Monday, September 29, 2008

Meet the Fleet! Part 4: The future

Despite having 18 flying rockets, all but 5 of them flown, I'm always on the lookout for more. My current projects, in order of probability of actually occurring
  • The SpaceShip1, a 1:30 scale model of the Scale Composites / Virgin Galactic suborbital spacecraft. The real thing looks like this (free use image from Wikipedia):

    It's an 18-mm motor rocket that apparently often glides after the motor cuts out. It is currently built, but not painted. I hope to fly it at CATO 142 in october.

  • A 2-stage micromaxx rocket. Nothing fancy, just an old pen and some balsa.

  • The Flaming Hat of Death, as described here. Basically, Take a wide-brimmed hat and stick a big, loud, smoky motor in it. Make the motor removable so it's wearable.

  • A model of Serenity, a wierd-looking sci-fi ship. It'll be tough to build. The two side pods will house booster engines, with the main engine inside the body. It'll have to have clear plastic fins to be stable.

  • The Orion shuttle from 2001. I may convert a plastic model to fly.

  • An 18mm machbuster, kitbashed from a Wizard kit. I might need stronger balsa, though.

  • A 24mm Machbuster, for using bigger motors. Unlike the 18mm Machbuster, there are commercial kits that can do this.

  • A tube-fin, egg-lofting, paper-towel-roll-made, clustered motor freak. I have most of the needed parts.

I have 3 MMX rockets, 3 mini motor rockets, 12 18mm rockets, 1 tracking capsule, and 1 18mm booster. I have 6 scratch-built birds plus the booster, 1 built from 1966 plans, 1 heavily modified from a kit, and 10 kit rockets plus the capsule. I have 2 scale models, 1 staged rocket, and 4 finless rockets.
By the way, I joined the NAR (National Association of Rocketry) yesterday. This makes it easier for me to buy high-powered motors and allows me to attend NAR meets, plus gets me a subscription to Sport Rocketry magazine.

Screw IE.

Once again, another of Microsloth's pieces of crapware has failed me. For some reason, Internet Explorer has refused to shut down without me using Control-Alt-Delete. It's been going on for two days now and it's really annoying. Just for reference, the error type is AppHangXProcB1. I traced in back to an ActiveX Control called Show Norton Toolbar. If I disable it, Norton says my phishing protection won't work. If I enable it, IE won't close.
So, for the time being, I've decided to go with Google Chrome. It's fast, open-source, secure, and doesn't conflict with Norton. Yay google!

Launch Report: 29/9/2008

During the one bit of clear sky in four days of rain, I went out and launched a couple of my Micromaxx birds in my front yard. It was a pain getting the igniters to stay in the motor long enough to light the motor, but it was fun.
  • The flying saucerish thing flew first. It launched about 60 feet up, surprisingly high for the amount of drag, then fell softly down. Perfect.

  • Next came the hummingbird, my micro boost glider. It launched about 30 feet over the crabapple tree and fell in the street after the glider hook broke off. I will launch it again with a better pylon.

  • Finally came my pen rocket. After the igniter fell out 5 times, It launched straight up and out of sight on the last try. A few seconds after ejection, The main body came in fast, but no damage. the ejection charge had fried the shock cord, so the nose cone will have to be replaced. Oh well.

Just for reference, a MMX motor is a 1/8A.22-1 .
oops, gotta get to school. Grrr.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Quick News

Headlines from the various corners of my brain today:
  • Association cortex and temporal lobes - I have decided not to go through with confirmation this year. I feel at best a tenuous connection with the church and my doubts are getting stronger, so I'm basically fully an athiest now.

  • Visual cortex - I have finished the major contstruction work on my SpaceShipOne model. The 8-part balsa wing-fins took a lot of work. Pictures to come when I figure out how to link to files on my computer using HTML.

  • I figured out how to make the altitude tracking capsule on the MaxTrak work. First, I replaced the 1.5V battery with a 3V battery so the display was readable. Next, I crimped the spring cannister inside so the ground detection spring was more likely to activate. Then, I put a small streamer on it to stabalize its descent. I will try it soon on the body of my Cosmic Cobra.

  • My dad is currently stuck in DC cause his plane was grounded due to a computer problem. He was supposed to be back at 12, but now it looks like he'll have to take a flight to Boston.. grr.

  • My frog is perfectly hidden in an almost empty fishtank. He managed to crawl into a quarter-inch gap between a plastic plant and the gravel. It took me almost five minutes to find him. I guess he just vonts to be let alone.

  • I wanted to make something called a Magnetic Apogee Detector to deploy my parachute on certain rockets, but I'm notpaying 26 bucks for the magnetic switch. Oh well.

That's all!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Meet the Fleet! Part 3: The Freaks

I like odd-rocs. In other words, if it was not originally intended to fly, then I fly it.
  • A camera: The Astrocam is a kit that has gone through several incarnations. The first camera was flown aboard a model rocket in 1962. I have flown this rocket several times and I intend to fly it more soon so I can finally develop the film.
  • A cylinder. Cylinders are not normally stable, but by adding nose weight I have made a stable Rama. I am currently rebuilding the motor mount after a mishap.
  • A flying-saucerish thing. Formed from 2 leftover nose cones bits and 1.2" of an old pen, it's still unnamed. It flies on Micromaxx motors.
  • A finless rocket. My screaming yellow zonker is a two-stage rocket that has a canted fin on the booster stage so it will spin, and the top stage is spin-stabilized.
  • Umm...A little assembly with a nose cone, tiny fins, and a motor holder with a stick fin for stability. The Cohete is kinda hard to describe. It flies. Barely.
  • The altitude tracking capsule from an Estes Altitrak. It doesn't work well, but it was a gift from the rocket gods that i found in the woods, so I'm not complaining.
  • A booster stage, built when I had a different machbuster rocket.

Meet the fleet! Part 2

And now, for my gliders.
  • The first glider I built still flies. It's a basic glider from several years ago with a roughly 5:1 glide ratio. The pop pod is made from 8" of BT-50 from my shortened Mongoose, an old NC-50, and the motor mount from a Totally Tubular kit I scavenged for parts. Sorry, no pics.

  • The first kit glider I built was my Transwing. I have not flown this rocket yet.

  • My swing wing transport, described in a previous post. I have not flown this rocket.

  • The Astron invader, my 2/3 downscale of a 1960s kit. It is a 6-inch, slightly bent balsa circle with an engine pod on pylons and 2 fins. I have not yet flown this rocket.

  • The hummingbird: a boost glider designed for micromaxx motors, which are 1/4" diameter by 1" long. I plan to paint the glider like a ruby-throated hummingbird, which is about the same size.The pod is designed to allow different gliders of the same size.

That's all, folks.

Friday, September 26, 2008

History Day!!!!

Today, Sept. 27, is the 271st day of the year. In history:
1590: Pope Urban VIII dies after being pope for all of 13 days, the shortest papal reign in history.
1777: Lancaster, PA, is the US capitol for one day.
1821: Mexico wins its independence from Spain.
1905: Einstein's E=mc2 formula is published for the first time.
1941: The first Liberty Ship is launched.
1956: Minburn G. Apt becomes the first man to Mach 3 in the Bell X-2, then loses his life when it crashes.
1894: The Red Baron's brother, also a fighter ace, is born.
1918: Martin Ryle, pioneering radio astronomer, is born.
1919: Johnny Pesky of Pesky's pole is born.
1993: Jimy Doolittle, aviation pioneer and first leader of Doolittle's raid on Japan goes to the great aircraft carrier in the sky.
Today is World Tourism Day.

Skinny white guys who play with baseballs

**SIGGGHHHHH** just to acommadate mandachan...

Interesting... he gets 991,000 google results and 993k in images - almost exactly the same.

Funny looks on his face.

Funny look again.

Dan Haren: pitcher or pothead? you decide.

Chris Wells is back. I feel sorry for the minnesota defense.


Meet the fleet! Part 1

For anyone out there who looks at this blog are cares about anything but baseball, I now am presenting a complete rundown of my rockets. This is part 1: The normal ones.
  • First, my original rocket, the Cosmic Cobra. Easy to build, but with cool forward-swept fins and a nose cone that spins down. Yay!

  • The Wizard, my second rocket. It's a real small bird that I gave a unique paint job to - Red nose cone, Yellow body fading to blue, and gold fin tips. One fin is currently plain balsa after being replaced, and the nose cone is a replacement for the original I found in the woods.

  • The Gauchito is a scale model of one of the X-prize contender. It uses mini motors and since it is fat and draggy, it ejects about 10 feet off the ground on the way down.

  • The Jinx. It's a little plastic mini-motor rocket whose origins I can't remember. It flies alright, nothing special.

  • The pen rocket - actually made from a real Bic pen. I have not yet flown this rocket.

  • The Kosmonaut Alexi Leonov - my name for an Estes Warp II. It's a 2-stage model with a payload tube that I built at Space Camp. I probably gave some poor FAA agent a heart attack when they opened my suitcase to see a rocket inside. It's perfectly legal since I didn't have a motor installed in it. It survived the baggage monkeys with nothing more than a few broken-off, easily repairable fins. It's flown once, my first sucessful 2-stage flight. There's a picture with the review here

  • The 3M - Modified Mongoose Machbuster. It's an Estes Mongoose, shortened by 8 inches after a crimp in the tube, so it's stubbier than the pic. It's a two-stage rocket, but I've only flown it as a single stage. With a C6-0 in the booster and a D21-7 in the sustainer, it should hit Mach 1 at around 1500 feet, then go to almost a mile. Yay sonic booms from cardboard tubes!

    Update - composite motors like the D21 can't be used as upper stage motors without electronics, so unless I get my hands on an E25 it'll be only a subsonic bird.

  • The Bullpuppy - my scale model of the Bullpup 12D missile. I got the nasty scar on my left thumb while cutting the tail cone. Surprisingly, the body tube glides in a weird way called backsliding. I discovered this by accident when the nose seperated and took the parachute with it. It's a great little rocket; I've flown it 2 or 3 times.

there you go. Nine kinda boring rockets, all but one flown. yay.


On Tuesday night, I finally decided to bring my shiny new telescope out for a look. The double-double star was cool, the double cluster was cool, but I inadvertantly saved the best for last. On a whim before I went in, I turned the scope to the ring nebula. I couldn't see it in the tiny scope I had been using, so it was a shock to see a little fuzzy ring in space.
It looked like this:

That got me thinking. It was like looking back in time - The light I saw left the nebula 2300 years ago, and into the future, as this is what the sun will look like in 5 billion years. Kinda cool.

An explanation of planetary nebulae is here.
Automatic jaw-dropping is here.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The NAR number code for model rocket motors, in words of 6 letters or less

So all model rocket motors have a funny code on them like A8-3 or B6-4. This code tells you the total amount of energy in the motor, the mean amount of force it makes, and the delay time between when the motor burns out and it pops the nose cone off so the rocket comes down safely.
  • The first letter is the total amount of energy in the motor. Here a unit called the Newton-second (Ns) is used. 4.45 Ns = 1 Lbs (pound-second). So, an "A" motor has 1.25 to 2.5Ns in it. Not a lot, but it can send a rocket dozens of feet up. A "B" motor has up to 5Ns, a "C" 10Ns, etc. A "1/2A" has up to 1.25Ns.

  • The second figure, a number, is the mean thrust in N. For example, a B6 motor puts out 6 N, more or less. You can then figure out the burn time: B(10Ns) / 6 = 1.7s.

  • The last number is the delay time, from when the motor burns out until when the charge fires that pops the nose cone off and opens the 'chute and allows you to get and fly your rocket again. So, a D21-7, which I will use in my "3M" rocket to send it to the speed of sound, has 20Ns total energy, 21N mean thrust, and a 7-sec delay. Easy, huh?

This short word idea for a hard idea is not mine; it comes from here.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Rockets update

So, I went out and flew a couple of rockets today, including a couple of untested birds:
  • Wizard: It's a real little rocket, no more than 10" long. I've flown it a couple of times before and this was no exception. It went about 300 feet on an A8-3 and landed safely, but it broke the tip off one fin. Nothing a little wood glue can't fix.

  • Cohete poquito: This little freak is basically a carved out dowel that holds a 13mm-diameter mini motor. A nose cone, launch lug, and a long thin dowel for stability are attached. It looks like a fireworks rocket. It flew well but mostly sideways on an A3-4T.

  • A boost glider. Nothing special, but I've been waiting forever to fly it. It angled a lot into the wind, but it's just something else to see a glider looping in the sky at sunset.

  • Rama, the cylindrical rocket, failed. When I tried to put the motor in, the engine mount crumpled.

  • 3M - Modified Mongoone Machbuster. Basically an Estes Mongoose 2-stage rocket shortened by 8 inches after an unfortunate encounter with the ground. (The extra tubing lives on as the body of the boost glider's pop pod)The bboster stage's motor moun and the upper stage launch lug failed simultaneously.

Despite the failures, it was a great launch.

I also bought 19 motors today:
6 Micromaxx (1/8A-1)
4 A3-4T
3 A8-3
3 B6-4
3 C6-0
Also, I got a SpaceShipOne scale model from Michaels for 11 bucks, so my next project is ahead of me. That and a clone of the Astron Invader - a UFO-shaped boost glider.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Unguided high-speed projectiles!!

Yaaaaay model rockets.
I just realized that I haven't posted in two weeks, such a bad boy I am.
So I've been building and flying a bunch of model rockets lately. I figured my faithful readers, all two of them, needed a little introduction.
The basic model looks like this. 3 fins and a nose cone, nothing special.

The motor burns for a second or two, lets the rocket coast for 4 or 5 seconds, then pops the parachute out with an ejection charge. The flight looks like this, but a lot higher.

The second image is from a good intro to model rocketry here.
I, however, like crazy rockets. I have this 'Transwing', which lofts a gilder 300 feet up:

and this scissor-wing gilder:

both of which are commercial kits. I am building some truly crazy rockets, like a FINLESS model of Rama:

i am building the cylinder, not the cool looking spaceship. In the novel, Rama is an alien ship 50km long by 20 in diameter. Mine is about a 1:2,000,000 scale model. Normally, finless model rockets are dangerously unstable, but by using a weighted front end it still should be stable.
My next highly experimental bird is a boost glider that looks something like this, but not as good-looking. The glider flies really well, though.

Then comes a really weird one. It's a two staged rocket, where the first motor ignites the second one after liftoff. Again, the top part has no fins, but this time because I have the booster motor spinning to stabalize the rocket. It's a slightly smaller version of the bird shown here.

And finally, I am building a rocket out of a standard size pen. A 6mm-wide micromaxx motor will launch it on 60 feet up. Sorta like this:

Okay, end of insane non-dangerous pyromania. for now.