Archive for May, 2010

Whew, Cheshire on its way to completion

After sanding, sanding, and sanding to shape the fins, I finally finished the squat build

 I can’t wait to get the finishing step completed to start the Cheshire Cat design.


Miso Hapi

It is always good to get happy mail. Brings ya joy when you open it. No demanding creditors or annoying solicitors. Just sheer bliss. That happened this afternoon, hello cert level 2 card. So glad you are here!

Random Entertainment

I love this video with the music and the Rube Goldberg Machine synchronized. The Rube Goldberg Machine reminds me a lot of how I get things done. I seem to take the most complicated and sometimes inefficient way possible.

Cert Paperwork Mailed

I happily mailed my cert 2 paperwork off to Tripoli. Something about having that updated card with the cert level, that makes me smile.

I just finished vacuuming up all the dust from the sanding activities. It manages to get everywhere.

LDRS 29 coming in June

I am so excited, in June I will attend my first LDRS event. I borrowed some text from the LDRS website to describe the event: “LDRS is the annual national launch event of the Tripoli Rocketry Association. This year, LDRS 29 is being hosted by the Rocketry Organization of California at Lucerne Dry Lake, in Lucerne Valley, CA. LDRS 29 runs from June 10-15, 2010. LDRS stands for “Large and Dangerous Rocket Ships”.  It’s a tongue-in-cheek name, dating from the early days of high power rocketry.”

Now that I am level 2, I can fly J, K and L motors. Yay!

My project for LDRS is a Madcow Rocketry Squat. A group of fellow rocketeers are all building the same rocket and we are going to hold a mass launch, a fun drag race of sorts. I witnessed a launch of about 30 rockets last November, and it is quite a spectacular display.

My Squat rocket is still sitting in the bag, so this weekend I will get this started. I did decide on its name Cheshire, after the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. Still am debating whether I want the purple stripe or the more dark representation from Tim Burton’s version of the film.

Left Ya Hanging

 The wind was happy to drift the rocket along. It floated across the entire stretch of the dry lake bed, across the road, across a second field, and gently landed right before some vegetation started. G had a head start on me and valiantly tried to run to get to rocket. However the distance was too much with his flip flops. He has a fine blister to show for it. Prolly took about 20 minutes to get to the rocket.

The rocket had landed very gently with the nose cone on top of the parachute. What marvelous fortune, that kept it from dragging.

Rocket obtained slight damage from impact, however it was in good shape to put in another motor and launch it again. During our long walk back, we encounter some poor soul running after his rocket, which the wind had evilly snagged and was viciously dragging it along like a tumbleweed. 

Rick inspected the rocket, thumbs up and signed off on the level 2 certification. Too tired and thirsty to think about level 3, BajaFresh was in order for a celebratory lunch.

Lessons learned: 1) wind is king, 2) when windy opt for a smaller parachute as it will drift much farther than expected, and 3) you can never anticipate all that will go wrong, but can drive yourself insane trying.

Second Time is a Charm?

Take 2, super glue is super and I attempt launch pad again. With some pointers from G and Rick M, I get Sparkle ready to go and the ignitor in place. At last.

G is out in the field taking pictures and generously offered to grab the rocket if it starts to drag after landing. I chat with a guy who was planning to fly his level 2 and decided not to because of the wind. At this point, I am totally committed to flying and hope that whatever launch pad and motor delay adjustments I’ve made are enuff.

The lift-off right on, blue flame gorgeous, agonizing amount of time as the rocket flight moved from powered flight, coasting to apogee and finally the parachute emerged. Now the descent……………..


Must Launch

I arrive 9ish on Sat and it is pretty windy. Not so windy that they will halt flights (>20 mph), but enough for Mother Nature to hand you your rocket. The team was just getting the launch area settled, so that gave me time to whine about the rocket’s finish. It needs more coats and more sanding and will get to that pretty glossy look I want.

In the interim, I head over to the info table to let them know that I am level 2 certifying today and need to take the written exam. For level 2, the flier has to 1) pass a written exam and 2) built own rocket, have it successful launch, parachute emerge and recover the rocket is such a state that it can be flown again without any fixing.

I had studied the practice test and was ready to trounce the exam. No half-ass attempts, it was 100% or bust. G decided not to fly that day, so he was photographing my level 2 journey. There was no avoiding the photos as he had the monster telephoto lense mounted on the camera and it was too far to pitch dirt clods to deter him.

With the test out-of-the-way, rocking a 100%, I could focus on getting Sparkle Motion prepped. First stop was to Jack’s to buy a motor and borrow a motor casing for the flight. I debated whether I should change out to a smaller parachute as I did not want my rocket to drift. Wind is very mean and will drag the rocket across the unforgiving lake bed. Fins are tough, but do not always stand up to that kind of abuse. I decided to stick with the original parachute ( a sweet florescent pink) and selected a Cesaroni J293-13A Blue Streak. That’s a blue flame, not a swearing rocket. Instead sadly my vocabulary was rather limited that day and I had potty mouth. Not a proud moment. It was that or have a John McEnroe tantrum. Which would have been a spectacle new to rocketry. I now understand why the long walk back from the launch pad or recovering the rocket is so key. The frustration dissipates. I have brainstormed better coping techniques for future use.

It was majorly windy and it made packing the parachute difficult. I finally had to duck in the car to get a wind reprieve to fold the parachute properly. This time I only had a bit of epoxy blocking the insertion of the motor tube, so getting that loaded up was easier. I am still learning about adjusting the motor delay. The J293 I choose has a 13 second delay, however with the wind it needs to be adjusted. G has this handy tool which looks a bit like a corkscrew that is used to carve a hole into the motor end adjusting the delay. We opted to reduce the delay by 4.5 seconds. Last minute check, I doscovered that I had forgotten to re-quick link the shock cord in place. Good catch.

I get Rick M’s attention as he is the expert watching my certification flight, and then head out to the launch pad. This rocket is different with launch wheels rather than the lugs I am used to. Luckily I get help from a kindly soul and mount on rail. As we make the final adjustments to turn the launch pad to compensate for wind, the $%@#*! launch wheel on the rocket falls off. So I have to unload, head back to the tool kit, and gratefully I have not forgotten the super glue to attempt a quick fix. Earlier, I had tossed those launch pieces into a baggie with a tube of epoxy and the epoxy leaded. So I had to clean up the launch hardware of epoxy. Those buggers were problematic.

It’s on

Launch on May 1st was shelved due to high wind concerns. So it’s now on for May 7th at Lucerne Dry Lake.

My goal is to have Sparkle Motion completed with the new finishing techniques and painted. I decided to dedicate my rocket launch to my Mama for Mother’s Day. She is a difficult woman and does not want gifts. What mother could not like a superb rocket flight in her honor.

G sent me some videos of Dave of Shadow Composites demonstrating finishing techniques. It makes it look so darn easy, and his work area is marvelous. Also in the background it shows beautiful views of Lake Tahoe. Below is my set-up in my lil bungalow. My living room becomes the rocket area, with no room for anything else. Total chaos ensues in my home when working on rockets.

Rocket is skewered on a dowel propped over two chairs, with a tarp underneath and a table to the side with the material.


The SuperFil is pretty cool as it is fluffy. Let me say that like epoxy, more SuperFil is not always a good thing. I over-filled and was sanding, sanding, sanding, and sanding it down. I even dreamed of sanding and woke up with my hand twitching. Once I was ready for the UV Smooth Prime coat I was a bit worn out, or at least my hands were. The UV Smooth Prime coat went a smidge better. It was a bit more liquid than how it appeared in the video, so I had lots of drippage. The instructions are to sand between coats and identify areas that need more filler. After three coats, I could still see the blue from the SuperFil and was not quite satisfied with the finish. All of that took so long that I did not have time to paint. I was sanding into the early hours the night before the launch.

Level 2 Flight Postponed

Guess it is a good thing that threat of high winds deterred my May 1st flight. A sign now that I think that May 1st is considered Mayday. And I associate the word Mayday with distress signals and crashes.

Wind is not the rocketeer’s friend.

The positive is that the SuperFil and UV Smooth Prime arrived that day, so I had a week to work with it. The next opportunity to fly was May 8th at a different launch location with the Rocketry of California (ROC) group at the Lucerne Dry Lake near Victorville, CA. I basically fly whenever G does as I am still high maintenance. One of these days he will wean me with a swift kick to the rump. Okay not really just be dramatic.