Friday, April 30, 2010

Music Trip

We leave in about, oh, seven hours for our school music trip. (I should prolly get some sleep before then, eh?) We're going to the Natural History Museum in NYC, then seeing Broadway plays in the evening. I'll be seeing Wicker along with mandachan, Laura, and Eliz. Then, on saturday, I'm playing in band and jazz band at a competition and then we go to Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey. On Sunday.. we all sleep on the ride home.

So, unless I sneak a post in tomorrow morning, then nothing till Sunday. Sorry.

Sixth and Seventh Matches

Sixth match was Wednesday against Windham. Due to the nasty weather, I hadn't played since last Friday, so I was a bit rusty. I had a tough time of it, but I won 6-4 6-2, and the rain even held off. The team won 4-3.

Seventh match was yesterday against Woodstock. Very windy - gusts of over 50 at times. I was playing against a guy with a better serve and groundstrokes than I, but he wasn't used to the wind like I was. First set I won 6-1, then the wind died down and we were back-and-forth for the second set which he won 7-5. Then, the wind picked up against and the ibuprofen finally kicked in - my left leg was hurting for unknown reasons, but is better now - just as we started a third set. I didn't know how long I could keep running on my leg, but he fell apart pretty quickly and I won the set 6-0. 6-1 5-7 6-0 makes for a very weird score.

The team won that match 6-1. Team is now 5-2; I'm 5-1 on singles and 0-1 on doubles. I've won in every match that the team has won and lost in every that the team has lost.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Where in the World is J.D. Robb?

While putting books away today, Strangers in Death by J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts) caught my eye. Most books have no author photo or a generic stock photo of the author in their home. This one, however, is a bit different:

First, it's obvious that this is photoshopped - the lighting on her face is all wrong for a dimly lit subway station. I'm not interesting in the photo of Mrs. Roberts; instead, I'm curious exactly what dimly it subway station this is.

The subway car is a Bombardier R62A, which places this on the New York City subway, specifically the 1, 7, and S trains. The red dot and blurred white numeral places this as a local 1 train.

Now, take a look at the sign in the upper left. Ho____on St_____. The only station that matches is Houston Street. That narrows it down to within a few hundred feet.

The full length of the train is visible, so she's either at the north end of the northbound platform or the south end of the southbound platform. There's no way to figure out which without being there.

Since there's only one person visible on the platform, and a train is either arriving or departing, we can assume it's in the early morning.

One other thing

At CATO on saturday, someonw had an F25W single-use motor that CATOed (i.e, exploded). It wasn't terribly violent - it just lifted off the pad, spit out the nozzle, and then the rocket fell back to the ground. I found the propellant grain on the ground; it's mostly unburned. I'm going to keep it.

I'll mainly use it as an ignition helper; I can cut off little slivers and stick them in hard-to-ignite motors along with the igniter. This'll be especially helpful for Blackjack motors which are very hard to ignite.

Of course, I can also just burn some of it for fun, or to start a campfire or whatever. A match can light it, and even a little bit burns with an impressive white flame. Ammonium Perchlorate Composite Propellant (APCP) is cool.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Launch Report #37: CATO 160

Saturday was an absolutely great day for a launch. The winds were a little high in the morning, but it was warm and dry and sunny and the flights were good. I flew 5 rockets; only one flight was perfect but the other 4 were all good and none of them got lost in trees.

First off the pad for me was the Multi-Goon loaded with 3x A8-3 motors in the 18mm cluster mount. Because of the 12 large fins, it arced over into the wind; fortunately, it deployed for a perfect landing and no damage except for some burns on the cluster mount. Next flight will be either on 5 13mm As, 3 18mm Bs, or 1 24mm D.

Second flight was the Goddard L-13 on a B6-2. Woefully underpowered and it arced over quite a bit. Parachute didn't deploy and it core-sampled; the rocket was mostly undamaged but the chute protector had unfolded too much and the parachute has 2 small burn holes which will be repaired. Next flight will be after repairs and painting on a C6-3.

Third flight was the Nike Goon on a B6-4. Not underpowered but unimpressive (simulated altitude 280 feet); this really needs a C or D. Streamer didn't fully deploy and one fin broke clean off; it's currently being repaired.

At this point, I'd flown three small rockets. I had the Svetlana loaded with an E18-4W, but it stubbornly refused to light. One Copperhead igniter failed (not surprising; Copperheads are cheap and kinda crappy) and one Quest Q2G2 failed (a surprise; they're very good igniters). So I was running our of good igniters. Then Rick Comshaw, who's the Wildman dealer for Connecticut offered me a deal: If I could find his rocket, he'd give me a free pack of igniters. Now that's an offer I couldn't refuse.

Now, mind you, he and another flier had spent over an hour looking along a large section of the tree line and not found it. We all had a pretty good angle on where it hit the treeline, but it wasn't in the thick trees there, nor on the field. So, instead, I decided to look deeper in the forest, since the rocket was fiberglass and pretty heavy. I found it almost 250 feet into the forest, across the stream, about 15 feet up in a tree. I climbed a small tree, grabbed it, and yanked it down, so I got my igniters.

Once I sanded the grain and added a piece of tape to improve ignition and put in the new igniter (a high-quality FirstFire Jr), it ignited immediately, sending the Svetlana to a simulated altitude of 850 feet. The parachute tangled and got a small burn hole, but the draggy body flapped around and it was undamaged.

Finally came VIPERFEST. Four of us had Viper IVs ready for launch, and one fellow had a similar Viper III. (My mom got there just in time to snap a few photos). All D12 motors; that's 19 (4x4 + 1x3) motors sitting on the pad:

Second from left is Al Gloer's Viper; 4th is the Viper III, and my Buckeye IV is on the right. Our new launch system built by a club member, took the full voltage of a car battery and applied it to 19 igniters. The result: 19 motors (100%) fired:

Al's got off the pad first because he used the Q2G2 igniters which fire milliseconds sooner than plain Estes igniters. All 5 lifted off perfectly just as the wind died; the 4 Viper IVs all went to around 860 feet, and the Viper III to slightly less. Mine is the smoke trail that extends off the top of the photo. One Viper used D12-7s instead of D12-5s; the extra 2 second sof delay means it's the one off the the right still producing tracking smoke:

All five chutes deployed perfectly; since the wind had died down, they came down rather near the launch pads. My simulated flight duration was 38 seconds, and reality matched exactly. This final photo, taken just one second before landing, is timestamped 37 seconds after liftoff.

I flew 5 rockets on 10 motors, including my first 3-motor and 4-motor clusters. I had a great time; the Viper flight was one of very few absolutely perfect flights I've had. It ranks right up there with my certification flight and the first flight of the Mozzie.

I also bought 18/20 motor hardware from Mr. Comshaw; I plan to fly the 18mm D reloads in rockets like the L-13.

One final note: the 1st, 3rd, and 4th pictures were modified slightly using the 'I'm feeling lucky' autoadjust in Picasa. Here's what happens when you use it too many times, just for fun:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Launch today!

Later today (i.e, after I get some sleep) is CATO 160, my first CATO launch since November. Weather looks to be good, and I'll be there from 9 till 2. I probably won't get a lot of pictures if any, though; neither my dad nor mandachan will be there with the photography awesomeness.

Rockets I'm bringing:

Heli-roc (A10-3)
Multi-Goon (3x A8-3 or 3x B6-4)
Nike Goon (B6-4 or C6-5)
SpaceShipOne (C6-3)
L-13 (B6-2 or C6-3)
Mach Goon* (G115-11WT)
Svetlana (E18-4W)
Pyramid* (G64-4W)
Mozzie (several choices of E and F motors)
Buckeye IV (4x D12-5)

* Neither of these will probably fly today, but I'm bringing them just in case.

Fifth Match

Did not go so well. We were up against Fitch, who are in the next larger division above us, and our perennial rivals in every. single. friggin' sport.

I did not play well. Sloppy shot after sloppy shot - into the net, wide, long, repeat. I had some good shots, but I just wasn't hitting with power, and my opponent was. He also didn't quite play fair; there were several shots that double-bounced on his side - my point - that he denied, two of which cost me games. I lost the first set 3-6 but should have won; I lost the second set 0-6, and even if I had won the first set he still would have probably won the match.

The team lost 2-5; only #2 singles and #1 doubles won. Rahul at #1 singles and Matt at #3 both hung on for 3 long sets but just couldn't pull it off. The team is now at 3-2, but two of our nastiest matches are behind us (we play both Bacon and Fitch again, but those are at home and I believe we can win those) and we have 3 easy matches next week.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sudden Mach Parts

  • 2x LOC Precision 29mm x 34" tubing
  • 36" length of 3/32" allthread for the avbay
  • 1/8" basswood for fins
  • 2x 29mm x 7.4" Blue Tube coupler
  • 12" x 1/8" styrene rod (for timer switch actuator)
  • 30' of 1/10" Kevlar (300 lb test)
  • baggie of nuts and washers for 3/32" allthread
  • 3/16" plywood for bulkhead disks and sleds, and prototype disk
  • 2x rail buttons
  • 2x 1/8" quick-links
  • Perfectflite Minitimer 3 and baggie of hardware
  • Apogee 29mm nose cone

Not pictured:
  • Screw eyes; I forgot to get them at the hardware store. They will be inserted into drilled holes in the bulkheads then epoxied into place.
  • Streamer/parachute - will vary depending on flight profile and conditions
  • Chute protector(s) - optional
  • 9V battery for timer
  • Primer and spray paint

Fourth Match

Rocketry post coming tonight, I promise...

Our fourth match was yesterday, against St. Bernards. Since one of our three-doubles guys had to leave early, I didn't start playing until one of the matches ended. Their 1-3 singles guys were pretty good, and they won quickly. However, 3 doubles hung on and won, so just after I started we were down 1-3. 1 and 2 doubles started just after I did.

I was playing a short freshman (is that redundant) who had good shots. However, he couldn't get his serve in, and he wasn't very accurate, so I was able to keep hitting shot after shot to his backhand side until he mishit. He wasn't able to come up to the net... I am a mean old man and lobbed it over him.

And mandachan showed up. Which put a big smile on my face.

I eventually won, 6-1 6-0, but the kid was a very kind loser and complimented me. He's pretty good for a freshman - he pulled off some very powerful shots - and he'll be very good as an upperclassmen.

Just after I won, 1 and 2 doubles also finished, both winning well. In 5 minutes, we went from down 1-3 to an awesome 4-3 win. I'm now 3-0 at singles; the team is 3-1.

We have a tough match against Fitch tomorrow, though. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Third Match

Lots and lots of homework, so no time for rocketry and other geeky stuff today. :(

Not much to report on the tennis front. I won today, 6-1 6-1. Team won 6-1. Team record is 2-1; I'm 2-0 on singles and 0-1 on doubles. Tough match tomorrow.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Second Match

My second varsity tennis match was today. My coach shuffled us around an bit, so I ended up playing #4 singles against a guy better than me. He had a faster serve than spun crazily to the side, faster groundstrokes than I, and should have beat me.

He started out by winning during my serve - not an auspicious start for me. Then I started some dirty tricks, mostly using the wind to curve some shots. He also couldn't get his serve in very much, so he lost a lot of points from that, and I won the next 6 games. First set: 6-1

Second set was a bit harder. He got a burst of energy after talking to his coach between sets, and in the first game he hit several shots faster than ever before. But I started returning them, and he couldn't keep hitting them, and I eventually pulled ahead. I got to 5-2, but I couldn't quite close it out - he won a game on his serve, and then we had a game lasting at least 15 minutes that neither of us could string enough points together to win, though he eventually did. I won the next game off his poor serve, though, to end it. Second set: 6-4

The team won 6-1; only #3 doubles lost in a close match that had an epic-length tiebreaker. I'm now 1-1 overall - 1-0 singles and 0-1 doubles; the team is 1-1. Next match is tomorrow.

Also: mandachan had an awesome day in softball - 4 for 4 with three singles and a double. Read all about it.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Visiting Colleges

I apologize for not posting over the last two days; I was out visiting colleges.

We left Cowtown, CT, where I live and headed south on I-95. We got to around Madison and hit traffic. (#1) I was driving and we didn't feel like sitting in traffic, so I took the next exit. Fortunately, Route 1 parallels I-95 from Maine to Florida (as does Amtrak from Boston to Philly) so we just took that a couple exits and got back on. Got on the Merritt Parkway, went two exits... and they're stopping traffic cause they're cutting trees (#2). We actually did a Chinese Fire Drill so my dad could drive, cause we were dead stopped for over 5 minutes.

Once we cleared a bit of that, dad too the first exit to back on 95, and we hit general New York traffic (#3), went over the Tappan Zee Bridge (an awesome-looking bridge, 3 miles long over the mighty Hudson), went through New Jersey, and hit traffic at the toll booths going into Pennsylvania (#4), and finally made it to Bethlehem, PA, an hour late but just in time for my visit at Lehigh.

Lehigh is a pretty nice school. It's a beautiful campus - all older-style architecture, even the new buildings - set on a steep hill (600-foot drop from south campus to north). However, it's too much a liberal arts school for my taste; I'm looking for science, math, and engineering first and less humanities - it's just the way I am; it's also too much out in the middle of nowhere for my tastes.

We then headed up to the Capital District of New York. We took State Route 33 through eastern PA, hit a huge construction zone (#5), and turned onto I-80. That's the one section of I-80 that I love; the rest of its journey through Pennsylvania and ohio is flat and boring, but in that short section there's the Delaware Water Gap and the Delaware River Viaduct which are really cool. We headed up thorugh New Jersey, stopped for gas... and inexplicably got caught in a traffic jam there (#6) that wasted 20 minutes.

We stopped just inside the New York border; I then drove the 2 hours up to Troy, NY along I-87 in spitting rain. Fortunately, traffic was light, so I put cruise control on 72 and rested my legs for 90% of the way. We stayed with a friend of my dad overnight in Troy.

Me drove the 5 minutes into Troy (RPI, despite being Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is not in Rensselaer but 8 miles away in Troy) and had the infosession and tour of RPI. It's a nice school and it's pretty high on my list, but nothing really stuck out for me. Well, there was a car mounted to the wall, but that's another story...

We went out to lunch at a place called The Ale House where I devoured a plate of wings, and then headed back to the friend's house. They live right next to a lake, and there's a little grassy peninsula about 450 feet out in the lake. We got some old golf balls and took turn aiming for the peninsula; after a few tries we all got one each on. And scared some geese.

After that, it was time to head home. I drove all the way home - I-90 to Springfield, then I-91 to Hartford. Traffic jams (#7) at a toll booth and (#8) heading into Hartford. Then I merged onto Route 2... and got in traffic (#9) for half an hour before I could take Rt. 2 home.

I'm very much glad for the college visits; I like visiting colleges a lot, and every visit helps me narrow down where I want to go. I like RPI, but my top three are still MIT, Boston University, and Northeastern. I like the urban environment of Boston, and all three have the sort of engineering program I'm looking for, and the general feeling I got was better for them than the other schools I've looked at. All the schools I'm looking at are gonna give me a good education and cost roughly the same, so assuming I get in to all (a very big if...) then it's the little things, like the dorm rooms and transportation and such, that will determine where I go, rather than stuff that's normally more important.

With the 3 schools in Boston, I also really like that I can use public transit to easily get home. I love public transit, and I'm not a big fan of driving in the city. I can ride the T a few stops to South Station can board the Commuter Rail and meet my folks at Worchester or Providence in an hour, or ride Amtrak to New London and be there in 2 hours just 15 minutes from home. (Or drive home in 2 hours flat). With RPI I'd have to take a short bus ride to the train station, and then at least two trains** to new London and taking some 4 to 5 hours, and scarcely better than the 3-hour drive home that's filled with traffic. Oh, and freshmen aren't allowed cars.

With Lehigh, despite the inherent unpleasantness of driving near New York City, public transit is simply no an option. I'd have to find some way into Trenton, then ride the Northeast Regional all the way to New London. Rather lengthy and expensive, plus getting a friend to drive me to Trenton (there's limited parking on campus, and freshman aren't allowed cars there either) would use up a lot of favors.

** On a typical friday afternoon:

Depart Albany at 420 pm on the Empire Builder, arrive at Penn Station at 650, board the Northeast Regional at 730 and arrive at New London at 1023pm. 6 hours 3 minutes; $111.00.

There are several other options, however, they are somewhat less optimal. They involve, in various permutations, the Metro North, Shore Line East, and NYC 7 Line subway.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sudden Mach

So, I've finally crossed the Rubicon; I'm going ahead with my latest crazy project, currently named "Sudden Mach". (Like all my Machbusting rockets except one, it's a Dirty Harry pun). It's going to be a 29mm diameter Machbuster, designed to go as fast at 1500 feet per second (Mach 1.38) on I motors. It's designed to meet a number of criteria:

  • Using conventional materials whenever possible - the only exceptions are the two Blue Tube couplers. Unlike the Blackhawk, it needs no expensive carbon fiber, and I intend to do without even glassing it.
  • Able to use LOC 29mm tubing and survive flight. This means, among other things, long couplers to ensure straight tube joints.
  • Capable of dual-deploy, motor ejection, and combinations thereof, with interchangable electronics
  • Easy-to-load payload bay capable of holding one aviatronic board plus a second small payload
  • Capable of flying on smaller 29mm and 24mm motors on small fields
  • Capable of high speeds (Mach 1+) and high altitudes (1 mile +)
  • Cheap. I'm on a limited budget

It's also designed to drag race the Wildman Blackhawk 29. A conventional drag race consists of winning 2 out of 3 of being first off the pad, getting to a lower altitude, and being the first to a (safe) landing. With high power rockets, though, apogee and landing often are out of sight, so the nost important thing is being first off the pad. That means a lightweight rocket... that can still take 1000 mph flight and 50 Gs (i.e, nose-to-tail forces of 50 times its own weight) during liftoff.

To that end, I'm making it out of LOC / Precision tubing. It's 29mm internal diameter, 33mm external diameter, and very strong - it won't even need to be coated with fiberglass. It's also way lighter than the carbon-fiber tubing of the Blackhawk. Fins will be 1/8" plywood or basswood, and the nose cone a cheap Apogee plastic cone. Dry weight (without motor) will be under 10 ounces.

Here's a look at the Openrocket simulation, with design and simulated launches:

The avbay (aviatronics bay) is somewhat unique. The SM is designed to use dual deployment, where a small parachute or streamer is deployed at apogee to slow the rocket to 50-100 feet per second, and another is deployed at lower altitude that slows it to 15-25 fps for landing. This means it can fly to over 1 and a quarter miles, yet land within (hopefully) a quarter mile of the launch pad. The avbay is based around the 9V battery in the center, which supplies power to a specialized mini timer circuit. It's designed to be flexible in size, and even if the rocket suffers a catastrophic failure at 1000mph, the avbay will hold together and protect the timer, which at 50 bucks is the most expensive part of the rocket - even more expensive than most motor cases.

Here's an expanded view of the avbay design. Pictures of the real thing will come eventually.

I can also remove all but one of the blue couplers, tie the shock cords for the drogue and main parachutes together, and fly it like a conventional rocket, with the motor deploying the main parachute at apogee. This will work for smaller motors. It can fly on every 24mm and 29mm motor available, from the C11 (126 feet) to the I200 (6800 feet, Mach 1.35) and beyond. That's a range of 40 times in motor impulse - seven motor classes (C D E F G H I) and 54 times in altitude.

I ordered 29mm tubing, two couplers, 30 feet of kevlar shock cord, the timer, a pair of nose cones, and a pair of rail buttons (to hold it to the launch pad) from Apogee Components on Monday, standard shipping. They arrived today. I need to make a hardware store run for spray paint, allthread and nuts for the avbay, and plywood this weekend, then construction will begin. First flight will be at CATO in May; first Mach flight at NERRF in June.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

L-13: Now actually looking like a rocket!


I've gotten quite a bit of building done on the L-13. All four fins are glued on, and the first layer of fillets is complete. All I've got left to do is a second layer of fillets and glue on the scale rails seen at the bottom of the picture, then paint. Painting is gonna be a pain - primer, then three or four colors for scale pattern. Should be fun, though.

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Moriarty has the goods and pictures of kayaking in the middle school field.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lots of Building!

I got tons of building done today, much of it with the Fliskits L-13 scale model.

I cut out the paper shroud that forms the tail cone and glued it together. Then I did the tricky assembly of the aft end of the rocket - gluing the motor mount halfway into the body tube, then gluing the paper cone to that. It's a delicate operation, and pictures will make it make more sense, but it came out well.

Then I cut out the four fins from the 3/32" sheet of balsa. They were pretty rough after sanding, so I used some white glue smeared on to smooth them out.

Finally, I cut the parts for the scale-detail rails that go on the side of the rocket, which are made from 1/16" balsa and plastic angle, and gled those together.

I fixed the glider that I flew the other day; that just requires a drop of superglue to fix the spacer that keeps it from falling off the hook during flight.

The last thing I did was to mix a little epoxy clay to fix the Heli-roc. One of the tiny nylon hinges on the blades broke during the upside-down recovery a week ago. I tacked it in place with a drop of superglue, then covered the joint with epoxy. Once it dries, it'll be very strong. I had a little extra, so I fixed a broken part on an LED reading light.

The Refinished SpaceShipOne!

I finally finished all the detailing on the newly refinished SpaceShipOne. It took me around 4 hours total to do all of it. The angles here are rather trippy, cause there's 360° detailing on the body, wings, and tail fins. Here's a view of the right side:

I put on a white base coat and did the red stripes with masking and red spray paint; everything else was but hand with Sharpies. It's a funny shape and I don't have a steady hand, so there's lots of sloppy lines, but from 5 or 10 feet away it looks nice.

The paint scheme isn't perfectly scale; the red area under the wing is supposed to be larger than on top, and I made way to much of the nozzle red. The red under the forward fuselage is also imperfectly shaped. I don't really mind; it still looks awesome, and the kit isn't perfectly scale anyway.


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Saturday, April 10, 2010

First Match

My first tennis match as a varsity player was Wednesday. (Shut up, I've been busy since then). I was playing third doubles. The format of guys tennis is 4 singles matches and 3 doubles. Up until now it was 5 singles and 2 doubles, but they changed it this year to allow and extra guy on varsity. In our case, that guy may have been me.

I played with a guy with the same first name as me. Our last names are Fidrych and Sindel, so we have become 'Fid-Sid'. We tend to work pretty well together, though we don't communicate enough. Each set in a tennis match is played until one person/pair has won 6 games. If it reaches 5-5, then 6-5, then another game is played. If it's 7-5 after, then the game is over. If it's 6-6, then a tiebreak is played, with alternating serves and it's really nasty and complicated. So, in my first varsity match, we of course got into one.

We didn't start out too well, and we suddenly found ourselves down 5 games to one. Then I managed to get a few low, spinning serves in and we fought back - to 5-5, then down 6-5, then finally we got to 6-6. By this time, one of our singles had won (two more really should have) and both of the other doubles had also won, so it was tied 3-3 and everything was on us. A tie break is to 7 point, but you must win by two. We got up 6-3 in the tiebreak; one of my smashes from the net was so hard that it went over the 12' fence on the bounce. However, from there we fell apart; they scored 5 consecutive points and won the tie break 8-6.

From there, we didn't do very well, and we lost the second set 6-3. It was disappointing, but coach didn't blame us for the loss because two of the singles lost when they should have won; we were up against two guys who played every bit as well as us and just got a little luckier. Hopefully we'll do better next time; our next match is a week from this coming monday.

Spring Break!

It's finally spring break... that means 9 straight days of almost nothing to do! The most I have is tennis and work, which don't take up a lot of time and are way more fun than school. That means some more time for fun stuff like blogging and rocketry.

I started out my spring break last night hanging out with mandachan, Laura, and Eliz. We watched Firefly, watched funny videos on youtube, and went on Omegle and had funny conversations. I love my crazy friends.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Gluing tubes

I glued the two tubes together for the L-13 yesterday. It was a pretty tricky deal, because the tubes are 1.6" in diameter and the coupler tube is only 2" long. However, I got a nice straight joint, and as soon as I finish filling the joint, I'll have a nice straight 28.5" piece of tubing.

It's a tricky rocket, and I'm taking it pretty slow because of that and school. But I've got the motor mount assembled, and the tubes glued, and from here on in it shouldn't be too hard.

I missed it...

I completely failed to notice... I hit 750 posts a few days ago. I like big round numbers; I've previously noted 500 posts and 250 posts.

First 250 posts took me roughly 9 months
Second 250, roughly 6 months
Third 250, roughly 7 months

I've unfortunately been forced to slow down posting because of english homework and tennis. March was the first month since **checks** October 2008 that I've averaged less than a post per day, something I don't intend to do for two straight months.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I've got my Apogee order for parts for the Sudden Mach all ready.. except the coupon I have is only redeemable over the phone, so it'll be a few days before i can call it in.

Oh well. It's not like I'll have time to build it soon anyway...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Launch Report #36: 2010 #1

I took advantage of the nice weather and flew three rockets today, all untested designs that I didn't really want to fly first at CATO.

First came the Frankenstein II with my newly-painted new 18mm booster, staged C6-0 to B6-4. OpenRocket predicts 1100 feet, but I think it was a bit higher than that. It zipped off the pad real quick, staged at about 300 feet, and deployed out of sight with a white poof from the flour I put inside as tracking powder.

I watched the booster come down, but I couldn't see the sustainer. Then my dad spotted it - it had come down under the streamer on the other side of the field, sight unseen. No damage.

Second flight was the maiden flight of the Heli-roc. It took a while to get the blades ready for flight, but it boosted straight and fast on an A10-3T. The motor popped out at ejection, though, which was not good. Without the weight of the motor, the aft end was no longer pulled down, so it rotated slower than ideal and came down nose-first. The impact broke one hinge, but it can be fixed. Next time I'll tape the motor in more securely.

Third was my new 18mm glider pod - the Green Glider - on a B6-2, carrying Glider #3. Boost was very fast and incredibly high for a glider; it spent 45 seconds in the air and might have doubled that without the intentional left-hand turn to keep it on the field.

Total impulse burned was 19.4 Newton-seconds, almost a full D. I rearranged my flight recording spreadsheet to be easier to use, so now I can separate stats by year as well as just the totals. This year I have burned 19.4 Ns in 4 motors on four flights; total since September 2008 I have burned 1771 Ns (38.4% K motor) in 174 motors on 150 flights.

My dad took some pictures, but none of them came out well. Sorry.


I'd just like to give a shoutout to a very special young lady, because today marks one whole year of her putting up with me and making me laugh and just generally being the most awesome kick-ass girlfriend a guy could ever have. Manda, you're wonderful, and here's to more! *clink*

Friday, April 2, 2010

Starting the L-13

I started construction of my Fliskits L-13, serial #38, the other day. It's mostly a conventional 4FNC (4 fins and a nose cone) rocket, but it's got some tricky spots. The tail cone is formed from a paper wrap, and the fins have to be glued to that. There's also some tricky scale details, and of course the difficult paint scheme to mask.

I started with the motor mount. I decided to not use the engine block; that way if I ever am able to use longer 18mm motors (like the old Aerotech E25s) it'll still be possible. I glued on the two fiberboard centering rings, and I drilled a 1/16" hole in one. I then tied the kevlar thread - the flameproof base of the recovery system - between the rings and threaded it through the hole. It forms a solid and flameproof attachment point for the elastic shock cord that attaches the nose cone and parachute to the body.

Then, I prepped the nose cone. It's a nice cone of an unusual shape made from pretty hard balsa. I'm not good with normal sanding sealer, so I just sanded it, coated the outside with wood glue, sanded, coated again, and buffed with steel wool; now all of it (except the shoulder which goes inside the body tube) is smooth, solid, and ready for painting. I glued in the screw eye to which I'll tie the shock cord, and I painted the base of the cone to protect it from the ejection charge.

Pictures will follow eventually.