Monday, August 31, 2009

Welcome to the Pirate Art Institute

"Aaarh, Ye be welcome to the Pirate Art Institute"
How many ways can you COPY this pirate?

When wewere kids we would see this art school ad in the back of magazines. "Can you draw this pirate?" or some other bit of cutesy art. "Then enroll today  and have a future as
a commercial artist, bla-bla-bla..."

When my brother and I had a print shop back in the late '80's, it became a running joke early on. Customers would bring us totally crappedout art, or ask for art that we didn't
have, or to infringe on copyrights in a questionable manner.
The Pirate Art Institute to the rescue!
We would clip, photocopy, photograph, trace, or redraw,  then shoot a transparency, use it to expose a screen, and finally silkscreen  print it in [hopefully] vast quantities.
Whatever it took to make a buck.

Anything but FAX!
We refused to install fax service because at least one customer a week would want to fax their art to us.  No, nope, nu-uh, don't do it!  Most fax looks terrible on a good day.  Imagine what it would do to the aforementioned already crapped out art.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What a Bomb

As I perused online photo albums from NARAM-51, I saw
another rocket worthy of note amongst the scale and fantasy
scale models. Fantasy scale designs are rockets and spacecraft
that are serious designs that were never built, or designs that
are entirely fictional in nature.  This is a very nice model of
the Alpha Omega Bomb, the doomsday missile that radiation
fried mutant humans worshipped in the movie, Beneath the
Planet of the Apes.  I didn't quite have a primal moment when
I recognized the model, but the apes in the movie sure did.  
Reading up on the history of the movie, it was Charlton
Hestons idea to set off the bomb at the end of the movie.  
He rather hoped that would be the end of the series. 
No such luck.

All the models entered in competition at NARAM have to fly,
but I doubt the Omega Bomb flew as is. It only has 2 fins.
No doubt the model has a set of removable clear plastic fins
that are added to make it flyable.  Unfortunately, I have no
info at this time on the owner builder, or the photographer.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Quest for New Designs?

When I first saw a pic of what I take to be Quest
Aerospace's dealer table at NARAM 51 I had a primal
moment. I curled my lips back and hooted a few
times while slapping my head. A quick check of the
Quest web site confirmed that what I spotted in the
pic was one of Quest's new kits, the Striker AGM.
Well there's new and then there's new. I've seen that
design before and it takes an old rocketeer to know
Way back when, some of the movers and shakers of
model rocketry got together to create a truly  cutting
edge company called Enertek. To make a long  and
mostly unknown story short, Enertek failed to make it
into production. Gary Rosenfield and/or his company
Aerotech was a major participant, others participants
went on to form Quest. A lot of Enertek tooling had
already been done and this formed the core of
Aerotech's kit line. The Mantis launch pad, the Initiater,
Strong Arm, and Arcas kits. All underwent some changes
minor or major, but there they were.  Enertek was
where C-slot motors and Copperhead igniters [called
Top Shot Igniters then] gestated as well.

A close look at the Astra 2000 will cause a lot of fellow
rocketeers to have a primal reaction themselves, the
critter is obviously based on major components from
a Black Brant II. Nose cone, boattail, and the narrow
waist ring [the white section below the upper fins].
Quest naturally used what was at hand and used a Nike
Smoke nosecone.

I always wanted to build a clone-rok of the Astra 2000,
but being a difficult person, I wanted to stage it and
that upper fin set is dreadfully small. I have cloned a
couple other Enertek vapor-roks over the years, but
that's a story for another day.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kaman's Kooler K-Max

Enter the Kaman K-Max.
This is a pure work helicopter employed to transport and set
bulky and heavy objects. It's got a centerline winch and the
fuselage is extra narrow so that the pilot can stick his head out
the sides to look down. The K-Max has a long tailboom so it
doesn't need as much fin area as the Huskie has, but like the
Huskie it doesn't need a tailrotor either.  As a direct
consequence, a lot more horsepower is available for lifting.
In fact, 6000lb at sea level, impressive for a 5100lb helicopter.

Another neat design feature shared by all Kaman helicopters,
eggbeater and conventional alike, is the blade control flap.
On other helicopters, the blade pitch is controlled by pitching
it directly at the hub. This requires hydraulic controls on any
helicopter of size. With the blade control flap, the flap is
actuated in the opposite direction and this causes the blade to
twist in the desired direction, Just like the elevator on a
conventional airplane. This means the control input required is
much lighter, [no horsepower robbing hydraulic pump needed]
and because the blade is being controlled out where lift is
created instead of at the hub, the blade trim is more precise
and reactive to the airflow around it on a per blade basis.
This spells greater efficiency and reduced vibration. The
simplified rotor hub also reduces mechanical friction losses,
and reduced aerodynamic drag in forward flight.

Kaman has utilized the K-Max's light and easy main rotor
control and the lack of a squirrely tail rotor to produce a
dual function version that can be remotely controlled as well
as piloted. As far as I know, this is the first full size
helicopter to be flown unmanned. The fact that it can still
be flown manned as well makes it quite versatile.

Kaman has partnered with Lockheed Martin, called Team
K-Max to modify and demonstrate the UAV K-Max for military
operational testing. These modifications are at least the minimum
needed to turn a civilian bush aircraft into one that's integrated
with the 21st century US Navy and Marines.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Kaman Cooltech Heli's Pt1

As kids we lived on and around Randolph AFB, Texas back in
the '60's, Randolph had a squadron [well at least 2 anyway] of
Search and Rescue [SAR] helicopters stationed there. A bravo
idea. At a training base accidents do happen.  Back then, the
helicopters they used were the HH43 Kaman Huskie. Along
with patrolling the local flight paths and training areas off
base, they would take part in practice crash rescues and fire
suppression. There were a couple wrecked airframes on the
east side of the base and once a week or so they'd light one
on fire, then scramble a Huskie and the base firetrucks to
come in and put the fire out.  Top entertainment for a kid,
a bit nerve wracking for pilot's wives.

As helicopters go, I ALWAYS thought the Kaman Huskie was
the coolest. A stubby little glass box with a whole bunch of tail
fins and those eggbeater twin rotors counter-rotating overhead.
A unique look and a unique sound.  At least till recently.

I onced swapped a few beers with a heli pilot who flew USAF
SAR Huskies in Thailand during the "Police Action". He loved the
Huskie, but he said they had one major drawback at the time.
The rotor blades were made of Spruce wood. After a rain or
even a heavy dewfall, the wet blades would sag far enough to
risk a strike during startup. The blades had to be dry before
takeoff. No doubt modern composite blades have little or no
trouble with this.