a louder thrust than other A's. I like how they take a moment on the pad before moving. Estimated altitude was 300 feet.

Here's another attempt at a launch shot. It's a little blurry, but you can just see the flame starting out the nozzle. The parachute was closed (reefed) with a wrap of tape. You can see I "stuck" the landing.

This morning, the MicroMaxx rockets weren't as successful.
A carded downscale MMX ZOOM BROOM went sky-writing. I have no explanation for this, it's flown stable many times before. At ejection, the nose cone broke off the Kevlar shock cord. It's repairable and will fly again.

The FlisKits HONEST JOHN flew very well on a MicroMaxx engine. At ejection there was no streamer, the nose cone did release and it landed with no damage. The weird thing was, when I pulled out the streamer, the shock cord came loose from the engine mount! Maybe it was a good thing the streamer didn't eject. This'll be repaired to fly again.

Dr. Zooch Vanguard Eagle Build Part 36 SRB Nose Paint

The SRB half nose cones were taped down to a scrap piece of cardboard for painting.

These will be painted with gray primer. Gray is the finished color.

I sanded a little off the shoulder that will be covered by the end of the SRB tube.

This made it easier to slide the nose cone halves into place.

Once I was sure all the half cones were recessed to the same depth, a little thin CYA was applied to the sides with the tip of a toothpick.

White glue fillets followed. White glue dries clear and flat.

After all construction is finished, a flat clear spray will be applied.
All the white glue fillets will disappear.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

New Estes LED Launch Controller

Estes has already sent out new LED launch controllers to TRF members for testing. Their reviews are now being posted - here's mine:

At Jaunuary's NEFAR launch in Bunnell, Florida, John Bishop gave me one of the new Estes Launch Controllers with an LED light.

Estes had sent John some starter sets and kits for a Christmas toy drive.
The new controllers were included with a request to have a few friends try them out. I was lucky enough to get one.

Note: The controller and launch button are yellow plastic. I added a square of red electrical tape to the launch button.
  • This LED upgrade is a welcome improvement!
  • The LED is less likely to break than the old style glass bulb.
  • The new red LED is very bright when illuminated. Even in full sunlight it's easy to see.
  • I had hopes this new controller wouldn't set off a Quest Q2G2 igniter when the safety key was inserted.
  • The micro clips have a heat shrink over the soldered connections.

I used this new controller at two schoolyard launches with great success using both bare nichrome and Estes standard igniters.

The micro clips could use some improvement.

The thumb pads are still round and hard to pinch open without the clip flipping around in your fingers.

On the left is the rounded thumb pad as it comes direct from Estes.
On the right is the thumb pad after flattening it out with small pliers.
After flattening down the rounded pad, it's much easier to hold and clip onto an igniter.

Here's the big test!
That's a Quest Q2G2 igniter connected to the controller.
The safety key is pressed down and the continuity light is on.
The circuit is complete and the connections are good.

The Q2G2 igniter did not go off with the safety key inserted.

Problem solved! Thanks Estes - GOOD WORK!

Dr. Zooch Vanguard Eagle Build Part 35 Fin Painting

The fins were set up on their root edges for primer painting.
Notice the booster fins are masked away from the root edge. I didn't want a lot of paint thickness to hamper the fit of the fins in the slots.

Here's the fins after sanding down the gray primer.

Again, note the masked area on the larger booster fin.

To clear the wrap of electrical tape around the engine mount tube, I had to file in a long notch, a little wider than the tape span.

This notch will insure the top and bottom of the root edge will glue solidly to the engine mount tube.

All four booster fins in position.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New Estes 2011 Catalog

The new Estes Catalog is out!
I haven't seen one in the hobby stores yet, but the online version is available HERE

Sure, there are new kits, some great designs too - Check out the MIRV and QCC Explorer. The Mosquito 2 pack is another great offering.

But I'm probably more excited about the engines:
The A10-0 and A8-0 are back.
The C11 has more delays available.

But go to the last pages and check out the REDUCTIONS in the retail prices for parts.
1/8" diameter Launch Rod, 2010 price = $15.79, 2011 price = $4.49
3/16" diameter Launch Rod, 2010 price =$18.29, 2011 price = $7.99
BT-5 four pack, 2010 price = $9.79, 2011 price = $6.99
20 sized Nose Cones 4 pack, 2010 price = $12.29, 2011 price = $4.99
6 pack Igniters, 2010 price = $5.99, 2011 price = $4.99
These are just examples, other prices have gone down. Even a 24" parachute is $1.99!

Thanks Estes - great stuff!

Model Profile - Jimmy Yawn's Ornate Rocket

That's Jimmy Yawn at the last Tampa TTRA launch.

Jimmy takes great video and pictures for the Bunnell and Tampa, Florida launches.

He's holding the "Metamorphose" a rocket with a very elaborate paint scheme.

Jimmy's girlfirend hand painted the patterns.
Enlarge the picture to check out the detail.

It reminds me of a cross between an Escher painting and a the patterns on a Australian Digeridoo.

Check out Jimmy's sugar rocket website HERE.

Dr. Zooch Vanguard Eagle Build Part 34 Nose Cone Paint

The trim colors on the nose cone would involve a change in method.

A blue MonoKote trim band would not fit well around the tapered base of the nose cone. This lowest band on the nose would have to be spray painted blue.
I have an can of old formula blue Krylon that's a very close match to the blue MonoKote used before.

I masked off the lowest area of the nose cone. This is not a critical mask as the lower body tube will give a good color separation.

The lower taper was sprayed blue.

Above this spray painted blue band, a strip of black electrical tape will be applied. Even though this area is tapered, black electrical tape is flexible and should conform well - as long as the strip isn't too wide.

The mask was removed and a strip of black tape was applied above and over the upper masked blue band. The black tape strip overlapped the upper color edge of the blue.

Here's the finished upper body paint and trim.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

TIP: Champagne Flute Nose Cones Part 1

If you're like me, whenever I'm stuck shopping I always look for things that could be made into a rocket.
Today I was at the Dollar Tree store.
I walked past the Valentines Day junk and saw this plastic champagne flute.

I'd read of others making nose cones from plastic glasses before but had never tried it myself. This looked like a good candidate for a nose cone.

I grabbed a ruler from the stationary section of the store. The open mouth of the glass had a perfect 2" outside diameter.
I bought one package of two glasses for $1.00.

TIP: If you look for these glasses, check the neck of the glass and be sure any air bubbles are far enough away from where the nose cone tip will end up.

I had to look at a few packages to find the bubbles far enough away down the neck of the glass.

I cut off the base of the "glass' and started sanding.

First with 100 grit, then 220 and finally 400 grit.

Here's the two finished nose cones.
This is tough plastic with almost no seam down the sides.

My next order to Quest will include some 50mm body tubes.
It should be a very close fit!

You may only have until February 14th to pick up these Champagne Flutes at the Dollar Tree store, they are not available on the website.

Until I try them on the Quest 50mm or Semroc ST-20 tubing, I'm not making any claims they'll be a perfect fit - probably real close though!

For part two of this "Cheap Nose Cone" build click HERE