Sunday, December 21, 2014

Updated: "Level 3 First Try!!" PDF

Hello, all, and happy holidays to you and yours.  In 2011 I had authored "Level 3 First Try" as an introduction to my TAP style and recommendations.  Just today I realized it needed some updating so here's v1g (updated Nov. 2015):


Thanks for reading and cheers to burning vast quantities of AP in the new year accompanied by much rejoicing!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Our first Holtville launch... 16x slower

I'm slow.  Only recently did I figure out that the GoPro Hero3+ I've had for a year features a 240 fps mode.  If I slow that down another 50% during editing I'm now showing hawt akshun at an effective 480 fps! Perfect for rocket liftoffs at our new launch site at Holtville Airport right?  [Watch on YouTube in full-screen, 720p with the audio cranked up for best results]:

My LOC Bullet finally bit the bullet with an old AT J420 Redline motor. Unlike a fine wine... Redline motors age the worst of any propellant I've yet encountered.  This failure was similar to an AT I366 Redline failure I experienced a couple of years back yet... only yesterday did I figure out that, upon ignition, the delay begins burning but the propellant takes several seconds to pressure up (even if one scuffs up the grain surfaces vigorously).  So, once it does lift off, there's little delay left and the ejection charge fires near Max Q thus shredding your recovery system, destroying your Comm-Spec tracker, and inexplicably hurling your nose cone several hundred feed away (despite a perfectly straight ascent).  Russ Sands spotted it right away yet I must have been in denial.  Yes I did find it positioned precisely as pictured:
I also flew my DarkStar Lite on a slightly less old AT H128 White Lightnin'. It's interesting to draw attention to the fluctuating thrust on the video.  Our new launch site is an extra half hour from my house but it's a cool, retired airport.  The concrete runways occupy only a small percentage of the land area on the site yet my DS Lite managed to miss the soft dirt by that much:
The motor retainer cap dented but still works fine... ahhhhhh, probability. I hope to fly an M6400 at the new site soon and really break 'er in!  Sound carries very efficiently there so ear plugs might be in order for the audibly sensitive.

ROCStock launch, Lucerne, November 2014

It was another beautiful day of essentially windless flying at Lucerne on November 8th.  I was mainly there to witness Scott Yeatons' Level 3 attempt but wanted to fly at least one rocket as well.  I've had this AT 2406K650 Blue Thunder sitting in my closet for awhile now but only my trusty Em-Sem-Fity 98mm minimum diameter vessel seems compatible.  This "coffee can" motor shot is probably as close as my blog will ever get to rocket porn:
Second time was a charm and Em-Sem-Fity flew well on the "Kay-Sikz-Fity" despite the first igniter burning yet somehow failing to ignite the motor; that never ceases to amaze me:

Here's the Raven 2 graph (click image for enlarged version):
[Tabular data here] Peaks... V: 548MPH  A: 10.4G  Baro Alt, AGL: 6,113 ft.  It was a clean flight that, shocker, landed about a mile away 'cause that's how I roll:
I  must also commend Scott Yeaton for a picture-perfect level 3 prep, flight, and recovery on a CTI 5506M1230 Imax:

Thanks also to Scott's other TAP, Kurt Gugisberg, because he rocks and I very much enjoy working alongside him.  Yay, another great launch!

Laster Blaster 2014

It's time to catch up on some blogging.  In my defense I've been moving more toward Agile or Lean Test development at work and both methods value "functional [stuff] vs. documenting [stuff]."  So I'm valuing flying rockets more than documenting them but I still need to complete the documentation portion some day.

Sadly our last launch at the Plaster City site was on November 2, 2014.  The FAA claims that we never should have been allowed to fly at that site yet they managed to make that mistake for a decade.  I'm not buying it but that's my uninformed-conspiracy-theory opinion.

In any event I did have two quick, fun flights to mark the occasion.  I flew my Aerotech Arreaux on a CTI 56F120 Vmax.  I'm sure it seems like sacrilege to fly one vendor's motor in another's famous rocket design but the Arreaux is the only rocket I had that was light enough with a 29mm mount.  For some reason the F120 chuffed a couple of times and then slowly ascended.  Luckily I had shortened the delay to like 5 seconds or something so I got it back safely.  I also flew my DarkStar Lite on a CTI 168H410 Vmax for the second neck-snapping flight and it was just as fun as the first.  I realize this picture is boring but it does sort of prove that I was there... kind of like the moon landing photos:

[I have no doubts that we visited the moon by the way and was merely prodding those conspiracy theorists]
With that we bid you adieu, Plaster City, and look forward to our new site at the now retired Holtville Airport east of El Centro.