Saturday, April 30, 2011

PIGLET-SUS PDF Now Available!

The MicroMaxx

PDF is available!
Shoot me an email and I'll send it right out:

Why not? It's free -
(I'll blog the build someday)

Estes Saturn V Build Part 3 Stand

The instructions suggest making a stand from what's left over from the centering ring card stock.

Estes suggests a piece of wood 4" wide X 15" long for the base piece. I opted for thick cardboard.

The base piece should be a little over 4 1/2" wide to fit the side pieces. Before cutting it out, check against the width of the side uprights. I cut the side pieces as directed in the instructions. The instruction drawing looks shorter than the real 15" length.

Instead of gluing the side pieces along the side of the base, I cut a slot into the corrugated cardboard base. The slot was widened to the card stock thickness with a few passes of 220 grit sandpaper.

A line of glue was layed down in the slot and the side slid in place.

The sides were taped to my machine square for a true 90 degree angle.

The BT-101 actually fits very well in the holder.
Knowing what is upcoming in the build, I'd recommend making one.

Time spent on build: 30 minutes building stand
Total time on build so far: 2 hours

Friday, April 29, 2011

Estes Saturn V Part 2 Prepping Parts

The BT-101 tube wasn't cut clean.

It wasn't a big deal to clean it up, just a few passes with some fine sandpaper on a block.
I'm not faulting Estes, cutting a tube this size is difficult. There could easily be some shifting of the tube and blade by the time you rotated it once in the cutter.
Heck, it took a bit of practice to get the technique down with my own Odd'l Rockets Cutter tool.

All the tube ends got a light strengthening of CA applied with a Q-Tip. The dried CA was smoothed with 400 grit.

TIP: Be sure to wipe down the laser cut centering rings before assembly. These charred edges will mark up anything they get close to. In the picture you can see what was left on the paper towel.

These white rings aren't too bad, but the black Letramax rings from BMS and Quest can really blacken up other parts.

Just play it safe and wipe off the edges. It'll save you time not having to clean things up (or adding more paint to cover the marks) later on.

Time spent on build: :30 minutes prepping parts
Total time on build so far: 1:30

Seam Filling "How-To" from George Gassaway

George Gassaway is a master builder and competitive flyer.
If you really want to see how it's done, check out his website at:
On that website George also has contest tips and winning plans.

Recently on the Rocketry Forum he explained a seam filling technique that is too smart not to be shared. (Used with permission - Thanks George!)

"Here is what I do for models where I really want to get rid of the seams (usually only for scale models, I do not bother with the seams for most sport models)

I use masking tape to mask off the whole tube EXCEPT for the seam (if the seam has a 1/16" gap, then there should be a 1/16" gap between the masking tape on each side of the seam). Then use a good primer to spray a coat that will go only into that seam. Some builders like Plasti-Kote Sandable Primer--available at auto stores--as it is easy to sand. Others have success using Krylon's white sandable primer, which is more easily obtained but can have problems with clogging up the sandpaper too quickly.

I will note what I wrote the above (and some of the below) for a short article years ago, before they had to change formulations of solvent-based paints like Krylon’s sandable primer (and probably Plasti-kote’s), so beware how those specific primers may end up.

After letting the primer dry fully, apply more coats (letting dry fully between coats) until the buildup of the primer will be a bit taller than the seam recess depth was (in other words, slightly above the rest of the masked-over body tube surface). Then remove the masking tape and apply a couple of coats of white primer to the whole tube. The primer paint filling the seam should be visible as standing above the rest of the white primer on the tube. Use sandpaper to knock down the primer covering the seam and make it flush with the primer on the rest of the tube. Don't overdo it. When the seam is pretty much flush, give the whole tube another coat or two of white primer and sand the whole tube until it's uniform, no hint of the seam left.

Even if a person is using something else, and not primer paint, to fill the seam, the masking tape idea is useful. Whether using a filler compound, or putty, etc., use something like a putty knife, old credit-card, or piece of stiff plastic, to scrape off all excess so all that is left on the tube is flush with the masking tape (do this as you go, while the filler or putty is still fresh and soft enough to scrape flush). You can remove the tape before the putty dries hard, but do not sand until the putty is fully dried out and hardened.

BTW - Before using anything like wood filler or other compounds or putties NOT made for use with models, it would be a very good idea to apply some so a scrap piece of tubing and let it fully harden. Then sand to see if the stuff actually BONDS to the paper tube. I cannot recall what it was, but many years ago I used some type of filler that did NOT stick to the tube very well, so parts of the filler inside of the seam came out during sanding. I ended up using spray primer after all."

- George Gassaway

I'm going to try this on the Saturn V build!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Estes Saturn V Build Part 1 Parts

Here's all the parts from the latest version of the Estes Saturn V kit, # 2157.

The box is plenty big for what was inside. The length of the box accommodates the long BT-101 tube.

These are some of the more interesting pieces.
The wrap shows the detailing of the vacuform process.
There was an additional decal added with a letter explaining some white background was left off the fin number frames.

You can't see the opened parachutes yet. There is two 24" chutes for the lower body and a 18" parachute for the upper half. All three parachutes are printed in red and white like the original Centuri Apollo parachute pattern.

Time spent on build: 1:00 reading instructions and checking parts
Total time on build so far: 1:00

DFR Tech Delta II Build Part 18 SRM Gluing

To keep the spacing consistent between the SRMs, I used a dowel and set it between two tubes.
The dowel was first sharpened and then the tip sanded off until the tip rested between the tubes.

It was slid from end to end insuring the space between each tube was the same.

Here's all nine of the SRMs in place.

Before anyone reminds me, for now the model is spray painted with gloss white. It'll be sprayed with a dull coat later when it's finished.

TIP: It's easier clean gloss finished model during all the handling of a build. With gloss paint, finger smudges come right off with a damp paper towel. After a lot of handling it's not so easy to clean off a finger oils and dried glue off a flat finish.

NOTE: This build will be delayed a few days until I get a the new vinyl wrap. Carl is constantly improving his kits and is working with a vendor for a newer, more detailed vinyl wrap. I've seen a test print and the detail is excellent.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

LAUNCH! April 26, 2011 Schoolyard Soccer Field

PIGLET-SUS! had it's first flight this morning with a MicroMaxx engine.

Great stability with a probable 65 feet altitude.
Yeah, I know, it flys like a pig. But it does fly.

If you'd like to make one, PDF plans are coming soon.

The downscale carded PATRIOT flew to an estimated 400 feet with an A3-4t engine.

You can see in the picture it was launched at a slight angle into the wind.
Once again, too much drift even with a crepe paper streamer. It landed over 100 yards away.

The original Odd'l Rockets SQUATTY BODY took off with an Estes A8-3

Certainly not a stellar altitude, but it did separate and landed under a full streamer.

In the background you can see kids walking to school and how close I am to the basketball courts.
Sometimes you can hear the kids say: "What was that?" Followed by: "Cool!"
If the kids (or parents) come by, I hand them the controller, let them countdown and press the launch button.

It's rare for me to use a parachute on this field.

My Centuri GROOVE TUBE clone flew with an Estes A8-3 engine. Chrome Monokote trims it out like the old catalog page.
Full parachute on recovery. Not a big altitude, but I've only lost two rockets in the past four years.

Also flown:
The carded downscale MISSILE TOE on a Micromaxx engine.

DFR Tech. Delta II Build Part 17 SRM Gluing

If you look closely at the back end of the SRM tube you can see a pencil tick mark over and around the back end of the tube.

You'll be gluing this tube centered on the SRM supports strip. Because it completely covers the alignment line, this tick mark will give you a centering reference.

I'd suggest using the "double glue" method to attach the SRMs.

Here's some SRMs in place. These SRMs are adjacent to the clear fins and can hold engines.

Before gluing, I marked the exposed lip with a Sharpie pen for easier identification and to remind me which ones had the engine blocks in them.

You can just make out the pencil tick marks, centered on the SRM supports.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Big Order and Next Build!

Estes has lowered the prices of it's Saturn V kit by 20%.
On the Estes website, that puts the price down to $80.00 retail.

I did some online searching and found the kit for under $50.00!
I ordered two, along with some nose cones and engines. This brought the order total to just over $100.00 to qualify for free shipping.

If you aren't familiar with this version of the Saturn V, it's a combination of parts from both the Estes and Centuri kits.

This version has the Estes escape plastic tower and engine bells.
From the Centuri side, it has the vacuform body wraps.
I'd always wanted the Centuri Saturn V but it was $5.00 to $10.00 more than the Estes kit.

I've built two of the Estes Saturns in the 1970s.
This time I hope to do it right.
Keep following the blog to see this one put together.

DFR Tech. Delta II Build Part 16 Fin Gluing

I figured it would be easier to glue the clear fins in place before the SRMs.
Some 15 minute epoxy was mixed on a scrap piece of card stock.

These clear fins are attached through the wall. The only real glue will be on the root edge and onto the engine mount tube.

If you haven't used epoxy before, be ready, it can get everywhere.
I needed to apply it to the root edge only and not onto the clear sides of the fins.

I picked up a drop of mixed epoxy onto a toothpick tip and ran it down the root edge.

This is 15 minute epoxy which gave me enough time to glue and position all three fins.

Check back every minute or so while the glue sets up and make small adjustments to be sure they are setting straight away from the main tube.

Monday, April 25, 2011

DFR Tech. Delta II Build Part 15 Engine Mount Gluing

I used a wide tip permanent marker to darken the inside tube that'll be exposed once the engine mount is in place.

I only had to blacken a little over 1/4" in.

Keep the pen inside the tube and off the white outside, lower edge.

I decided to line up the engine hook with one of the SRM supports.

A rounded dowel end was used to apply a white glue fillet, drop by drop.
The dowel end smoothed out the fillet.

Any glue outside of the smoothed fillet bead was picked up with Q-Tip.

Applying the fillet to the top ring was a little harder. It took a long dowel to apply the glue around the upper centering ring from the top.

Semroc SAM Club

I was never able to register for the Semroc SAM club benefits. I don't know if there was a snag in the website, or what.
Recently I got an Email invitation to join.
This time I got through and was registered as member #180

Here's what I received as a welcome gift in my most recent order to Semroc.

An I.D. badge with clear plastic hang tag.

I've got to give them credit, they even spelled my last name right! Here's all the decals, SAM numbers and even NAR numbers.
Two full address decals are at the bottom.

Here's the SAM kit, with the Dr. Seuss treatment.

It's based on the old Centuri Strike Force SAM-3 kit, #5332.
You can add the included Dr. Seuss decal or print up your own for the original Russian semi-scale decor.

I'll get around to building this one someday!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

DFR Tech Delta II Build Part 14 Prepared Sub-Assemblies

Here's everything ready for the final assembly.
Depending on the model, I'll build in sub-assemblies.

When starting a build, look ahead to the finishing and decide if it's easier to pre-paint the components.

On the Delta II, I wanted complete spray coverage on all the inside areas. All parts (SRMs) were filled, primed, masked and sprayed off the model.

When building this way you do have to mask all strips and surfaces that will be glued together. All this was covered in the previous post.

DFR Tech. Delta II Build Part 13 Pre-Paint Masking

I am building this model in sub-assemblies, painting before gluing it all together.

It would be difficult to get good spray paint coverage between all the SRM tubes and nose cones.
All the gluing surfaces should be masked off before painting.

You can see the 3/32" wide masking tape strips down the SRM body tubes.

Likewise, the corresponding SRM attach mounts have masking tape strips on the outside edges to keep the paint off the glue points.

The central engine mount will be painted black.

Tape was placed over the outside edges of the lower centering ring.

An expended casing was inserted to keep paint out of the engine mount tube.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

DFR Tech Delta II Build Part 12 SRM Mount Gluing

The SRM attachment mounts were glued in place using an aluminum angle to insure they were straight

TIP: If you don't have an aluminum angle, I'd recommend getting one for fin line marking and for applications like this.

As you are gluing, you are covering up the lower end of the alignment line with the basswood mount strip. The angle is helpful, keeping the mount straight from top to bottom.

Don't trust your eyes, thinking you are gluing them on straight!

The angle was used around the tube for all nine mounts.

DFR Tech. Delta II Build Part 11 Launch Lug Prep

The two 3/16" launch lugs were slid over a dowel for seam filling.

Thinned Carpenter's Wood Filler was brushed on and sanded off.

After sanding off the filler, the lugs were set back on the dowel and sprayed white.

When the paint is dried, a gluing line will be sanded off for best adhesion.

Friday, April 22, 2011

DFR Tech. Delta II Build Part 10 Fin Marking Guides

The body tube was marked using a guide for 9 fins.

TIP: To check the accuracy of any provided marking guide:
Wrap and mark as usual.

Picture 1: Notice the two "X"s on the wrap and body tube. This is a starting point reference.

Picture 2: Now turn (spin around) the marking guide around the tube to other marks already made on the tube. Check to be sure the other marks are evenly spaced.

In the past, I've come across a few kit marking guides that weren't right.
Also, body tube diameters can vary slightly from batch to batch.

If you ever come across one that doesn't match up,
Go to and click on the tools page.
Input your tube diameter, number of fins and print out your guide.

DFR Tech Delta II Build Part 9 SRM Nose Cones

I know, I should have rounded the SRM nose cones before filling and spraying the primer.

I referred to a few Internet pictures of the Delta II to get the nose cone shape. See HERE

I sanded off the tip from one nose cone to use as a master for the other eight cones. I wanted to be sure they were all consistent in length and shape.

The nose cone to the left is the master, that tip has already been sanded off.

With the cones in their body tubes, I set them side by side being sure the ends of the tubes are aligned.

The second cone (on the right) was sanded down to match the tip height of the master. I made sure to stop sanding when I reached the top of the left, lower master cone.

Here's the progress from left to right.

1. Left: Sanded down, squared tip.
2. Middle: Rough rounding of top using 220 grit.
3. Right: Final smoothing with 400 grit.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

DFR Tech. Delta II Build Part 8 SRM Supports and Nose Cones

Here's a SRM support before and after the gray primer sanding.

I wanted to smooth, primer then sand the support pieces before assembly. It's be impossible to smooth and seal them after all is glued together.

Enlarge the picture and you can see the rough edge on filled the nose cone shoulder.

The nose cone has already been filled, but some filler is left on the shoulder ridge.

Pull the nose cone out of the tube slightly.

Fold a piece of 400 grit and set into the raised groove.
Lightly sand around the shoulder edge.

These nose cone / body tube edges are not filled, there should be a separation line at the shoulder.

LAUNCH! Scoolyard, April 20, 2011

It's a little before 8:00 a.m. and already HOT!
No breeze at ground level yet.

To test the system the MMX ZOOM BROOM was up first.
Vertical boost and nose blow recovery.
There was a little drift, it landed 50 feet from the launcher.

My Quest POWERED FLIC flew next with an A10-3t engine.
While the boost was straight up, it drifted into a small parking lot on a streamer, 100 yards away.
The cardstock fins were bent up a bit. It's repairable with a few pieces of scotch tape.

The CORKSCREW did corkscrew, or spiral on the way up.
After boost on an A3-4t there was too much drift on that streamer for me.

It landed over 10' up in a tree that bordered the soccer field.
After the launch, Austin (see below) climbed up on his golf cart to get it out of the tree. Thanks Austin! You saved me a return trip with my retrieval pole.

Here's Austin pressing the launch button so I could (hopefully) take some better pictures.
My carded PATRIOT didn't have a stable boost!
It flew horizontal and ejected on the ground.

Check the inset picture and you can see how much nose weight was added during construction. It has flown stable before!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

DRM Delta II Build Part 7 SRM Supports

The lengths of the nine SRM Supports sticks were a little off.

All nine support sticks were set side by side and the bottoms evened up on a flat surface.

While the ends were even, all were taped together. This left the upper ends like the picture above.

The uneven ends were sanded and checked against a right angle square.

The supports were stacked side by side and set on masking tape (sticky side up) to be sprayed with gray primer.

With the supports stacked and sprayed this way, the paint will only cover the top, leaving the sides bare for better adhesion.

After one side is sprayed, the whole stack is turned over and the other side sprayed.