Thursday, April 30, 2009

Nothing much

Haven't had time for much rocketry stuff lately. Got a couple more Econojets and 29/180 reloads programmed into my sim program, though, and I'll be rewriting it soon to use strings, so you just enter the motor code instead of going through menus. It'll save space and be a lot faster. Currently it's near 7kb and pretty fast, but I think I can add about 10 more motors, get it down to say 6k and about 20% faster with a little rewriting. Those For( and While loops I added to replace Goto/Lbl loops helped a lot, although I do need to cut down on the memory leaks caused by exiting those loops with a Goto. After the rewriting for those things, plus a bit of improvement to the opening and closing animations, my next big project will be to import my combination rocket drawing and CP calc software into the program, and modify that for perfection. Stuff like having the code for drawing an ogive nose actually drawing a circle-based ogive rather than a simply-to-graph square root curve.

Someday you will die somehow and something's gonna steal your carbon. -- Issac Brock

The above is a lyric in 'Parting of the Sensory' and although like most Modest Mouse lyrics is completely nonsensical, it also has some truth in that after you die, most likely all the processed organic-molecule in your carbon will be reused by another organism. Interesting.

must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

(The Litany Against Fear from Dune. I have almost memorized it.)

Currently reading: SSN by Tom Clancy. An interesting discussion of submarine warfare and more accessable than his other, much thicker works.

One final note: sorry my blogging has been light over the past week. I've had some nasty allergies - fortunately not the much-over-hyped and dreaded swine flu, but ordinary spring allergies brought on by a sudden warming spell. I've got constant headaches, coughing, runny nose, and a sore throat (and funny gravelly voice), but fortunately not a fever or rigor mortis. I've been taking Zyrtec and generic Diphenhydramine HCl (antihistamines). However, I get major results - 12 hours of full effects - on half a 4-6 hour dose, including drowsiness, and delayed photosensitivity. For 10-20 minutes 4-8 hours after I take it, I suddenly cannot open my eyes because everything is too bright. Aparently this is a common side effects on first-generation antihistamines.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Randomness

Because I'm too damn lazy to do haikus tonight.

Why? Because my sleep schedule is still screwed up, I spent 3 hours in the car today, and I've got a sore throat to boot. That's why.

In continuing with my random music listening, I'm lisening to the best of Mancini at the moment. The 'Peter Gunn' theme and 'Timothy' are pretty good and 'Baby Elephant Walk' is hilarious. Disappointingly, the Pink Panther theme is not on there.

On a different CD, the march from The Longest Day is awesome, although it gets stuck in your head.

WHAT. is copyright Ryan North.

Congrats to Steve Eves, as his 1/10 scale Saturn V launched perfectly today on its giant 9-motor cluster. It was an absolutely perfect flight, right down the the main bodt landing standing up after a long, slow descent. I don't know ehre it'll go from here - I imagine it's a bit big for a living room, and I bet any museum worth its salt would love to have it. I wouldn't surprised if the Smithsonian expressed interest - it's definitely huge, as perfect as possible, and museum-quality, and I doubt it'll be flown again.

I have a massive headache for which I'm getting fluids and food, and soon rest. Meh. I hate being sick.

It got up to 80 today. Warm weather is nice, but of course it couldn't come on a tennis day....

We were in Massachusetts today visiting family and we went out to a wonderful irish place for dinner. If you ever find yourself in Ayer, check out PJ O'Rourke's. Great bangers and mash (aka sausages and mashed potatoes).

I read a couple of Military thrillers today, including Scimitar SAL-2 by Patrick Robinson, which was good but large print -the only copy available at my library - is a pain - 687 pages for a fairly short book. The other was America by Steven Coonts, which is very good, but it was rather scary when I realized that the main acion of the brand-new super-sub being hijacked was happening at a navy base less than five miles from where I live, and that if the action in that book really did happen, chances are someone I know would lose a parent in the hijacking. Even fictional terror attacks can hit close to home. On the other hand, it's cool to see a local institution mentioned in well-published fiction. There was a paragraph about the base in Scimitar SL-2, and it's been mentioned in a few nonfiction submarine histories, and a local nuclear power plant was referenced in Plum Island, but that's about it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sleep

Various bits and pieces on one of the trifecta of essential activities (eat, sleep, breathe).

I am currently in the throes of what Jeph Jacques terms 'sleep madness'. Basically, My combination of weird sleep schedule and little sleep has screwed with my brain and caused even weirder sleep habits.
I tend to sleep roughly midnight to 630 (or 650) am on school nights, and 2am to 10am on weekends. However, over the last few nights I have't been getting enough sleep, and last night i got just 5 hours. Plus, I had tennis today. That introduces the additional factors of sitting out in the sun for 3 hours (dehydration, messes up my eating schedule), playing for an hour (excercise and dehydration), and the team tradition of engorging at the local fast food joint afterwards (2 cheesburgers, fries, and a medium soda), all of which do crazy things to my sleep schedule.

By the time I got home after the hour bus ride, I was a bit tired. I actually slept from 930 to 1015, and missed part of Numb3rs, dammit. After watching that and getting excited when Youkilis hit a walk-off to beat the Yankees (haha, suckas), I've been wide awake since 11 (it's now 2am). Now I've been eating turkey and drinking milk so I can get to sleep.

Sleeping that 45 minutes this evening was only the third time in recent memory that I've napped. The first was a year ago coming home from a ski trip - two long days of skiing and the relaxing sound of rain outside made it the first time I've ever slept in a car (planes i can sleep in just fine). The second was back in October when I had a nasty coldish thing. I slept for 3 to 5 one afternoon and had an immense fever dream, in which i played a very realistic game of Nethack for 2 hours, until I met an Archon where they don't normally appear and I realized I was in a dream.

Speaking of dreams, I normally have many memorable dreams, but in the last few months I've barely dreamed at all, and I can remember few if any at all. I suspect it's due to a potent combination of stress from school, not enough sleep, eating late at night, and getting more excercise from tennis.

It's now 2:42 and I'm still wide awake, and I'm eating biscuits made in the microwave. Why? Because utter deliciousness waits for no man!

And now I'm actually going to sleep. Good night.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Haikus part II

Tennis was okay
We won, but too cold, too long,
and I barely played.

Played tennis on
my wii though, and now i am
a wii tennis pro.

Kinetic gas laws
the bane of my existance
Tedious and meh.

Cut the first fin for
twenty-nine millimeter
machbuster tonight.

Crappy plywood but
wood glue makes a good filler
Now all nice and smooth.

yummy strawberries.
red and round and some are now
missing from the fridge.

My simulation
program now runs much faster
With 'for', 'while' commands.

Two hundred motors
I-one-hundred-ninety five
Is the last I did.

Haikus are fun but
nice warm bed is calling me.
See you tomorrow.

My Life in Haikus

Too much damn homework
Curse this mind-numbing physics
I hate you, Newton.

My motor spreadsheet
Is up to two hundred now
It will be online soon.

My simulation
program is nearly perfect.
Code will be up soon.

I'm reading a
book on poisons and how they
affect the world.

Apparently, cows
hate getting stoned, so dope plants
produce THC.

I am building a
new rocket; the G80
will send it to Mach.

Modest Mouse is great
for when I am up too late
Sweet music goodness.

Need to go to sleep
Life will unfortunately
Still be going on.

Tennis and Jazz band
after school, but later in the night
more rocket stuff comes.

Upstairs I now go
The glow of christmas lights and
sweet dreams await me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Giant Books Post

In no particular order:

P.J. O'Rourke; Holidays in Hell. A great book, in which the esteemed travel writer travels to the crappiest vacation spots on earth, like Lebanon, South Korea (while it was under a military dictatorship), El Salvador, Nicaragua, and more. My favorite quote, descibing Communist Poland:
From bumpy landing until bumpy takeoff, you spend your time in Poland looking at bad concrete. Everything is made of it - streets, buildings, floors, walls, ceilings, roofs, window frames, lampposts, statues, benches, plus of the food, I think. Commies love concrete, but they don't know how to make it. Concrete is a mixture of cement, gravel, and straw? No? Gravel, water,and wood pulp? Water, potatoes, and lard?


Neal Stephenson; Snow Crash. A very geeky novel, full of comedic gold and geeky jokes. I think the single best/worst job of all time is there: delivery boy for the CosaNostra pizza. Haven't finished this one yet.

Chris Cutcher; Deadine. One of a very small number of Young Adult books I actually read. It's a complex and thought-raising but entertaining and readable novel. The premise is that Ben Wolf, a 'three-quarter-size' 18-year-old high school senior in Trout, Idaho (Pop. 943), learns he's going to die of an incurable 'blood disease' in under a year. he resolves several things: first, not to tell anyone; second, to live as normally as he can for a year; third, to give his closed-minded, overly conservative civics teacher a daily migrane, and fourth, to become the best 123-lb football player trout has ever seen. In the process, we meet a complex and entertaining bunch of characters: his utterly disfunctional parents, his therapist (who has a therapist of her own), his coach (who follows the principle of cardiac bulimia: run till the third guy pukes), the local drunk, who he attempts to clean and sober up, and Dallas Suzuki. 'amazingly perfect, fascinating Dallas Suzuki, who may or may not give ben the time of day. Really, she's first on his list.'
Alternatively side-splittingly comedic and deadly serious, it's one of the best works of fiction I've read in a while. I wish we'd read stuff like it in school. Better than To Kill a Mockingbird, for sure.

Christopher Hitchens; God is Not Great. It's one of the best arguments for atheism I've read in a while. It shows how religion has consistently fought every scientific and humanitarian advance, set civiliation back decades, caused most major wars, and more. He even lays down a convincing argument that religion can be considered organized child abuse. Not for those looking for a tongue-lashing of their favorite faith, but a very good book.

James Cobb; the Amanda Lee Garrett series. I've read the first, third, and fifth of five. It's a great series of naval thrillers set aboard the Cunningham, a stealth destroyer with every technological toy and weapons goodies, from over-the-horizon radar to dozens of missile and gun emplacements, to several Darkstar recon drones, to a Vertical Launch System with ASAT (antisatellite) capability. It's rather similar to the Arleigh Burke class destroyers, but with stealth and a few extra goodies; ironic given that her captain, the aforementioned Garrett, is described as 'Arleigh Burke in a skirt'. They're better than the average military thriller, and include great descriptions of the combat - like the Cunningham destroying multiple Argentine aerial attack waves - including shooting down a tanker with a helocopter, obliterating an entire convoy sent to destroy it, and damaging a nearly silent submarine. Juicy fiery weapons-grade goodness.

This post composed to the entirety of We were dead before the ship even sank by Modest Mouse.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mosquito #5

My newest member of the mosquito family is now finished, although not painted. It's built from 18mm tubing, so it's roughly a 1.5x upscale, although it uses 13mm motors. It'll fly to roughly 120 feet on 1/4As, 240 on 1/2A3s, and 500 on full As. With its bright color scheme - the classic red-with-one-yellow-fin - and prange streamer - from my damaged machbuster - it'll be pretty easy to find both in the air and on the ground. its nose cone is balsa, turned on a drill in a vise; the fins are 1/16' balsa and large for its size so it'll be extra stable; and the motor will be held in by masking tape - the motor mount protrudes 1/4" from the body.

It's my second-smallest rocket to pack a full recovery system; the smallest is of course the Crayon with its tiny streamer.

I have 2x (24mm tube and 13mm or 18mm mount) and 2.2x (29mm tube and 18mm mount) versions soon to be made, and I'm considering a 2.5x (BT-55 or 56 with 18mm mount) version as well.

First flight will be at my next launch on a 1/2A3-4T.

High Power Competition

The NAR has released an HPR sporting code here. It's intended for friendly competition at regional launches and not for national or serious competition.
The rules for altitmeters are rather interesting. Any device (motor ejection, accelerometers, magnetic apogee detectors, barometric sensors, and/or GPS) may be used for recovery deployment, but only barometric pressure and GPS altimeters may be used for altitude measurements, and accelerometers for velocity measurement. Altimeters must sample 10+ times per second, ruling out the new Quest altimeter, and flights over 35000 feet (the limit of the common Motorola MPX-4100 series sensors) must use a different sensor or GPS.
Events are :
  • Altitude (H-O classes)

  • Precision Altitude, both preset and set just before launch; H-K classes

  • Timed recovery: H-K classes

  • Multiple (2-6) eggloft; H-K classes

  • Upscale: H-K and L-O classes

  • Velocity: H-O classes

A few notes:
The timed recovery is an interesting idea. The point is to have the rocket fly to as high and altitude as possible, recover safely, and be returned, intact, by foot only (no cars / bikes / ATVs) to the Contest Director. The score equals the altitude (ft) minus the time (min), although the director can modfiy the weighting to put more emphasis on time.
The Upscale competiton involves upscaling a classic kit and flying it, with peoples' choice voting determining the winner based on coolness and resemblance to the original kit. My Mozzie, or the Polecat 5.5" Skeeter I'd like to get, would both be good. An upscale Snitch on a L2 motor would be pretty awesome (BG). Also, as long as recovery is safe, non-chute recovery may be used.

That gives me an evil idea: HPR glide or helocopter competitons. A 10' long, 4" diameter rocket on a M could carry blades better than half the size of a real copter, and with careful work and landing gear (!) and probably RC control larger boost-gliders are feasible. I don't know about you, but I'm thinking a 2x or 3x Deltie Thunder on a G75, or H73, or H112, or even I154 would be AWESOME!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bits and pieces

1) I forgot to mention it, but a few posts back I reached post #300. Like Jeph Jacques, I like big round numbers. Future milestones include #314 (100π), 365, and one year (June 10th, a milestone which Mandachan already reached), and 2000 hits. 2000 hits and #314 should come within a week; #365 and one-year will both be in June.

2)My computer is finally back and working right! Thanks to Joe Abele of Abele Tech - he's my dad's office techie and got it all working again. It turns out the beta version of Chrome, which I downloaded on the second day of availability, had caused some registry problems, which in turn crashed my poor laptop a lot. Reminds me a bit of Randall Munroe's mishap. He said that it's okay to install a newer, stable version of Chrome, and indeed, it's nice to be back to the in-browser spell check, intuitive design, and flash capability - IE7 on Vista can't run flash. I also can now print wirelessly, share files between the desktop and my laptop, and safely reinstall Google Earth. Yay!

3) It's raptor awareness day. Carry your sidearms, folks. I have a modified nerf gun sitting next to me as a type.

4) Nathan Fillion has an electric skateboard. Flans and xkcd readers, rejoice! And join me in being envious!

5) The Yankees got beat 22-4 today by the Indians. I laugh and laugh and laugh. Welcome to your new home, idiots.

Got my Permit!

I got my learner's permit yesterday. I spent 20 minutes in line, 2 minutes filling out forms, 3 HOURS waiting for a test, then 5 minutes taking the vision and knowledge tests, which I passed easily, then 10 waiting for them to print my permit. 4 hours for under 10 minutes of actual work. If you live in eastern CT, then do not go to the Norwich DMV. The Old Saybrook DMV has a much better reputation.

Launch Report #29

I launched a few rockets today with Mandachan, but I didn't have much success. First time I've used a single-use composite motor, though.

First came the Deltie Thunder on a D15-4T reload. It took a while to ignite, but the two 1/2" wooden dowels I stuck into the ground braced it perfectly against the light wind, and the 6' of 1/4" steel rod stuck into the ground made a fine launch rod. However, even the 4-second delay, which I suspect was closer to 5 or 6 actually, was too long and it ejected about 25' up. The shock cord snapped and the nose cone came down nicely under the chute. However, the body took a (harmless) core sample and the glider snapped in half at the wing attachment point. I'll wood glue it back together and add reinforcement at the point with some thin plywood I have. The launch was pretty impressive, though. If I use it again on a reload, maybe an E11-3J, then I'll only use half the ejection charge.

Next came Mach My Day on the D21-7T. Unfortunately, It wasn't quite stable and it did spirals in the air about 75 feet up, then fell back and blew smoke. The ejection charge was stronger than even the Estes 'shotgun' charges and the streamer was torn off the shock cord intact. there's a small dent on the body tube. It's no longer useful as a Machbuster since it's not stable with a D21 inside, but I might use it for other stability testing, such as spin, longer rods, weighting, etc, or as an upper stage that uses only an A8, perhaps atop a huge booster with a D12.

Damn, burnt APCP smells bad. Even worse than burnt blackpowder.

Last came the Astron Invader on a C6-3. It did about 5 loops under power, slowly climbing to around 120 feet, then coasted up to around 300 feet before ejection. Even though the motor ejected, it never pulled out of its dive - no stab for incidence - and it came is pretty hard and fast. Amazingly, the only part of the 1/16" balsa airframe that broke was one vertical fin. a bit ow glue and it'll be good as new.

I'm up to 110 flights on 128 motors for 678 Ns total - 6% into the J range! That's 6.17 Ns (23% C) per flight and 5.3 Ns per motor - 6% into the C range!

It's a pain spending 10 minutes to hook up my unreliable ignition system and 5+ seconds to ignite composites, so I'm thinking of investing 40 bucks in a Pratt Go-Box controller and 8 bucks on a second 6V battery (one of my two is poor quality and doesn't generate much amperage - it has 2 smaller 3V cells rather than 4 1.5V cells. Cheaper but crappy.) or 30 on a 12V gel-cell or motorcycle battery.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Gnat

My smallest rocket yet! It's a roughly 1/2 downscale (amazingly enough it's possible) of the Estes Mosquito. It's made from 1" of a ballpoint pen, the plastic nib of the pen sanded into the elliptical nose, 3 fins of 1/32" basswood, and about 1/4" of 1/8" launch lug. I got the nose shape pretty good, but the launch lug is twice the size of scale. Oh well.

It's 7mm in diameter, 54mm long, and weighs about 0.6g - the same weight as a MMX motor. I predict boosts to about 120 feet, plus an extra 50-60 feet after ejection due to the combined effects of upwards velocity at ejection and the force of the motor casing being popped out the back. It'll use featherweight recovery, but I doubt I'll be able to find it. Even though it's brightly colored with sharpies in the classic Mosquito scheme, it's still smaller than a 13mm casing and will probabky bury itself nicely in soft ground.

My current Mosquito fleet includes 1/2x (7mm / 6mm motor), 1x (13mm), 3x (BT-60 / 18mm motor), and 5x (2.6" / 29mm motor). I currently have materials to make 1.5x (18mm / 13mm motor), 2x (24mm / 18mm or 13mm motor), and 2.25x (29mm / 18mm or 13mm motor). Four is a nice small fleet, but a fleet of 7 might just get some points in the EMRR contest.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Big motor casings

My 29/180 and 29/240 casings and closures came in today. Damn they are big! The 180Ns case just barely fits into the Mozzie with a 1" spacer. Fortunately, unlike the 24/40 system, the ejection charge is contained inside the divot in the front of the forward closure and not in a cap sticking further out.

Again, drop me a line if you're interested in the 240Ns case, or if you've got a spare forward seal disk to sell / give me.

A few ideas of the size of these:
  • The forward closure weighs the same as a D12.

  • The aft closure weighs the same as a C6, or the same as the empty 24/40 system with closures.

  • The 24/40 case, including the flared aft closure, fits entirely inside the empty motor cases and slides freely.

  • Combined, a D12, C6, A10, and MMX do not quite equal the length of the 240Ns case alone.


yadda yadda yadda.

Changes to Google Image Search

You can now filter Google Images by size, content type, and color. Size choices are small (up to about 50x50), medium (up to about 500x500), large (up to about 1200x1200) and extra large. Nice for when I'm trying to find a high-res image for something, or alternatively a smaller one that'll load fast.

For content, you can filter for faces, line drawings, news content, clip art, and photographic images. Those filters aren't perfect, but still pretty good.

For color, the choices are red, orange, yellow, green, teal, blue, purple, white, grey, black, and brown.

I think these filters will turn out to be really useful for finding extactly the images you want. Well done, Overlords of the Web!

New Motors certified by Tripoli

Original Source from Rocketry Online

Tripoli Motor Testing certified no less than 13 new motors yesterday, all but one (the L1276) have Sparky effects, and all are reloads.

RR= Red Rhino (red)
SK, SM = Skidmark (Smokey)
SF = Spitfire
WC = Bates Grain White

From Cesaroni for their ProX line:

L1276RR-P
AMW 54-2250 case
1581Ns (6% L) total
2.126s burn time

J520SK-15A
Pro38-6GXL
848.4 Ns (32% J)
1.63s

J250SK-15A
Pro54-2G
628.8Ns (7% J)
2.73s

J395SM
Pro54-3G
1015.9Ns (58% J)
2.78s

Gorilla Motor Works:

J485WC
54-1050 case
1059.7Ns (65% J)
2.19s

K630WC
54-1400
1414.8Ns (10% K)
2.24s

K805WC
54-1750
1765Ns (38% K)
2.19s

Loki Research:

L780SF
75-3500
3006Ns (17% L)
3.83s

K830SF-PS
54-2800
2287Ns (78% K)
2.73s

K690SF-PS
54-2000
1616Ns (26% K)
2.35s

J350SF-PS
54-1200
931Ns (45% J)
2.67s

J650SF-PS (mistakenly listed on above linked post as J750SP)
38-1200
942 Ns (45% J)
1.45s

M1200SF-PS
75-6000
4.485s

The above M1200 has a total impulse of 5122.6 Ns - 2.6 Ns above the M cutoff line and a 0.05% M. It'll be classified as an M until March 21, 2010 ( 1 year from first testing date), then classified again to ensure that it doesn't lose potency - and become a 100% L - after a year on the shelf. If it really is an M, then it's a perfect motor for getting an L3 cert with the smallest / lightest built rocket possible. If not, then it's prefect for setting an L altitude record.

They'll do more testing with new loads in the above casings on the 25th. Stay tuned.

I think it's pretty amazing that they can certify 13 new HPR reloads at once. We low-power folks are lucky to get a handful a year - both the new G80T and F32T together is amazing - and such a new selection is pretty cool. i think this puts the total certified list up to 564. 550 as of the list in Sport Rocketry, plus the F32T and these 13.

Nantucket Sound complete

After waiting a bazillion hours for the fillets to dry, it's finally complete. I apinted the fins a dark red color, to match the stock scheme. It's nowhere as perfect as the model Jim Flis had at NARCON, but it definitely looks like a lighthouse, will survive the kick of a E18-4T (first flight coming soon), and will get me points on EMRR's Hit List.

Final Dimensions:
13" Tall
5" Base diameter
8.5" Fin span
Internal tube: BT-55
Weight: 2-3 oz
Stability: No idea, but I guess it follows the TLAR (That Looks About Rght) school of stability.

My recommended motors:
C11-3
D12-3
D15-4T
E9-4
E11-3J
E15-4W
E18-4W
E28-4T
E30-4T
F12-3J
F24-4W
F32-4T

Jim Flis recommend the C11, D12, and E9. 4-second delays may be too long on the D15 and E9 and the rocket will arc over a bit beofre deployment. The 24/40 system is a good match for the Sound as it offers a range of D-F motors that work well in the rocket, plus due to its low flights and postitive motor retention you're unlikely to lose the case. The E9 and F32 require leaving out the hook and thus do not have positive motor retention.

If you installed a 29mm motor mount in it, then other awesome motor choices are available. The F Econojets and even single-use Gs would work, although the Gs would leave just 3" for the wading and recovery system and the 1" nose block. 29/60 and 29/100 cases would fit okay, but 29/40-120 and 29/120 cases probably wouldn't leave enough room for a recovery system. A 29/180 case would just fit inside, but literally touch the nose block...
It wouldn't be too hard to modify it for the longer motors - just get a 10" or 12" rather than 8" piece of BT-55, modify the shroud, internal ribs, and launch lug holder a bit, and just have a longer main body. Lughthouses come in all lengths and sizes, so it wouldn't look bad at all. Course, not much looks bad on an H128W...

(All information here will be copied to my EMRR review once I get 3 flights on this baby.)

Driving #1

Now that I'm 16, I've decided to actually learn how to drive so I can get my driver's licence as soon as I can. I am rather afraid of driving, simply due to the idea of controlling a 2-ton vehicle at high speeds.
I'll make this an occasional series revolving around when I hit milestones in my driving.
I got behind the wheel for the frist and second times on Sunday. I drove around the local elementary and middle school lots, practicing parking, turning, smooth acceleration and deceleration, and so on. I was allowed up to 20 mph [scarily high kinetic energy: 80,000J] once, but otherwise I stayed below 10 mph. I did pretty well, but 3-point turns and backing into spots are still not strong points.
I'm planning to get my permit on Friday so I can legall practice more and go out onto main roads.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

RC plane failures

I've got a Hobbico Swift Flyer RC plane sitting in my basement that I bring out, crash, and swear at every once in a while. It's a decent plane, but it's way underpowered, not particularly durable, and its propellers tend to break. (Of the 8 blades on the 2 props and 2 spares, 7 have broken at some point or another.)
On its first round of flights about 6 months ago, the right wing was creased and several prop blades were snapped off and reglued. On all of those, I was launching it into about a 5mph wind and it made it about 50 feet out and 15 up before flipping over and plunging into the ground. Thrice.
This time was about the same. On the first flight, I launched it straight into a 5mph wind as per the instructions. It went into a 20-foot-diamter loop and crashed, swearing the left wing clean off and snapping both blades off one propeller. I repaired the wing with scotch tape, put another prop on to replace the damaged one, and tried launching downwind. I had several better launches, including one where I pulled it out of its death spiral and it actually landed upright.
I repaired the wing with duct tape and it seems pretty secure, but not perfect, and the props are all in bad shape. One has been retired because it repeatedly threw spit blades duuring testing - the Krazy glue just wouldn't hold.
The next time I try, it'll be in still air and after extensive glide testing, to cure the death spiral. If it works, great. If not, then I've got a couple of options:
1) Buy a new wing and prop set from the manufacturer. It'll probably cost me almost the cost of a new plane, plus it doesn't solve the fundamental problems with it - too much weight and flimsy wing, so I'm thinking no.
2) Make a new wing out of balsa. Cheaper and I could add more lift, but same problems, plus sanding the airfoil from 1/4" balsa would take forever. So no there, too.
3) Add power to the plane, most likely with bigger props. Finding the props might be tricky, but that could work.
4) Buy a new plane. For 30 bucks, half the cost of this old plane, I could get a brand new plane that's far better. Some I've seen have features like autopilot - which'll keep the plane in level powered flight to give your brain a rest - and powerful motors in smaller planes that can do stuff like rolls and loops that mine is simply too underpowered to do. This is the most likely scenario.
5) The mythbusters way: Turn it into a rocket-launched, powered RC plane. Sortof a JATO system. The most likely way I see to do it involves putting a 1/4" launch lug, 18mm or 20mm motor mount, and tinfoil (heat protection) under it belly at the CG point. I'd use a 1/4" launch lug angled at around 45° with 2 3' long rods used to keep the plane upright. A burn string would allow me to start the electric motors, then fire off the rocket motor without the plane leaving the rod under the prop power alone and crashing. Long-burn motors ideal for the job would be the OOP Apogee B2, Estes A3 and A10s, Estes C6s (possibly staged), or Quest D5 (expensive) for basic blastoff, or E6s, E9s, E11s, F10s, F12s, or even a 24mm or 32mm RC RMS system for truly destroying the plane. This would be epically cool, and I may try it if I get another plane. I might take the RC control out first, though, to use for another project, and just have a 12V cmera battery powering it. After all, it'd only last one flight. Man imagine what I could do with this thing with an Ellis Mountain G20....

Monday, April 13, 2009

Polish Motors

Aparently the Polish people like high-thrust motors - According to this post they've got A15, B15, C15, D15, and D25 motors.
this site (translated) shows A5-4 and B15-5 motors, for about $2.73 for the B15s and $1.82 each for the A5s - comparable to Questes prices. The picture appears to show the A5 as roughly 13mm by 45mm (same as Estes 13mm T motors), the B15 as 18mm by 36mm or so, the C15 as about 18x50, and the D15 as 18x80 or so.
Because of the high thrust and small size, especially for the D15, I would venture that the C and D motors are made with a sort of composite, perhaps similar to the Czech Deltas.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Gotta love ebay

I'm now the proud owner of a complete 29/180 RMS system plus a 29/240 case from Dr. Rockets. After my post last night this morning about RMS cases, I idly went on ebay, and found the perfect item: 29mm forward and aft closures, and 29/180 and 29/240 cases, for 66 bucks plus 7 bucks shipping. A bit pricey, but only about the list price of the 29/180 system, plus I get the 29/240 casing. I need the forward disk, not included in the auction, to use the /240 casing, but it's cheap to buy the disk. Alternatively, if any of my readers want a 29/240 casing for the price of shipping, then drop me a line. You supply the seal disk and closures.
Also, I may buy an 18/20 casing tomorrow.

Finally figured this out

So the Aerotech 29/40-120 casing is its own separate system that can be used with the E16W, E23T, F22J, F40W, F52T, G53FJ, G64W, G71R, and G76G reloads, all medium power. The rest of the 29mm RMS system uses the same closures, but can be bought with different tubes - /60, /100, /120, /180, /240, and /360. The 29/60 case can hold the F37W and F62T 'High Power Style' loads, the 29/100 the G54W "High Power Style' and G104T high power loads, the 29/120 the G77R and G79W 'High Power Style' loads, the 29/180 the H128W, H165R, and H238T loads (the minimum and perfect system for L1 certification); the 29/240 the H97J, H210R, and H220T HPR loads, and the 29/360 carries I200W and H268R loads.

I'm currently debating on what system to get. I like my 24/40 system and it fits well with what I have. I have 3 possibilite for what else to get:
1) Get an 18/20 system. It fit most of my current fleet, offers cheap D loads, and is probably the only way for Rama to fly again without major surgery, but it's still not cheap and only has 2 options, which will lose many on my smaller 18mm rockets.
2) Get the 29/40-120 system. It offers lots of flexibility from E16s to G71s and would be a perfect fit for the Mozzie, but It's currently my only 29mm rocket and anything over an E, and probably even Es except in a saucer, are only for CATO luanches, so probably no for this one.
3) Get the 29mm closures and /180 case. It's what I need for my L1 cert, and lets me get lots of power options by just buying the fairly cheap cases. However, it's expensive, requires me to buy new cases for any use at CATO, and again too big for anything but the Mozzie - and I only want to try stuffing that 29/180 case into it once. I'll try to rent. / borrow the case for my cert if I can.

For now, though, I like what I've got, and I just gott work on cleaning my 24/40 case in a car, not a bathroom, so I can use it twice or 3 times in one day at CATO.

SpaceShipTwo and the DNA of Flight

I've decided to make the SpaceShipTwo my newest scale project. It's a cool-looking design that requires nothing more than fancy balsa cutting, a but of carving for the nose cone, and a nice paint job. I like the SpaceShipOne, and the SS2 seems much sleeker and sexier, if no more stable (as a model rocket) than the original.

This one is a great technical drawing from Scaled Composite, thru Wikipedia:

Note the series of symbols in the top left of that one. It's also visible on its spine here:

Scaled calls it the 'DNA of Flight'. A more detailed discussion is available here.

From top to bottom, it is: SpaceShipTwo (hopefully the first commercially successful suborbital spaceflight), SpaceShipOne (X prize winner; first non-gov't manned craft to break Mach One and make it into space), the Apollo Lunar lander (first manned vechicle to reach the moon), Boeing 747 (most successful airliner ever), a rocket plane (see next paragraph), the Spirit of St. Louis (first transatlantic solo flight), the Wright flier (first powered aircraft), and Daedalus (human who flew with bird-feather wings according to Greek myth). I am such a geek, I recoginzed them all.

There aare two possibles for the rocket plane. The first is the Bell X-1, the first aircraft to break Mach 1 in level flight and under controlled cirumstances), but according to the post linked above it's more likely the Leduc 010, a French craft that was the first piloted ramjet.

I think the DNA of Flight is very well done. It's both a powerful tribute to the milestones of aviation, as well as a tactful way for Scaled and Virgin Galactic to say 'Look at us! We're doing stuff no one else has ever done and opening space to the public!'

It'll either be 29mm tube with a 18mm mount or 24mm tube with a 13mm mount. SS2 is 60ft long versus about 25 for the SS1. The SS1's body is 16 feet long, but it's longer with the wing-fins and nozzle.

Interestingly, according to the pictures on SS1's Wikipedia article, for some flights the nozzle was black and others it was white. I assume Estes went with the white for ease of painting.

Building update

After a short building hiatus due to this whole 'life' thing - apparently some trippy experience involving schoolwork, tennis, paid work, little sleep, etc - I did some building on the Nantucket Sound and other miscellany.

I've got most of the guts of the Sound done - all 4 supports plus the launch lug and its two supports are attached and the first round of fillets drying. I cut the four fins and sealed them with plastic cement (surprisingly effective), although the one I did with actual wood sealer is a bit smoother. Now all I've got to do is do the second and third rounds of fillets, glue and cut the main shroud, cut the lug to fit the shroud, glue and paint the fins, and attach bits and pieces like the elastic part of the shock cord and parachute. I hope to finish it by Sunday night, although I do have all of next week off for spring break. It's gonna be a heavy, draggy beast, so I'll go for a 24/40 E18-4W reload and two chutes - 12" for the nose unit and 16" for the boddy to avoid damage. Jim Flis didn't provide composite motor recommendations for it, but I think the E11-3J, E18-4W, E28-4T, F12-5J, and F24-4W will be good fits for the 24/40 casing and E15-4W, E30-4T, and F32-4T for SU motors. The D15-4T and F39-6T have too long of delays but would work in a pinch, but the D9-4W has a too slow buildup of thrust to work at all. I f you really wanted it to rock, then a 29mm motor mount and Econojets and the 29/40-120, 29/60 29/100, and 29/120 casings would fit. Barely. It really would rock on a G80, though. *Evil grin*

I'm trying to build a super-strong bulkhead with integrated screw eye that'll survive even the worst shotgun ejection charges without having to buy and cut plywood. I'm filling an 18mm connector tube with wood glue, about 1/8" at a time, letting it dry between gluings. The screw eye is supended in the glue and will be solidly encased by it. The bulkhead will be absolutely solid, absolutely heatproof, and pretty well indestrctable, but heavy and difficult to make. Worth a try though.

I had to take my Comanche-3 down from its ceiling mount - the single hanging point was causing it to bend, and bent superrocs are not good. I don't think it's suffered any permanent damage, fortunately. It's probably not a good idea to hang any rocket onger than 18" or so froma single point. Normally, I have the Comanche-3 resting on its fins on an old office chair and supported by the chair about 14" up it length. The mandachan! sits above my desk on 3 pegoard hooks, but it's light (under an ounce), evenly balanced on the three hooks, and fairly strong because the 13mm tubing is fairly thick for its small diameter - the same thickness as other estes-type tubing us to BT-80 size.

Pretty Clouds

I am very familiar with the common 22° halo, as well as a few rarer arcs also caused by atmospheric ice crystals. However, when doing research for my post of the Perlan project, i came across some truly weird types of clouds. All pics are from wikpedia and either from NASA if not noted (no copyright casue they're gov't works) or under a Creative Commons 2.0 liscence, with author noted.
The following 3 pictures are polar stratospheric clouds, also known to astronomers as nacreous clouds, which form in the stratosphere during winter between 50,000 and 80,000 feet. They form in temperatures below 78° C (-108° F), which occur more commonly in the Antarctic than Arctic. Peculiarly, their formation (they are formed from water, nitric acid, and sometimes uslfuric acid) removes nitric acid from the stratosphere, disrupting nitrogen and chlorine cycles and causing ozone depletion. Every rose has its thorn.



(from Wikipedia contributor Mathiasm)

Noctilucent clouds are created by ice crystals in the mesosphere (third layer of the atmosphere) at altitudes between 47 and 53 miles at temperatures below -120° C (-184° F). Like polar stratospheric clouds, they're only visible at higher latitudes, although they're getting more frequent, possibly due to global warming. They are much more common and brighter in the Northern hemisphere for reasons unknown. They have also been formed by the Space Shuttle's water vapor exhaust at 64-71 miles altitude. They show high radar reflectivity between 50 MHz and 1.3 GHz, possibly due to the ice crystals becoming coated by sodium and iron from vaporized micrometeroites. Amazing stuff.
This first picture was taken from the ISS.


(From Mika Yrjölä
.)

Finally, there's plain old cloud irridescence, where unifrom water droplets in low-to-medium altitude clouds coherently diffract light. (Coherence is not my strong suit, especially not at 2:23 am)
The first is an especially great shot by Mila Zinkova; the second, by an unnamed contributor, is closer to my personal experience.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Perlan Project

In one particular round of Wikipedia surfing, I happened to discover something called the Perlan Project. Basically, it is an attempt to fly a sailplane - glider - with a pilot to 100,000 feet (18.94 miles; 30.48 km) by surfing air currents similar to surfing a wave in the ocean.

Comparably, the highest flight by a manned, non-rocket-powered aircraft (i.e, excluding rocket-powered spacecraft like the X-15 and SpaceShipOne) is 85,069 ft in sustained flight (higher at the peaks of some climbs, however, and it has been sugested that classified records are above 90,000 feet) for the SR-71 and about 97,000 feet for the unmanned Helios.

By using standing waves coming off mountains, pilots Einar Enevoldson and the late Steve Fossett managed to climb a glider to 50,671 feet in phase I of the project. The phase II flight to 90,000 feet is scheduled for August or September 2011 at El Calafate, Argentina, which has the polar location - with the southern jet stream - and mountain-created air waves needed for the record flight. The phase III flight to 100,000 feet is not yet planned.

Also, the conditions at 100,000 feet are extremely similar to flying at low level in the atmosphere of Mars. It is not terrribly hard to design a plane that can fly in either one of those aerial conditions. In both cases, the density is about 1% of that at sea level, or about 1 kPa. However, Mars has only around 1/3 the gravity and requires a plane that can be launched from Earth on a Delta series or Ares series rocket, survive several months in space, then unfold either in the martian atmosphere, or take off from a ground unit.

To reach 100,000 feet on Earth, on the other hand, requires a very special craft - either a very powerful rocket like SpaceShipOne and the X-15 (or the quasi-ramjet-powered SR-71), or a long-duration, high-lift craft like the Helios, or one like a sailplane that can ride atmospheric waves.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Jim Flis is a Genius



CP before CG. Unstable. brilliant. I am deifinitely getting one.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Aerotech F32T thrust curves available

The Thrustcurve page is here, with thrust curves and RASP and Rocksim files. Three interesting bits: first, the burn time is between 1.7 and 1.8 seconds, rather than the 1.6 initially reported; second, the average thrust is actually 34.1N, and third, it has an odd thrust curves, with a high initial peak then leveling out rather than the smoothest ess curve of other composites.

Second, Apogee components has their Rocksim file on their 'newest items' page here.

They've also got a great picture comparing the sizes of the Aerotech D10, D21, E15, E30, F32, G77, G78, and Econojets with the Estes C6 and D12 on their motor page here. I think it's pretty cool how Aerotech colors their writing according to the propellant type.

I got my order of motors and stuff in today. I've now got 2 MMx, 4 1/4A3-3Ts, 3 1/2A3-4Ts, 2 A8-3s, 1 A10-3T, 1 B6-2, 3 B6-4s, 5 C6-0s, 4 C6-3s, 4 D12-0s, 2 D15-4T reloads, 1 D21-7T, 3 E18-4W reloads, and 2 F32-4Ts, for a total of 37 motors and 468.9 Ns (47% I). I'm storing some of the world's most advanced composite-propellant motors in a shoebox. How ironic.

Current Fleet

6mm / MMX: 5
Crayon rocket
Hummingbird (needs new glider)
IT
Pen Rocket
RNGbane the Valkyrie

13mm: 10
Mosquito
Whirling Dervish (monocopter)
13mm Saucer (needs new launch lug)
mandachan! and 13mm booster
Jinx
SpaceBusII
Cohete
Rokit
Gauchito
WAC Corporal

18mm: 22
Nuclear Mosquito
Scissor Wing Transport
Transwing
Whirling Twirling Tornado of Flame and Death and Doom (semiretired monocopter)
Frankenstein II
Astron Invader
Glider II
Astrocam
Cosmic Cobra
GBU-24 Paveway III
Alexi Leonov
Mach My Day
Wizard
Pigasus
Cloud Hopper
Mongoose
Screaming Yellow Zonker!
18mm Saucer
Orbital Transport
Bullpup
SpaceShipOne
Rama

24mm: 6
Comanche-3
Deltie Thunder
Vampire booster
24mm saucer
Nantucket Sound (under construcion)
Lord Gavin

29mm: 1
Mozzie

Total: 44 (all but Crayon rocket, Lord Gavin, and Nantucket Sound flown)

Changes since last list
Hi booster destroyed
destroyed Frankenstein replaced with Frankenstein II
new: Crayon rocket, mandachan!, Nuclear Mosquito, Nantuket Sound, Lord Gavin. Deltie Thunder.

Current build plans; have parts for all:
24mm Machbuster
29mm minimum diameter one shot / machbuster
29mm saucer
BT-20 based Mosquito upscale (Electric Mosquito)
Micromaxx Mosquito downscale (Skeeter)
13mm generic boost pod for gliders
glider 1.1: rebuild of destroyed Glider I
New 18mm booster to replace destroyed Hi

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Nantucket Sound Building

I got a lot done on it today. The Nose Cone / light unit is finished - the complex 6-dowel, 2-ring assembly krazy glued together and the dowels painted; the nose shroud formed and painted, and the railing cut, colored, and glued. I'm going for the paint scheme on the face card: yellow light ball, gold roof, white dowels and upper rings, black railing, blue-and-white striped body, and red-brown fins. I also cut, printed and glued the main body shroud; assembled the 16" chute, and glued the two centering rings and 2 of the 4 supports to the BT-55 internal body tube.

I also did some hanging: My Glider 2, SpaceShipOne, and Comanche-3 have joined my twin saucers and Deltie Thunder in the airspace of my room.

This post composed to 'March into the Sea' and 'Dashboard'.

Modest Mouse

I decided to a whim to listen to a CD of theirs (We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank) and it's pretty good. I tend to like obscure indie rock bands, and this is no exception. I like 'March into the Sea', 'Dashboard', and 'Fire it Up'. They have a wide range of sounds, from Irish death march to almost-but-not-quite-rap-that's-still-music to more conventional rock.

Stuffs

I cut out and assembled my 32" Dynastar chute canopy (free gift with my Apogee order) yesterday.... er... Friday (I forgot it's after midnight.). I used the nice heavy nylon string from my nylon chutes for the shroud lines. It's an octagonal chute, so each of the four lines is 96" (8 feet) long. I fixed the ends with a candle, then tied them on with a double square knot. Each hole / attachment point is reinforced with 2 binder-paper-hole-reinforcers. The nylon lines are slippery, though, and the knots wouldn't hold, so I had my mom sew each knot solid.

It now stands up to high-speed openings and encounters with crabapple trees. It deploys quickly and looks great and drifts not too much in wind. The nylon lines are nice and thick and easy to reef the chute with. With just 6" of lines between the knots and attachment holes, it's got a third of the drift at only twice the descent rate. It descends at about 2 fps wth a 3-ounce weight. It's too bit for any of my current fleet, although okay for the Mozzie on windless days in big fields, or SpaceShipOne only on a B6-2 (recall its encounter with the big oak tree on a C6-3 and 24" chute? That orange chute is still up there to torment me every day on my way to school).

Next, this morning I painted Lord Gavin and Frankenstein. Lord Gavin is a nice shiny gold on its nose cone, body, and fin faces, while the payload section stays clear (with glow-in-the-dark ends, and the fin edges also glow-in-the-dark. It looks pretty snazzy, I think, and is ready for a C6 or D15 reload soon.

Frankenstein received an ugly yellow-and green speckling on its main body, while the fin unit is now a translucent red (orange plastic plus red spray paint) and the nose cone also red. The end of the body tube are red to yellow-green transitions. There are a few bloody-looking red speckles up and down the body tube, and overall it's an awesome-looking rocket with eye-popping coloring that lives up to its namesake, both the monster (actually, Frakenstein was the man and the monster unnamed) and the Edgar Winters song, which we rock in Jazz Band.

I also did some miscellaneous building today. I got the dowels for the Nantucket Sound cut and evened out in length, the two shrouds - nose cone and main lighthouse body - cut out, plus the railing started to cut out. I'm got the chute ready to assemble too.

Since Estes is bringing back the A10-0T (in theory), the Mandachan will actually get to fly 2-staged at some point! (That just finally occured to me). of course, I can't stage A to A because the 4-second delay on the A3-4T is too short (Bring back the A3-6T, Estes!), but the 1/2A3-4T will be perfect.

I'm gonna put some reinforcements on the Deltie Thunder where it broke on the fuselage. Next flight will be on a D15-4, or maybe a D12-3 if I get them soon. I imagine the E9-4 must be a good match, as well as the E11-3J reload.

I've started hanging some of my rockets in my room to save space in my basement lair. The awkwardly shaped Glider 2, SpaceShipOne, and Comanche-3 (1, 2, and 3. interesting.) are waiting for tomorrow, but the Deltie Thuner now occupies 6" of vertical space in a corner of my room. It looks like a giant tan bat. rather imposing.

One non-rocketry item: I've been reading Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash lately. It's an interesting, hella funny, and classic sci-fi novel set in a mildly dystopian future. Besides, how can you hate the idea of CosaNostra Pizza? More later today or tomorrow.

I ordered a bunch of stuff from Hobylinc last Sunday, and it should come on Monday. It includes 1 pack eack of 1/4A3-3T, B6-4, C6-0, C6-3, and D12-0 motors from Estes, a pack of dog barf (recovery wadding), 6 4" Copperheads (1 for my D21-7 and 5 cheap spares), an aft closure wrench (because it's a pain to tighen when the motor is loaded), and a 3-pack of E18-4W reloads. They're good for Mozzie, 24mm saucer, Nantucket Sound, and maybe even Deltie Thunder or Lord Gavin. I would have liked the E28s, but I don't really like how Blue Thunder flame is almost invisible and leaves no smoke, whereas the White Lightning is loud and bright white and leaves huge clouds on white smoke - just like the Shuttle SRBs.

Speaking of the SRBs, they're the largest RMS systems in existence. They're something like AC10000000-Ps, and the main hardware is reusable after hitting apogee at 220,000 feet and deploying 3 136' paarchutes weighing over a ton each - the largest chutes ever used.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

500 galaxies!

Also, they've already surpassed 1,000,000.
I've got 20 favorites so far - exactly 4%.

More on Galaxy Zoo

I'm up to something like 230 galaxies now. My goal is to break at least 500 by the end of the 100 hours. It keeps a record of every galaxy you've looked at, plus it lets you select a list of favorites. Mine include a pair of very large elipticals, some nice spirals and ring galxies, a few with odd colored bits, two nice warped-disk galaxies, and one with big blue active starforming regions.

Most - perhaps 70% or more - are plain old yellow oval ellipticals, and at least another 25% plain spirals, flat disks, and boring irregulars. But every once is a while you get an absolutely stunning picture - perhaps a clean-edged spiral, or a nice perfect edge-on disk - that just floors you. It's very satisfying to get such a nice visual reward for a bit of intellectual work.

It's also neat to realize that since there are somewhere between 10 and 20 million galaxies classified so far, and many millions more to come, there is a very good chance that many of these images have never been seen before by human eyes. I might look at a yellow blob and be the only one of 7 billion on the planet who has seen it.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Galaxy Zoo

Galaxy Zoo is an awesome website, which is using volunteer human brain-labor to classify galaxies from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. They're going for 1 MILLION galaxies classified in 100 hours, and they're gonna do it, too - only about 69 hours in and at 784,000 galxies already. It's really easy, takes only about a minute per galaxy, contributes valuable scientific data, is easy for even non-astronomy folks, and shows you lots of pretty pictures of pretty galaxies.
I've got a few favorites, like this one with pretty colored stuff in the frame, and this one with a ring around it. My favorite is this one, though: a barred ringed monster.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Estes Speaks!

Estes head Barry Tunick answered questions about Estes's future on YORF on Monday. A few highlights:
  • Although Estes will likely sold, consumers won't notice a difference in the company or its products.

  • Estes is not actively consdering reloadable blackpowder motors due to safety concerns (BP crumbles easily), and not APCP composites because they simply can't combine the cheapness and reliability of AT motors.

  • They'll be re-releasing more scale kits like the saturn V, Saturn 1B, and the Maxi Brutes (Honest John, V2, etc).

  • They ARE working on a new propellant, but he didn't provide any details like case sizes, impulse ranges, or if it's the Vulcanite.

  • The rerelease kits will be delayed - August for the classic series and fall for others.

  • He likes lots of motor varieties, and is willing to look into rereleasing the C5-3, A3-2T, and A3-6T, as well as A8-5 bulk packs. The A10-0T and A8-0 WILL be coming bac!

  • Estes doesn't do many gliders, especially rocket gliders, because they're overly complex kits and fail in the mass market.

  • Estes has no problem with sites like JimZ that offer free old Estes plans and instructions and will not make any effort to enforce their copyrights on that matter.

  • They intend to head more towards balsa fins and nose cones. I personally agree mostly, but balsa nose cones are less durable, harder to seal and paint, and more expensive for plastic parts. However, they're lighter, easier to make custom shape from, and, with careful work, easier to get a perfect finish on.

Thoughts on Value Rockets

I fully support Aerotech's ValueRockets concept, but I just don't think it's going to be very sucessful.
First of all, the real problem with selling their D-F composite motors is simply that most people don't have a place to fly them. Up to a C can easily be flown on a football field with careful planning, but composite Ds require larger spaces and larger rockets - BT-55 Estes models will easily hit 1500 feet (gone) on a D13 or D21. I would buy an 18/20 casing if C loads were available, but I'm not gonna spend 30 bucks on a casing that i'll get only a handful of flights out of before I lose it. E and F motors require 1000 foot fields - a raity in most suburban locales. I'm lucky for have a 600 by 800 fott field on public land with lowish winds, on civic property, and with no nasty neighbors, that can handle Ds and Es in heavy and draggy rockets, and even Fs in saucers and the like. However, the average flier with half a dozen estes models and a 300 ft baseball field is simply noy gonna buy Ds, especially not reloads. If they want any chance with the 18mm Ds, then they need to get half a dozen 24mm models - interesting ones, not the typical AT 3FNC stff - with 18mm adapters out there that can fly off a football field on Ds. Simple as that.

Second, their motor choices are not well-advised. The SU 18mm Ds are nice and useful, and not big loss if lost. The 24mm x 70mm Es are great for flying Estes 24mm models on marger fields like mine, and the 24/40 reloadable system is perfect for those like me. However, as said before, the 18/20 system, with little variety, one impulse range, and easy to lose, will never sell, and the 24/60 system with ONE motor - the F35 - that doesn't fit 70mm long mounts is doomed. if they can get, say, an F20 and F50 for the 24/60, and maybe a low-end G, then it'll sell. The F32 is cheap, plus it's a 24mm F, a rare bird, so it'll sell. 16 bucks is a lot, though, for 1 F when you can pick up a 3-pack of E9s for that much or less. However, very few motors are designed for the longer 24mm motors, and that's a sticking point. I say either trash the 18mm RMS or add a C6, C12, or even low-impulse E (if they can make a 3-pack of 30Ns E9 18mm reloads, and sell it for under $12 (compared to about 18 for 3 Estes E9), then they've got a winner.

Second,

Sick

I've had a nasty cold since Sunday - the usual stuffy nose, piles of used kleenexs, general fatigue, etc. It's especially weird for me, since even anithistamines have fairly strong effects on me. Half a dose of 4-6 hour pills makes me mostly very tired - I assume the effects are similar to being stoned, with occasional 15-minute spells of intense concentration and ability. (I did as much work in one of those periods as in the other 1 hr 45 mins in was at work). In addition, they sometimes give me short speels of high - but tolerable and not really painful with closed eyes - light sensitivity.

But that's not the craxy bit. I've also got a stone in one of my salivary ducts. Wikipedia link. Basically, a 2mm wide ball of minerals that is causing some pain and swelling. According to my dad, a dentist, it'll come out painlessly fairly sooon. Like 80 to 90 percent of such stones, it's in the submandibular gland - in the floor of the mouth.

Thoughts from a Darkened Room

(or, the most emo thing I've said in years.)
I took a shower is complete darkness, save a bit of skyglow thru the small window - tonight. It was quite nice to get fully dark-adapted and see how much I could see with almost no illumination - haven't done that for a while.

I noted something which has been kicking around in my head for a while. When you're fairly dark-adapted and in a room with fairly homogenous darkness, then everything does not appear uniformly dark, but instead grainy. My idea, which may or may not be based in any sort of reality, is that each 'grain' is in fact a single photon, and that your brain sees higher concentrations of photons in an area as lighter, even though there aren't enough photons to see it as a uniform brightness. Any bright object - except for a dimly illuminated cloudy sky - is bright enough - has enough photons coming from it - that it's perceived as uniformly bright.