High-Powered Rocketry

                                           As when a spark
Lights on a heap of nitrous Powder, laid
Fit for the Tun some Magazin to store
Against a rumor’d War, the Smutty grain
With sudden blaze diffus’d, inflames the Air
                                  -Paradise Lost (IV 813-19)

URRF 2 – June 2014

Had another great time at URRF this year. I think the turnout may have been bigger than last year. Even though we were set up in a field full of rotting onions (seriously), the event remained “all about the rockets.”

I launched 3 times. The G3 that I built over the winter launched for its first flight on Friday on a CTI L-1030 Red Lightning motor (54mm, 6 grains-XL). My first “L” sized motor, it gave me some trouble starting, but eventually we got it off the pad. I called it “Black Friday” for that launch in honor of when I bought the kit. It was a good flight with a straight boost to 10,030 feet according to the Raven-3. It landed within sight (although we almost missed seeing it land) and was an easy (although muddy) drive/walk to recovery.

I launched the G3 again on Day 2, renamed “The Flaming Onion” on a CTI L-935 IMAX. It screamed off the pad and reached an altitude of 12,250ft according to my Raven-3. Top speed was recorded as 835mph, so it was moving. Good recovery, but it got pulled across the field about 50ft on the chute because of a ground wind so now it has that “distressed look.”

Finally, I also launched my LOC Nuke Pro Maxx on a CTI J290 White. It scooted off the pad and reached 6,875ft according to the Perfectflite altimeter. A good recovery – reconfiguring the rocket with shear pins and rivets over the winter paid off.

No in-flight video this time due to some technical issues with the cameras. I’ll get that sorted out for the next launch.

Below is a gallery of some of the wonders of URRF. I particularly like the shot of an upscale Big Bertha where you can see the Dinosaur Extreme rocket prepping on an away cell in the background. I’m inspired to build something bigger for next year and get that Level-3 cert.

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As indicated, some of the amazingly timed launch photos in the above gallery are by David McCann Photography. You can see more of his work here.


Winter Builds

With winter upon us, I’ve had time to do some building. Current project is a Rocketry Warehouse G3 that I picked up in their Black Friday Sale. I’ve added a tail cone to it and used injected fillets for the fincan, using Wildman‘s instructions for his similar 3-inch, 54mm rockets. Can’t wait to launch this puppy on an “L” motor – probably at URRF!

I’ve been hoping to start my Level-3 Certification project this winter, but my LCCC hasn’t replied to me about my draft design – a semi-scale version of an Iranian Qadr shore-to-ship missile. In the meantime, I’ll finish this build and work on modifying my two LOC nuke pro maxx rockets – they’ve both had some problems with ‘chute deployment since I modified them to be dual deploy, so I’ll fix them up with a more typical deployment configuration using shear pins in the nose.

This winter I’m also working with the Astronomy club here to do a weather balloon satellite launch. We’re coming up with some plans for deploying some sensors on it (Arduino) and other experiments, as well as cameras (of course!).

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Black Saturday Rocket Launch

Yes – Turkeys can fly. At CTRA-NARCONN’s Black Saturday launch, three turkeys were lofted as payloads aboard rockets, successfully recovered, and then fried. I didn’t launch a turkey, but I fried my Aerobee-Hi (again). Below is a video of a successful flight with my Binder Devastator (no turkey aboard).

Below are some images of the day, including the demise of my Aerobee-Hi. First, an Aerotech G-80 CATO took out the booster. Then I launched the sustainer and had a chute failure despite my altimeter-activated ejection charge & the motor back up going off. It was a good lawn dart. Fortunately all electronics were salvaged, and the sustainer will fly again – it just won’t be an Aerobee-Hi anymore.

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New Build: Fresh from the Rocket Garage on West Point

This is my rebuild of the Aerobee-Hi two-stage rocket. The booster transitions to the sustainer with a clever strut system concealing the nosecone underneath. Each stage has its own parachute. After a failed attempt at this before, this time I plan to fly it with a Raven-3 altimeter and deployment charges in the sustainer that will pop the chute out even in the event of an ignition failure.


CTRA-NARCONN Invitational, Hurley NY: 15 September

I missed the Friday night and Saturday of this event, but had a great time on Sunday. I launched three high-powered rockets using a J449, I345, and an I236. All rockets were recovered. My best altitude was with my Binder Devastator at 5300+.

I even left the field with more rockets than I brought. My LOC Nuke Max Pro that I lost in the Hurley field months ago was waiting for me in the shed. Pete had even replaced some of the parts! Thanks, Pete!! My daughter also acquired a new rocket through the raffle.

It was a bad day for launch photos. Only one off the pad, but my videos fared a little better – the cheapo key chain camera that survived the Galaxy fire recorded a good flight of my Little John… including a surprise recovery method by bouncing off the AMW folks tent

My daughter enjoyed taking pictures as we took our rather LONG walks to recover the bigger rockets.

recovery recovery2

In all, a great little rocket festival – I look forward to next year.


Upstate Research Rocketry Festival, Potter NY 21-23 June

Had a great weekend of flying at URRF. The launches from the away cells were steady all weekend. At least two of my fellow club members from CTRANARCONN certified for Level 3.

I launched my 54mm Binder kit three times, the largest motor being a K530 Smoky Sam. I named it “Goodbye” — a fitting name for a 10lb rocket with a K530 in it. Despite the name, I recovered it. In fact, all my rockets were accounted for as I left the field.

Builds for URRF included the 54mm Binder kit (the “Devastator”) set up for dual deploy using the avionics bay that survived the Galaxy fire (see below).

Visit the U.R.R.F website here: http://urrf.org/

I will probably tweet from the field using #urrf13


18 May CTRA-NARCONN Launch, Hurley NY

Once again, I arrived with three rockets and left with two…

Update – my rocket was found by the landowner two weeks after the launch. The Perfectflite altimeter was still beeping away, claiming 4400′ altitude. If the camera survived, I’ll be very interested in the footage.

4 May CTRA-NARCONN Launch at Hurley, NY

After the burn-through

After the burn-through









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My Level 2 Cert Flight

1 December AARG Launch CT J446

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