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:

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