Monday, July 24, 2017

Booster 55 Rocket Build, Part 3, Nose Cone Seam Filling

The nose cone is a new item from Apogee so the molds are new. There was very little molding seam to fill.

I got out my Dollar Tree store bottle of Super Glue. They are usually 2 for $1.00. It's medium thickness.

On the left you can see the slight seam left after sanding.

On the right is the raised bead of Super Glue. Apply enough so the bead of glue will end up a little higher than the surface of the nose cone. Do one side at a time and let the first side dry facing up and horizontally. Be careful, the glue can run!

The glue dries hard and clear. I used a diamond file to knock down the bulk of the bead. 220 grit followed then 400 grit.

On the right is the finished fill ready for grey filler/primer.

Clean Up Those Lug Ends - TIP

Paint and glue can hang your rocket up on the launch rod. It takes very little to clean up the ends.

Here's how the lug end looks after the first coat of white paint. There's paint and a small blob of glue on this end.

Set a pencil or sharpened dowel in the end and turn it.

I also sanded the end flat with some 400 grit.

After the last white undercoat you can see how clean the lug is now. Little things like this can make the difference.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Starship Nova Tube Spotted

On the National Association of Rocketry Face book page, Eric Specht posted this:

"I got this thin walled tube without glassine in my new Starship Nova kit. It has a wall thickness of .010 and creases with normal handling. Somebody tell me this was a mistake and there will be a recall."
To see the post and responses, CLICK HERE

In the first run of kits, the BT-50 tube won't have a glassine wrap. This will make for a very weak tube prone to buckling and bends. TIP: If you buy the kit I'd recommend buying an additional BT-50 tube. I'd probably go with a heavy walled BT-50H as even standard BT-50 tubes are thin.

The thicker wall BT-50H tubes have the same inside diameter as a standard BT-50 so 50 size nose cones will fit. The outside diameter is just a little thicker. I use the BT-50h tubes in some Odd'l kits. I always keep some heavy walled tube handy to replace the thin stuff that comes in kits.

Booster 55 Rocket Build, Part 2, Removing the Staging Funnel

This was the trickiest part of the build. The funnel might be fine at ejection but the bulk of the charge would be compressed into a 1/4" hole.

I got out my ancient Dremel tool and attached a sanding drum. Most of the funnel was ground out.

On the left is the funnel after grinding. Most all of it was melted and easily cut out with a knife.
When is was removed I could see the glue on the side walls. I might have been able to knock out the funnel with a hammer and dowel. But then again, I might have broken the fin can.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Booster 55 Rocket Build, Part 1, Parts

This should be an easier one but still interesting. I'll be adapting the plastic 55 Booster to a 55 tube.
It's a very inexpensive build made from clearance kit parts, leftovers and a free nose cone from Apogee.

The parts:
A BT-55 stolen from an Estes clearance Monarch kit.
The nose cone is a new 55 size from Apogee.
The 3/16" launch lug will need a standoff, there's a small dowel next to it.
An Odd'l Rocket parachute (what else?)
Rubber shock cord from a Little Joe II kit.
The BT-55 Booster picked up for a dollar at Hobby Lobby.

The 55 Booster is assembled. You won't need the upper adapter ring.

At the top is a length of BT-55 and will have to be removed.
Score through the tube and peel it off.

The tube was glued on pretty well

Notice the duct "funnel" that directs the booster engine flame into the upper stage engine.

It took a few minutes of sanding to clean off the shoulder and get a slip fit into the BT-55 tube.

Estes Apollo Little Joe II Finished!

On the left is the removable for flight engine nozzle plate.

Here's another one I can cross off my list! I wanted this kit when Centuri produced it the first time around.
The wrap decals are thin and tricky.

A very impressive model when finished. Thanks to Estes for bringing this one back!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Estes Apollo Little Joe II Build, Part 44, R.C.S. Nozzles

You have to remove the "X" box from the decal.
Once it is cut out it would be very hard to see the location when gluing. I wrapped a strip of paper around the body and marked the locations with pencil.

When removing the squares, cut lightly! You are only cutting through a thin clear layer and not into the paint. The RCS nozzle base barely covers the inked square.

I was very surprised when pulling up the clear decal that the X box black outline was left on the body! (See inset above) This will require some very light, careful scraping to remove the black lines. You don't want to scrape deep into the paint, just remove the black lines.

On the left shows the box after scraping. I used a medium super glue for plastics to attach the nozzle housing.
Since I didn't attach the shock cord at the upper centering ring slot I needed to cover this up. Some of the ejection charge could go out the back. I saved the pieces from the doubled centering ring and it fit perfectly. In the picture on the right the piece was set next to the open slot.

TIP: To set the piece I taped it to a dowel. Glue was applied and the piece pressed in place over the slot. The dowel and tape were pulled free leaving the patch.

GOTCHA: I did  pull on the 24" parachute shroud lines - they easily broke. I'll replace those lines with #10 cotton embroidery thread.

The body will descend on the Estes 24" parachute. The tower and capsule will use a 12" or 15" Odd'l Rockets chute.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Estes Apollo Little Joe II Build, Part 43, Vertical UNITED STATES Decal

When piecing together the long decal pay close attention to the spacing between the A and the T. That's the same amount of spacing you want between the bottom of the T and the top of the E

The only place where I couldn't form the decal with the Q-tip tip was at the top of the raised horizontal band near the bottom of the T.
Before the decal was dry I cut small slits and then used the damp Q-tip to work the air out.

Looking from the bottom up you can see how well the decals conformed into the corrugations.

I had some Micro Sol handy but didn't need it! I don't like using solvents unless I have to.

Estes Apollo Little Joe II Build, Part 42, Vertical UNITED STATES Decal

This was another decal I was concerned about, trying to to get it evenly into the corrugations. I thought this was mentioned in the TRF builds - I cut the line right below the "T" in STATES where it goes over the raised band.
On the right is how I cut the second decal tapering the clear area to the bottom of the T. This taper cut helps the decal fit into the end of the corrugation above the ridge separation.

Look close and you can see pencil lines for a center line. One raised corrugation runs right through the center making it easy to line up the "I"s and "T"s.

The thin clear coat made it difficult to apply the large wrap. On this decal the thin surface made it easier to conform to the corrugations.

TIP: Wet a Q-tip and roll it into a rounded point. This got into the corrugations easier than a brush could.
The Is and Ts were lined up on the center raised corrugation. I started running the pointed Q-tip in the adjacent rut from the center to the top, then center to the bottom.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Estes Apollo Little Joe II Build, Part 41, Body Wrap Decal

Again - DON'T TRY TO TRANSFER THIS LARGE, THIN DECAL IN ONE PIECE! Just ask anybody who has had big trouble with the large Mega Red Max body wrap decals.

Slide the decal off the backing about 3/8" of an inch at a time and smooth out the bubbles and water with a damp Q-tip.
Check to be sure the black box sides are in line with the vertical corrugations. Set a ruler down the corrugations and over the sides of the black squares.

I set that line of "dots" (rivets, screws, whatever) about 1/8" from the top of the corrugated wrap.

Again the picture shows the decal segment set down slowly keeping the backing paper on while the transferred part is smoothed out. When the bubbles and wrinkles have been removed slide the backing another 3/8" over and smooth again.

One segment of the decal wouldn't come off the backing paper leaving a hole in the middle of a block.

The inset shows me trying to rub and slide the remaining black smudge. It wouldn't move.

Positioning the body wrap decal was a bit stressful but can be done. After you've set the decals on the command module cover decide for yourself if you'll need an additional clear coat to thicken up the big wrap decal for easier transfer.

Here I filled in the decal break "hole" with a Sharpie. (Where would I be without Sharpie pens?) It's not perfect but a pretty good patch. I still might put a actual black decal piece over this ink cover.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Estes Apollo Little Joe II Build, Part 41, Paint Mask and DECALS!

The simple tube mask went well, at the top of the corrugated wrap the line is sharp.

Here's how the bottom turned out after a few rounds of spray paint and light sanding.

This is a great kit - except for the decals. 
The clear coat is very thin! That's a good thing on smaller decals, the clear coat is almost invisible.
I could have added a spray of clear acrylic but I wanted to transfer them as is, like an average modeler might.

GOTCHA and TIP: The large body wrap would be nearly impossible to place in one large piece. Even when cut into sections it is still tricky.
You should cut a segment as you need it so you won't loose the correct placement order.
More in the next post - 

Estes Apollo Little Joe II Build, Part 40, Finally - Paint!

I did wait a few more days to be sure the gloss white was dry.
I thought this would be an easy second color, a simple mask around the body, right above the top of the corrugated wrap.

Scotch tape was set down. The inset picture shows the edge being burnished with a Q-tip.
Above that is brown masking tape and a wrap of copy paper.

Before spraying on the aluminum paint the entire lower body was brushed off using a 1" wide chip brush.
I don't use tack cloths. They can leave a sticky residue, especially when new.

Here's where I hit a snag.
When the small detail pieces were glued on I did touch some liquid plastic glue on the sides. Not completely around the edges but just here and there.
The liquid glue almost disappears - but when paint was sprayed on those glue coat areas wrinkled the paint.
I had to go back and lightly sand. Spray and sand again. With each coat of sanded aluminum the wrinkles got smaller and smaller.
Aluminum spray paint is usually easy. It goes on smooth and quickly dries.

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Day In The Life - Full Time Rocketry

A lot of hobbyists dream of starting their own model rocket company. Here's a typical days activity here at Odd'l Rockets.
The morning starts with emails. I'll answer building questions and send out decal and carded model PDFs. Other days there could be orders for parts and supplies.

Most of the day was spent KIT BAGGING! 
Body tubes are cut to size and instructions are printed.
The picture shows a small part of the largest kit and accessory order I've ever received from Apogee. There are 15 Birdie kits in that bag! I've still got to make up Little Green Men and Pigasus kits, blast deflectors, parachutes and flame resistant shock cord.

Along with blog builds there are custom builds for clients.
This is an Estes Patriot with a 24mm engine mount, 3/16" launch lug and payload section.

Work continued on new products. There was some decal re-draws today.
On the right is the first draft decals for the F-104 Starfighter kit from Odd'l Rockets. It never fails, you think you've got decals right but after a few prototype builds there is always revisions.

I did some carving today.
The wing tanks for the F-104 were too small on the first prototype, shown on the left.
The scale size is shown in the center. At 1/2 inch in diameter they are too heavy, the model would then require nose weight.
On the right is a good compromise at 7/16" diameter. A little shorter than scale but workable.

Another custom build arrived. The new Shrockets Skonk Wulf will be an upcoming blog build.

The engine mount has already been assembled. The fins are cut out and filled. The body tube spirals are filled.
Tomorrow the filler/primer will be sprayed and sanded.

Last night I wrote another article for the Apogee Peak Of Flight newsletter after getting approval to proceed. That doesn't mean it will get published - Fingers crossed!

To make a living in model rocketry you work with many small income streams. Custom builds, graphic arts production for kit instructions, finished models auctioned on Ebay, articles, kits, consulting and blog advertising. It is rewarding but still a business.

So there's a typical day, most of it spent at home building, bagging and designing model rockets. You should see my living room. Boxes of parts on the floor, two models being built on the kitchen table. How do I get away with it? I'm divorced and not dating right now.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Estes Nemesis #2175 Build, Part 1, Parts

While I wait for the paint to dry on the Little Joe II (I don't want to spray anything over the detailed wrap until I am sure) I'll start another build -

This model was a gift, sent along with a custom build for a client.
An interesting "Futuristic Spaceship" introduced in 1990.

Estes gave two different suggested paint schemes, the more reserved white and the "Go Wild" yellow and blue. Frankly, the Go Wild decor is pretty ugly.

On the back of the face card you could WIN ROCKET STUFF in a rocket decoration and naming contest. This reminded me of coloring contests I'd see when I was a kid.

It was a quarterly contest where you could win a $100 merchandise certificate. There is no expiration date - Who knows, the contest might still be running. (But I doubt it.)

Here's all the parts.
The model is BT-50 based and the tube is very clean with small seams.
The balsa is die-cut, the cuts aren't all the way through the 3/32" balsa.

Parts of interest:
The canopy nose cone seam is really rough. These molds should have been replaced before this kit was made.
This was one of the few Estes kits I've seen with an elastic shock cord. It's 1/8" x 18" long.
Stickers! I hate stickers.

Card Stock Fix TIP

I glued together the "fins" on the Flying Porta Pad with a glue stick. After the first flight one of the glue surfaces started to lift.

Before I'd squirt a drop of glue in the opening and try to spread it out with a knife blade.
This time I ran a line of glue down the edge of a scrap piece of card stock. The glued edge was slipped into the gap. Moving the card stock back and forth I was able to get a more even glue coat inside.
The sides were held with long tweezers until it set up.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Burst or Video for Launches?

Here's the camera I use for my blog and launch pictures, the Canon ES280 HS. I like this camera and I'm getting better at using it. But - I'm not making any recommendations to anyone looking for a new camera.

Here's a recent comment from BAR Geezer - 
"I remember once you mentioned that you use "burst" mode on your camera at the moment of launch. Have you tried shooting a video instead, and using a screenshot capture? That way you don't have to worry about missing the takeoff.
I use a free program called VLC Media Player. It has an option called "Take Snapshot" which saves a picture file of a video freeze frame. Got pretty good results from my cheap cell phone camera. With a 32GB SD card you can take hundreds of videos before the card fills up."

Thanks BAR, sounded like something I should try.
At the recent N.E.F.A.R. launch I recorded a few launches using the video record on the camera. I downloaded the VLC Media Player and found the screen capture function. I compared some burst and screen capture pictures.
The results were a little better using the burst feature on the camera. This camera takes seven pictures in a half second in the burst mode. Right at ignition everything is sharp but by the time the launch rod is cleared it's still a blur. 
I press and hold the shutter button when the first hiss of the engine ignition is heard, sometimes I miss the shot. It's more difficult when the RSO is pressing the launch button.
I was interested in trying the video mode and another camera could give better results. With this camera the resolution turned out sharper in the burst mode. Still a good thing to test and I found a good free video player! 

I have to be honest - When somebody posts launch videos on the forums or Facebook I don't normally watch them. After the rocket clears the launcher you can't find it in the sky and I won't follow a tiny speck of a parachute until touchdown. Launches (like marching bands) are always better in person.

Estes Apollo Little Joe II Build, Part 39, Main Body Shock Cord Anchor

I'm not painting the lower half of the body for a few more days. I want to be sure the paint is fully dry. This paint drying delay has thrown off my posting schedule - hang in there!
The paint feel dry to the touch, for now I can glue in the shock cord anchor.

I went back to the original Centuri instructions to mount the shock cord. I don't like attaching a rubber shock cord to the engine mount, too close to the ejection charge.

In larger body tubes I had always liked this Centuri method, the simplicity of using a split piece of body tube to anchor the shock cord.
I cut a 1" long section from some scrap Quest 50mm tubing. The tube split was cut with scissors. The body tube piece in the Centuri illustration looks to be about 3/8" tall.

Directly opposite the cut split a 1/4" wide elastic was tied on using a Duncan Uni Knot. Centuri had you attach the shock cord with narrow strips of tape.

This body tube strip was much narrower than the diameter of the Little Joe II. It was gently bent to make the it fit the inside of the tube.
The glasseine was roughed up with 220 grit sandpaper. It was glued in, far enough down not to interfere with the shoulder of the command module.