Saturday, October 31, 2009


Because for some reason, getting all dressed up just to hang out with friends is always worth it. We hung out, ate food, ate candy, and went MST3K on two movies. The first was Get Smart, which was very funny and absolutely awesome. The second was The Mummy, which wasn't quite as good but still definitely worth the time, especially when spent with awesome funny friends and a kick-ass (literally!) girlfriend.

Appropriately enough for Halloween, strange things happened. I got comments on my looks for the first time ever (apparently a black fedora and aviators look good on me), and I had to remove a very confused salamander from my basement when I went down there after the party.

The pyramid is effectively finished - All that's left is painting (maybe) and drilling the launch lug hole.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ninjitsu, I has it

Since I'm actually going to a Halloween party for the first time in my life (hooray crazy friends!) I'm dressing up as a ninja. That means black pants, shirt, and tie; black ninja mask, black combat-style steel-toed boots, and weaponry. I'm working on ninja stars, but I already have a sword.

It's a fake katana with a 28" blade. I made it by taping two 36" x 1" window blinds together. I made a curved tip by cutting the material, reinforced it with wooden dowels taped together, and made a grip with masking and electrical tape. I painted the blade grey, and the widest part at the hilt gold, and the handle is black electrical tape.

I also made a scabbard out of wooden crown molding and masking tape. It slides onto my belt. Ninja pictures coming tomorrow.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Band Concert!

Which means you don't get much of a post today, except me saying that I hate Reimann sums, and that the pyramid is going pretty well.

Also, the depressing facts that my US History book has no more than three paragraphs, in three places, about Apollo, and no pictures; and that I'm pretty horrible at drawing people like mandachan.

And that I'm such a nerd that a post on Bayourat Rocketry made me think of an article on the same topic which I read 5 months ago. And then promptly commented on.

A New Era Begins

Ares 1-X
Height: 322 ft
Liftoff Weight: 1800000 lb

At roughly 800000 pounds of APCP, at typical White Lightning energy density of ~400 Ns per pounds, that's roughly 320 000 000 Ns, or somewhere in the high AB to low AC impulse range.

This represents one of the first major steps back to the moon. Congratulations to NASA for a picture-perfect launch.

By the time the first second-generation lunar landings come in 2019 or 2020, I will be out of grad school, hopefully with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. I could be there.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mandachan being awesome.

First, she's got yet another weekly update up on Drowning in Turtles. Her artwork just gets better and better. I wish I could draw like that, but my artistic ability is apparently limited to technical drawings.

Second, she has an awesome idea - doing a Questionable Content Music Tour. She'll listen to every band and artist mentioned in QC and blog about the music. That's an epic tour of indie rock, spanning over 1500 comics and perhaps 250 artists and bands. And she's even embedding youtube videos for your listening pleasure. The official announcement is here. I encourage you all to go take a look - it's pretty awesome!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mach Goon

Here's a pretty crappy Paint rendition of the guts of the planned Mach Goon. The blue is the nose cone, which has a nose weight, eye hook, streamer, shock cord (kevlar), and kevlar heat shield inside it. The red with grey closures is the Aerotech 38/240 reload case. (The Cesaroni Pro38-2G casing is 1.17" longer and thus would not fit).


I don't have any 38/240 motors in TIRASP (to be corrected tomorrow), but on 29/240 motors, it simulated to Mach 1.3 and around 5000 to 8000 feet. Awesome performance for a Goony, and yet still plausible to recover if I put enough tracking powder in.

Since the recovery system is stored inside the hollow nose cone, almost the entire 7.5" long body tube can be used to hold the motor, which is 5.7" long not including the closures. Retention would simply be a few wraps of making tape. The ejection charge would be perhaps 1/10 of the supplied charge to simplify retention and recovery system needs; the remainder of the charge holder space would hold extra tracking powder.

I'm planning to buy 3 Baby Berthas soon with a motor order. One will be the Nike Goon, a second the Mach Goon, and the third yet unknown. It'll fly within a few months on a measly B6-4 for a test flight, and then on an H242T reload at NERRF.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

My Goonies

The Cloud Hopper:

The Pigasus:

All three together:

Besides the Nike Goon, I've got a few other Goony ideas bouncing around, including a Scissor-Wing Goon and one with a 5.5" long 38mm motor mount - just enough for a 38/240 case that could send it to Mach.

These are awesome felt cases that my mom made and painted for me. They protect my valuable hardware and make it easier to find.
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Pyramid Pictures and more!

Only a little bit is actually glued, but here's it taped together in an actual pyramid shape:
The 12" rulers are for scale.

The underside, showing the hole for the motor mount, plus the motor mount, mount tube, and 30" chute:

The 2" mailing tube that's destined for the pumpkin lofter, plus an end cap and 7 2" rings:

The partially assembled 1:48 SR-71:
The picture makes it look much more assembled than it really is. The front section and side pods are assmbled; the rest still needs gluing together.

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Aerotech 38mm spacers, 5 new reloads Certified!

Today Aerotech announced the certifcation of some cool stuff by Tripoli Motor Testing.

The first is the 38mm spacer system. No surprises there.

The next is the N3300R-P. It's a huge Redline with 14041 Ns total impulse for the 98/15360 hardware. The reload alone costs $798.99 !!! Thrust Curve

The next two are Karl E. Baumann signature motors. They use a version of Blue Thunder propellant that's got an Isp (specific impulse) of 224 seconds, one of the highest ever tested. There's the M1780NT for the 75/5120 casing (3.1s, 5783 Ns) and the M1845NT for the 98/7680 (4.4s, 8308 Ns). The NT indicates the modified Blue Thunder propellant. Prices are $239.99 for the M1780NT and $428.99 for the M1845NT. M1780NT thrust curve; M1845NT thrust curve

Next is the J99N, which I blogged about last month as being an in-testing motor. It's for the 54/852 case, not the 1280 Ns case as previously reported. It's got 945 Ns total impulse over a burn time of 10.3 seconds. It requires the use of a new 54mm aft closure that accomodates 29mm and 38mm nozzles ($39.99) and a forward bulkhead plug ($19.99). The new closure will be used soon on more new and redesigned 54mm reloads. Suggested price is $79.99; thrust curve here and assembly drawing here.

Finally comes a completely new motor case: the 38/1320 case. It's 23" long and designed to hold 11 grains; it'll retail for $89.99. There's also a new reload for it - the J510W. It's got 1162 Ns impulse and a burn time of 2.2 seconds; it strangely uses 6 long fuel grains in the 11 grain case. Suggested retail price is $79.99. thrust curve

I like these. 5 new HPR reloads, including a huge Redline, three high-impulse-blend motors, and a completely new motor case, closure, and spacer system, all released in one day. Props to Gary Rosenfield and the rest of the Aerotech team.

On Rocketry Planet


Sunday, October 25, 2009


Too tired to do a legit post.

I had an awesome time in Columbus. I love the city, and the Buckeyes kicked ass. I learned how to properly eat buffalo wings (hint: forget manners and cleanliness, and chow down!). We met up woth my dad's cousin, who he hadn't seen in 16 years. The cousin is a Civil War buff and had some impressive artifacts, including an officer's sword in very good condition, and a pistol from the time period which must have weighed 5 pounds!

Overall, an awesome time, and regular blogging resumes tomorrow with updates on construction and stuff like that.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Thoughts on small composite motors

I know, I have lots of these 'thoughts on...' posts. I guess I just tend to have thoughts on a number of subjects in rocketry. This is somewhat of a filler while I'm on vacation.

While pondering the new Aerotech E20W during a few slow moments in history on Thursday, it occured to me that the E20, while certainly a great new motor, is not what I really wanted. Although it offers a few advantages over the E15, including higher thrust, the new molded case, and the FirstFire Jr. igniters, as well as the Econojet-style 2-motor packaging with a slightly lower price, it's not a huge paradigm shift over the E15. We already had 3 E motors with White Lightning propellant - the 24mm SU E15, the 24mm RMS E18, and the 29mm RMS E16. We didn't really need another 24mm SU motor.

All 6 Aerotech D motors (ignoring the rarely-used 24/20-40 and 32/60-100 cases for RC gliders), are either White Lightning or Blue Thunder. There's only one other propellant in the E size - the 24mm RMS E11J Black Jack, which doesn't even have enough thrust for a lot of models. F motors add the F12J, F22J and F23FJ (Fast Black Jack / Black Max) motors, but the only extra propellant in that range is the F27R Redline Econojet, which unfortunately is neither a 24mm nor reloadable. Only in the G range do we got more Redlines (G71R, G77R, G67R), Mojave Green (G76G, G78G), and Warp Nine (G339N and G69N; both, unfortunately, are 38mm motors), as well as the Cesaroni G69SK Skidmark.

What I would really like to see is some smaller motors with the more interesting propellants. Gary Rosenfield has stated that G motors are as small as they'll likely ever make Mojave Green propellants, and Warp Nine loads require some electronic deployment device as they can't use delay grains and ejection charges. That leaves, mostly, Redlines, which are okay with me, as I love the laser-red flame and loud roar. I'd like to see some smaller Redlines, at very least something like an F30R load for the 29/40-120 hobby case or 24/40 case, but preferrably a 24mm E Redline, either single-use (SU) or for the 24/40 motor case. I'd also like to see a smaller smoky motor; either a Black Jack (J) D load for the 18/20 or 24/40 cases, or even better an E-size Fast Black Jack load.

The ideal, of course, would be an 18mm Redline. All the awesomeness, in a tiny package!

However wonderful these conjectures would be if realized, I am still enormously happy with the variety of composite motors available in small sizes. Just a decade or two ago, the only D and E motors available were clunky blackpowder, and compositie motors were expensive, and mostly limited to white, black, and clear blue formulations. Today, you can buy composite motors from the D10W up through 150mm O motors, in almost a dozen different formulations. Even better, Aerotech has shown their devotion to us mid-power folks by introducing 2 new 24mm motors - the E20W and F32T - in under a year, improving the G80T, and introducing Mojave Green motors including the G76G and G78G. That's worthy of praise.

I hope you enjoyed this random tangent while I'm enjoying some FOOTBALL. I'll be back tomorrow with your regularly scheduled random daily geeky content.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I'm leaving today for a weekend in Ohio. I'll be flying this afternoon to Columbus, eating delicious food at BC Rooster's, watching the OSU Marching Band (The Best Damn Band In The Land) perform at the Skull Session, and of course, watch the Buckeyes kick some Minnesota ass. I'll be away from a computer from now morning until sometime sunday. Not to worry - I have a post automatically set to go up Saturday at noon for your enjoyment, and I'll be back Sunday.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I am a Bloody Idiot.


Yesterday, as I was cutting a bevel into a piece of plywood for the 29mm Pyramid, the exacto slipped, and of course managed to plunge itself into my left index finger. It didn't go too deep, and the cut is only about a quarter-inch long, but it bled pretty well for several minutes.

It's not the first time. I have a 1/2" long scar on my left thumb knuckle from cutting the tailcone on the Bullpup, a nick in the webbing between my left thumb and index finger from slipping while repairing the Transwing, and a small scar on my left thumb from who knows what. Plus numerous dents in my forehead from tripping, a dented chin from falling off my bed at age 3, a possibly broken wrist from last year, a burn on my left wrist from a campfire years ago, and a nice scar on my leg.

Strangely enough, I managed to keep my cool. I dropped the knife, grabbed the finger to slow the bleeding, and raced upstairs to the nearest parent. When I get injured, I seem to have several seconds or minutes of calm before panic and pain sets in. When I smashed my wrist, I managed to walk a quarter mile uphill before falling in a heap on the couch. When I scratched my leg on coral, I navigated a tricky rock ledge to get to the safety of a lagoon. When I burned my thumb on a soldering iron, I had the presence of mind to unplug it, put it on its stand, and drag my cousin upstairs while I got an icepack.

Then, today, I double-jammed and strained my right thumb. At least neither is essential for playing the trumpet.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Aerotech E20W revealed!

As posted On their web site and on Facebook, where I found out about it, Aerotech has a new motor out: the E20W. It's a 24mm motor, the same size as Estes C11 and D12 and Aerotech E15 and E30 and 24/40 RMS at 70mm (2.75") long.

Vital Stats:
Impulse: 36 Ns
Burn time: 1.7s
Peak Thrust: 35.6 N
Delays: 4,7
Loaded weight: 49g
Propellant mass: 16.2g
Isp: 233 seconds
Grains: C-slot

It's the same molded one-piece phenolic casing as the F32T and G80T, with the built-in thrust ring and yellow delay holder. It comes in a two-pack, with 2 First Fire Jr. leaded igniters (hooray!), from $19.99. Certification is expected with 2 weeks or so, and shipments to retailer will be with a month.

A promotional flier is here and includes a time-thrust curve.

I'm not sure if it's intended to replace the E15W, or just complement it, but I like it. It's a better design with the new casing, and it's a perfect match for my Nike-Apache. I'll prolly order a 2-pack of E20-4Ws by the end of the year.

Interestingly, available from the same section of their website are thrust curves for two unreleased motors that might come soon: a 54/2560 K375NW Boost-sustain, and a D3-10T with a 5.4 second burn, prolly a single-use motor as no casing is mentioned. I hope they're released soon!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thoughts on American Rocketry

Note: this was typed up on tuesday, but my internet connection asploded, so it's actually getting put up wednesday. Oh well.

While doing research yesterday on international model rocket motors, something occured to me. Although the United States is one of the most technologically advanced nations, and has a higher population than anyone except India (which is almost absent from the rocketry scene) and China, we are fairly low ranking in international competition, and regularly beat out by China and a variety of tiny Eastern European nations. There are a few US fliers like George Gassoway who are up there, but the US always overmatched, especially in stuff like scale modeling and innovative designs.

Why is this? I don't think it's necessarily because folks here have inferior education or skills, or that there's not enough rocketeers. I think it's mostly a consequence of high-power rocketry. Rocketeers, by nature, are a type a bunch that will always tackle the coolest and hardest problems out there. When you can get H loads for 20 bucks, and with a L3 certification you can fly up to O motors, HPR is clearly the way to go for the most fun. Rocketeers here are working on such crazy stuff as extreme altitude records, hitting space, exotic new propellants, and pushing the upper limits of amateur rocketry.

In places like Europe and China, high power motors are pretty much unavailable. They're lucky if they can get their hands on C and D motors at best. So, they devote their attention to other cool projects, like competition rocketry and scale modeling. Competition is mostly held with the small motors, and the rest of the world has better small motors - smaller sizes and such - so they get better practice, and heck, if all I had was 10-packs of B3s, I might learn to make some pretty high-flying stuff as well.

With scale competition, it's the same deal, plus that since they're forced to build smaller models, they get real good real quick at building highly detailed small models, which translates into absolutely perfect models. They've got years to devote to a few small models for world competition; most Americans want a selection that they can fly at local and regional launches every month or two.

So, is there any way to get back on top of scale and competition rocketry? Perhaps. There still are dedicated LPR folks like Trip Barber and George Gassoway who build amazing scale and competition models. But for me, I'll take big rockets any day of the week, and twice on Sunday. **clears throat** I love the smell of APCP in the morning. Smells like ... victory...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Coming Soon: The Nike Goon


To be made from a Baby Bertha kit. I love Goonies - an 8-dollar baby Bertha kit and some scrap balsa (and imagination) is all you need to make a rocket that flies on anything from an A8 to Cs and Ds, and that can handle 24mm motors if you change the mount.
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Plastic cement

Is not good for me. I spent about 40 minutes working with it in my unventilated basement building my SR-71 model. When I came up afterwards, I was shaky and clumsy, and my eyes were very dilated. I was still able to chat with a friend on the computer, but it wasn't easy. At my mom's suggestion, I rode my bike for a few minutes, and that certainly helped.

From now on I'll have the door open and only do a little at a time.

Unfortunately, I didn't have any time to work on rockets today because of homework. I did, however, do more simulations of my rockets on my calculator. Soon I'll have sim charts for every rocket I own.

German and Russian and Czech motors, oh my!

A while back I posted about Polish model rocket motors, which included A5, A15, B15, C15, and D15 motors.

Now, while looking at a German kit from Apogee, I got curious about the 25mm German motors mentioned, so I started doing a bit of research. Here's what I found:

A company called Weco seems to make most German rocket motors. (Germans are also about to import Estes and especially Quest motors). Sierra Fox Hobbies has a selection of Weco motors, including:
18mm: A8-3, B4-0 and -4, and C6-0 and -3, plus the well-known C2-P (Held 1000) - an unusual long-burn motor (5 second burn) intended for rocket gliders.
25mm: D7-0 and D7-3

Interestingly, the smaller motors come in 10-packs. 10 A8s are roughly $16.44 (11 €), 10 B4s $19.43 (13 €), and 10 C6s $22.42 (15 €). 3 D7s go for $14.95 (10 €)and apparently one Held 1000 goes for $22.42 (15 €)!

The VRO (Flemish Rocket Organization) has two non-American motors for sale: a D7-3, which they say is 23mm in diameter (and has a 12N average thrust and therefore is equivalent to a D12), and a Russian D10-4 which is 20mm x 85mm.

This page shows the Held 1000 (held translates as 'hero') as having 7Ns total impulse and 1.25N average thrust, plus shows its thrust curve.

Its big brother, the Held 5000 is a baby E8 (25Ns) with a 3-second burn time - very close to the Estes E9.

Finally, from Sierra Fox again, comes the Rapier motors from the Czech Republic. They include a 10-pack of A3-4s (exactly the same as Estes) for $23.91 (16 €), 5 B2-5 (15mm x 50mm) for $18.68 (12.50 €), 10 B3-5 (13mm x 58mm) for $34.38 (23 €).

They also carry a single Jetex motor, which are mini reloadable motors with thrust between 0.05 and 0.3 N and burn times between 5 and 30 seconds, intended for use with model planes. I hence refer you to the Jetex motor page. Interestingly, Jetex motors use Guadinine Nitrate (CH6N4O3), noted for its high (177 seconds) specific impulse and that its combustion produces only gases, not solid residue and smoke like the Ammonium Perchlorate and blackpowder of most model rockt and HPR motors.

Thanks to Sascha Grant for the tipoff to the VRO site.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Basement cleaning

I spent 7 hours today cleaning the basement, about half of that with my parents. We cleaned the entire workshop area, including throwing a bunch of stuff away. (Why do we have 20-year-old shoe polish, and rusty nails? Honestly.) The spray paints are now much easier to access, as is the pencil sharpener, and it's way easier to wipe dust off the workbench and use the bench vise. Best of all, we now have a fluorescent light on the ceiling, thus tripling the light in the room.

Then came the wiring. I was under the workbench looking for something when I noticed the Wires to Nowhere. One, after testing, carried no current, and was simply connected to an unused electrical box, both of which we removed. The second was live (with two bare ends under the workbench that carried the possibility of an electric shock or fire), and was in fact jerry-rigged into an overcrowded electrical box by the previous owner of the house.

Literally while we we looking at it - not even touching it - something shifted and the ungodly mass of wires shorted out, thus tripping the fuse, which threw the workshop and adjacient basement room into darkness, as well as taking the desktop, TV, and internet offline. (Yeah, our house is wired funny.) We dragged a trouble light in and he took off the giant mass of electrical tape, disconnected the Live Wire to Nowhere, and reconencted everything in a much safer bundle of electrical caps.

Finally, we reorganized the shelving unit that holds my rockets as well as other stuff. He freed up one shelf, and by throwing some stuff away and moving other stuff, I freed up another. I used the larger shelf to hold a bunch of electronic stuff that I had on the floor, and the smaller to move my Mozzie (and the rest of the mosquito fleet) off the old desk chair and onto a proper shelf. I took off half the shelf to fit the Mozzie, which also creates a display effect which I rather like.

Dang, I used 'stuff' 4 times in that paragraph. I should not be blogging when I'm this tired.

There was one casualty of the operation: The retired 18mm monocopter was accidentally crushed by a box.

I aquired a new project: a 1/48 scale SR-71 plastic model that I'd forgotten about. I may or may not convert it for flight.

Other current projects:
10" pyramid with a 29mm motor mount: I just need to cut and finish 1 more side, then glue it all together. I found a couple of C-clamps today that'll make that a lot easier.
Pumpkin lofter. Details coming soon.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Jarvis Illustrated Guide to Carbon Fiber

Go read it on Rocketry Planet. Then be amazed at his abilities and be envious of his near-perfect finishes.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Not much here...

Blegh. I didn't really have much time to do much today. Actually, I really won't this weekend. I had school and a marching band performance at the football game tonight, then PSATs, work, and Homecoming tomorrow night.

I'm going to make an order of stuff from Hobbylinc, which is now carrying Aerotech motors again at their usual ridiculously low prices. I'm be buying several packs of small motors, including A10-3s, and B6s with 2 and 6 second delays, plus a few larger motors. Possible larger motors include G53 Fast Black Jack and F40 White Lightning reloads for my 29/40-120 motor case, or a 2-pack of F27 Redlines. I love my reload casing and the cheaper motors, but I also love Redline motors with the bright red laser-beam flame.

My favorite part of marching band: annoying everyone else in the stands with loud music and crazy antics, like the biscutis chant:

Biscuits! Biscuits! We want biscuits! B-I-S-C-U-I-T-S! Biscuits! Biscuits!!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Okay, fine.

At the request of mandachan, and in response to the comments of several readers that they have absolutely no idea what I'm saying, I'm going to try to be a little less... technical and explain things a little better. That means less unneeded technical wording, more background information, and more outside links to people who explain stuff better than I.

That doesn't mean that I'll change the content, just make it better-worded and more accessible. I'll also be going back through some older mosts to make them easier to understand, and so I can backlink to them for explanations.

In any case, if you're confused, then let me know. Commenting is the best way - I'll check it within 12 hours almost guaranteed, and I'll always write a response. They also let other confused people see your message.

If you need to email me, please send mail to [spacescienced13+blog] at google's email service, better known as gmail. You can also use [theege] "at" [rocketmail] dotcom. I'll generally answer anything sent to the first address within 12-24 hours, and the second within a week.

~~~~The EGE

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Yet another reason I hate my History textbook

I really hate my History textbook. I hate that it's extraordinarily anti-communist and willing to rationalize anything done in the name of 'democracy', not matter how atrocious. I hate how it dedicates hundreds of pages to empty parts of history, then barely covers events like World War II.

I hate how they often miss important events. The entire Pacific theater in WWII between Midway and Iwo Jima is missing entirely - almost 3 years of one of the bloodiest wars in history. Meanwhile, it fails to mention the 8th Air Force and its bombing of Europe, or the Luftwaffe, except for 3 sentences on the Tuskegee airmen.

And now, I've found a definite place where the book is absolutely wrong. I states about Francis Gary Powers and his U-2 spyplane: "Four hours after Powers entered Soviet airspace, a Soviet pilot shot down his plane, and..."

This is absolutely untrue. There are 3 possible scenarios, but in none of them was his plane shot down by another plane. In the official version, his plane was shot down by a salvo of 14 SA-2 surface-to-air missiles, one of which also brought down a MiG-19 that was chasing him. In a second version, he was brought down by a second launch of SAMs. In a third, he was attacked by a stripped-down (gunless and armorless) MiG, that either rammed him or broke the U-2's fragile wings with his jet wash.

In none of those possibilites was he shot down by a Soviet pilot. FAIL.

(The book is The Americans by Gerald A. Danzer, et al, and published by McDougall Littell.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Not much to say here. Homework pretty much destroys my life.

I'm playing with an open-source rocketry simulator. More details soon.

Monday, October 12, 2009

AMW Co-owner Paul Robinson passes away

From Rocketry Planet comes the sad news that Paul Robinson, co-owner of Animal Motor Works, has passed away from Pancreatic cancer at 58.

Although he didn't invent the sparky motor (aka Skidmark ™), he was a major force in popularizing it, as well as making it safe enough to earn fire marshall approval. While I've never flown a skidmark myself, I probably will at some point in the fairly near future, and I'll be able to because of his contributions.

He also introduced several propellant mixes to the market, including Green Gorilla and several high-performance white blends, which contributed greatly to the huge variety of motors available today. He also initiated a partnership with Cesaroni, which has helped bring a number of Animal blends including sparkies to the ProX line.

According to the thread on Rocketry Planet, he was a great guy and fun to be around, as well as a great businessman who suceeded in a very competitive industry. His partner at AMW, Robert DeHate, says that he'll certainly continue Robinson's visions and keep AMW going.

He is survived by a sister, Gloria Woodman.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What I've been doing

... for the last 30 hours:

Made delicious homemade applesauce.

Tested out some spray paints that I got for free from a CATO member who recently came into cases and cases of it. I now have new cans of light grey, medium grey, and black, all very high-quality paints.

Added fillets to my Vampire 24mm booster, and made minor repairs to the original 18mm booster from my Comanche-3. I'd lost the booster in the high grass when I flew it in August; it was found by CATO fliers in September. I built a replacement booster but now I have 2. Maybe someday I can fly it on four stages, though prolly only when (and if) the Estes A8-0 boosters get re-released.

Repaired the Nantucket Sound - reglued the fin, and put a layer of wood glue to protect the balsa nose block.

Hang out with friends, including mandachan and Laura of Drowning in Turtles. Happy Birthday, Laura!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Launch Report 34: CATO 154

I went to CATO 154 at Salem today. It stopped raining in time for the launch, and the field was pretty dry, but there was a pretty constant wind of 5-15 mph the entire time.

My first flight was the Twofer on a pair of 1/2A3-4Ts. Despite the predilictions of several CATO members, both motors lit and it flew straight as an arrow to about 200 feet despite the winds. Recovery was on a pair of streamers with no damage.

Second flight was the Nantucket Sound on an F12-3J. On the first two attempts, the Copperhead fired but it didn't ignite the motor. (It was later found that that pad's ignition system wasn't working well). I disassembled the motor, removed the bits of burnt copperhead, installed a new one, ans reassmbled the motor, all without allowing the ejection charge to leak into the main cavity and risk a CATO. That's one disadvantage of these Blackjack motors - the nozzles are very small, especially on the reloads, and so it's hard to change igniters.

On the third try, I moved it to a pad with a working electrical system. It ignited after two chuffs and launched with a roar. It went pretty fast to 400 feet - I love that long-burn (3.1 s) motor - and left a thick black smoke trail. It ejected rather past at around 300 feet, which was okay since it was very windy. It came down a bit fast on the 14" homemade nylon chute and popped off a fin, which I glued back on. The F12-3J makes a very good motor for the Nantucket Sound, and indeed the 24/40 reload case and the rocket make a very good pair.

Next came the Bullpup on a B6-4:

It flew fast and straight to around 300 feet and came down without damage on a 6" nylon chute, also homemade. Slightly... boring.

Last was SpaceshipOne on a C6-3. About 30 feet up, it turned and went nearly sideways:

Fortunately, it was angled up enough to reach about 150 to 200 feet of altitude and eject above ground about 400 feet to the side of the pad. It came down safely on an 11" nylon chute.

The following picture is the exact same as the previous, except with Picasa's 'I'm feeling lucky' tool used.

The colored areas show both the smoke trail and variations in the clouds, both of which are invsible in the original picture.

This last picture is a cropped and zoomed version of the original, showing more detail on SpaceShipOne.

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Statistics: 4 flights on 5 motors for 56.5 Ns (39% F)
Total of 141 flights and 169 motors since 9/29/2008.
Total 1495.9 Ns (16.9% K) since 9/29/2008.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Orbital Glider and Twofer pictures!

Here is the glider from the Orbital Transport, finally finished. After my initial masking job leaked, my mom touched up the red areas, then added the writing and windows. It now looks almost as good as with decals:

The underside:

Here is the Twofer is all of its glory.

And the business end. Note the flattened body tube with the two motor tubes and the balsa blocks, plus of course the two fins!

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SpaceShipTwo and Odyssey pictures!

At @eloh's request, I finally got around to taking pictures of some of my newer rockets.

First is the SpaceShipTwo. This is the top side, with the lettering and DNA of flight hand-drawn by me.

This is the underside, with a massive blue eye that was not easy to draw.

Next is the Odyssey. Here's it standing up against the basement door:

And here's a trippy angle of it. Unfortunately Picasa doesn't let you rotate pictures...

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Tomorrow's Lineup

It's supposed to stop raining overnight and clear up tomorrow, so as of right now CATO 154 is a go. My definite flights:

Twofer: 2x 1/2A3-4T: 220 ft. My first cluster flight; equivalent motor is an A5-4.

Nantucket Sound: F12-3J: 420 ft. My second F flight, and the largest motor I'll have launched here in CT. It'll make a huge thick colum of black smoke.

Mozzie: E18-4W: 780ft. Should be a nice loud flight with lots of white smoke.

Other possible flights:

SpaceShipOne: C6-3: 394 ft. Simulation is to within 6 feet of the altitude listed in the Estes catalog.

Bullpup: B6-4: 330 ft.
C6-5: 690 ft.

Machnum Force: C6-3: 342 ft. Might be too slow off the pad.
D12-3: 1051 ft. Waaay too short delay.
D15-4T: 1011 ft. Delay too short; risk of losing reload casing.

Pigasus: B6-4: 290 ft.
C6-5: 555 ft.

Cohete: A10-3T: I have no idea, since it's well-nigh impossible to simulate.

More coming later.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

38mm L5000!

R2K at High Power Rocketry reports on a 38mm minimum diameter rocket, to fly on an L5000. Yes, you're reading that right. A ridiculously high-thrust L motor, in a 38mm rocket.

It's a 68" long custom-made L motor, made by Binder Design. The motor case serves double duty as the aft airframe. It has an aluminium fin can, made of 1/8" metal and brazed together for strength. The fin can will be used more than once; the motor case will not as it's practically destroyed during firing.

The motor itself is incredible. It hits 3000 psi and burns 2600Ns of APCP is just half a second. The grains them selves are 10" long and vacuum cast to better than 99% of theoretical density - any less would invite a CATO. The nozzle has a huge 3/4" opening. Motors with high length-to-diameter ratios are hard to pull off; the builder, Mike F of Binder Design, has spent 10 years testing the motor design. A previous flight with it broke Mach at 350 feet and went to Mach 2 and 18000 feet - despite losing a fin on the way up!

It's simmed to Mach 3 and 30000+ feet. It'll recover on a small x-form chute; there's a tracker in the nose cone.

Here is the thread on Rocketry Planet, if you dare to read 3 pages of cool stuff, and 10 pages of arguing about ridiculously complicated (and cool) motor designs.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

One of those nights...

Also, one of those days. Crazy weather days. It alternated between calm, light rain, heavy rain, thunder, ridiculously hard rain, and high winds, often several within a minute. Then, during a 30-minute period starting at noon, it went from ferocious rain to sunny and blue skies.

Now, it's one of those great night after a rain. Cool, clear-skies, and a comfortable wind. Absolutely wonderful for going to sleep.

The Phoebe Ring

Yesterday, scientists Anne J. Verbiscer and Michael F. Skrutskie of the University of Virginia and Douglas P. Hamilton of the University of Maryland announced a new ring found around Saturn, currently known as the Phoebe Ring. It's virtually invisible at visible wavelengths, and was discovered with the Spitzer infrared space telescope. It extends from 128 to 218 Saturn radii; this just touches Phoebe's orbit at 207 radii. The ring is thought to have come from micrometeorite impacts on Phoebe. It may also be responsible for the two-tone coloration of Iapetus. Interestingly, the idea of the ring was proposed by Joseph Burns, who also proposed it as a mechanism for Iapetus's coloring.

2009 Nobel Prize in Physics

Yesterday, the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Charles K. Kao, Willard Boyle, and George E. Smith for their work.

Kao won the award for his work with optic fibers. In 1966, he, along with the virtually unknown George Hockham (who doesn't even get his own wiki article), did pioneering work with fiber optics, proving that then-huge attentuation problems were simply due to impurities in the glass fibers, and not a fundamental problem with the technology. He concluded that the fundamental impurity of a pure glass fiber is below 20 dB/km, a fundamental limit in telecommunications. This opened the doorway for glass fibers to replace slower copper lines. Later, he and another team studied the exact properties of a number of glasses, and concluded that the high purity and other desirable chacteristics of fused silica - pure SIO2 - made an excellent candidate for the high-speed fiber that we now count on to deliver high-speed internet and superior quality phone conversations.

He has an asteroid named after him - 3463 Kaokuen.

Boyle and Smith, meanwhile, won the award for their work inventing the Charge-coupled device, the ubitiqious digital sensors used in virtually all digital cameras and digital video devices. CCDs are far more efficient than photographic film (70% vs. 2%) and can be made for a wider bandwidth. They allows continuous electronic imaging, for better video, and autodatically produce digital data for easier sharing and processsing. In additon, they have virtually revolutionized astronomy, and made research within the realm of the amateur.

Both scientists also made other important research discoveries. Boyle helped develop the first continuously operating ruby laser, worked on selection landing sites for the Apollo missions, and worked at Bell labs on ICs during the 1960s. Smith headed the VLSI (very large scale integration) unit at Bell labs, and did research with lasers and semiconductor devices.

All information from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Not much here...

I've got the Orbital Transport glider painted, but the writing on it will come tomorrow. My mom also finished the shroud lines on 11" and 15" red nylon chutes tonight.

Monday, October 5, 2009


My laptop may be out of commission at some point in the near future.

The other day, it slid off a low shelf and fell maybe 5" on one end to the floor. It seemed fine at the time.

Fast forward to today. I used it for a few minutes this morning, and it was fine. This afternoon, after school, when I had about 15 tabs open in the xkcd fora, it froze up. It's doent his several times before, and before I've been able to just wait for IE to respond again, or else hit [Ctrl]-[Alt]-[Delete] and close it with task manager.

This time, task manager only closed one of two IE windows open. When the other one didn't respond, I used the start menu to restart my computer. It shut down and began to restart, but only halfway restarted, and stayed at a grey screen for several minutes. It then ran chkdsk, which checked my D: (recovery) disk and then started it up regularly. Since then it's been running fine.

However, that sequence of events is very similar to some of the times before when one of my RAM chips was bad, particularly the chkdsk running. I'm also worried about the obvious buildup of dust and overheating inside my computer. It used to be hours before the fans started to run; now it's just a few minutes.

I think I'll take my laptop in to Geek Squad pretty soon. They can run a check on the RAM, and hopefully clean out the dust, plus put in another RAM chip to bump it back up to 4 gigs of RAM like it was before, which would also help it to run faster.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

New parachute thread!

Reasons my mom is awesome:

1) She bought me more shroud lines for my parachutes. 270 feet of 1/8" nylon thread. That's 3240" of thread, enough for 540" total diameter of chutes with 8 shroud lines, or 1080" total of chutes with 4. First up will be a few 10", 12", and 16" chutes - red, and 4 or 6 lines - for my smaller rockets.

2) She's willing to sew chutes for me. For a single chute, that means cutting and sewing the gores and vent hole (for gored chutes), sewing the edges, sewing on 8 lines, and finally sewing an X or * in the center for folding purposes. That works out to between 10 minutes and an hour per chute.

3) She's helping fix the paint job on my Orbital Transport glider.

Reason why my dad is awesome: he bought me Frog tape, which is a green masking tape that apparently doesn't bleed.

In short, my parents are awesome!

Hey Thanks Google

Dear Google:

Thank you for changing 'view blog' to 'view post' on your edit/new post page. This makes it so much easier when I'm editing a post that's not the most recent.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

And I don't have much to say again

Not having much to say is a rare thing for me. Perhaps it's because I've been blog-surfing again. Go to a blog with lots of followers, click on random followers and go to their blog, leave a comment if it's cool stuff, repeat. I commented on maybe half a dozen blogs today, some of them pretty cool:

Rocketmanbkk, who's a fellow who is working on some pretty cool EX fuels. He's got something he calls 'Alien R-candy, which is a sugar fuel (65% KNO3, 35% C12H22O11 ) mixed with antifreeze as a binder and mixer. It's green (hence the name) and burns red - almost as red as Aerotech Redline propellant. Cool stuff!

R2K's High Power Rocketry, currently showing an awesome picture of a Delta-IV Heavy launch.

Greg Smith, who builds ridiculously cool L3 rockets, including staged ones, and who does amazing things with car paint.

DTH Rocket, who's a high school student like me and who does some pretty cool stuff like composite staging and experiments with drag and optimum weight.

Secret Spineless Whine: like my 'rant' label, only more interesting.

I'd Rather be a Smartass: funny, irreverent, and pretty intelligent too. Also, home of Gilsner, the first person to follow Drowning in Turtles, my webcomic.

Even Pretty Girls Need to Read, with an awesome funny rant / idea about book summaries.

Nothing to See Here Move Along - one of the first bloggers to read and comment here, and home of the Genius of the Week Contest which I've won 2 and a half times so far.

Elohssanatahw, home of @eloh, one of the funniest elohssa out there.

Ellie, brother of Mr. Met, and both a( sane and b) a Mets fan even for the last 2 seasons, which is a rare combination.

and of course mandachan at Divided Loyalty, kick-ass baseball blogger extraordinaire to whom I respond with "happy 6 to you too".

Friday, October 2, 2009

Actual pyramid progress!

I cut out a second pair of triangles, sanded them, and glued them together. Thank goodness for the jigsaw - it's so much quicker and easier than the handsaw. I made a fence by clamping on a metal strip to the wood to guide the saw. It broke a bit of the tip, though, so I'll have to form a new resin tip with wood glue. I'll also have to sand the sides so that they match with the other flat sides of the pyramid.

Pictures, better descriptions, and more building comes this weekend. I've also got some posts coming on weird science stuff, and other entertaining stuff, including possibly the relase of my simulation program code.

I'm sorry that posting has been light - only one post a day - and so short lately. I haven't gotten more than 5 hours of sleep a night in a week, and I've had an NHS application that took a lot of work, plus homework, Jazz Band, and my job. Hopefully, I'll catch up on sleep this weekend and be back to normal with lots of content and commentary. I've managed, though, to post at least once every day since early july, and I only had 8 less posts than last month despite the huge time commitment and sleep drain of school.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Painting the Orbital Glider

I masked off and painted the red areas on the Orbital Transport glider tonight. Unfortunately, the paint bled through the tape a bit in places. I'll have to fix it with an old trick - spraying a bit of the spray paint on a piece of paper, then painting it on with a brush.

Once I get that done, and add the grebblage with a sharpie, pictures will be forthcoming.