Friday, February 28, 2014

For NARCON - Did You Ever Try To Design A Parachute?

I'd always liked the look of the red and white parachutes used in the Apollo program. A rough count looks like there are 64 alternating red and white gores.

The Estes Saturn V kit (and the earlier Centuri version) came with parachutes like this.
Many of my semi-scale and fantasy scale model kits use a supplied generic canopy. I always thought a scale model (sport models too) should descend on a scale style parachute.
Last September (when stuck in Mexico) drawings were started for what I hoped could be a better 6 sided parachute, or "parasheet".

It's considered an "all in one".
The largest outside cut line is for an 18" chute, a popular size for vendors.
Inside are cut lines for a 15" or 12" parachute pattern.
In the middle are 3", 4" and 5" spill hole circles.
TRIVIA: FSI first came out with a "Select-A-Size" parachute in the early 1970s.

The Saturn V kit parachute had 64 printed red and white "gores". But on a smaller parachute it's visually too many. The print pattern messes with your eyes like a "Hypno Disk".

The new parachute edge has rounded "gores" giving the illusion of a shroud line pulling on each one.
The polyethylene is the ideal thickness. Some kit parachutes are thick or crispy.
This parachute opens quickly with no sticking.

Parachute drawing and development was a real education.
There are many considerations when art is transferred onto a flexible rubber printing plate. It's not the same as paper printing. This has been redrawn and tweaked too many times.

25,000 parachutes later . . . 
These turned out better than we had hoped!
JonRocket and Balsa Machining Service are the first to get them.
If you are interested in parachutes like this for your kits, please contact me.
The parachutes I have are generic without a logo in the center.

EDIT: We had hoped to have two hundred of these for NARCON, but the pressman called in sick! They did run a few, I managed to sneak them out of the print shop.
Roger and Bracha of will have the parachute at NARCON. Stop by and check it out!

Quest Stiletto Build Part 10, Stability Issues and a Larger Rudder

Before starting a kit build I'll got to and look up the kit build review.
It's great way to find out if there are any "kinks" or "gotchas" along the way.
There wasn't any reviews for the Quest Stiletto. I started my build figuring I'd make any corrections as I went.

Halfway through the build I did a search on The Rocketry Forum and found a few build threads about the Stiletto.
There were some flight stability issues!

John (Rocket 86) may have found a solution HERE.
Scroll down to Post #27.
John extended out the span of the underside rudder and had great stable flights.
After reading about some other flight results, I'll be cutting out a new rudder as shown here!

John Bergsmith (Boosterdude on TRF) posted this, My responses are in italic:

"Just wanted to some up the issues I found with the kit. All are really minor and wouldn't prevent me from building another one. They could easily trip up a beginner, but for experienced builders it's no problem. I hear that Quest is addressing the issues in the new release. The finished product is really awesome, great design Shrox!"

1. The laser cut balsa pieces for the wings are not the same size. Meaning the left wing doesn't match the right. So you have to trim the larger wing to match the smaller.

My kit wings were the same size - correction made!
2. The template for cutting the intake is a little small so it doesn't wrap around the BT. However, it still gets the job done.
The intake cut template was the right size - correction made!
3. The fuselage marking guide that is supplied is way to small to wrap around the BT. You need to blow it up to 140%, I think that's what I did.
My kit had the revision sheet with the larger marking guide.
4. The supplied nose cone is the Quest Nike cone. It takes some work to get it to fit together to close the seam gaps.
While you do have to sand down the plastic "flash" the seams won't be noticeable. 
You paint one half silver, the other side black.
5. The supplied decals only provide two star and bars when the supplied artwork shows four.
My kit only had two "Stars and Bars" decals!
6. The two USAF decals that go on each side of the inlet are not supplied. I used two from an Estes kit.
In the end I printed up two USAF decals for the sides.
7. The two red arrow decals that say "rocket blast" that go on each side are not printed correctly. One of the the words will be upside down if placed according to the artwork.
One "Rocket Blast" decals was wrong and will read upside down. 
8. The centering rings although adequate are very thin and flimsy. I put some thin CA on both sides and that seemed to help.
I beefed up the engine mount with balsa gussets between the centering rings.

It looks like Quest made some changes in the laser cut balsa but the decal sheet didn't change.
It's an impressive design. I'll make the needed adjustments for stable D engine flights.
Some report it's under powered with 18mm engines. I saw that coming before finding the TRF reviews. It's just too large a model for a B6 or C6 engine.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Quest Stiletto Build Part 9, Intake Tube Gluing

Draw lines down the tube at the spine mark. Draw a line down the middle of the intake tube.

Three lines of white glue were applied down the tube between the 4" and 13" marks. The two outside glue lines will make a interior fillet on both sides of the center line.

Line up both lines and press the two tubes together.

After that dried a fillet was applied on the ends at the front and rear joints.

The revision sheet also mentions the rudder fin might be off "slightly".
You can see the gap underneath when the fin gets a dry fit.
When the root edge is sanded down, 1/8" of the rudder fin height is reduced.
Was this just enough to cause some stability problems?

Super Glues and Teflon Tubes TIPS Part 2

The first part of the Super Glue and Teflon Tubes
was posted on February 13, HERE
Sorry, I thought I had posted both!

Whenever you use a thin Super Glue (CA) have a paper towel handy!
It can get away from inexperienced or expert modelers.

I apply the glue held in my right hand.
In my left hand I'm holding the parts to be glued. The paper towel is right behind it ready to pick up any excess.
When you are done with the glue - 
Hold it upright with the Teflon tip facing into a paper towel.
Squeeze the sides of the bottle blowing the glue out of the narrow tube.
After blowing it out into the paper towel squeeze again and listen for air noise (a hissing) coming out of the tube. This lets you know the tube is clear with less chance of a clog later on.

TIP: Super Glue will last much longer if it is stored in the refrigerator.
Just be sure is is wedged in so it can't fall over! Don't set it in the moving door of the fridge.

If the Teflon tube gets a clog you probably won't be able to clear out the glue by squeezing the sides of the bottle.

If you play the guitar you can use a standard "B" string to clear the tube.
A light gauge B string is 0.016" in diameter.
Cut it about 3" to 4" long. Leave the ball end on the string for a handle.

If the tube still won't clear or is too short after cutting off new angled ends, pull the old tube out and replace it with a new piece.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Quest X-15 Parts Pack Available

On YORF, Scigs30 was doing a great build of the OOP Quest X-15 kit, HERE
He mentioned that the parts were still available.
Quest has most of the parts including the most important,

I emailed Quest to ask about buying the X-15 decals.
Apparently I wasn't the only one.
Quest got enough calls to justify bagging up a X-15 parts pack.

Bidding on EBAY can get fairly high for an unopened Quest X-15 kit.
The semi-scale X-15 is still popular with many BARs.

The parts pack is reasonable at $8.00 and includes:
 X-15 Instructions, X-15 Decal, X-15 Nose Cone, X-15 Balsa Big Sheet and X-15 Balsa Strakes. 
It is item # Q2014SP, on the Quest website HERE
You may want to add a 35mm tube and few 35mm centering rings to your order.

I was told Quest would not be selling individual X-15 parts. 
You can't buy the decal sheet separately from the parts pack.

The remaining parts, not in the parts pack:
The launch lug, parachute, shock cord, 18mm engine mount tube, thrust ring and engine hook could come from your spare parts bin. Oh, and add some clay nose weight.

Quest Stiletto Build Part 8, Marking for the Intake Tube

You'll be able to see some of the inside edges of the intake tube when it is glued to the main body tube.
CWF was brushed on the inside of both ends.
After sanding smooth some CA was applied with a Q-tip.

The inset shows Step 10 of the instruction.
There is a "Instruction Revision" sheet with a new, larger tube marking guide and the correction for Step 10.
The instruction illustration shows the tube flipped with the shock cord to the left. You have to make the 4" and 13" marks from the engine mount side.

As it turns out, the intake tube is 1/2" longer than the 9" span between the two marks.
I ended up just gluing the end at the 4" mark and letting the front end go the 1/2" beyond the 13" mark.

The tube marking guide in the instructions is too small.
There is a larger marking guide on the revision sheet.
As it turned out, the revised marking guide was a hair too long.

Launch! Schoolyard, February 25, 2014

Perfect launch weather this morning. The fog had cleared and there was no wind.

The Red River Rocketry STARLINER was first launched with an Estes A10-3t in a 5/20 adapter. Estimated altitude was 250'.
Straight up and a slower than normal descent on the 8 sided Mylar parachute.

All four launches today were caught before hitting the ground, no damage on recovery.

My new standby - 
The Quest VIPER flew with a Quest A6-4 engine.
Altitude was an estimated 300'.
Everybody should have at least one model with a plastic fin can.
There's nothing to worry about, no nicks or cracks.

The Custom NOMAD had a draggy flight with an Estes B6-4 to 300'.
This was a textbook flight for a blunt nosed rocket.

And finally the Estes GBU-24 PAVEWAY with an Estes B6-4.
Estimated height around 300'.
There was a slow corkscrew during boost and it landed a little too close to the street for me. It touched down on the grass just a few feet from the passing traffic.

I usually pack seven models and launch five. The two other models were MicroMaxx and I couldn't get either to light! Time to change out the batteries in the Electron Beam controller. (Where do they come up with these names?)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Quest Stiletto Build Part 7, Cutting the Intake Tube

The "bell curve" intake pattern is cut out and set back 1/2" from the end of the tube.

Make the cut with a few light passes.
The Quest 50mm tube is pretty thick, use a sharp blade.
The instructions say you could use a razor saw but that would make for a rougher edge to clean up.

The edges are sanded clean and flat with 220 grit on a block.

In Shrox designs, most all the cuts are made at 45 degree angles.

Above is the cut and sanded intake tube.
Below is the scrap piece, you can still see the rough cut edge.

Estes Saturn V Decal Fix

On the left, look at the "I" in "UNITED".
It's not centered! The type was set with the I a little to the left. It should be in line with the center line of the T.
I spent a few years setting headlines at a print shop. This sort of thing drives me nuts. The fix was touchy, just one chance to get it right on four long vertical decals.
I've built two of the recent run of the Estes Saturn V kits. This is the first time I've tried to fix the "I".

The long decal was set down, centered and allowed to dry for a few minutes. It was about half adhered, I could still move it with more water if I wanted to.
From the side a razor blade was "rocked" just above the top and bottom of the I. Don't slice or cut into the white paint underneath, just rock the blade in an arc to cut through the decal skin.
Being careful not to move the "UN" above it, the "I" was nudged over with the side of my thumb.

This looks better! It's a moot point, but I wanted it correct.
In the end it wasn't that hard to do. I was more nervous about screwing up the only set of decals I had. The horizontal cut lines helped guide the "I" in a straight line when slid to the right.

Only three more I's to move!
There were other wrong decals on the larger sheet - 
The low positioned A, B, C, D and I, II, III, IV decals were reprinted on a smaller decal sheet, correct with white backgrounds.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Quest Stiletto Build Part 6, Nose Cone Prep

Don't glue the nose cone halves together yet!
In Step 20 you are given the choice of painting the bottom half silver and the top half black. After painting glue the two halves together then glue on the tip.
This is a great idea - no masking and the two halves in different colors will hide any joints that don't quite match up. (The art does show the tip being painted half silver and half black tho - )

Dry fit the two halves together and test the fit of the tip.
Don't force the tip - it won't fit all the way!

First sand off the flash shown in the inset picture.

Even after sanding the extension plastic the tip wouldn't slide into place.

The hole inside the tip will need to be opened up. I didn't want to remove any more plastic off the nose cone extension at the top.

Turn a small rat tail file in the tip hole.
That opened it enough for the tip to slide down onto the small shoulder.
Again, don't glue it together until after painting.

On the side with the pins there is a small molding indent.
This should be filled.

On plastic I always use medium CA glue. It will adhere to the plastic and sand flat with the nose cone sides.
Enlarge the picture and you can see the raised drop of CA over the indent.

Here's the same area after sanding with 220 on a block followed by 400 grit smoothing.
The sanded CA glue is almost invisible.

A10 to A8 Engine Comparison

At the small field launches I've been using 13mm A10-3t engines in place of 18mm A8-3 engines. This was first suggested by James Wentworth on a forum post.

It makes perfect sense - really a no brainer. (which probably explains why I didn't think of this years ago)

Right now at Hobby Lobby I can buy three A8-3 engines for $9.99
I can also pick four A10-3t engines for $9.99
Take off 40% with the online coupon its a better buy at $5.99!
$5.99 divided by three A8-3s is $1.99 each.
$5.99 divided by four A10-3ts is $1.49 each.

You do have to use a 5/20 engine mount but when the weights are compared,
The A10-3t engine and 5/20 mount are .43 oz.
The A8-3 engine alone is .57 oz.!

The A10-3t engine with the 5/20 mount is still lighter than the A8-3 by itself!

I don't use the Engine Comparison Tool on as often as I should - Click HERE

The graph above and side-by-side comparisons (on right) is a screen shot of the engine comparisons

Sure there are differences, The A10 has a higher initial peak thrust but a lower average thrust with a longer burn. The A10 has more propellant than the A8 engine.
An A10 engine will get any model you would normally fly with an A8 engine in the air - And, save you 50 cents per flight!

And, lighter by .14 oz. could get a few more feet in altitude.
In the future I'll be buying more A10-3t engines in place of the A8-3s.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Quest Stiletto Build Part 5, Parts Prep

The 14" Quest parachute has the shroud line holes already punched out.
The problem is, they are pretty far from the edge of the parachute. I prefer smaller tied loops closer to the edge.

On the left is how the reinforcement disks fit on the punched holes.
On the right I've trimmed back the parachute edges to the reinforcement disks.

The supplied shroud lines are thick!
There is no way to get them through the small end of a snap swivel.
(I added a snap swivel to the build, it isn't included in the bag.)

Instead of feeding the thick lines through the loop, I tied the middles to a piece of Kevlar.
The Kevlar was tied to the loop on the swivel.

The small forward strakes on the rudder fins didn't really line up with the root edge no matter which side was used.

I glued the strake matching it up with the leading edge of the larger piece. The root edges will be sanded flat after the glue dries.
It's easier to sand down the uneven root edge over filling the gap on the flat sides.

Here's all the balsa pieces after filling with CWF. I didn't fill the spine piece that goes between the two wing halves. That'll get filled after the wings are glued on the body.

After the CWF dried the bulk was removed with 220 grit on a block.
Smoothing with 400 grit followed.

Re-Issue MPC Vostok Kit Parts

There is a thread on YORF about the reissued MPC Vostok kit HERE
"The Mole" posted a picture of the plastic kit parts.
There was a question if the plastic "flying" parts would be included - They Are!

From my post:
It's all there -
The large fins, both large and small "shock cord anchors" and the second less detailed nozzle plate.
The launch lugs are still molded into the upper transition and flight nozzle plate.

Needed for flight conversion - 
9" long 20mm tube (BT-20 could work if built up at the top and bottom)
2 3/4" long "engine compartment" tube (if using Quest 20mm tube), Engine hook
Exterior shock cord mount, Shock Cord, Parachute (20" Mylar chute came with the kit)
.16 oz. nose weight

There is plenty of room for the clay weight in the Vostok capsule.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Quest Stiletto Build Part 4, Parts Prep

You'll definitely want to sand the laser cut edges on the fins.
Here is the root edge on a wing. For some reason the middle of the root edge was cut inside the the hold down tabs.
After sanding a bit I still had to remove more edge to get everything flat and even.

Looking ahead:
The blue decal piece at the bottom (inset picture) goes on the upper black painted half of the plastic nose cone.

There's a single molded hatch on that upper half of the nose cone.
You'll have a hard time getting the blue decal to lay down over the hatch without some decal solvent.
I sanded off the hatch. I'll probably sand off the other two hatches on the lower half so you won't recognize it came from the Nike Smoke kit.

Not Enough Decals for the Fins?

Jeff Gortatowsky (GDJSky01 on TRF) made the following post on TRF HERE
Above are his pictures.
On the left is the decal he got in the kit, on the right are the one sided fin decals applied.
Down the right side is the Estes online catalog picture.

His post quotes are in italic, my responses follow.
"I bought this at Estes' sale in December. Maybe I paid 5 or 6 bucks. I don't recall right now. But its was sweet deal... So I really should not complain.  But Estes never said these were 'Seconds'. So ARE they? Estes?"
I doubt they are seconds, there was probably just one big first production run. I'm just guessing at that.

"Otherwise did ANYONE take one out of the container when they first came from China and BUILD one? They didn't notice there were only decals for ONE side of the fins? Or did they can say "F' it?" Or did the bean counters say too bad... it's too late? What about the Beta or Alpha builds where you build one BEFORE they make a million of them?"
Probably Yes to all

"I know I can call Christine and being the best in the business like she is, she'd make it right. But I really wonder."
Estes would make it right! But like you, for the price I'm not complaining - much.
They might send another kit with more decals, they probably wouldn't fit the other side of the fin.
These four decals are cut at an angle for the right side of the fin. 

From Rich DeAngelis' review of the Vector Force on HERE:
"Another small issue is the cool yellow/gray stripes for the fins. As there are 4 fins with two sides each, I expected to find 8 stripes - but there were only 4 of them!"
That review was from August of 2011, long before the big December sale.

My Reflector (also from the December sale) only had four out of the eight fin decals needed to match the face card illustration.
It looks okay, but would look better with decals on both sides of the fin.
I wanted it to look like the older Centuri catalog model decal treatments.

My Quest Stiletto was missing some USAF and Star and Bar decals.

How many of us were disappointed looking for the decals in your first The Launch Pad kits?
I'm lucky that I can draw and print decals that are "okay" for use. They're not great and they are not white.

Kits should include all decals to match the face card (computer touched up) picture.
Sell what you advertise, advertise what you sell!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Quest Stiletto Build Part 3, Engine Mount 24mm Upgrade

The rings were glued 1/2" from either side of the engine mount tube.

Electrical tape was wrapped over the engine mount and Kevlar Q-tip tube.
At the top the plastic Kevlar tube is recessed away from the ejection charge end.

Somewhere in the Apogee Peak Of Flight archives is a reference to this type of engine mount reinforcement. I couldn't find the link.
Balsa strip gussets are glued between the centering rings.
I've never used this method before and was surprised at how much stronger the mount is now.
Four gusset strips were cut from the kits scrap 3/32" balsa and glued between the centering rings.

The gussets were cut wide and sanded even with the outside diameter of the rings.
You'll have to sand a bit to get a slip fit into the 35mm main air frame tube.

Estes Solar Launch Controller #FS-10 Part 3

This unit is like a flashlight - it seems too light until you add the batteries.
The battery weight makes it feel hefty and stronger.

One thing I didn't like - 
The batteries fit very tight in the housing. So tight that the bottom plastic "wall" bends a bit under all the pressure.

Of course I tried it out!

With the clips connected and the key in place, the continuity bulb lit brightly.

I pressed the recessed launch button (recessed was looked on as another safety feature) and the light went out. The power was directed to the clips.

For all the "I remember that" rocketeers, here's the two interior pages of the instructions.

You did have to screw the contact pieces into the body halves, an easy assembly. The micro clips were pre-soldered onto the 15 foot long gray wire leads.

As specified:
"Uses only Estes Solar Igniters (NWI-2)"
You have to wonder, how many didn't get ignition with this controller if the older NWI-1 coated wire igniters were used.
TRIVIA: The NWI-1 igniters were the only ones included with the engines at that time.
You had to buy the Solar Igniters separately! 
In 1972 you could buy 6 igniters for 30 cents. Now they are around $1.00 apiece!