Saturday, August 15, 2015

A second try at sponsoring a rocket contest...

Well, I had no entries in my first rocket contest. However, I remain undaunted...  The second contest description has been posted to Ye Olde Rocket Forum (YORF).  This time, I am digging into the kit stash to offer a classic for a prize - the U.S.S. Enterprise from the 1975 catalog!

Here's the contest description:

ORC #2 - Designing for the EAC

EAC ad from 1973 Estes catalog (Click to enlarge).
Back in 1972, the Big E (Estes) established the Estes Aerospace Club (EAC), the “most exciting rocket club on earth.” EAC members could advance skill levels by building Estes kits of increasing complexity; for example, to get to level 3 (Craftsman), you  had to assemble and fly 4 Estes kits other than those used to achieve level 2, with at least 3 being SkiII Level 3 (one had to be a multi-stage rocket). Your level advance was marked by a certificate and a colored thrust bar, which was used to augment the iron on emblem on your shirt. This was a status indicator among rocketeers in my neighborhood; if you didn’t have at least the green thrust bar (Advanced) on your T-shirt, you weren’t a rocketeer.
EAC Firecat (Click to enlarge).
The next best thing about the EAC was the ability to get  exclusive kits - the EAC Viper, and later (in 1974), the Firecat. The Viper was one of my all time favorite rockets, and one of the first models I cloned. The Firecat was a unique target-drone type design featuring an Honest John nose. Unfortunately, there were no EAC specific rockets after this; Estes phased out the club in 1986. A follow-on, the Estes Space Program, started up in 1988, but it did not seem to have the appeal of the old EAC. The Yankee Clipper rocket of the Estes Space Program, while patriotic, did not even begin to approach the coolness of the Viper or the Firecat. So, for many years, I have been wondering what a third EAC rocket would have looked like. Would it have been an exotic starship design? Or perhaps a cluster or multi-stager? Maybe even a boost glider? Who knows?

Which brings me to the point of this contest: Can you design that third rocket, taking into account some of the things a rocket company has to worry about, like parts availability and cost? A exotic design is great, but if it costs a fortune, it may very well not make money. Too elaborate and complex may scare the less experienced rocketeers away, resulting in poor sales, even if the production cost is reasonable. And generating new parts is a pain and adds more cost; better to use parts from the existing inventory. So this, then, is the goal - come up with an awesome looking EAC rocket while minimizing the cost and using only the standard Estes parts available in 1974.

Are you up for the challenge?

The rules:
  1. Design and build a stable rocket powered by one or more 13 mm, 18 mm, or 24 mm motors. This rocket must be constructed only from components available for sale in the 1974 Estes custom parts catalog ( Substitutes may be used, but only if they are exact matches in size and shape to the catalog components. Custom decals may be used. Assign it a skill level based on complexity/difficulty.
  2. Take a “glamour shot” of the rocket when it is completed.
  3. Make at least one flight of the model, marking this flight with pictures (minimum of one pad shot and one showing the rocket lying on the ground (or in a tree) at the end of the flight.
  4. Document the build and the flight on a thread in this category
  5. Only 1 entry per contestant, please. Contest deadline is 11:59 PM Central Daylight Time on October 15, 2015.
How to participate:

a) Send a PM on YORF to Vanel or an email to cookewj [at] stating your intent to enter the contest.
b) Create a thread in this category containing the following items before the contest deadline:
  • Open Rocket or Rocksim design file. Traditional Geezers may submit a paper plan showing all dimensions (including CG/CP locations) and a parts list. Parts list or design file component names must conform to the part numbers in the 1974 custom parts catalog. The rocket’s name and skill level must be part of the submitted design (Use the comments section for the skill level designation if you use Open Rocket or Rocksim). If the rocket features decals, a jpg, png, or pdf of the decal sheet with specified dimensions in inches must also be submitted.
  • A file listing the parts and their costs according to the catalog, and a total cost of the rocket. This file may be a text file, a csv file, an Excel-compatible spreadsheet, or a scan of paper calculations. Note: Decal cost shall be computed according to the following formula, which was derived from a linear fit to the costs of waterslide decals in the custom parts catalog:
               Decal cost (in dollars) = $0.283 + 0.006 x area of decal sheet in inches
  • Post (hopefully multiple posts) documenting the build and flight.
  • The “glamour shot."
  • The two flight images described above (more if you wish, but please, no more than 5).

Design (40 points maximum):
     20 points for Open Rocket file, Rocksim file, or paper plan/parts list (and decal sheet if such are used)
     20 points for minimizing costs, computed according to
               Number of points = (# entries + 1 - cost rank) X 20 / # entries  
               where cost rank is 1 for lowest cost model, 2 for next lowest cost, and so forth.

Documentation (20 points maximum):
     10 points for build and flight documentation thread
     4 points for “glamour shot"
     3 points for pics of rocket on the pad and just after landing
     3 points for image of rocket in powered flight and/or descending via recovery device

Flight (15 points maximum):
     15 points for stable flight

Appeal and complexity (25 points maximum - determined by vote of the YORF membership):
     Number of points = [Sum of (# entries + 1 - voter rank)] X 20 / (# of voters x # entries)
                                     + [# of votes agreeing with skill level x 5 / # of voters]
     where voter rank is 1 for first place, 2 for 2nd, and so forth. The sum is over the # of voters.

Winner is the one whose entry has the most points.

Prize table:
  • $60 eRockets gift certificate 
  • Estes Leviathan 
  • Estes #1275 Starship Enterprise (OOP)
  • Estes Altimeter
  • Semroc Centaur
  • Estes Snitch (OOP)

1 comment:

  1. I didn't even know anyone was doing rocket contests again. Cool.