Saturday, March 28, 2009

High Flight

Remember when there wasn't cable?
Remember when there weren't all night
info-mercials? At some apointed time
of night, the local broadcast station
would call it a day and shut-down the
station and let the tubes cool, or go
to a test pattern. I've always been a
night owl, even as a kid. I saw this
moment quite a bit. Most stations would
play a vid of the national anthem at
sign-off. Sometimes, one of the other
patriotic songs. If I was very lucky,
they would do the poem; High Flight,
with scenes of an F104 Starfighter
flying through the clouds. It was
always a patrio-ligeos moment for me.
I found this copy of High Flight in my
dad's papers long ago, and hung it on
the wall. Now that I've scanned it for
this post, it's going back on the wall
for the first time in years.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Reinventing The Wheel

There's a great little article in the March '09
Air & Space magazine called; Hot Commodity
printed in the recurring section called; In the
Nuseum. I was able to access the photo online,
but not the text. Good luck if you can.

The NASA and contractor engineers charged with
designing the heat shield for the new NASA Orion
crew capsule found they had a problem. AVCO, the
contractor that made the original Apollo heat
shields was long gone, along with all their files.
Meanwhile, all the existing capsules are on display
and off-limits. Look but don't touch. OFFICIAL
National Treasures. I like that. It was looking
like they'd have to reinvent this wheel from scratch

The right question in the right ear led to the Paul
E. Garber storage facility, owned by the National
Air & Space Museum. It's a really cool warehouse
packed with the greatest stuff. They had 5 crates
of new and used heatshield parts and samples tucked
away. The story goes on to say that the gathering
of happy scientists looked like kids on christmas
morning. Current ideas verified, impressive old
materials tech, fastening methods revealed...
A happy story as far as it goes.

I really don't mind that NASA is engaged in retro
rocket science, if it were up to me, they'd be
resurrecting the entire Saturn lift capability.
I just hope I'm not there, years from now, when
NASA is trying to relearn how to build and fly a

Monday, March 23, 2009

What's In Zzakk's Garage Today?

For my first post on this joint-effort website (really it's all about Ken) I thought I would introduce myself and then get right down to business.
I'm the younger Zzakk, and one of my blogs is the enormously popular to ignore Zzakk's Garage where I post snapshots which four people on the planet think are funny.
Then I write stuff using swear words to go with the pics.

Around here I'm pretty much just your host's site admin and go-to photographer, so I hope you'll forgive the occasional distracting post from me.

Let's take a look at What's In Zzakk's Garage Today?

Hey look! Wheel chocks (to secure my band's equipment trailer) are inside my garage.

They look just like USAF chocks I remember from ages ago.
And it appears that they have been dragged across the tarmac for decades judging by the rounded ends.

Wood and rope--so simple yet so important.

When dropped-off with the trailer I asked "So these are old enough to have been used on T38s and even T37s"?
The answer was affirmative but I also heard a hint of duh in his voice.

While pondering this matter I was thinking aloud and made some cracks about USAF procurement and billing, such as "Do you think they replaced the ropes every two years or only after they failed?" but got kneecapped by my girlfriend's response along the lines that the chocks were finally ready to be given to the Navy.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Advertising That Swings

Blue Tube may well be the next new thing for
rocketry. The fact that it was engineered as a
liner inside artillery shells already lends it a
major cool factor.  Beating  it with a golf club
makes a pretty powerful statement.
This pic shows the worst damage to the Blue
Tube of the 3 pics on the website.
Check out;
Makes me wish some mishap would overtake
my current tubing inventory.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

LDRS-6 & the Black Brant II

This is a pic taken of me at LDRS-6 in August of 1987.
Hartsell Colorado. The launch site was 8800ft ASL.
Jogging is NOT recommended.
We saw a number of rockets, that were said to be
perfectly stable at home fields, go unstable in flight
due to the thinner air.
Of course, this being LDRS, a lot of rockets had bigger
motors in them than ever flown at home. Please take
no notice at this time of how the motor protrudes
from my rocket.

I'm holding my FSI Black Brant II. A fine kit for it's day
and an excellent flier. I did a great job on it, and it
drew a lot of compliments, though I left off the myriad
screw head details. Each fin was composed of 7 pieces;
a 1/32"ply core with airframe tongues, a tapered
hardwood spar on each side, for the airfoil highpoint,
then 4 pieces of sheet balsa to complete the structure.
This was a lot of work, but it made it a lot easier to
sand an accurate airfoil, and made for a much sturdier
fin and mounting than the stock 1/4" balsa.

In 1987; Reloads didn't exist, Glassing was rare, and I
know of only one altimeter flown at the entire launch.

The too long motor is an Aerotek G25. One of the great
moonburners of the past. 4.7 second burn! I had signed-up
to have Chuck Rogers do altitude tracking but the LCO
launched me early by mistake. Too bad, 'cause it was
really up there!
I finally lost the Black Brant years later in a
ridiculously small patch of woods a very short distance
from my house. I looked many times, it just vanished.

I was 27 when this pic was taken, not a grey hair to be
seen. The antique safety glasses I'm wearing were given
to me by a friend. I had the stock green torch lenses
replaced with blue-block lenses which are great for
rocket tracking. Any paint with red or orange pigment
stands out big-time.  Those glasses were so ME, long, long
before steam got riveted to punk.
One Saturday morning, I dragged my butt to work after a
vile night of debauchery. I turned to a co-worker, tapped
on the glasses and said; "I'm wearing these glasses for
your safety, not mine."

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Rotary Space Ship, Totally Cool Toy

This is a monocopter. Monocopters are flyng devices or helicopter rotor heads that have only one wing or blade and are typically counterbalanced by one or more sources of thrust, like a propeller drive, jet, or rocket motor.

I found this pic on Dick's Rocket Dungeon a few months ago..
Dick Stafford and I searched the web extensively in hopes of finding a better pic and/or more info. It's called; Rotary Space Ship and was made by Brown Mfg. Co. of Clinton MO. It was probably produced in the 1950's or very early  '60's. It's certainly not the first monocopter, since Pappin did build his monster, but it may well be the 1st rocket powered monocopter.  

My research turned up a few pertinent facts. #1; Brown Mfg had  a sister company called Zenith Fireworks. Brown Mfg is long gone, but Zenith Specialties is still in business today. #2; Orville Carlisle [the inventor of Model Rocketry] contracted Brown/Zenith to make the first mass-produced model rocket motors for a while.  When Dick and I first discussed it, he thought the RSS might be powered by fireworks rockets with the fins or sticks removed.  That may well be the case depending on time of manufacture, but I rather think that it was powered by either Carlisle's Roc-a-Chute model rocket motors, or a custom motor made for the job.  Given the relatively high weight, and a crap airfoil, the
RSS probably needed a fair bit of power.  This would be a perfect use for a classic Moonburner rocket motor.

Except for the wooden wheels the RSS appears to be all metal.  I think the wing really is made out of a BBQ spatula. Sure looks it.  Obviously it was meant to rise off the ground, and in a spacious parking lot, it will make a nice landing too.  It has a centrifugal wing
pitch mechanism with spring return. As rpm increases during takeoff, centrifugal force makes the wing slide outward, causing it to rotate into up pitch for ascent. Later, as the rpm slows, the spring retracts the wing, causing it to rotate back into descent pitch for a smooth transition to autorotation for a gentle landing.

Judging from the size of the box, I'll betcha the axle mount is meant to pivot so the assembled toy fits back in the box for storage and safe transport. It may not be a kit at all, considering the construction methods.

One last thing; if this were produced today, the CPSC would have a bigger cow than the NAR.  Lack of takeoff guidance is one thing, metal parts are another, but if that wing were to hit somebody...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sugar Motor Data II

Today, we're looking at the data for the second
motor tested last month. This one is 538-M2.
The M in the designation stands for Moonburn.
In the lower illustration, you can see that the 
motors core is offset to one side, instead of in
the center.  As the motor burns, consuming
the propellant, the remaining propellant looks
like a waning crescent moon.
I about fell in love with moonburners back in the
'80's, when there were a number of them available
to choose from. Later they all but disappeared
from the market. This was a major prod for me to
start making my own motors.  BTW; Publishing
these motor graphs was the final prod to start this
blog. By nature, a classic moonburner is typically
slow to reach maximum thrust, so I wasn't going to
fly this motor design until I saw a thrust graph.
I intend to test a couple more to be sure, but in my
motor, the thrust does rise quickly, so it looks like
I have a great sport motor here. I'll fly them as such
soon, but I was originally trying to make a clustered
airstart motor. I still want a somewhat slower thrust
ramp up, to avoid disturbing the rocket's trajectory 
if the motors in the cluster lights unevenly.