Sunday, January 31, 2010

That's a lot of motor

I ordered just 13 motors that came on friday, and 9 of them were blackpowder. But they pack quite a punch:

The 9 D12 motors, at 16.8 Ns (Newton-seconds) each, have a total of 151.2 Ns. That's in the upper range of 'G' motor impulse - one more D12 would push it into the high-power range. In fact, At 10.2 N average thrust, 9 motors equals 91.8 N average thrust, and 9 motors with 21g of propellant each equals 189g of propellant; both of those figures would make it a 'High-Power' rocket if they were lauched as a 9-motor cluster.

Fortunately, I only use 4 at a time, which equals a mid-range (67.2 Ns) F41 motor.

2 F35Ws at 57.1 Ns and 30g of propellant each, 1 G53FJ at 60g and 90.9 Ns, and 1 G64W at 63g and 118.8 Ns equals 323.9 Ns (just into 'I' range) and 183g of propellant of composite motors.

Added to the 9 D12s, that's a whopping total of 372g (13.1 oz) of propellant with a total impulse of 475.1 Ns, which works out to the total equivalent of a mid-range I motor.

Now that's a lot of motor.

Viper IV part 2: starting to build

Due to things like homework, tennis lesson, extreme tiredness, and all-around apathy, I haven't gotten much done in the lat few days, much less any building.

However, this evening I've gotten a little bit done with the Viper IV.

First, I sanded the fins. This didn't take very long. 240-grit sandpaper smoothed out the flat faces of the fins very nicely, and for the edges I just used a few strokes of 120-grit, then steel wool, which gave it a nice shiny-smooth surface.

Next I started assembling the motor mounts by gluing together 2 pairs of tubes, then adding fillets on the side that will be the inside. (The outside doesn't get fillets yet, because I still have to attach the fins).

To make the launch lug a little better, I put CA on the ends, preventing the cardboard from unraveling.

Finally, I started wotk on the motor retention system. I found a washer that's big enough to hold the motors and still not deflect the thrust, and a way to attach it to the threaded rod. Then I glued two nuts to a pair of motor tubes and spaced them with the threaded rod. Once i use a little epoxy clay to hold them in place, the motor retention system will be downright bulletproof.

Blegh... back to my English essay now, which is due tuesday.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Thoughts on my 24/60 motor

The 24/60 motor is really nice. The walls of the case are about twice as thick as the 24/40 case, and it just feels solider. It's built much more like the 29/40-120 casing and 29mm high-power casings than it is the 24/40 casing, in fact.

The forward closures seem similar, and to an extent they are. The main recess is the same size, and the they use the same o-ring and delay elements. However, the 24/60 closure has more threads for screwing into the case, and the threads are thicker and more separated, indicating that the new case can take a lot more pressure, which it certainly will since the closures will likely be the same for the 24/120 system.

The aft closure is also designed for higher pressure. There's also the stronger threads, and the closure itself is far bigger, with the thick flare of the larger reload cases.

The reloads are almost identical; all the parts are the the same size and positioning (except for the lengthened fuel grain) except for the aft o-ring. In the older and smaller (24/40) reloads, the aft rubber o-ring is larger in diameter (3/32" versus 1/16") than the forward ring. However, in the new, larger (24/60) loads, both rings are 1/16". The lack of size difference means one less possibility for a mistake when loading the motor, and that's a mistake that's easy to make, not easily noticed afterwards, and completely capable of causing a CATO that costs you a 40-dollar motor case.

The F35-8W kits also have a fourth o-ring, different from the 3 rings (aft, forward, and delay) normally in the kit. This made no sense, until Dick Stafford pointed me towards this assembly drawing of the F35-8. The required length of the delay element to generate an 8-second delay is just shorter than the length of the surrounding insulator tube - too short to use a cardboard spacer. Instead, they use a 1/16" o-ring as the spacer, which makes perfect sense, but only in retrospect. That the spacer is sometimes an o-ring is not mentioned at all in the instructions.

Speaking of which, they really ought to update the instructions. The halftone black-and-white illustrations are hard to understand. They should just use the colorized and modernized versions available on their website.

I love my 24/40 case, because it's so easy to use and I can use it with a variety of cheap reloads. The 24/60 case looks to be just a user-friendly and the relaods are very reasonable priced for their impulse. Currently there's only the F35W (White Lightning) reload available, but apparently there will be Blue Thunder (T), Black Jack (J) or Black Max (FJ), and Redline (R) propellants available pretty soon. I'm not a big fan of Blue Thunder because it doesn't produce much visible tracking smoke, but the smoky Black load sounds like a lot of fun, and of course I love Redlines.

I also can't wait for the 24/120 case, which will use the same closures.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Viper IV build thread part 1: the parts

Because I'm bored, and it's my fervent but misguided hope that there's at least one person on planet earth who is interested (and also cause it'll help write the EMRR review), I present the Viper IV build thread.

I might cross-post it on TRF. Basically depends on if I feel like it tomorrow.

(note on abbreviations: LOC-Precision, here just 'LOC', is the company that makes the kit, including all the components. PNC = Plastic Nose Cone; BT = Body Tube)

Without further ado, what actually came in the bag:

  • Nose cone: 3.5:1 plastic ogive PNC-2.56, color off-white. The shoulder is 2.5" long and includes a molded eye for shock cord attachment. It's standard-issue LOC thick-walled plastic - 112g (3.95 oz) accoridng to Apogee, and has raised ribs on the seams.
  • Body tube: 30" of LOC BT-2.56; 2.56" internally and 2.63" externally weighing 139g (4.92 oz). The tube is thick-walled and high-quality, with an outer glassine wrap for strength and ease of finishing. The spirals are tight and shallow and will not interfere with finishing.
  • Coupler: 3" of LOC 2.56" tube coupler; 2.479" internally and 2.555" externally weighing 11.8g (0.41 oz). It is also thick-walled and made of kraft paper; it is used to fit the 4 motor tubes into the rocket. Formerly Viper IV kits contained 2 plywood centerting rings, but those tended to snap durign sendign hence the change.
  • Motor tubes: 4 lengths of LOC 24mm motor tube, each 12" long and in total weighing about 1 ounce. As well as the motor mounts, they are the entire aft end of the rocket.
  • Fins: 4 plywood fins each 1/8" thick and total weight about 2 ounces. The root is 5" long, the tip 2", and they they're 4" wide. The plywood is incredibly high quality - very strong, and just 2 minutes with 120-grit sandpaper and steel wool makes each fin smooth on the faces and glass-like on the edges.
  • Shock cord: 8 feet of 1/4" flat elastic for the shock cord plus a short length of nylon to mount it to the wall of the tube. Not incredibly strong, and below Madcow quality, but good enough.
  • Parachute: 18" diameter circular black ripstop nylon parachute with 6 medium-length sewn-on nylon shroud lines. High quality and able to stand up to abuse; however, there is one tear in the edge sewing that is mostly merely cosmetic and takes 10 seconds with a sewing machine to fix.
  • Launch lug: 6" of LOC 1/4" diameter launch lug. Decent quality.

To which I will likely add the following:

  • Quick-link: simply to aid in changing the parachute.
  • Motor retention: threaded rod between the motor mounts plus a few assorted nuts and washers. Will prevent the ejection charges from pushing the motors out instead of the parachute.
  • Chute protector: 9" piece of aramid (Kevlar™) cloth that does not burn, to protect the parachute from the heat of the ejection charges. Will add with a quick-link to allow use on multiple rockets.
  • Rail buttons: to allow launching off launch pads with launch rods or launch rails.

The total height is 9 + 30 + (12-3) = 48 inches tall. My second-tallest rocket after the Nike-Apache, my third cluster (after the Twofer and Multi-Goon), and my first 4-motor cluster.

Pictures, simulations, and actual building coming soon.

Testing chutes and streamers

After days of rain, snow, ridiculous wind, and not being home between sunrise and sunset, I finally got a chance to test some of my new parachutes from the other day.

All 4 chutes work well - they fold, unfold, and carry weight perfectly well even in below-freezing temperatures (when plastic chutes would be a solidified blob o' non-draggy-ness) and the well-placed nylon lines work well. In fact, when the 13" chute landed in a tree, the lines were thick and slidy enough that the wind later pushed it out. (A plastic chute with string lines would have tangled and ripped).

The streamers also worked fairly well, though I think nylon is a bit too thick for small streamers.

Scariest Error Message ever

I waw browsing online earlier.. and suddenly an error message for 'SysFader.exe' popped up, saying that Internet Explorer had attempted to read memory at an invalid address. It looked like a virus, and stayed on my screen even though I hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete. I figured it could be bad.

Then, I went on the desktop and looked it up. Turns out, sysfader.exe is a process that smooths out transitions between applications on systems running with Nvidia graphics cards. It's not a neccessary process, but certainly isn't a virus. I hit cancel, and it turns out all that happened was IE closed the malfunctioning tab. A virus scan turned up nothing except the usual rogue's gallery of harmless tracking cookies.

All seems to be functioning again, but it was scary for a few minutes.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I've been defluinated!

I got the H1N1 vaccine today. One squirt up each nostril and it was over - ridiculously easy and absolutely painless. So much better than a traditional shot. I'm glad to be safe and this was easy.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Where is my order?

I ordered my stuff from Hobbylinc 11 days ago. It supposedly shipped out 8 days ago, on the 19th, but the tracking number only says that the shipper notified for delivery. Usually the USPS is pretty good with tracking, and all my previous Hobbylinc orders have taken less than 5 days to ship, so I'm confused..

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

New chutes!

Thanks to the awesome sewing skills of my mom, I have 4 new parachutes.

They're 12", 18", and 24" squares and a 36" hexagon. They are made from bright orange ripstop nylon with black stiching and center marks (for easy folding). The lines are 1/8" nylon cord, designed for a good balance keeping the parachute open without being too bulky.

The lines are attached in a special way on the hex chute to lessen tangling. Instead of having the lines connect corners 1-2, 3-4, 5-6 (i.e, each line connects two adjacent corners), they're attached 1-2, 3-6, 4-5 which prevents them from crossing while being folded.

She also sewed eyeholes on a few nylon streamers. More about those...sometime.

If this is a bad day, then I have it pretty good

It's almost 11:30 at night, and I'm dead tired. I've got a page or more to write for English (about the Puritans) plus the entire second act of The Crucible to read. It'll be nearly 1 before I get to sleep, so I'll get just 5 hours of sleep. And I won't even get done the stuff due Friday that I really need to work on, and I have a verb test in Spanish that I haven't studied for. Plus I have a runny nose and headache.

But, The Crucible isn't too bad - it's modern English, easy to understand, and the characters are fully explained by the author. I'll have plenty of time the next two days, hopefully, to work on everything and get caught up. Assuming I survive till the weekend, I'll have two days and little to do, so I can get ahead on homework, catch up on my reading list, and maybe get some building done on the Viper IV if it comes soon.

As for the sickness, the decongestant I took earlier is helping a lot, and I'll take an antihistamine tonight which'll help me sleep well and feel better. Ironically, I think it's the stress of all this homework and the lack of sleep that's contributing to my feeling sick and tired and just generally apathetic.

On the other hand, even though this is dragging me down, it's making me realize how fortunate I am, to have a nice family and friends and live in a country with good education, and to have a roof over my heads. And electricity back too, though it took 23 hours so let's not talk about that...

Aerotech Sparkies!

According to their Facebook page, Aerotech will be releasing sparkies soon.

This. Is. Awesome.

For those not familiar with rocketry, sparky motors have titanium mesh (sponge) embedded in the propellant, so as to produce a shower of golden sparks in the exhaust. It's incredibly loud and incredibly cool:

(Image from SouthEast Alabama Rocketry Society; it's John Hansel's Nike Smoke on an M1730)

There's actually been a bit of contention lately about sparky G motors which I don't understand; if you want to try to figure it out than I refer you to Dick Stafford. I'm really not sure how AT sparkies fit in, other than it removes some of the argument that they would want to limit sparkies because they didn't make them.

All I know is this: more motor choices = good, possibly flying sparkies with my Aerotech hardware = good, and that I hope to be able to fly sparkies at CATO (no more than G impulse) someday.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Power Outage

A huge branch took out the main branch line to my subdivision this afternoon, and the power company appears to be a bunch of clueless goons who haven't figured out how to maintain their infrastructure and repair it, so I've only got a few minutes online (at a church, ironically enough) and I need it for homework. There's a small chance it'll be back on later this evening, but for now there's not much chance.

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

2009 Motor Usage and Stats


Because it'd prolly be a good idea to have 2010 motor usage (currently 0) up on the sidebar, instead of 2009 stats.

By motor used:
MMX: 5
1/4A3-3: 1
1/2A3-4: 7
A3-4: 6
A8-3: 12
A8-5: 3
A10-3: 10
B6-0: 4
B6-2: 10
B6-4: 10
B6-6: 1
C6-0: 8
C6-3: 10
C6-5: 6
C6-7: 1
D12-0: 7
D12-3: 5
D15-4T: 2
D21-4T: 1
D21-7T: 1
E15-4W: 1
E18-4W: 2
E23-8T: 1
F12-3J: 1
F23-4FJ: 1
G53-7FJ: 1
G71-4R: 1
G78-7G: 1
H165R-M: 2

Total number of motors: 121
Total impulse: 1570.4
Average impulse per motor: 12.98Ns (29.8% D)
Total flights: 107
Average impulse per flight: 14.68Ns (46.8% D)
# Rockets flown: 52

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Too. Damn. Busy.

Blegh, I didn't have time to post yesterday. Immediately after school, I drove up to Massachusetts to go skiing with my dad. The conditions were very good and we had a great time, but I was absolutely wiped out by the time we were done - I slept in the car for the second time in my life - and I was too tired when we got home to post.

Then, this morning I took the SAT. I hate getting up early, and it's certainly not the most fun way to spend a saturday morning, but it went pretty well and it should be done and over with. Now I just gotta wait three weeks for my scores....

After that, I went to work, and then went to see Sherlock Holmes with my folks. Which is an absolutely amazing movie. It's rather dark and it's not the most flattering or apetizing portrayal of the Victorians, but it's so deliciously geeky and steampunk and highly entertaining. And so many nice references to the original canon...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hobbico aquires Estes

And there was much rejoicing.

Not really, but the news did provoke some positive reactions on TRF.

Recently, to the chagrin of many, Estes seems to have been heading down the road of 3FNC - easy-to-build, mostly-plastic kits with 3 fins and a nose cone for beginners.

It used to be that Estes was always the forefront of model rocketry, with innovative kits for skilled modelers, and even their beginner kits were like the Alpha - kits with balsa fins and cardboard motor mounts that taught the beginner how to cut balsa, construct a parachute, paint a rocket, and FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS. And hey, they liked it, because they felt a pride in what they made, and those kids from the 60s and 70s and 80s make up most of rocketry today. And those skills, and that pride, it's just so lacking in the plastic made-in-China almost-ready-to-fly 'kits' that make up an alarmingly high percent of their product line today.

Dang, I sound like I'm old.

I'm not saying that Hobbyco buying Estes is going to immediately restore Estes to the prestiged status it once held. But they're a leader in producing high-quality kits across a wide range, including their Revell plastic model kits which are really no different than they were 30 years ago, and probably even better. Someone on TRF said that he has ...connections in the industry, who told him that Hobbyco would likely carry through with the Classic Series and possibly a new Saturn V.

On Science

I can't even try to describe how epically right Calamities of Nature is today. Just go read it yourself.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rockets I plan to build

I've got a bunch of rockets that I plan to build. Some soon, some...not so soon. In order of probability of ever flying:

18mm scale model of NASA's testbed rocket; kit from Quest. I was given it through TRF's Secret Santa exchange, but I haven't built it yet. I may wait a month or two to build it only so I don't have too huge of a backlog for painting my rockets. The only modification I will make to the stock design is to add a little extra nose weight so as to me able to fly it on 18mm C6 and D13 motors.

Viper IV:
4x24mm cluster rocket; kit from LOC Precision. Order currently being processed by Hobbylinc. The only modification I will make is adding a threaded rod for motor retention.

18mm booster:
A generic booster stage for 18mm booster motors, mostly used for adding altitude to underpowered 13mm and 18mm rockets. Its predecessor was utterly destroyed in an unfortunate accident. This one will have stronger fins and a better engine block than the first one - the engine block coated with something so as to not burn from the motor exhaust.

Mach My Day II:
A better 18mm machbuster. My previous one, the Mach My Day, was unstable on anything bigger than an A. It also needed a bunch of nose weight to fly at all, and then it was too heavy to hit Mach. I have a balsa nose cone coming in the mail, and I'll use 18" or so of light BT-20. Probably balsa fins coated with wood glue, or maybe thin basswood. It'll weigh no more than half an ounce. Painted red or black for visibility.

24mm machbuster:
To complete a range of mid-power machbusters. Plastic Von Karman nose cone from Apogee, 18" body tube, and balsa or thin plywood fins. No more than an ounce unloaded. It'll fly on F32-8Ts, maybe E30-7Ts.

29mm drag racer:
Blue tube body, plastic nose cone, plywood fins. Everything attached with wood glue and pretty conventional materials (even Blue Tube is just resin-soaked paper, not that different from phenolic), and I will put it up against any other 29mm rocket out there on anything from a 24mm D to a Cesaroni I224 (at 381Ns, the single most powerful 29mm motor available). Wildman brags that their Blackhawk can "blow the fins off any rocket willing to drag race". I resent that. With blue tube, I can make a lighter, faster rocket that'll survive Mach 2 speeds. If I make it, and I likely will, then I will drag race anyone with a Blackhawk at the next high-power launch I can get to.

29mm saucer:
29mm motor waster. Not that likely because I already have the pyramid.

4" rocket:
A 4" rocket like the Pemtech King Kraken or the Madcow Patriot with a 38mm motor mount that's light enough to fly on Gs but strong enough for small Js. Nice, but pricey at around 100 bucks, plus of course the motor casing...

29mm drag racer:
Blue tube body, plastic nose cone, plywood fins. Everything attached with wood glue and pretty conventional materials (even Blue Tube is just resin-soaked paper, not that different from phenolic), and I will put it up against any other 29mm rocket out there on anything from a 24mm D to a Cesaroni I224 (at 381Ns, the single most powerful 29mm motor available). Wildman brags that their Blackhawk can "blow the fins off any rocket willing to drag race". I resent that. With blue tube, I can make a lighter, faster rocket that'll survive Mach 2 speeds. If I make it, and I likely will, then I will drag race anyone with a Blackhawk at the next high-power launch I can get to.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More New Stuff from Cesaroni

Cesaroni today released details of their January 7th testing session, where they tested 14 motors and certified 5 new reloads.

Two of the motors were with their new Green3 propellant, which looks a little brighter than Mojave Green, though with more yellow. The 3 is becuase the propellant is green, it burns green, and it's earth-green - no barium nitrate. supposedly. Instead, it uses barium oxide or barium chloride, which don't have the nasty nitrate ion.

Those new green reloads are:
H159GR-15A (298 Ns): Pro29-3G
K490GR-16A (1990 Ns): Pro54-5G

Also for the Pro29-3G is the G54RL-12A, a longburn (3 seconds) full G motor with their Red Lightning propellant. They plan to release more Longburn™ loads later this year.

For the Pro75-6G motor is the M2075 Smokey Sam, weighing in at 6287 Ns. It makes A LOT of smoke:

Finally, there's a weird motor, the M3700 White Thunder. It's a "special-order high-power" modification of the 2.75" Mighty Mouse rocket motor. It's 5.3 grains, for which you can use either a Pro75-5.3G case, or a Pro75-6G case with a .7G spacer; both are now certified. It comes in at 6800Ns.

Finally, the last item tested was the spacer system for their Pro29 line. Now, all of their 29mm through 98mm cases can use spacers.

I always like seeing new motors. However, I'd rather see more smaller motors, and until Cesaroni manages to get their motors into more vendors in the US, especially online, it's not worth the expense to special-order their products, especially when Aerotech loads are cheaper for the sizes I fly.

(Information and pictures via Rocketry Planet.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Current fleet

6mm/MMX (7):
Pen Rocket
RNGbane the Valkyrie

13mm (14):
WAC Corporal
mandachan! 2
Electric Mosquito
13mm saucer

18mm (22):
Nike Goon1
Cloud Hopper
Orbital Transport5
18mm saucer
Nuclear Mosquito
Screaming Yellow Zonker!
Astron Invader
Glider 23
Scissor-Wing Transport
GBU-23 Paveway III
Alexi Leonov2
Frankenstein II
Cosmic Cobra

24mm (7):
Nantucket Sound
24mm saucer
Deltie Thunder
Viper IV1,4

29mm (6):
Great Pumpkin
29mm Pyramid
Machnum Force

38mm (1):
Mach Goon1

56 compete rockets plus one lone booster

At last count I had 47 including the Vampire. Since then I've added:
6mm: NARCONket
13mm: Heli-roc, Twofer, Odyssey
18mm: MLAS, Nike Goon, (lost Mach My Day)
24mm: Multi-Goon, Viper IV, (lost Lord Gavin)
29mm: Quaddy, Great Pumpkin, Pyramid
38mm: Mach Goon

1: Never flown (10)
2: Sustainer and boosters (4)
3: Booster only (1)
4: Have kit, have not yet built (2)
5: Built but awaiting painting (5)

Massive Rocket Order

I've been waiting for a while to make an order from Hobbylinc, so this one had a lot of stuff:

LOC Viper IV kit
3 packs of Estes D12-5

The Viper is an awesome 4x24mm cluster kit; there's almost a dozen of them at CATO, and almost every month they get drag-raced. The 3 packs equal 2 flights plus a spare.

24/60 RMS system
1 pack of F35-8W reloads

There's more loads coming out soon for the 24/60, and the 24/120 will share the rear closure and possibly the forward closure. They're also the cheapest F laods around, and 50% more impulse than 24/40 F loads. They'll be a good match for the Mozzie, the Quaddy, and the Nike-Apache.

G53-7FJ load
G64-7W load

Two loads for my 29/40-120 motor case. I like the smoky Black Max (FJ) and White Lightning (W) laods.

Estes wadding

It's a pain, but ya gotta have it...

29mm motor tube 34" long
1/4" launch lugs

The motor tube is for future projects, especially a 29mm saucer, and I need the quarter-inch lugs for larger rockets.

First Fire Jr. igniters (6)

Because I always need spares for malfunctioning igniters, and the FFJrs are so much easier to use than Copperheads.

18mm balsa nose cone

For the Mach My Day II: a better-designed 18mm machbuster that will actually be stable and hit Mach on a D21-7T.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Multi-Goon Color Schemes

I've come up with no less than 12 possible designs for the Multi-Goon. They're mostly split into multi-colored designs (since it's the Multi-Goon) and cool-looking designs. Please choose one (or a few) designs and leave your preference in the comments. Thanks.

#12 is done in the style of the old Estes multi-roc which was the inspiration for the name.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Refinishing the SpaceShipOne

Between a botched building (trying to use wood glue on a very humid day), botched painting (I didn't bother to prime it, ran out of spray paint halfway through, and then finished painting with ill-matching brush paint), and spending the better part of last february in a tree, the SpaceShipOne was not a great-looking rocket. Then, some of the decals started peeling off, half of it was covered with dirt, and one boom broke, which required epoxy clay to fix it plus more non-matching paint.

In short, it looked like crap.

However, it's a good rocket. I mean, it survived a while hanging in a tree, and except for the one broken boom due to the bad landing, it's taken some hits, so it's obviously a solid rocket.

So, I decided to fix it, and fix it right. That means a completely new paint job, making the booms stronger, bettering the motor mount, and better stability.

The stability is ironically the easy part. I just added another half an ounce to weight to the nose cone, which means slower launch speeds but far better resistance to wind gusts once it's in the air.

The motor mount will also be fairly simple. All I really need to do it to beef up the fillets, so I fly the SpaceShipOne on 18mm Ds, especially the D13-7 which is reloadable, smokey, and cheap.

The booms, on the other hand, will take a lot more work. They're made of thin balsa (1/8") which was not even very high quality, and since the rocket lands on them when coming down under its parachute, they are prone to breaking. In fact, one already did, on a landing under parachute on soft ground. I'm reinforcing all the fillets in place, and will cover the areas around the joints, which are the most prone to breaking, with wood glue or epoxy clay.

The hardest part, of course, will be refinishing the SpaceShipOne. I removed the decals, then sanded off most of the paint, especially the thick and bumpy parts. As soon as we get a warm day (It was almost warm enough today), I will prime it with automotive primer, which alone will eliminate much of the spotty paint job from before. Then, I'll give it two light, even coats of white paint, for a perfect finish, and then one of red for the masked-off areas on the leading edges and the nose tip. I'll reapply what decals I can and replicate the rest (or buy a second kit, use the parts for another rocket, and use the decals for this).

At the end of all that, It'll be a pretty nice rocket. Not quite a perfect kit, but pretty darn close, and certainly a rocket worth putting on display and flying.

Paavo John Rahkonen

Via Rocketry Planet comes the sad news that Paavo John Rahkonen, a pioneer in solid-fuel rocketry, passed away in December at age 79.

He was born in Brooklyn, NY, on January 16, 1930 to Finnish immigrants Paarly Johannes Rahkonen and Linda Lujunen. He studied at the USAF Institute of Technology and worked for the Air Force for 6 years, as well as at Republic Aviation, Curtiss-Wright, and Martin (of Lockheed-Martin).

At Morton-Thiokol in Utah, he invented ammonium-perchlorate composite propellant, which powers the Space Shuttle's solid rocket boosters as well as most mid-power and high-power model rocket motors. He met G. Harry Stine in 1963, who introduced his work to the model rocket community, and in 1982 Gary Rosenfield of Aerotech introduced the first commercial composite propellant motor, a G30.

Rakhonen, with his company Propulsion Dynamics (Prodyne) introduced several motors to the market, including D2, E2, and F2 (!) 'Cyclone' motors, and in the early 1990s, a K700 composite motor. At Thiokol, he worked with Irving S. Wait, who with RDC produced the Enerjet motors, and with George Roos who founded FSI, which also made model rocket motors.

He is survived by his wife Francoise and five children, 13 grandchildren, and 6 great-grandchildren. Rest in peace, Paavo, and we salute you for helping make rocketry what it is today.

Rocket Materials

In the January-February issue of Sport Rocketrt, which came on Thursday in the mail, there's an article on It's a site with data on failure testing of various high-power rocket materials, with data on everything from shock cords and quick-links to fin materials and motor retention systems.

Two things about the article stuck out for me. First, they tested little tiny 1/8" quick-links rated at 220 lbs. It took over a ton of force (2353 lbs on average) to snap them:

That's over 10 times the rated strength. Pretty incredible, and it means that they're suitable for connecting a nose cone weighing 47 pounds, or connecting a 'chute to a body weighing 47 pounds. (Standard practice says have a 50:1 weight:strength margin for recovery devices).

Second, the author mentions that he built a Level-3 high power rocket with nothing but cardboard and wood parts and wood glue for adhesive, because with a proper joint, wood glue is stronger than the wood and cardboard and is thus an acceptable alternative to epoxy. My use of wood glue as a strength-adder: vindicated!

Post 666!

666 is a mathematically interesting number.

It is equal to 2·32·37

666=1+2+3+4+....+34+35+36 and is thus the 36th triangular number and thus the number of objetcts in a triangle 36 objects on a side.

It is equal to the sum of the squares of the first 11 prime numbers: 22 + 32 + 52 + 72 + 112 + 132 + 172 = 666

It is the sum of all roman numerals under 1000: DCLXVI = 500 + 100 + 50 + 10 + 5 + 1 = 666

Because of some rather shaky numerology, many Christian denominations and sects consider it to be the number of the devil, which is why some people are really afraid of it.

Old 666 was a B-17 bomber in the Pacific theater in World War II with the tail number 12666. Until 1943, it had a reputation as a cursed plane that took heavy damage on every flight, and it was being canibalized for parts at the Port Moresby airfield. Jay Zeamer, a pilot with a degree in civil engineering from MIT, who had been unable to find an aircraft for his own, aquired the aircraft and fixed it to flying condition, plus adding improvements like increasing the number of defensive guns from 13 to 19, replacing all .30 caliber guns with .50 caliber, adding a gun for the pilot, and even leaving extra machine guns inside the aircraft to replace any guns that malfucntioned in flight. These improvements made it the most heavily armed plane in the entire Pacific.

On one flight, they shot out searchlights with their guns; on another, they skip-bombed a Japanese carrier. On June 16, 1943, the Old 666 went on an incredible mission: an unescorted 1200-mile-round-trip recon mission. Even while being attacked by 17 Japanese fighters, they completed their mission and shot down at least 3 of the attackers. The bomber was shot up and almost the entire crew was injured, but they completed their mission and made an emergency landing on a friendly airfield. Zeamer, who barely survived, and bombardier Joseph Sarnoski, who shot down an attacker after being fatally wounded, received Metals of Honor, and the rest of the crew received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Svetlana or Tsundere?

Thanks to mandachan, I've decided to rename the Quaddy, because I don't like the name much. It sounds too... Irish, and doesn't fit the personality of the rocket.

Instead, it's going to be either 'Svetlana' or 'Tsundere', both of which are jokes between mandachan and I, and they fit the rocket better.

I've also been working on possible paint schemes. The upper left in this first pciture is the new color scheme for the E9-powered Big Daddy, which looks just bad to me, like an anime art bus or something. Below it is the old-style paint scheme, which is closer to what I'm looking for. The right pair were my own ideas.

Based on mandachan's feedback, I drew up some more designs, all in Paint. She likes the bottom two designs, so once the weather warms up and I can prime and paint it that'll be what it looks like.

The only bad part about the Svetlana / Tsundere is its weight. It's already approximately 11 ounces, and may well reach 14 ounces unloaded with paint, primer, and parachute. That would, unfortunately, eliminate the D12 and E9 from the running as motors except on very calm days. However, it'd be a bit more recoverable on E through G motors thanks to the higher weight.

I'm hoping for first flight by April on an E18-4W.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cesaroni Pro24!

Via TRF comes the news that Cesaroni is planning to come out with Pro24 motors.

According to the CTI website, they'll share other common attributes of the ProX system, including easy assembly, adjustable delays, and instant-on ignition.

On Rocketry Planet, Jerome of CTI pointed out not to put engine blocks in 24mm rockets, implying that the cases will be long.

Aerotech, meanwhile, is continuing its plans for world domination awesomeness with new loads for the 24/60 and 24/120 cases and 24mm SU motors, in Redline, White Lightning, Black Jack, and Blue Thunder flavors.

New motors: always a win!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Quaddy: Almost finished!

I finished all the fin fillets, internal and external, a few days ago, and they were so strong that they didn't even really need epoxy reinforcement. I then put fillets on both sides of the forward centering ring, then glued on the back ring and filleted it, for 4 strong fins and a bombproof 29mm motor mount.

I didn't like my original design for the ejection tube - I felt it would interfere with loading the parachute - so I took a 29mm-24mm ring and glued it into place at the top of the motor mount. The original ejection tube, with the 18-29mm ring at the bottom, is now free-floating and can be removed for packing the parachute. It'll prolly make a bit more sense with pictures...

Finally, I sanded the fins smooth, tied the shock cord to the nose cone, and glued on two 1" section sof 1/4" launch lug (former the igniter tube for an H165R reload).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

History Essays

You don't get much of a post right now, possibly a better one earlier tomorrow morning, because I'm working on history stuff.

My teacher decided to inform us, today, that 30% of our exam grade (which is 20% of the course grade; therefore the essays are 6% of our final course grade) will be for typing two essays tomorrow. We were all operating on the assumption that they would be handwritten on Friday with more time during the regularly scheduled exam block.

He seems to expect that we will produce two single-spaced pages per essay, for 4 pages total. In my experience, a single-spaced page is around 600 words, so that's 2400 words we're expected to type in one hour, or 40 wpm (words per minute) continuous. Without even considering that we need time to think, or that we might not actually have that much to write, or that we might need bathroom breaks, or that we physically cannot type that fast. I personally type at 45 wpm in short bursts - under two minutes - and around 20 wpm for longer stretches, so 40 wpm will not be possible for me.

Mind you, this is a mid-level (I didn't have time to take AP History) college-prep course, in high school. With mostly average kids, and no guarantee of typing skills. So I'll prolly turn out better than most (I can hunt-and peck faster than most of my classmates can type with the traditional 'home row' method, which is more efficient at high skill levels but rather illogical for the Qwerty keyboard and rather inefficient for unskilled typists), but I'll still be lucky to finish one essay during the time alloted. Perhaps my teacher, when he sees that the assigned task is impossible, can be convinced to drop one essay, or to have one typed at home.

The three essays (of which we are permitted to pick two) are:

1) Analyze the Truman Doctrine from 1954 to 1975.

2) Discuss the validity of the following statement: "The failure of the civil rights movement in the 1950s proves that only violence can secure liberty in the United States"

3) Evaluate the presidency of Richard Nixon. Was he a failure or a success?

The first is a very bad essay prompt, because it excludes the Korean War and the majority of the Marshall Plan - the two single most important uses of the Truman Doctrine - and really only leaves Vietnam.

The second sets up a straw-man argument to be debated. I'm really considering taking this prompt and arguing the wrong stance - that only violence can create positive social change - simply to subvert the issue and maybe teach my teacher a few new tricks.

The third should be interesting. You could label Nixon as a blundering idiot or a foreign-policy genius. Perhaps I'll argue both stances: that on domestic issues, including Watergate, the man was a clueless asshole, while in international politics, assisted by Henry Kissinger, he was a genius who simultanously established detente with China and the CCCP (Soviet Russia). Perhaps in the form of two characters arguing, as thinkers much greater than I have used in the past.

In any case, I won't do exactly what my teacher wants or thinks. He wants two clear-cut essays, 5 paragraphs of meaningless bullshit, expressing exactly his views. He's going to get one essay and one original work of dialogue, with opposite views from his, and with facts and quotes he's never seen before. And the absolute worst thing that happens is that my grade drops one or two points.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ace Monocopter

Ken Kzak reports on his 48" monocopter. It flew on an OOP (out of production) G33-5J last October. Quite well. And he's got awesome pictures, so go take a look!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Quaddy Pictures

See, from the outside, it looks just like a normal Big Daddy, or at leats it will once paint covers up the white fins:

But, when you look in the business end, it's a lot different. The four fins are coated with white tissue paper, and the motor mount has been upgraded to 29mm. The grey blob in the southwest corner is the threaded rod for motor retention.

The front end looks different as well. The long skinny tube is the baffle tube, which redirects the force of the ejection charge through the hole in the nose cone, pushing it off without burning the parachute. (The pink seen inside the nose cone is the 3 ounces of clay at its tip).

I just can't wait to fly the Quaddy. First flight will be on a D12-3 or E18-4, but I'm planning to buy a few F24 reloads, and eventually I plan to fly it on a G75J-M, which should take it to around 2400 feet according to Openrocket. On a calm day, I can recover that at Salem. Of course, the next time I head out to NERRF, it's flying on something bigger than that. An H128W or H165R. Ironically, even though the H128 and H165 have a little more total impulse (power) than the G75, because the G75 has a lower average thrust and longer burn time, it'll actually launch the Quaddy a little higher.

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Heliroc pictures

I'm not quite done with the Heli-roc - it still needs fillets on the blade stops, and of course the decals - but it's close enough to being finished to take a few pictures.

Here it is with the blades by the sides, as it is during launch:

And here it is with the blades deployed (with rubber bands) for descent:

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What I'm listening to

I've been listening to quite a bit of music lately, prolly because I have lots of homework, and music helps me survive history outlines that take till 2 am.

Classic Rock:
Magical Mystery Tour - The Beatles
IV {unamed album} - Led Zeppelin - some of the most epic songs in rock
The Wall - Pink Floyd
Who's Next - The Who
Little Queen - Heart
Best of Bowie - David Bowie
Vital Signs - Survivor - one of my favorite albums
The Best of Classic Rock - a mix CD featuring, among others: Bad Company, Nazareth, Head East, Peter Frampton, Foghat, Blue Oyster Cult, Foreigner, The Cars, Eddie Money, Cheap Trick, .38 Special, Red Rider, Billy Idol, Scorpions, and Whitesnake

Trans-Siberian Orchestra:
The Lost Christmas Eve
Beethoven's Last Night
The Christmas Attic

Indie Rock:
We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank - Modest Mouse - the album that introduced me to indie rock, and still some of the best I've heard
Neon Bible - The Arcade Fire - absolutely mindblowing. Incredible variety and talent, and it gets better every time I listen to it.

Oh, Crap

Now that I've got all four fins glued onto the Quaddy - and it actually really looks like a Big Daddy - I'm starting the fillets. I did a little mental math, and I realized it's going to take some time...

[MMT is the Motor mount Tube that holds the motor in the center of the rocket. The 'walls' are the walls of the main (outside) body tube, and the rings are the cardstock centering rings that center the MMT inside the main tube.]

External fillets:
2 sides per fin * 4 fins = 8 fillets
2 launch lugs * 2 sides per lug = 4 fillets

Internal fillets:
4 fins * 2 sides * 2 places (wall-fin and fin-MMT) = 16 fillets
1 forward ring * 2 sides * (ring-wall and ring-MMT) = 4 fillets
1 aft ring * (ring-wall and ring-MMT) = 2 fillets

TOTAL: 34 fillets

Due to geometry, I can average three fillets at any one time. That's 10ish drying periods, or about 5 days of work. Double that if I add a second round of fillets, or use epoxy for some.

In other words, combine that with all the building I've got left to do, and I'll be lucky if the Quaddy is done building by the beginning of March.

However, there is good news in a few places. I managed to cut the one fin so there's no loss of strength from it being over the retention rod, and it's currently drying. I also talked with my mom and she's willing to make some more chutes for me, so I'm choosing the lightest nylon cloth I've got to make either an 18" or 24" chute, possible both, that'll bring the Quaddy down safely and still fit into the parachute space, which is very small:

2.6" [length] * {ϖ(1.5 [radius of main body tube])2-ϖ(0.6 [radius of MMT])2} = 15 in3

The good news is, I managed to pack a 24" nylon chute, with 8 lines (instead of the 4 these chutes will use), into that space, along with the nose cone. It's just tough wrapping it all around the motor mount tube.

I hate Facebook

Full confession: I have a Facebook.

But I really really hate Facebook. It's not so much the principle of the site that I hate, so much as certain things with the way it's implemented.

First, I hate certain privacy settings. They recently changed the way to choose your settings, which is nice because it gives you more options. But certain defaults are not palatable. There is no way to hide who your friends are and what pages you've become fans of from anyone searching you - and advertisers. And certain details, like 'website', were automatically set to be viewable by everyone - you have to change it to prevent that. You also have to change a setting to prevent your information and profile photo being used in ads aimed at your friends.

Second, the design is clunky. The news feed is a very limited (too limited) feed, and the live feed is the exact opposite - an electronic diarhhea of every single things your friends do. I don't want to see what groups they join, what applications they use, or what they say wall-to-wall. All I want to see is what statuses they post, and maybe when they post pictures or whatever. I liked the old design - a single page that showed all your friends (by last name, not first), their most recent status, and whether they'd updated their profile recently. Simpler and better. Less like #$%$^ing twitter.

Third, the programming is clearly a kludge. It takes forever to load, and often there's timing problems with the feeds - they'll repeat after 25 posts, or only show a few with no way to expand the feed. Bloody annoying.

That said, Facebook can be very useful. I use it to get updates from Madcow and Aerotech, and it's useful for communicating with my friends. It's also useful for keeping in touch with relatives and friends that you don't see much. Even though when you do talk to them, it's often bad, like tonight. I learned from a friend that a guy I knew, who I was on the CT state ARML team with, passed away today in a bus accident. Great guy - ridiculously smart. Made me look like a fool when he got to working on a difficult problem. Vikas Parikh, we won't forget you.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Burning deodorant

Yesterday, for no apparent reason, a smallish chunk fell out of my deodorant. Being a (mostly) responsible scientist, the only possible thing I could do with about 10ccs of solid mystery stuffs is... BURN IT!

Unfortunately, it didn't burn very well. I used a cotton wick that burned slowly, and while it melted quickly, only a little of what melted caught fire. What did burn burned with a whitish flame.

The ingredients are:

Friday, January 8, 2010

It's beginning to look a whole lot like Quaddy

I've got two of the fins currently glued in, as well as the motor mount. It's actually beginning to look much more like a rocket than just a bunch of parts.

Unfortunately, I made two stupid mistakes in building. The first was accidentally aligning the motor retention rod with one of the fin slots; so I'll have to cut the fin tab to make it fit.

The other was to not notice a near-break in the shock cord I used (formerly the shock cord of the Nike-Apache), which I repaired with kevlar and a little bit of epoxy.

Sulfur Hexafluoride

Sulfur hexafluoride, SF6, is a very cool compound. It's a ridiculously heavy gas - 146.06 g/mol, and at 6.164 grams per liter it's over 5 times as dense as air. And yet, incredibly, it's absolutely harmless, except at extremely high concentrations, and only then because it displaces all possible oxygen!

Because it's almost completely nonreactive, it's safe to inhale in small quantities, so long as you are able to get it *out* of your lungs and breath in the carbon dioxide needed to cause the body's breathing reflex. Adam Savage demonstrated it on Mythbusters:

Being an inert gas, it's commonly used for things like window filling and as a non-conducting dielectric in high-voltage transformers and switches. It's also used as a tracer gas is public areas like subways systems because it's harmless, but that practice is mostly banned because SF6 is the most potent known greenhouse gas - it's got a warning potential 22800 times that of carbon dioxide, though it's currently only at a concentration of 6.5 parts per trillion (ppt), about one fifty-millionth (1/50,000,000) the concentration of CO2.

Other odd uses include making ultrasound-visible bubbles in blood vessels, in the casting of magnesium, as a tracer in deep-sea gas exchange studies, and use of its plasma for etching printed circuit boards (PCBs).

One of its few reactions is with lithium; the US Navy uses the reaction to produce high-pressure steam to propel Mark 50 antisubmarine torpedoes to speeds of over 40 knots.

Related compounds include Tellurium hexafluoride and Selenium hexafluoride; the latter of which is also a dense gas - 3.25 times air density - but is poisonous.

One of the few problems with SF6 is that in the presence of an electrical arc, it can be turned into highly poisonous Disulfur decafluoride; S2F10, a chemical weapon considered for use in WWII, that is reportedly so dangerous that a single breath can kill within a day.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Heli-roc: getting stronger...

Now that the epoxy clay has dried, I took a look at the Heli-roc. I had reinforced the thin plastic hinges, which hold the heliocopter blades, with epoxy clat because they seemed very flimsy. I didn't think they could survive the shock of being pulled open by the rubber bands.

Now, with the epoxy clay, they're much stronger. I successfully strung all three with their rubber bands, and they survived several simulated openings, though I do need to reinforce the stop blocks with epoxy of wood glue.

While I had the blades strung, I also performed the recommended test to make sure the blades are properly tilted. I placed it on a dowel and turned my ceiling fan on to 'high', and sure enough, it spun just like it's supposed to. That means that, assuming it survives the forces of flight, it likely will spin down slowly like it's designed to.

The motor hook on the Multi-Goon is now reinforced; building is done, and it's ready for painting.

Anyone got any ideas for paint schemes?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Epoxy Clay!

I finally got around to using the epoxy clay for building today.

I freakin' love this stuff. It's all the benefits of epoxy (delayed curing, rock-solid bond) without the usual problems (dangerous vapors, single-use dispensers,, runniness) plus the special benefits of the clay - that it can be shaped into anything you want, even odd shapes, and that it can be used as instant nose weight. It's not cheap - 15 bucks from Apogee for 4oz worth - but it's well worth it to have hanging around.

First, I broke off six little tiny pieces, and used a wooden skewer to push them right up against the hinges on the Heli-roc. Now the single weakest joints on the rocket are solidly reinforced, and the hinges can still swing freely.

Next, I used a little blob to secure the motor hook in place on the Multi-Goon. Once it dries tomorrow, that'll conclude building on it, and I'll paint it once the weather warms up. So far, I'm not quite sure how to paint it. Possibly black; possibly with all 12 fins painted different colors, and possibly completely different. Suggestions are welcome. Pictures will come once it's painted.

Then came the motor retention rod on the Quaddy. It's now secured solidly to the motor mount, and it's placed perfectly - up on a riser so as to clear thrust rings, and long enough to accomodate the monster 29/180 motor case.

Finally, I had a little blob of extra. I moulded one end of the Quaddy's shock cord into it, then stuck it on the inside of the body tube, far enough down to clear both the nose cone shoulder and the motor mount. Instant shock cord mount? Hells yes.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Sorry, folks

Calculus and chemistry and friend drama and work have conspired to keep me absolutely busy today. So, that means I haven't had time to do anything interesting nor find anything cool on the internets.

But, tomorrow is a short day. That means I can work right after school and have time at home afterwards. I home to get much of the internal assembly of the Quaddy done, includign the epoxying of the motor retention rod.

Monday, January 4, 2010

BSD on the mend

Back in June 2008, Scott Ulrey of Just Rockets (which owns BSD, home of the awesome Thor kit), had an accident with a saw which nearly caused the loss of three fingers and a thumb. At the same time, he was being sued by his estranged wife, which caused him to have to liquidate Just Rockets's inventory (though he kept the legal rights to the name and such).

However, things are looking up. In his post on this thread on TRF, he writes that he's got "only 4.3 fingers on the left but all five on the right...for now", and that he hopes to be done with the arduous divorce proceedings and truly single by march or april.

Even better, he hopes to be producing kits again by spring. If this is able to happen, then I may well help by ordering a 3" Thor, cause it's a pretty cool kit.

Welcome back, Scott.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

More Quaddy building

I got lots more done today.

I finished the fins with a layer of glue and cut the fin tabs shorter (to accomodate the 29mm motor mount), then sanded the outside edges smooth. I'll finish the edges tomorrow.

I cut a 3" length of allthread for the motor retention. I'm planning to use some epoxy clay soon, for the motor hook on the Multi-Goon and the hinges on the Heli-roc, and I'll use the clay to attach the rod to the motor mount.

I piled a bunch of clay and airgun bullets - about 3 ounces worth - into the nose cone of the Quaddy, and packed it all down with a metal rod. That way, it'll be stable even on the 29mm Gs and Hs.

I cut the centering rings to accomodate the 29mm tube. I'm still not sure if I need to reinforce them or not.

Finally, I built the baffle system. I found a leftover 8" length of 18mm tubing and glued tp the end of it an 18/24 ring, a 1/4" piece of 24mm tubing, and an 24/29 ring. That way, it'll glue right into the forward end of the motor tube. I used 18mm tubing instead of 24mm tubing because the hole in the nose cone is slightly off-center due to the plastic eye for attachment, and 24mm tubing would have to be bent whle 18mm tubing remains straight.

I also finally glued the shock cord into the Multi-Goon and superglued the launch lug on. After the epoxy clay, all I need is paint (any suggestions?) and it's ready to fly. First flight will prolly be on 3x A8-3s.

Ugh, back to school tomorrow.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Quaddy building, part 1

I've got the fins started. I glued tissue paper to both sides of all four fins, and I coated one side of all four with glue (for a smoother paint job).

I also cut the motor tube. It's 7" long - exactly the length of tube between the ass end of the rocket, and the shoulder of the nose cone.

Friday, January 1, 2010


For now, I'll be calling my updated Big Daddy the Quaddy. A Q-car, also called a 'sleeper car', is one upgraded to higher performance without changing the outside appearance. Therefore, a Q-Daddy, or Quaddy, must be an upgraded Big Daddy...

I'll be improving or replacing almost every part of the original Big Daddy kit. Why? The original kit is designed for Estes motors - the C11, D12, and E9. All are low-thrust blackpowder motors that are 24mm in diameter, 2.75 or 3.75" long, and have flat frotns and small ejection charges. The stock kit has a 26" shock cord with a standard mount, a 24" plastic chute, thin centering rings, 1/8" balsa fins, and a 3.75" long motor mount with a motor hook and engine block. Fine for the blackpowder motors, so long as you use lots of wadding and fly in warm weather on soft ground.

Not for me. If I'm going to do something, I might as well overdo it.

The Quaddy will be able to fly on everything from 24mm D motors to 29/180 H motors. It'll be stronger, faster, more versatile, and more reliable than the stock kit, not to mention better looking. Because screw stock colors, I'm bringing back the classic Big Daddy colors. Or painting it scarlet and grey. Or something. Anything better than the new paint scheme, which looks like an anime art bus.

The biggest change is the ejection system. A 3" rocket needs a lot of wadding, and there's not a lot of room for wadding in the small chute space. Instead, I'm extending the motor mount tube to the base of the nose cone, and adding a 24mm stuffer tube that goes almost to the tip of the nose cone. That way, the hot gasses from the ejection charge will expand inside the nose cone, pushing it off, and pulling out the recovery system, rather than going off inside the tube half an inch from the meltable parachute.

How I'll take the Quaddy to the next level, component by component:

Nose cone: I drilled out the hole in the base to accept the stuffer tube, and I'll be adding nose weight - prolly around 3 ounces - so it's stable even on the larger 29mm motors.

Body tube: will remain stock, except for possibly adding a layer of wood glue to the outside for strength.

Fins: The 1/8" balsa provided with the kit was very high quality, and could prolly survive high-speed flight without extra reinforcement. However, a baby H will take the Quaddy to about 500 mph, and it'll surely have some hard landings. So I'm adding a layer of tissue paper for strength, then a layer of wood glue for strength and smoothness. The fin tabs will be reinforced with strong internal fillets. (I'll build it HPR-style, adding the aft centering ring last, rather than the LPR way of gluing it first to the motor mount. This allows me to make internal fillet for the through-the-wall fin tabs).

Launch lug: the stock 3/16" lug is just 2" long. Borderline for the stock rocket, which is just 5.3 oz stock, but not enough for the Quaddy which will be around 10 ounces. I'll add a second 3/16" lug in line for better balance, and possibly a 1/4" lug off to the side for HPR flights.

Centering rings: the stock rings are thin cardstock. Not great, but prolly okay once the TTW fins are in place. Still, I'll fillet them with epoxy clay, and possibly even get basswood rings from Balsa Machining Services.

Motor tube: The current tube is a 4" long piece of BT-50, which fits all currently available Estes and Aerotech 24mm motors. However, I'm going to upgrade to a 29mm tube 7" long, which will allow 29mm motors up to the 29/180 case and its G75J, H128W, and H165R loads, as well as the Aerotech 24mm G motors.

Engine block: Not used. For the 24mm blackpowder motors which, unlike composite motors, don't have a built-in thrust ring, I'll just use tape. Leaving out the engine block allows the huge range of motor selections.

Motor retention: The stock system is a metal engine hook, which again limits the selection to 24mm motors. I'll use the hook on something else and instead add a threaded-rod retention system, which I bought parts for on my hardware store run. I'll epoxy the rod to the motor tube.

Shock cord: the supplied length is 36" of 1/4" rubber band, which is inadequate even for the Estes "shotgun" ejection charges, and would be snapped by the stronger charge of composite motors. I'll add more - at least 3 more feet of tubular elastic, flat elastic, or kevlar thread.

Parachute: the stock 'chute is a 24" nearly-clear red plastic chute. Easily melted by the ejection charge, hard to get to open fully, hard to see in the sky, hard to remove from the shick cord, and liable to get extremely tangled in branches. I'll leave it off, and instead attach nylon chutes with a quick-link - everything from 18" chutes for windy days, to a 30" chute for calm days and heavier motor casings.

I'll post most of this on TRF within a day or two.

Other 29mm Big Daddy upgrades are available here and here.

Happy 2010!

Welcome to the tenth year of the future, and the 2·3·5·67-th year since the arbitrarily assigned year intended to mark the appearance of the supposed supernatural son of the central figure of the Christian mythos! A year is a vestigal unit of time based on 362.2564 solar cycles.... I didn't get you all anything.

Happy New Year's, anyway! It's a new year and a new decade!