Saturday, May 24, 2014

Saturday afternoon launch

Last night was the Camelopardalid meteor shower; this morning I woke up to find Lake Erie in my bathroom. The new neighbors accidentally broke a water pipe while installing a washing machine, and the resulting flood made its way into my apartment. Fortunately, Rocket City Carpet came to the rescue - the water is gone, but I have to put up with 5 big blowers for the next few days. However, meteor showers and rising water were not sufficient to deter me from launching rockets with Duane, Nate, and a couple of Nate's kids today.

We arrived at the horse farm a little before 2 PM and set up the range. Duane had quite a complement of pads (2 LPR and 1 rail); I added a second launch controller to the range. My rocket choices for the day were my Centuri Thunder Roc clone, my Estes Stormcaster, and the ever reliable Der Red Max. Duane had a nice assortment - a mini-engine powered Birdie, a Semroc Scout, a Cherokee-D, and a green mid power scratch build. Nate brought nuthin' - he took it easy and watched the show. As he is a teacher, I cut him some slack; anyone who puts up with middle schoolers day after day deserves to kick back. However, I expect to see some rockets out of him next launch!

We launched at a leisurely pace. Duane kicked things off with the Birdie on an A10-3T motor. I followed with my Thunder Roc on an E9-6. It got some nice altitude, but broke a fin even though the parachute deployed nicely. Easily repairable. One of Nate's students, Zac, followed with a pink(!) Mean Machine on a D12 - it would fly a couple of more times despite a crumpled body tube section down near the fins. Duane tried launching his green scratch build on a G-80. I say "tried" because the rocket didn't leave the pad - a malfunctioning motor produced only an ejection charge, popping the parachute just like the famous Vanguard rocket from the late 1950's. My Hero 3 caught it all in stunning HD:

Next up was my Stormcaster on a C11-5. I set up both the Hero 3 and a keychain camera to obtain video from both the ground and the rocket. Here's the onboard video:

As you can tell from the video, the descent was a bit on the fast side, due to a partial chute deployment. The rocket landed hard and cracked two fin fillets. Repairable, but a little paint touchup will be required. Following my usual practice, I later looked through the video and extracted the interesting frames - 3 are shown below:
A "sparkly" ejection charge

One of the horse barns

Mr. Pahman in his lounge chair
And here's the view from the Hero camera at 100 fps. It will play at 1/3 real time.

Duane's Cherokee-D followed my Stormcaster, flying on a B6-4. I love the Cherokee-D; it's a classic design and every rocketeer should have one in his or her fleet. The Hero 3 caught this beauty leaving the pad:

My Der Red Max followed the Cherokee-D. It flew flawlessly on a B6-4 motor, landing softly in the grass. It has the distinction of being the only one of my three rockets to emerged unscathed from today's launch. Duane followed with another launch of his Cherokee-D on a C6-5, then the Semroc Scout on an A8-3.

The last launches of the day involved two unpainted Mean Machines brought by another of Nate's students. One did the classic core sample when the parachute failed to deploy (It seems a lot of Nate's kids did not glue the body tube segments together, allowing them to slide freely on the couplers. I blame the crappy instructions that come with most Estes kits these days.) and the flight involving a two segment Mean Machine (An "Annoyed Machine"?) ended with the bird hung in the rocket eating trees to the East.

We left the field right at 4 PM, sated with two hours of fine rocketry. I will end this post with a frame from the video showing Duane's Cherokee-D leaving the pad.

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