Archive for March, 2010

Fin repair is fin

All the sanding I did on Saturday while watching other people fly rockets, was very cathartic for working out the frustration. And it sure made the repairs go much quicker.

I made sure that oodles of epoxy coated the fin root and transferred to the motor tube. Used tons of masking tape to make sure the fins stayed in place during the curing process.

Those fins are on so well now, that a monkey could swing from them. The re-paint did not look as nice as the first time. I am just happy that it is fixed and ready to fly.


Launch Morning for Level 1 Certification Flight

Before I forget, I wanted to note the lessons learned from my second rocket build.

1) An apron and tons of masking tape are always welcome. 2) Nothing goes as quickly as planned. Thus waiting until the week before launch to build the rocket is a stress inducing exercise. 3) Wear clothes that I do not mind ruining.

Okay back to morning of the launch. The launch site Plaster City is located about 2 hours east of San Diego. It is best to get there early for the best lack of wind conditions. Also it is not as hot too. So that means I am up around 5am, to me ready, the car loaded with all the essentials, and arrive at site 8am ish. I need to take a photo of how crammed full of stuff my poor Honda Civic is when rocketing bound.

I end up rushing around to get going, and it never fails that I manage to leave something needed behind. Even with a check list. Saying that I am not a morning person is a total understatement. I am significantly morning challenged and find it quite perplexing why people get up so darn early. Being nocturnal, I’d rather stay up all night, sleep all day.

Sir Isaac Lime (SIL) is the last item loaded into the very full car. I call G to let him know that I am getting a much later start than expected. I decide to place SIL on the console between the seats and stretch over to the back window. As I put him in position, I hear a crack and feel a fin fall off into the carrying bag.

This is not good, so I am grounded for the day. Fins should set overnight to allow sufficient epoxy cure time. Since I am already set to go, I head to Plaster City to be a spectator.

 When I arrive, G looks over my fin issue, and tells me that although I have much epoxy on the outside fin area, there was not enough on the root of the fin secured to the motor tube. I spend a portion of the day removing all three fins, and sanding then down for re-installation. The silver lining is that it was better to have this happen on the ground, rather than in flight. Although I was bummed that I could not fly, I would have cried if my rocket crashed and was completely trashed.

The next opportunity for Level 1 certification flight is April 3rd.

Painting the beast with a beast

My cat (really a dog in a cat’s body) Monty is a very curious orange boy. He is often exploring whatever project I have in the works. He is also a kleptomaniac and likes to sneak off with pieces. He was adopted with the name Monty, but had I known would have renamed him Dennis the Menace. His cuteness allows him much forgiveness, he is a beast.

Here I was trying to take a pre-paint photo and Monty could not resist inspecting the handiwork. Approval was granted and was allowed to move on to the painting step. it was a gorgeous sunny San Diego day, so I hoped it would dry quickly.

Masked up to protect the lungs and the precious limited brain cells. Did I mention that it gets really stuffy with the mask, and the latex gloves tend to make my fingers go numb.

 I used a clothes line system to paint. Hard to do outdoors because bugs seem to be attracted to the wet paint. Monty was guarding the rocket and happily eating any bugs that came along. He is my lil organic farmer, eating the pests so no chemicals are needed. Yes, I do feed him, yet he prefers to eat random insects or bring maimed ones into the house for me as a token for his affection..

Sir Isaac Lime was looking good and was ready to go for launch the next morning.

Countdown to launch Mar 6th

I christened the rocket (LOC/Precision EZI-65 kit), Sir Isaac Lime (SIL) in honor of the second best Otter Pop flavor (of course Louie-Bloo Raspberry is the best) and Sir Isaac Newton. Final paint will be a lively green with a Cesaroni Red Lightning H motor with a bright red flame. Okay *nerd alert* for those of you that really want to understand why Sir Isaac Newton, let me get a bit geeky for ya. Newton’s third law of motion,  “To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction”. This relates to rocketry in that a rocket flies because the rocket motor “pushes” the rocket in a direction opposite of the exhaust jet. This is one of the questions on the Level 2 certification exam.

Was thrilled to realize  that am getting much better at understanding the assembly instructions and when I should supplement with information from ‘the rocketry bible’ Mark Canepa’s Modern High-Power Rocketry 2. Still am incredibly messy, leaving quite the clean-up.

Here a few pictures of the process of going from pieces to a finished product.

 The tools needed for attaching the pieces: latex gloves, stirring sticks, epoxy resin & hardner, small disposable cups, and baby wipes

What the motor mount and bulkhead assembly look like in the curing stages.

Attaching the fins with way too much epoxy. My poor rocket prolly has excess weight from all the epoxy slathers. Which are a p.i.t.a. to sand off before painting. More like a little rocket with my epoxy.

Putting the launch lugs. A dowel stick is my friend in keeping these critters lined up. I would be som bummed to get out to the launch pad and not be able to slide SIL on the rail.

A view of the operating table. Note that the victim is securely taped down for safety.