Sunday, December 30, 2012

Plaster City June 2012 launch report

This post might be out of date but at least it's up faster than the time it takes stupid Cobalt-57 to decay by half so there!

We in San Diego's branch of Tripoli elect to shut down from July to September of each year and with good reason: this June launch exceeded 108F by the time I left and I was feeling it!  My heat tolerance is gradually decreasing so, note to self, I'll plan to recover via driving at the June 2013 launch.

I think I flew only my DarkStar Exreme on a CTI 3683L851 White reload that day (Pro75, 3G).  This reliable rocket once again tallied an excellent flight and recovery (sorry the song cuts off, Alessandro Diga, but I'm likely not gonna change it unless you ask :)

That motor kicks ass so go buy/fly one.  I'm sorta terrible at verifying the numerous camera settings required to dial in my signature photo recipe when switching situations (studio, outdoor, rocketry, etc).  This time everything was correct except that I'd been shooting in JPEG-only mode (no RAW) during the last session and forgot to switch to RAW.  JPEG is so overprocessed and otherwise dead from an editing perspective that I almost never shoot in that mode unless photo delivery time is paramount or if editing in RAW is not an option in the time allotted.  The delta between JPEG and RAW has never been more apparent to me and this is the best I could do with this comparatively lifeless image format:
On this blog preview it's not nearly as apparent to me as when trying to tweak in Adobe Lightroom so... Hey isn't that another great liftoff image, folks?!
     Now onto Mark Clauson's incredible help that day... Again I normally prefer to walk as I practically grew up in the desert.  My GPS receiver indicated that the touchdown was 1.2 miles due east so I grabbed my water bottle and started walking in that direction.  About 0.6 miles out I was really feeling the heat and my ass was dragging when I realized that I wasn't half way there but 1/4 the way there including the walk back.  Then I see a black truck barging out in the direction of my rocket and I'm instantly annoyed as non-flyers have driven toward my distant rockets before (and even stole one in the Bay Area!).  I started walking a bit faster when I noticed my GPS position was quickly moving toward me and... there was Mark in his truck!  He had been leaving when he saw a rocket landing the east and thought it might have been mine.  As he didn't have my cell phone number he most cleverly looked up my nominal GPS frequency on the club web site, dialed it into his radio, and drove right up to my rocket.  Mark and his dad, Craig, are truly formidable rocket hunters and I can't thank them enough for all the times they've saved me a substantial walk.  In any event THANK YOU BOTH!!
     In retrospect I've had only 2-3 unmitigated successes with my now older Beeline GPS transmitter (success = precise recovery + unambiguous flight path data).  This time I received what seemed to be accurate heading and distance data but no live GPS altitude data.  I value this system not only because of it's potential to guide one precisely to one's rocket but also because it logs data that can be plotted later in Google Earth. Well the last few flights have yielded garbage in the human-readable portion of the XML data and, initially, that was my concern with this L851 flight data.  However, when I plotted it in Google Earth, it produces yet another useless (?) result as I don't recall flying this combination twice and I'm going to start calling these GP[MESS] plots:

When the thing worked I noted excellent agreement between the GPS and barometric altitudes but now I think this unit is all but dead to me.  [Note: I've since purchased a new Beeline GPS thinking I'd done something wrong in the past but, as you'll read in later posts, the data from the first flight on the new unit was again useless.  Luckily three of us experienced the same issue so we suspect GPS satellite issues that day]  In any event the average of the ARTS2 and Raven2 barometric altitudes was a respectable 10,488' and the ARTS2 software says the L851 behaved more like an L964 with a 3.98 second burn time.  Here's the output from the altimeters if you're interested:

Raven2 - Graph, Tabular
ARTS2 - Graph, Tabular, Motor Performance, Coefficient of Drag

Thanks for your patience and tenacity and may you break a personal record or two in 2013!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

No I haven't forgotten my blog...

I'm just way behind in several areas of life.  I'm about to get some time off so I hope to catch up a bit.

Happy holidays, all, and keep the hydrogen chloride emissions out of the eyes in the new year!


Sunday, September 23, 2012

BALLS 21 brief update

Hi, all.

Bottom line: if one has an opportunity to participate in a BALLS launch...  do it!

Never in my life have I met a more amazingly skilled group of rocketeers who also offered mutual respect right up front.  The atmosphere seemed calm, comfortable, and humble.  Thanks to everyone I met at the launch and especially to my friends from the San Diego club for harboring my newbie self. Oh and props to Mark and Craig Clauson who may now rightfully usurp the name "rocket hunter" as they've thoroughly mastered the subject.  Honorary Ph.D to you two!

More to come...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Honey Badger don't give a shit...

[link] ...but I do.  Only about 14 more holes to drill, some fillets to apply, and paint to be sprayed and I'm done with this beast!

And I went though many, many syringes, cups, gloves, and wipes injecting foam into the fin area of this and my DarkStar Extreme Heavy:
I'm glad I'm not a foam addict. One caution on the Public Missiles adjustable volume foam: you have less than 15 seconds to work with this stuff before it expands beyond all utility. Seriously you need to have all your tools and parts ready before parts A and B ever meet. Then you need to mix vigorously for a few seconds and then pour/inject rapidly to even have a shot. Near the end I started drilling funnel tops to my 1/8" injector holes to improve injection accuracy. Let me know if you need any pointers in this area.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

This Frenzy Massive's sorta tall...

I resumed building today, completed the following, and everything's curing in my warm garage:

Frenzy Massive:
  • Designed the EBay sled template in Illustrator, traced and cut that from 1/16" G10, JBWelded brass tubing on the bottom, taped the tubes in place, and threaded into the cavity to cure in line with the 5/32" all-threads.
  • Scuffed up the motor tube, marked the positions of the centering rings, and epoxied all three in place.  I should note that I'm not leaving the aft-most ring free as recommended in the instructions.  I'm confident that my fin mounting methods, in combination with expanding foam, will withstand even a CTI N10000.
Extreme DarkStar [Heavy]:
  • Numbered, sanded, and fit fins into booster slots
  • Inspired by Darrel Kelley's work I cut a comb-like pattern into the fin roots to improve adhesion to the motor tube:
  • Scuffed up all fin tabs
  • Epoxied first pair of fins in place (make that two pair)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Frenzy Massive progress

This weekend I took several more steps toward my N1975 flight at Black Rock dry lake in September.  The Madcow Frenzy Massive's coming together quite nicely:

1) Attached AeroPack motor retainer to aft centering ring
2) Completed nosecone assembly
3) Complete Ebay assembly (but still need to build/configure the sled)

I still need to complete the motor mount and fin assembly but construction could wrap up in the next week or so if I continue at this pace.  Those damned Olympics keep drawing me in, however!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Plaster City May '12 launch report

I've had this Pro54 6GXL L935 Imax reload laying about doing nothing for some time now. I elected to put it to work and then retire my trusty Loc 7.5" V2 after this fine flight:
That was the first and last onboard V2 footage I'll generate with that particular projectile of German design.  Here's the liftoff shot:

I really appreciate the initial cyan-ish flame tint near the nozzle. There in the lower left you'll also notice Frank Hermes' new Rocket Electronics RocKontroller 1 (model D).  I highly recommend this handy product as you'll never again need to haul launch leads out to the pad! That I set an altitude record of 7,472' for this rocket on its final journey simply iced the cake (Raven 2 data: graph, tabular).

And with that I bid thee auf wiedersehen, trusty old friend.  I now plan to procure a Polecat Aerospace 7.5" V2 with a 75mm mount to access some extra umph.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Plaster City April '12 launch report

I'll cease adding 'belated' as you're more than smart enough to deduce perpetual tardiness on my part.  In general I lag on these updates because I want the video to appear polished so that's the bottleneck.  In the future, if I have time, I'll add accouterment. Otherwise I'll prioritize swift posting over video rigor.
     Secondly... 10 months after being promoted to TAP I signed off on my first L3!!  Paul Breed successfully attained L3 cert on his first try after a beautiful Madcow DX3 Massive flight.  Congratulations, Paul!

After that month's launch I had posted a private draft of my flight for a few folks.  I just made that public so here's the unabridged, unedited onboard video from my largest Skidmark flight to date: the Pro75 5G CTI 4828L1410 (available in glorious 720p when viewed on YouTube):

My buddy Megan attended her first launch that day and did an amazing job of shooting photos thus freeing me up to prep instead.  Her shutter timing astounds me and often she would click off a single frame, nailing it first try, and not even needing the 10 frames per second available to her:

I've been using my new 3DConnexion Space Navigator mouse to peruse GPS flight data and Google Earth in general.  They're only $91 on Amazon so you should immediately ditch this silly blog and procure one post haste!

Elevation and pitch always seemed coupled in Google Earth but the 3D mouse made quick work of separating them as seen in this M840 vs. L1410 comparison:

The two altimeters averaged 11,903' AGL (barometric) and the Beeline GPS peaked at 12,383' so I'm gonna call it 12,000+.

Raven data - graph, tabular
ARTS2 data - graph, tabular, motor performance (5043L1424), CD analysis

Again, thanks to Megan's help, I was able to get to a second flight in that day!  Darrell had built an AT J1799 (a reworked J1999) Warp9 for me the month before but I was unable to get my aging BlackSky AltACC2C working reliably in my otherwise stalwart Loc 7.5" V2 and had to scratch the flight.  In the interim I built a drop-in board featuring the Featherweight Power Perch for my new Raven2.
     The flight was fast and perfect with easy, proximal recovery.  I could not have shot this better myself!:

Raven2 data - graph, tabular

I only hit 2485' but damn that was a swift ascent!  (Check out the the slope of the velocity curve in the graph link above.)  Warp9 motors have proven unreliable for some but I've never had issues.  I still have a K1499 and K1999 in my motor box so... gotta get those lit!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Building again!

On the left Megan's kindly rebuilding my Madcow 4" Nike Smoke. Middle is my DarkStar "Heavy Duty" motor tube assembly. Right is the booster tube for my upcoming 2000MPH president's challenge on a CTI M3100. That is, by far, the best carbon fiber layup I've done yet. Megan helped a great deal but I also laid the shrink tape up without seams, used a heat gun to squeeze out the excess resin, and then allowed it cure at room temperature overnight. I still need to post-cure in my oven but this thing's gonna look good!:
Here's a full-size detail shot. Use the zoom and pan tools for best results.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Belated: January '12 Lucerne Launch Report

Catching up... For once I'd planned realistically and took only one complex flight with me on that day. This would be my first five-motor clustered air start in Der Red Mix II.  I fired a CTI 1874K740 C*Star on the ground, then 2-sec delay, then 2 x 282H399 White Thunder, then 2-sec delay, then 2 x 150G50 Imax.  Let's jump into the Flip MinoHD onboard vid and then I'll provide details.  As always, and for maximum thrill, you should watch on YouTube in 720p, full-screen:

From the ground Rob Greenlaw and I could clearly see the flash/pop of the H399 dipped igniters before the motors actually ignited.
   I spent several hours prepping the Raven and Parrot 2 altimeters, e-matches, and recovery system the night before so that made somewhat quick work of the final prep the next morning:

Here I've laid out my casings and associated reloads:

I'd like to take a moment and thank Cesaroni for inventing grain spacers.  It's that sort of competition that really benefits consumers and we appreciate it! Thanks also to Rob for shooting the following pre-flight sequence:

The liftoff on the K740 C*Star was spectacular as always. These motors burn so brightly that it's nearly impossible to capture mach diamonds but I was able to drastically underexpose and post-process to prove their existence:

I was most pleased when the rocket stuck the landing yet didn't crack a fin. I upgraded from a 10' to 12' 'chute this time but that's still almost not large enough for those dangling fins:

Here's the very interesting Raven flight graph. Note the three thrust traces on the acceleration curve and their relative contributions to the velocity spikes (click the image for a larger version):

Here's the tabular data from the Raven if you're interested. And the obligatory recovery shots. Thanks again, Rob!

Next I plan to fly a fully-loaded, all-Skidmark cluster: K675, 1-sec, 2 x I297, 1-sec, 2 x H180, 1-sec, 2 x H123. I'm not sure when but I already bought the motors so... yay. It might even be painted and have decals by then?  I bought a 3M full-face respirator with isocyanate/pesticide absorbent canisters so hopefully my nervous system will remain intact.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Belated: Plaster City January 2012 launch report

I've really got to post these entries right after the launch.  Otherwise these protracted delays result.  Ugh.  I decided to keep it simple that day and fly motor ejection only.

I captured two onboard video segments: Super Raven on CTI 867J244 White and DarkStar Lite on CTI 298H159 Green3 propellant:

I was surprised at how punchy that little J was and, as you saw, the Super Raven ejection popped 3-4 seconds too early.  It still attained 3,188' according to the awesome and simple Altimeter One.  Here's liftoff and uneventful recovery:

Second up was my well-worn DarkStar Lite one the Pro29 6G green reload. I like the mach diamonds and vapor eddies.  I also tried to include a photo of the altimeter's LCD screen showing 3,912' but it's hard to see at that angle:

Finally I flew my Madcow Squat on the Pro54 1G 465I150 Imax.  The up part was fun but I still managed to crack a fin fillet on landing. Those are some thick fillets too so... hmmm:

Still to come are my Der Red Mix five motor flight at Lucerne in January and a single sport flight at Plaster City in March.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Frenzy Massive kit + Pro98 6GXL casing on deck

I still owe two launch reports from January but did not fly in February (I've been traveling). In the interim I wanted to preview what I'm hoping to fly at BALLS 21 this September:

That Frenzy Massive kit is 10.5' tall (3.23m for those down unda) once constructed and you see the Pro98 6GXL casing will barely fit the length of the main tube! (for reference I'm 6'2", 1.88m). I'm considering one of three CTI reloads:
Should be a good time.  Now if I can just arrange a schedule that allows me to travel there...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

January was windless on flying days!

I'm way behind in my blog posts but wanted to note that all my previous whining about wind was offset by two brilliantly wind-free Saturdays at Plaster City and Lucerne, respectively.  Video, photos, and data are on the way soon.  Mother Nature and I are BFFs  again. Keep up the great work, MoNa!