Thursday, April 30, 2015

Peter Alway Saturn IV Build, Part 26, Oops!

Did you ever look at a finished model and think: "Something just isn't right?"
That center section seemed long, and was!

I cut both BT60 sections at 3 1/2" long.
The bottom section is 3 1/2", the upper BT-60 should have been 2" long.
Don't ask me why I did this.
It didn't look right and had to be fixed.

Luckily, the segment that needed to be removed had no internal centering rings where the cut would be made. Empty tube was underneath.

Tape was wrapped to help with a straight cut line.
I cut the tube a little long and would sand it to the correct length after it was removed.

The top section low end was sanded smooth and square.

The lower section of BT-60 was peeled off. The remaining pieces of tube and glue were sanded off.

Here's the before and after.
Before on the left, after the cut and re-glue on the right.

This is the look that Peter Alway intended.
Good. I'll sleep better tonight.

Camera Tripod Launcher Tips

In a recent blog post comment, Bob asked me to list some Camera Tripod Launcher TIPS.

Since this centers around the use of an Odd'l Rockets Adeptor,
the tips are posted on the Odd'l Rockets Blog site -

CLICK HERE (Part 1) and

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Peter Alway Saturn IV Build, Part 25, Decals Part D

Two small triangles go beneath the angled launch lug details.
On the white side the triangle is black, on the black side it is white.

The black decal was simply cut off an extra black decal block.

The white triangle was cut from some extra self-adhesive vinyl I had in the spare parts box.
Hang on to old, left over decals and trim material. you never know when it might come in handy.

Peter Alway Saturn IV Build, Part 24, Decals Part C

There are six round circle decals going around the top of the nose cone. Spacing and aligning these took some extra time.

A paper strip was wrapped around the cone tip and the overlap marked.
This length was divided into six sections.
These marks were transferred onto some masking tape.

The marked tape strip was wrapped around the cone.
The bottom edge of the tape will be the top of the circle decals.

The circle decals were cut apart and set onto the nose cone below the pencil marks.

There is a very thin line running around the nose cone.
I cut it from an extra black decal block.

Normally a decal that goes horizontally around the nose cone would be curved. This one is thin enough it can conform fairly easily.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Peter Alway Saturn IV Build, Part 23, Decals Part B

The instructions say to: 
"Cut double grooves in the nose cone to represent recessed landing legs. Paint silver."
It'd be pretty difficult to cut grooves into a thin plastic nose cone. You'd only have one chance to get it right.
I had to come up with something different.

I made a template and centered it over the disks already in place.
Light pencil marks were made.

It's much easier to do the trim with chrome trim Monokote.
Thin strips were cut with a straightedge and sharp blade.

Here's how it looked after placing the trim strips.

Peter Alway Saturn IV Build, Part 22, Decals Part A

Three UNITED STATES decals go down the white center tubes.

This was one of the few times the decal center was right between the two words.

Mark the tube center with a light pencil line

Look down the tube from the rear to be sure it is straight.

After it is in position, remove excess water and air bubbles with a Q-tip.
Start in the middle and go out to the ends. Don't rub, Roll the Q-tip over the decal.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Peter Alway Saturn IV Build, Part 21, "Lander" Disks

Mr. Alway added some details into the nose cone to simulate a lander.
Three center disks from a die-cut 5/20 centering ring is glued to the nose cone.
The three disks are spaced 120 degrees around the base of the nose cone.

I didn't have any disk centers.
I traced around a BT-5 tube on some 110 lb. card stock.
This isn't as thick as a centering ring center disk. I was concerned about how easily the disk would curve and adhere around the nose cone side.

The disks were simply cut out using scissors.
There are a few rough edges you can see on the left.

On the right is the same disk after knocking down the high spots with 400 grit.

The disks were taped to a piece of cardboard and got a coat of white paint.
On top you can still see a little raised ridge.

A few light passes with 400 grit smoothed that out.

A paper strip was wrapped around the nose cone, 1/4" from the bottom. The over lap was marked.

The circumference was 4.05".
Divided by three, there will be 1.35" between the disks.

3M adhesive was sprayed on the back of the disks.
Each disk was centered over pencil marks.
The edges were rolled down onto the curved nose cone sides.

Sealing Couplers? TIP

At a recent launch, the red coupler on my Patriot got wet.
The coupler swelled up a bit. The upper section was left out until it dried. I was concerned about the damp coupler swelling up the inside of the body tube.

In the picture you can see the darkened low end, sealed with medium CA glue.
In the middle left (above the dark CA glued area) you can see where water has been absorbed into the coupler.
I may have to seal the entire exposed end of the coupler.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Peter Alway Saturn IV Build, Part 20, Paint Fixes TIP

There was some rough spots around the card stock details.
I didn't want to re-spray the white.
Because the model will end up sprayed with a dull coat, I can get away with some touch-ups. The final dull coat will hide any uneven paint surfaces.

I push a snack bag into a mixing cup.
Spray the white touch-up paint into the open top of the plastic bag.

Dip a Q-tip into the paint in the baggy.
Wipe off any excess paint from the Q-tip.

Don't brush on the paint, roll it on.

Roll on a light coat, let it dry.
If you add a second coat too quickly you will take off the first coat.

On the left is the before,
The inset picture shows the area after the touch-up.

After you are done, zip the baggie closed and throw it away.

Shapeways Fins

More and more 3D printed fin units and nose cones are available through Shapeways.

I found this one interesting from the Aerobotix pages. It's a three engine 13mm cluster that fits a BT-60 fin can.
To check out the other offerings: CLICK HERE

For lots of classic replacement nose cones and scale model fin cans.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Micro Fleet

Here's the active MicroMaxx fleet.
I built and flew a lot of Micro models when I got back into rocketry. They are perfect small field flyers. I just wish the delays were a little longer. Any light, streamlined model will eject before apogee.

From top left to right:
FlisKit Crayon, FlisKit Honest John, FlisKit M.A.C.M.E. Spitfire, Applewhite BIC Pen, Quest No Mercy, ASP Jayhawk, FlisKits Dim. Duece.
Middle, left to right:
Goonys, all downscales - Cloud Hopper, Piglet-sus, Missile Toe, Sky Shreak, Galaxy Guppy, Zoom Broom, Star Snoop.
Bottom, left to right:
FlisKit Interloper, Downscale Odd'l Break-Away, ASP Wac Corporal, Downscale Sky Writer, FlisKits HEMV 4.

The Quest No Mercy is the only RTF in the bunch.
The Dueces Wild, Crayon and Interloper went through some minor design changes.

Many of the carded Goony and SkyWriter downscale models are available for FREE as a printable PDF. Check out the "Free PDF Plans" button above.
Just mail me at and request whatever models you like.

Peter Alway Saturn IV Build, Part 19, Paint Fixes

How did this happen?
This will have to be re-shot.
I didn't want to shoot everything again, so there was some selective masking.

The surrounding areas were outlined with masking tape to sand down the paint edges.
The tape protected the surfaces around the bad mask.

Light sanding with 400 grit took just the raised edge off the black area.

Here's the full mask.
Scotch tape outlined the black box, then blue tape was applied around that.

A grocery bag covered the rest of the model.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Peter Alway Saturn IV Build, Part 18, Upper Body Trim, Part B

The cut tape wouldn't fit tight under the small dowel details.
I used my center punch to cut small relief areas to go around the base of the dowels.

Here's how the vinyl looked after punching. There is only two small recesses along the top.

The front and back views with the black vinyl applied.
It took a lot of small trimming to get everything to fit well.

A dry fit of all three sections.

This is an impressive design and the decals aren't even applied yet.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Peter Alway Saturn IV Build, Part 17, Upper Body Trim, Part A

The upper black squares were easy enough.
I could have masked and black sprayed but went the easy route with my favorite trim material, the Contact Paper blackboard covering.

To make the trim pieces for the shroud, another print was made on 110 lb. card stock. I needed it thicker so I could trace around it.
The pieces would have to match the curvature of the shroud.

A center line was drawn using my middle finger as a pencil depth gauge.

The black areas were marked.

The inset shows the black pieces traced onto the covering material.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Estes Mercury Redstone Available!

The Estes Mercury Redstone (Kit #1921) is available from Estes mail order CLICK HERE and soon from your favorite vendor.
This is the Series 20 tube, 2" diameter Centuri version. The capsule and escape tower are highly detailed plastic. The fins are laser cut "wood".
Recommended engine is the C6-3 with an estimated altitude of 200 feet.

In the future I hope to build this one on the blog. I'll get two kits, one to make the Mercury Redstone and the second to make a Little Joe I.

Peter Alway Saturn IV Build, Part 16, Cleaning Up Mistakes, Tips

Goo Gone can also be used to pick up over spray, but it is more aggressive than the Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. Again, go lightly.

There is still some black paint around the detail pieces.
A little Goo Gone was applied to a Q-Tip and the excess wiped off on a paper towel.

Apply the Goo Gone then flip over the Q-Tip and remove the paint and excess with the dry cotton end.

Here's the same area after the cleanup.

Sometimes you can touch up with a Sharpie marker.
In direct sunlight you might notice the difference between the spray painted areas and a Sharpie touch up. Use a Sharpie only on ends and edges.

On the left you can see the black doesn't go all the way up to the root edge.
The inset picture shows the touch up.

Textbook Rockets - Launch Video

The Speed Reader Upcycling Textbook Rocket was launched
on Saturday, April 18, 2015
To see the launch video, CLICK HERE

Whew! It was stable.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Peter Alway Saturn IV Build, Part 15, Cleaning Up Mistakes, Tips

Mr. Clean Magic Erasers come in handy to remove paint over spray.
These are also good for general rocket cleaning.
Go light and easy with them, they can also remove the base paint color.
The Magic Erasers can also dull a gloss finish. use with a light touch.

I was as careful as I could be with the masks but there was a lot of over spray.
Here you can see it on the outside edges of a fin.
On the left is before, the inset shows the fin after cleaning off with the magic eraser.
A little of the white paint was removed off the upper corner of the fin.

Between two fins was a spot that didn't get masked!

I didn't remove it with the eraser, but lightly dabbed the wet eraser over the black paint and let it sit for a minute.
Some rubbing with a Q-Tip followed.
The black paint was rubbed off with friction, it almost "rolled" off the white undercoat.

All this over spray removal should be done before the paint is fully dried and "set" into the undercoat. Let the paint sit for an hour or two then remove the over sprays. If you wait a few days you might not be able to remove the unwanted paint.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Textbook Rocket Flight Report

Here's a capsulized email from Craig Joiner with the Upcycling Textbooks Rocket Project:

Hello, Chris.

The Earth Day Kick-Off at Space Center Houston was great. People had a lot of questions about Speed Reader, such as: is that really made out of old textbooks? And everyone got a kick out of the detail of the chapter number countdown!
On Saturday, as we got closer to the 3:00 launch, the weather was cooperating. It was a go. We ended up launching 5 rockets on Saturday. 

Speed Reader had a great take off, dramatic, and then some good lift. It shot up a good distance and people watching were really impressed. The chute deployed nicely but the wind started to carry it away from us. I thought we'd lost it but they were able to recover it! 
I'll have more launch specifics from the notes of our experts on engine sizes and flight details. Warren Benson from NASA Houston Rocket Club and Dave Brown from Space Center Houston prepped and launched all the rockets. And I'll share some photos and video of it.

I want to thank you again for building, and in such short time, an amazing textbook rocket.
Space Center Houston has asked to borrow from us so that they can display it in their gallery, and possibly travel it to other NASA galleries around the country. The display will include a credit to you and a bio blurb about you. I'll keep you posted. 

Thank you,

Schoolyard Launch, April 19, 2015

This wasn't a typical launch day for me, two new models flew and it was the first test of a new, larger Odd'l Rockets BLAST! Deflector.
Summer is right around the corner, it was already warm at 7:15 a.m. I worked up a sweat chasing these down.

The first launch attempt was the FlisKits CRAYON with an old MMX engine with the molded plastic "Nozz-hole".
MicroMaxx engines always take an extra second to ignite. Holding down the launch button I could see some smoke out the back end. No launch.

I walked up to check and maybe adjust the igniter and noticed the igniter wire had melted the molded nozzle. The wires are now part of the nozzle!
This has never happened before.

An old reliable, the Quest Cobalt variant ORANGE had it's 14th launch with a Quest A6-4. Altitude? Maybe 200'.
Boost was loud and normal. Recovery was just nose-blow, the parachute stayed in the nose cone.
It landed and bounced, turning over standing upright on it's fins.
Two small models, too fast to catch on film.
On the left is a new carded model , a scale A.S.P.
There are spinnerons (spin tabs) on the fins, just like the real rocket had.
A 1/2A3-4t engine got it to around 350 feet. You could see the spinning in the smoke trail when the model was reaching apogee.
The crepe paper streamer eject brought it back close.
After a few more test flights this one should be a available as a free PDF.

The Estes MOSQUITO flew fast and high with it's 1/4A3-3t engine. Estimated altitude, 325'.
I lost sight of it at ejection and waited, listening for the small "thud" when it hit the grass. I followed the hit and found it close by.

Another new one, now being painted on the blog.
This is the Peter Alway SATURN IV.
The first launch was with an Estes B6-4. Arrow straight boost with an estimated altitude around 300'.
Recovery was textbook under a 15" Odd'l Rockets parachute.

Last up was the workhorse Estes PATRIOT with a Estes B6-4.
Perfect flight and recovery under a 12' parachute with spill hole.

I tried the second replacement Estes Altimeter. It read only 147'.
That can't be right. Open Rocket says it should reach 247'. I know sims are typically high.
When you are right under them (not 75 feet away like at a club launch) they sure look like they are higher up!

Five up, five recovered without damage. A good day -
Two new models flown and a successful test of the new Blast! deflector.