Saturday, January 24, 2015

A quick launch... (part 1)

Been a while since I have done anything rocket related (for me). Holiday travel busted my chops in December, and there was much catching up to do at work. However, today that changed with a launch of a few rockets on a fine Saturday afternoon.

Duane had been scoping out a field near Research Park here in Huntsville that seemed suitable for model rocket launches - roomy, low grass, not too muddy, and very few trees. Best of all, it's close - only a few blocks from my apartment. We arrived at the field just after 1, quickly set up 3 pads and a couple of controllers, and commenced launching. I had prepped 4 birds:
  • Quest Payloader One, loaded with a B6-4 motor and 2 tiny altimeters (a Perfectflite Firefly and an Altus Metrum Micropeak).
  • Estes Drifter (modern almost ready to fly model), outfitted with a booster stage and a keychain camera. Motor choice was a C11-0 in the booster and an A8-5 in the sustainer. Winds were up to around 10 mph, and I did not want to have to chase it across Research Park.
  • Quest Aries, loaded with a B6-4. This is an older Quest kit, with all sorts of plastic bits and pieces for ornamentation.
  • Estes Nike-X clone, with a B6-4. One of the "old reliables" of my fleet.
Duane had 3 rockets:
  • The Kestrel - his BT-70 based brown and silver TARC rocket, loaded with an Aerotech E15.
  • The Beast - a BT-80 TARC design flying on a F20.
  • Estes Mega Mosquito, powered by a D12-3.
My Payloader One took to the skies first - the flight was textbook, landing just about 50 yards from the pad. The Firefly altimeter reported the peak altitude as 429 feet; the Micropeak said 382 feet, but it got slapped around in the payload section when a retaining ring slipped. I will have to investigate further when the USB unit arrives so I can look at the flight profile (the Micropeak stores 48 seconds of data).

Duane's Kestrel was up next on the E15. He used my Jollylogic Altimeter 2 as his was dead (not charged). Once again, a textbook flight, but the altimeter recorded an absurdly high peak altitude of 1500 feet. The true altitude had to be closer to the parachute deploy reading of around 600 feet, as ejection was close to apogee. (Remember to click on any of the pics to see a larger version).

Payloader One leaving the pad.The Kestrel heads skyward.

 The Estes Drifter is an almost-ready-to-fly rocket released by the company in the last year. Easily built in under 30 minutes, it and some of its brethren have optional boosters you can buy to turn them into double stagers. These plastic boosters simply slip onto the bottom of the rocket once the motor retainer is replaced with a screw-on adapter ring. This was my first use of this new Estes technology, and it worked rather well. The Drifter got some altitude on the C11-0/A8-5 motor combination, and I got some decent video from the keychain camera taped to the side.

Drifter liftoff on a C11-0.

Real time video goes by quickly. Here are some of the more interesting frames - 1st, the staging sequence:

And a view of nearby housing and part of Research Park as the rocket turns over: