Tuesday, January 29, 2008

"Mean Yankee" Rocket Completed

Brenda standing next to the "Mean Yankee"

After the gray primer was applied and sanded down, a gloss white paint was applied to the whole rocket. After this white paint had dried for a day, we wrapped the upper 3/4 of the rocket with a high quality painter's tape. Use this instead of regular masking tape so that it comes off easily without messing up your paint job.

This masking spiral was done so we could next spray on the gloss red spiraling stripe shown next.

The red gloss paint was sprayed on after covering the lower section and fins with a plastic trash bag taped to the last part of the purple painter's tape.

Only let the paint dry for a couple minutes before unwrapping the painter's tape. You want it to just start setting just a little, and the paint we use dries very fast. If you let it dry too long you can end up ripping off part of the paint when you remove the tape.

After a couple tries and a few rockets, you will get the hang of it. Or maybe you will be perfect from the git go... :-)

Alan next to the lower section before applying the stars...

We used foil stars bought at Michael's craft shop and stuck them on the lower white section for "masking" where we wanted our stars. Here it is even more critical than with the painter's tape to work quickly because the paint dries so fast.

Painter's tape is made for this... Foil stars are not... so you must work even faster.

I sprayed a quick first coat of gloss blue over the stars. I let it just dry for 30 seconds or so and sprayed the second coat to get it dark and even. Then I waited just 30 seconds more before using a pen knife and tweezers to remove the stars. I would use the pen knife to raise a corner of the start and the tweezers to quickly pull it off.

It actually turned out pretty good with only a few taking off more blue paint than desired, but you can't really see those unless you are real close. No one should be that close anyway at launch... right?...

Overall, it turned out pretty good. Above you see the finished paint job drying.

The finished "Mean Yankee" standing tall at 6 feet 7 inches.

The name comes from the fact that it was made from an Estes "Mean machine" model rocket and of course the US Flag paint job. I guess we will be flying this one the Fourth of July.

It was also a play on the irony of our country coming to the aid of other countries with money, resources and even our soldiers' lives and still being considered by some to be "Mean Yankees."

I served proudly in many countries and helped people wherever I went. I always tried to learn as much of the language and culture that I could. I showed great respect for the countries that I was a guest in.

I was no "Mean Yankee," but this rocket is...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Recreation of 1962 John Glenn Space Flight

Americans In Orbit-50 Years has announced their plans to recreate the historic flight of John Glenn in which he was the first man to orbit the Earth.

They will actually be launching an improved version of the famous Mercury capsule and even splash down in the ocean for recovery.

They are taking applications for astronauts right now if you are interested...

That would be a dream come true. I wish I was qualified. I just don't have quite enough hours in high performance aircraft, yet...

Also pretty cool that they looking to use the Falcon 9 being developed by SpaceX for transport.
SpaceX was the company founded by Elon Musk in 2002. You may remember him also as the founder of PayPal and Zip2 Corporation.

On a side note, we were able to see a model of SpaceX's own capsule at the X-Prize Lunar Lander Challenge at Holloman AFB in New Mexico last year.

Alan really liked that as his soccer team is the Blue Dragons. http://bluedragonsoccer.com/.

Asteroid near Earth on Jan 29, 2008

I know this is not about rockets and/or robots, but it is pretty cool.

On January 29, 2008, Asteroid 2007 TU24 will pass by the Earth at just 1.4 lunar distances from the Earth.

Space Daily article:

Cool 3D Java simulation of orbits.
(Use the Forward, Pause, etc to turn the auto simulation on…)

The image above was captured from the simulation.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Stars and Stripes Rocket

Well, now that the "Orange Twist" has met its demise, we are building another Mean Machine. As I said, this is a great rocket. The kids especially love it! So, I imagine, we will always have at least one of these in our fleet.

Our new paint scheme will be more patriotic in nature, Stars and Stripes, etc. I saw a similar paint job before and it looked pretty cool on this rocket. It is just primered in these shots. The new coat of White Gloss is drying now...

In thethe shot below, you can see the coupler that separates the two halves for transport. Great feature! I have read of many people shutting the old model in car doors because it was too long and the wind caught and shut the door...

My advice: Build one! You will love it! We will keep you posted on the "Stars and Stripes."

Orange Twist KIA

Big Daddy, "Orange Twist", Executioner and SpaceShipOne

We are currently replacing the Orange Twist the was KIA after more than a dozen beautiful flights. The link below is a video of it's 2nd flight. A slightly shorter delay would have been a bit better, that flight was on a D12-5. A D12-3 would have probably been perfect.

This Estes kit is one of our most recommended for enthusiasts to build! The kids just love it. Being over 6 1/2 feet tall, it is definitely impressive out there on the launch site. And this newer version, that now accepts E size engines, flies 50% higher than the riginal. Another very nice feature is the twist-lock coupler that lets you break this extra long rocket down in half for much easier transport than the original that had to be transported at the full length!

This kit is not bad to build even for those starting out. So if you have a several rocket builds under your belt, buy a Mean Machine, build it, fly it and have a blast!

Estes Mean Machine™
Product Number: 1295

The Mean Machine is back and now it's meaner than ever! Now you can fly it on Estes E engines and soar over 900 feet (274m) high!

Length: 79.0" (200.6 cm)
Diameter: 1.64" (41.7 mm)
Weight: 5.8 oz (164 g)
Recovery: 24" (61 cm) parachute
Fins: Laser Cut Fins
Recommended Engines: D12-3, D12-5, E9-4, E9-6

Orange Twist 2nd Flight

The pictures below are a grim reminder to repack your chutes before flying your rockets. We went out to fly on a windy day with our chutes already packed one morning. The wind was too strong and we delayed our launch by a week. Unfortunately, we did not repack the chute the next week on the Orange Twist. The chute did not open fully.
Repack every time and even use a little baby powder on your plastic chutes...

Friday, January 18, 2008

Viper Robot

Well, Santa delivered a very nice present this year!

It was a Viper robot!

We looked at many robots and robotics kits before deciding which one to ask Santa for.

We have not been disappointed at all!

Microbic Viper

The best store for US buyers is actually in Canada, RobotShop. They are very helpful and when we had an issue with a push button switch and a motherboard, they immediately sent us replacements.

Great customer support!
They also have other cool stuff at their site, too! http://robotshop.ca/

The best thing about this kit so far, is that Alan, who is now 7 years old, is learning to program and really enjoying it.

The kit comes with the easy to use BASIC Micro Atom IDE Version 2.2 (Integrated Development Environment) that allows for programming the robots controller using an easy to learn BASIC programming language.

Below, are some pictures of the kit and Alan working on it.

The larger box above contains the main kit and the three other boxes contain the three add-on kits. You can read about those on the Microbric or RobotShop sites.
Eventually, some form of robot built with this will be flying on one of our rockets!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Executioner XL ready for launch

We just completed the addition of a payload bay to our Estes Executioner rocket. The new section is a 14.2" long BT80 tube (about 2.6" diameter). The payload bay is coupled to the main body tube by a 3" x 2.6" solid balsa bulkhead. Both the body tube for the payload bay and balsa bulkhead were purchased from http://semroc.com/. They now give us an effective payload capacity of about 12" x 2.6" in diameter of free space.

The entire original rocket descended on one parachute, but we will be adding a second chute, so that the lower stage and payload bay return on separate chutes.

We have renamed, our now 52.75" rocket, the "Executioner XL."

We will fly the first test on an Estes D12-3 which, in RockSim simulations, provided an almost apogee perfect ejection and reached a height of 277.77 ft.

After a live test with a D12-3, we will run some more simulations once we have decided on the first payload.

The Executioner XL should be one of our main rockets for carrying robotic payloads over the next year. I will keep this site updated as to out progress

March 28, 2009 Launch:
Not the clearest picture of a launch, but the last launch for the Executioner XL out at Desert Heat 2009. It had a terrific flight on an E9-6 motor. The 24 inch parachute on the payload worked much too well... We ended up losing the payload bay after it drifted way out into the desert... Bye Bye...