Saturday, January 31, 2015

A launch is the proper way to end a month...

Today was a good day for TARC practice - comfortable temperatures (high 40's), partly overcast, and practically no wind. Duane and I arrived at the Research Park field just before noon, finding the two Liberty Middle School TARC teams already there and almost set to make their first launch. Four TARC teams would put rockets into the air over the next couple of hours - John Paul II's Jurassic TARC, the Falcon Rocketeers, Liberty Team Bazinga, and another Liberty team, the name of which I cannot remember - forgive me, I'm getting old.

Nate shows his team how to insure the launch rail is pointed straight up.
Liberty's "Silver Bullet" is about to take to the air (Click to enlarge)!
The first rocket left the pad pretty close to noon; it was almost non-stop flying after that. The "Silver Bullet" and "Orange Crush" rockets performed well for the Liberty teams, turning in some very good scores, including a "3". Altitudes were pretty much spot on; the closest was only a foot away from the goal (799 versus 800). There was a little trouble in the recovery department (chutes tangling, etc.), but I'm sure these teams will work through the packing issues. All the practice is paying off, and I was surprised by Liberty's efficiency. Big Nate and those kids were turning around TARC rockets faster than I could get my model rockets prepped. They is doing good!

The Falcon Rocketeers and Jurassic TARC are still trying to dial in the proper weights for their birds. The Aerotech E's did not have enough oomph to make altitude; their rockets were consistently beneath the target by over a hundred feet. So the switch was made to F's, which put them about a hundred feet too high. By the end of the day, they had the altitudes down in the 860 foot range; a little more work should get them closer. Duane is teaching Jurassic TARC how to use Aerotech reloads in their bird. They did well - 3 flights with no motor mishaps. This was good, because they borrowed my 24/40 reload case for today's flights.

Falcon's rocket leaves the pad with a blast of purple flame (Click to enlarge).
Other than a kid on one of Duane's teams, I was the only one flying modrocs today. Duane had brought two to fly, but he was consumed in being the "benevolent dictator" for his teams. I managed a fair number of flights - 5 total, one more than planned. First was my Estes Constellation clone on a B6-4, carrying my MicroPeak altimeter in the payload section. A good flight to 480 feet, made nicer by the rocket landing close to the pad.

My Constellation clone heads skyward on a B6-4 (Click to enlarge).
Constellation flight summary reported by the MicroPeak altimeter (Click to enlarge).
The Constellation was followed by the Estes almost ready-to-fly L.G.M with its alien decor. Fairly low altitude flight on a B6-4; another rocket needing C motors.

TARC team member's "Sacrificial" Alpha on a C
 motor - it keeps coming back (Click to enlarge).
My L.G.M. lifts off on a B6-4; A TARC recovery team
is in the background (Click to enlarge).
The L.G.M. was followed by the trusty Centuri RX-16 clone. Powered by 2 C6-5's, it was going to make the first test of my new Jolly Logic AltimeterThree, a recording altimeter which transmits data to your smartphone via Bluetooth. The flight was great - nice altitude, good parachute deployment - but I must have messed something up with the Bluetooth initialization as the altimeter registered only 32 feet. Sigh... the good news is that I did get a decent lift off shot from my Go Pro Hero 3, which was pointed up at the pad:

RX-16 heading into the wild blue yonder on dual C motors (Click to enlarge).
After reading the altimeter instruction manual (no good rocketeer reads the directions before a first attempt), I prepped the RX-16 for another flight with a single C6-3. This time everything went right with the flight AND the electronics; the rocket flew to 283 feet, in rough agreement with an Open Rocket sim I did last night. I will have more on the AltimeterThree in a later post. It is really a nice device!

My final flight (and the next-to-last one of the day) was the Bullpup 1, my Geezer TARC entry for this year. Its first flight on two D12-5's was about 60 feet too high, so I strapped my keychain camera to the sustainer body, counting on the additional weight and drag to reduce the altitude down a few tens of feet. I was not disappointed, for the Bullpup soared to 806 feet - only 6 feet higher than the goal of 800 - and was down in 50.3 seconds, only 2.3 seconds beyond the 48 second duration limit. This would be a 15.2 score in TARC, beating any other score in this year's Geezer TARC. The fact that I should have done it the first time did not prevent me from doing a little victory lap around the apartment. This old man designed and built a bird that could loft to altitude the egg, regulation PNUT altimeter, AND a camera on just two D motors (E impulse) - half the power of the youngsters' F powered rockets.

You don't mess with a Bulldog...

The Bullpup 1 leaves the pad on two D12-5's (Click to enlarge).

Bullpup 1 flight vid.

Bullpup 1's sustainer parachute deploying (Click to enlarge).
After a last TARC flight, we packed up all the gear into Duane's SUV. I returned to my apartment, where I have spent the last few hours downloading pics, videos, and altimeter data. 5 flights can produce a lot of stuff!


  1. Bulldog or Bullpup? You're confusing the issue here.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks muchly - not exactly in your league, but technology can partially overcome a lack of talent.

  3. Great pictures!

    How is that rail mounted on the green pad? Is it via a rod in the center hole? Is that a 1010 rail or metric?