Monday, November 29, 2010

Success of the Campitch 2, an update

The Alamo Rocketeers had a night launch and weenie roast on Nov 20. The first time I've done any night flying in years and years. We started early enough to do some day flying too.
Right after sundown
I flew the Campitch 2 without any visual augmentation. I used an entirely antique Aerotech E10-4wl moonburner that I had been hanging onto for years. The flight was fantastic, a complete success and a worthy use for that old motor. It was a blustery evening but the CP-2 maintained good stability, achieved a respectable altitude and was in full autorotation mode about 1/2 way down, landing less than 100 feet downwind.

After the last time I flew the CP-2 I obtained a new piece of 3/16" graphite tubing, cutting a new flybar 3" longer and then added internal wire tipweights to increase the weight from 11g to about 20g, nearly doubled.

Snaking the thermalite ignitor fuse into the offset port on that E10 was definitely cause for reminiscence. Ahhh... the moonburners that I have known. I initiated the thermalite with a
Quest Q2 ignitor. If I'd
remembered them Id've used a flashbulb initiator to wow the crowd.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Moonburner Motors Get Bent

First time I've tried to upload a vid clip.
Hope it works OK.

When I first started experimenting with making my own sugar motors, I made several decisions under their own merits which eventually lead to an epiphany. When combined, these factors
created an interesting moonburn synergy.

First, I chose to use 15/16" diameter [24mm] phenolic cases that are thicker walled, than Aerotech, being 3/4"id instead of 7/8"id. To simplify the nozzle issue, I elected to buy Aerotech nozzles instead of producing my own from scratch, though this requires that I turn down the nozzle OD to fit my cases. Like most other experimental motor makers, I still wanted to maximize the propellant fraction. I decided to pour directly in the cases, including the convergent frustrum. No casting tubes or liners required. After only a couple false steps, I tried silicone tubing as my core spindles, which works great when casting sugar propellant. The silicone spindles are longer than the motor case, and extend all the way from the nozzle to beyond the top end. A rod or dowel, as the case may be, the same diameter as the nozzle throat, but loose inside the silicone, extends through, acting as an alignment guide and throat plug. After curing, the rod is drawn out, then with a steady tug, the silicone stretches, losing contact with the core wall, and pops right out pretty as you please.

Though I started with core burners, a major goal all along
was to make moonburners since I couldn't buy any commercial ones for a long time, and then when I could, only in 'J' and above.
With the old Aerotech D-G moonburners, the fuel was precast
and had a drilled port to one side that you would have to blindly hunt for with a piece of 'S' bent Thermalite. Even for
someone experienced with these motors, it was tough to
install, tough on the Thermalite and chuffed too often at the best of times.
Epiphany; My flexible silicone spindles need not be straight.
I attached the silicone tubing to the nozzle throat with a short plug, then 'S' turned the tubing over to the case wall where
it's held in place with a suitably fashioned wire clip.
This creates a smooth pathway for the ignitor during installation AND expulsion, even when using Copperheads. This 'S' turn also creates a short area of coreburn configuration near the nozzle, producing a higher takeoff spike before it settles into full moonburn mode. Perfect for a medium size 'D'-'E' bird.

Another goal of making motors was that my wife [now ex] and
I had always been into clustering, especially air-starts. Estes 'D's are great for this but keep costing more and more.
I was already enamored with the idea of focused thrust [long before Flis-Kits] and wanted a way to add that feature to already existing rockets with air-start clusters. The curvy silicone core spindles work even better with the angled nozzles. Now there's only one shallow bend instead of an 'S' curve. This also reduces the coreburn section, making the motor more of a true moonburner. Since classic moons ramp up and down more gently than other motors, they are less prone to affecting the flightpath if multiple ignitions are uneven, or lacking. Focused thrust, of course, further reduces possible flightpath disturbances. I made a 10 degree angled nozzle holder for my lathe, so that I could modify the Aerotech nozzles before gluing them into the cases.

Angled lathe tooling with unmodified nozzle
installed, and a used angle nozzle motor.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Campitch 2

Pics by: KeithAlanK

This is the new improved Campitch 2.
It has the same features as the defunk Campitch 1 but is larger and beefier. Most notable is that the wing is much larger, by nearly 50%. The span is 2" longer, but the wing is made from
1/4" x 4" Sig airfoil stock instead of 3/16" x 3" stock. The thicker wing allows for a thicker 3/16" carbon pivot rod instead of the 1/8" carbon, then steel pivot rod on the CP-1. The hub assembly is about 1/2" longer on the motor side.

The CP-2 is already leading a better, or at least charmed, life than the CP-1 did. It has made three flights so far with nothing worse than some burn through charring [routine] and a ding on the wing tip.

The first flight back in August had us rolling on the ground, and we weren't even on fire! I launched the CP-2 on an Estes D12-3, it took off from a 2x4 pad low on the ground and ascended to no more than 3ft as it travelled 5-6ft upwind, then curved left going just over a modroc launch rack passing through a gap in the launch rods with scant centimeters to spare, then it drifted back downwind to land right next to it's takeoff point. It looked a lot like an olympic highjumper in action.

Todd, one of my flying buddies said he'd buy me lunch if I would fly it again. I didn't have any more suitable motors for it, so I told him I would if he could donate an Estes E9. For various reasons, I had yet to use any E9's before, so this one was my 1st. Well that turned in a perfect flight, 60-70ft up, transitioning to full autorotation mode about 1/2 way down and landing about 100ft downwind.

September launch dates were all rained out, so I had to wait till October for flight #3. Since the CP-2 flew so well on an E9 I figured it could handle one of my long sugar moonburners. These are sized the same as the E9 though heavier start to finish and has a higher sustain burn and longer duration. Well this spinny thang tookoff and immediately tilted about 45 degrees downwind for about 100ft then curved back and up in a boomerang turn till it was knife edged, pointing into the wind, at which point it ran out of sugar and dropped straight into the ground. Amazingly, the only damage was a little mushing of the wingtip, easily fixed by supergluing my fingertips to it.
The only other time I ever saw a monocopter with quite that flight profile was when I actually launched one with no flybar installed at all. Obviously a flybar with more authority is needed.
Not too surprising really, since the flybar was the same one the smaller CP-1 used.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tig Bitty Alert

The orange paper has an exact [from the screen] print of
the other side of the shot glass.

This blogpost was substantially written by my brother Keith
and first appeared in his blog; Zzakk's Garage
last year. I
edited it to make myself 1st person and
made some additions.

Back in 1991 when my brother and I owned a screen printing
company (that did everything but T-shirts)
we used to make
personal items from time to time.
Keith handled the artwork
/typsetting and darkroom,
plus made the screens--I was in
charge of the
machinery and tooling (makes perfect sense if
you know
us) and then we would do the actual printing

I had Keith pirate the art of Patty Melt [one of Cherry's friends]
whipping out her tig old bitties from a Cherry
Comics adult
comic book, and we printed at most a dozen
shot glasses
[1 sub-carton]. We shipped two of the shot
glasses to Larry
Welz, the comic's author, who then sent us
the original and
never-seen-before-now drawing that's in
the frame. We
traded a few comments about our favorite
liquors and
thoughts on doing a production run.
Unfortunately, our
epoxy based glass ink wasn't durable
enough for hard use
[we termed it "Souvineer Quality"]
so we declined due
to warranty concerns.

We put milk in the glass so our printing would be legible in
the photo, then drank it. Till someone else brought it up,
we never thought about the humor of our choice of liquid.

Probably the only time Keith has tasted white milk since
made the shotglasses 18 years ago.
Personally, I can't get enough of the stuff.

The first issue of Cherry Comics was titled Cherry Poptart.
A great way to infuriate Kelloggs and Archie Comics at the
same time. There were some not so thinly disguised Archie
characters in that first issue too.

Time to Google Larry Welz and see what he's up to lately. If you're 18 or older.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Girl Genius Comics, Steampunk Heaven

Not an artistic page but
Agatha's rant says it all.

2008 Hugo award

A quick plug for Girl Genius comics.
The hero is Agatha Heterodyne, an extremely sparky
mad scientist from a long and dangerous family of
sparky mad scientists. A nice girl actually, but she's
learning fast.
I wouldn't mind being her Lab Assistant.
Phil & Kaja Foglio just uploaded this great photo of
the Hugo award they won for Best Graphic Novel
of 2008. Great trophy. Absolutely fantastic comic.
I can't recommend it enough. You can read a new
page every weekday online, but support your artist
and buy the books, I have the 1st 7 or 8 plus a lot
of other Foglio comics and cool products.

I installed a link in the lefthand sidebar some months
ago but I wasn't fired up enough to do a blogpost
about it till now.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Back in the Saddle, NOT!

I had high hopes for upping my post rate this fall
here at the Lab, but such is not going to be the case.

In late September my landline was disconnected and
I about refuse to pay a further autodebited dime to
ATT/yahoo for their klugey [sp?] email that I have to
constantly wait for advertising to load on. I expect
advertising on Yahoo free sites, but not on something
costing me over $17/mo and is slower than ever already.
When the email software switched over, the previously
full featured address book lost everything except the
names and email addresses. All the phone numbers, all
the USPS addresses, all the aliases and side notes. ALL
Of course this means my access is limited at the moment,
and I'm losing all my old email files and peoples addresses.

So my friends & relations who read this, please email me
I tried changing my blog personal data to the new email
address and was denied. WTF?
If I can't resolve that issue I'll have to change emails again.
Gee, Google Blog and Google Email together sounded like a
Good idea at the time.

I also aquired a cell phone again after doing without one for
about 7 years and not missing it most of the time.
Thanks K&S.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Campitch 1 Monocopter Pt 3

A good ascent. Note wing gap.

Takeoff. Sign of an inadequate flybar.
1 ft up and already 1 ft sideways.

The wreckage.

The Campitch 1 is no more.

It made 10 flight attempts in 10 months.
Four flights were considered OK, one was very good,
and only one was nearly perfect. One way or another
it tossed it's wing four times. It tore up one part  or
another of the cam system four times, and broke one
flybar. The final flight did all three at once.

Even the best flight bent the cam follower bolt.  It
was the ninth flight and I used one of my 24mm E  
sugar moonburners.  It ascended to around 60 feet, it's
highest flight, and when it coasted about halfway down
it finally slowed enough to retract the wing into full
autorotation mode.   D motors never gave it the needed
height to do this.

On the tenth flight, I used an Aerotech E11J. At about
the 40ft mark, still under power it disintegrated. The
flybar was broken and the cam follower bolt was half
torn from the wing root, and the bolthead was pulled
through the G10 fiberglass cam track.

This spinny thang taught me more than all my previous
monocopters put together.

The biggest problem the CP1 had was it's pretty wing.
Being fully glassed it was too heavy [especially with
balance weight added to the leading edge], and that
eliptical wingtip made it too slick. Together this
gave it a higher than average rpm AND a tendency to
not slow down anytime soon.
Again, because of the wing weight, the unweighted
3/16" flybar used on the first five flights lacked authority.
This caused the motor and wing to pick their own pitch
angle and for the monocopter as a whole to squirrel
around and track at odd angles instead of going straight
up. The second flybar was 1/4" diameter and slightly
longer, but it had so much drag  altitude was reduced
by half.
The wing retract spring is always an issue. If it's too
heavy; it takes extra rpm to extend for takeoff.
If it's too light; it has to slow more to retract into
auto rotation. I used springs because I had a pile to
pick from. A better solution would be rubberbands
which might be easier to fine tune.
Finally, 1/8" pultruded carbon tubing it totally
unsuitable for D+ powered monocopters.  I managed
to break them outright 4 times, in three different

I'll spare y'all the flight log.
Yahoo Monocopter Group won't be so lucky.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Space Truckin'

Courtesy: Pirate Art Institute

I loved this painting the first time I saw it.
It was an illustration for a short story called; Ride to Live, Live to Ride. The story was about a biker who was a high-iron contractor doing orbital assembly, but ends up being a hero. It appeared about 20 years ago in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. I've long since lost
track of the issue, author and artist.

My brother Keith photographed and printed it for me. Some cleanup was done at the time with ink and brush. I had a grandios plan to screen print parts of it on layers of plexiglas, for a 3D effect. The back layer would've had the stars engraved and sandblasted into it. The stack would then be mounted in a deep frame and internally backlit and edgelit [fibreoptic].

More recently I scanned it and we digitally cleaned it up again and then added colors to the Grateful Dead logo.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sugar Motor Testing Pt.2, Getting Sweeter

Art Applewhite's Cinco38 Prototype
Pizza Hut

My Tide Wave version with ISP
38-360 case for comparison

Tide Wave on 1st sugar flight.
Using Ultra-White recipe.

Tide Wave pouring on the sugar
and spinning hard.

A big update to the previous post.
Since that test took place back in February I've burned 3 more sugar reloads in the test series. Since the test stand is still broken [the new guage I want for it aint cheap], I went ahead
and flew them in an Art Applewhite 38mm Cinco Saucer clone, my Tide Wave, or in Art's prototype Pizza Hut Cinco38.
Since it's 1st flight I've trimmed down the wavy edges twice on the Tide Wave. The spin under power was fine by me, but the spinning causes recovery problems. I've also flown the Cincos on an Aerotech G64W reload and an ancient and suspicious single-use Aerotech 320Nt H145 manufactured in 1988. These 2 motors definitely bracket the sugars below in the medium H category.

The motor that blew the stand had Bi-modal KNO3 [an inspecific mix of powdered and granular], my usual opacifier
1% Lamp Black, plus 1% Red Iron Oxide. A very fast recipe.
The next 2 are the same as above but with 8% Titanium shavings added for sparks. One had fine sparks, the other coarser sparks. The mildest recipe, nicknamed Ultra-White, uses granular KNO3 and 1% Titanium Oxide as a white opacifier. The only test recipe not burned yet is Ultra-Pink. Same as Ultra-White above but with the addition of 1% RIO on top of the TiO2.

So far, except for the wrong nozzle incident, everything has worked well. Ignition with my now standard Copper Thermite ignitors has been a non-issue. The RIO sure is messy stuff but it
really does improve pouring viscosity, just as other sugar cookers have noted. I didn't doubt it, but wow, seeing it happen is amazing.

At this rate, I'll have to make more test loads by the time the test stand is repaired.
Aw shucks.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sugar Motor Testing [not all sweet]

Ignitor hookup.
Black crescent at bottom of guage
window is probable damage.

Instant On! Ignitor wires inflight,
Guage needle is still on zero.

Burnout. Foreground smoke
came out of guage face

Expelling a bit of casting tube.

Blackened guage guts hanging out.

In order to evaluate possible changes to sugar motor recipes, I developed a new shorter motor that would be more economical to operate. It helps that I was given a damaged reload case [Thanks Ray!]. My long motors use two 6 1/8" fuel slugs, unfortunately the short motor, after repair, only fits 5 1/4" of fuel. An even 50% would've been nice, but this is close enough, and it was a free motor.

Late last year I made 4 pairs of reloads, all physically the same,
but each pair has a somewhat different formula. All are moonburners since they burn twice as long. Eventually some will go to a thrust stand, but IMO, chamber pressure tests are initially more important. It's good to know what even works before tieing up [or risking] a high dollar digital thrust stand.

I made a new nozzle with a 3/16" throat that would be used with some of the new grains, especially the baseline formula. Being virgin territory, none of these reload kits have the
nozzles listed on the labels like I do with the larger mature reloads. On Feb, 20 2010, the morning of the test, I picked the new 3/16" nozzle and installed it with reload #1 rather
than with reload the mildest. Reload #1 was a hotty and should've been tested first with a 1/4" or even 5/16" nozzle. The motor survived the test but barely. Probably only because it trashed the guage and was blowing out both ends. As it is, it severely belled the nozzle washer and crumbled the corners of the nozzle where it was pressed into said newly angled washer. Despite the short foliage and limited dipersal angle, we never did find the polycarbonate guage window. There is evidence that the pressure guage was damaged previous to this test attempt.

The hydraulic test stand has been cleaned and is getting rebuilt. Besides the new & better guage, it's getting a grease fitting and a brake bleeder valve. Instead of filling the stand with brake fluid as before, I'm going to use grease. This will allow for easier transport of the stand and with a good grease gun I should be able to use the stand to pressure test motor case materials and other components.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wanted: Spunky Lab Assistant

A recent Best Buy commercial shows some
customers shopping for a Geek Squad assistant.
This in no way inspired this post, the body of
which was already written, it merely makes it

In order to expidite the process I'm going online
in my search for a new Spunky Lab Assistant.

First let me dispel rumors about what happened
to my previous Spunky Lab Assistant [SLA].  She
did not get blown up, burned down, nor
bisected by lasers.  I did not turn her into a
monster, rather she turned herself into a 
monster all on her own.  Another story for
another day [off the web].

This is not as easy as I thought it would be.
I'm trying not to be too picky about specific
job skills, but there are quite a few that
are inherent to the long tenure of any Mad
Scientist's SLA.

Summary of desired job skills;

Major or minor in any 2 of the following;
chemistry, mathematics, physics, applied or
theoretical, computers, or other tech field.
A dropout with a good reason has preference
over a graduate with a bad reason.

Experience with grant applications.

Know the A B C's of proper fire extinguisher use.

Be able to sew Ripstop & Tubular Nylon, Kevlar,
Nomex and Denim.

Know the charades gestures for; Sedative.

Be able to work both English and Metric factors
in the same equations without freaking out.
[It's a rocketry thing.]

Know what the Periodic Table is for, and NOT for.

Be able to tidy up without disturbing "all my
tubes and wires and careful notes."

Know how to make a lab coat and safety gogs
look jazzy.

Make GOOD Coffee, sometimes with makeshift
equipment, or under adverse conditions.

In the words of Dr. Hawkeye Pierce as played by
Donald Sutherland; "She's gotta be able to work
in close without getting her tits in the way."

Oh yeah, most important;  If I start running, she
should be able to keep up!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Apollo 11 Owners' Workshop Manual, No Really!

When I first saw this last year or so over on
Zzakk's garage, I assumed it was some kind
of spoof.  Not sure if the book even existed,
or was just a cover.

I found the link on Spaceflight Now website.
The link went to Amazon.  There it was, for sale.

I'd like to add that I had the Haynes manuals for
all my motorcycles and love them.  Much better
than Chiltons IMO.  Haynes books are more
likely to list a substitute for that hard to find
Grumman Z347L  pintle injector spanner.

Maybe if my brother buys this for my birthday 
I can fly that Lunar Lander out of my back yard.
It looks good there, but it's tough to cut around.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Classy Ride

But pretty it aint.
The Bell X-14, I want one!
Can anyone name another jet powered aircraft
with an open cockpit?
I suppose it's just as cool that the X-14 is a VTOL,
but I like the open cockpit best. I want to take it
to the coast and wave to the girls as I cruise slowly
just off the beach, scarf trailing behind.
Surprisingly it would go 172mph and reach 20,000Ft,
brrrr, it's cold up there!  Well, not too surprising,
any plane that can VTO has power to spare.  Range
was 300 miles. Corpus Christi here I come.

The X-14 was built on the cheap in 1957 using  
Beach Bonanza and T-34 Mentor parts. Vertical
lift is provided by a belly mounted flap that
vectors the dual jet exhausts downward. Bleed
air from the engines to puffer vents at the wingtips
and tail provides control in hover.

Good news, it's being restored at a museum in Indiana.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My very 1st Rocket, Corny but Cool.

This had to be my first rocket, such as it was.
I'm sure it wasn't my first parachute though,
there were doubtless some paratroopers before
then, certainly plenty of them after. You could
always tell where my brother and I lived, there
were always parachutes, or the remains of
parachutes, hung from the wires and trees near
the house.  Actually, it wasn't too long before
we were making our own 'chutes out of whatever
came to hand.
I was only 4 or 5 years old, but I remember
getting the Corn Flakes and going positively
apeshit over the Corny 7 offer.  I remember
having to wait till the cereal was gone before
we could cut off the boxtop and send it off
with the whopping 35cents.  Y'know, back
then, food would actually get stale after a
while.  I still remember the agony of waiting
and the pure joy of the package arrival. To
this day ordering stuff is at least as much fun
as fondling stuff in a store, especially in this
electronic age we live in.  
 I admit it, Ebay be FUN!
I remember playing with the Corny 7 in the
back yard and the "Foomp!" sound it made as
you launched the capsule.   I also remember
playing with it awfully close to the apartment
building, but I don't actually remember
whatever became of it. Likely I put it on the
As I rcollect, being the Corny 7, the astronaut
figure in the capsule was Corny the Rooster.
The available info doesn't seem to support this
though.  I question whether all of the capsules
were blue.  I keep thinking mine was red.
Thanks to

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Atlas 5 Updates

Atlas 5-411 Astra 1KR, Flt#8, with single strapon.
Note the vectoring main motors.

Atlas 5-511-AV010, New Horizons, Flt#7
All up with five strapons.

This illustration speaks for itself.

A special thanks to Gunter Krebs who made comment on my Atlas? 5 post. He also posted a link to the Atlas 5 info on his most excellent website; Gunter's Space Page
I had visited Gunter's sites in the dim and distant past and since then lost his address.

So it turns out that the Atlas 5 can be flown with up to five strap-ons, or as few as one [or zero of course]. This is still practically unique in the space launch industry. Aside from the two shuttle systems which are asymetric by nature, the augmented Atlas 5 is the only other one that I know of. This of course requires a robust thrust vector system and an equally capable flight control computer able to adapt to, or be programmed for, the asymetry from the moment of liftoff in addition to the usual trajectory programming, weather, and any other possible anomolies.

While the original Atlas balloon tankage was welded stainless steel, I learned that the Atlas 5 tankage is isogrid [machined] aluminum. The main motor[s] are/is a Russian RD-180. Actually a single assembly with two chambers. One more very useful link: Atlas 5 Data Sheet

Friday, April 23, 2010

The DSP Goddard

3-2-1 Ignition.
Note the clip attachment.

1st stage ascent.

Staging smoke and weathercocking

DSP stands for Deep Space Probe, 'cause it sure doesn't look like an atmosperic rocket. I named it Goddard in honor of Robert Goddard's famous first liquid fueled rocket which
was likewise a tractor rocket. A tractor rocket pulls from the front rather than pushes from the aft.

The Goddard was inspired and built in a junk pile back in the early '90's. The top cap is from a Colgate upright toothpaste pump that was a good fit on a BT-60 coupler once the internal
threads were moto-tooled off. It was supposed to look like a docking ring, but I never bothered with the extra details. The large ball was from a Valentines balloon bouquet and was clear plastic with a tiny teddy bear inside. Last I looked, it and other sizes were available at Hobby Lobby. The gold pressure spheres are plastic Xmas ornaments. The conical body is the
heart of it and was originally a Yoplait Yogurt cup. The legs are the only costly components, Dave Brown fiberglas pushrods from the hobbyshop. The tailring is a handy droppoff of LOC 5.38 airframe tubing.

One leg is used as a blind launch lug for a 3/16" rod. The other 2 legs each have an ignitor extension wire up them, with flat blade crimps at the bottom for the micro-clips and binding posts at the top for wrapping ignitor wires to.

With a single motor, the Goddard balances behind the nozzle. With two D12's the CHAD booster motor crosses the balance point, and once I even flew it 3 staged. I don't recommend it except in absolute calm. It flies quite well on E11J & F12J's on calm days, and E15W & E18W on breezier days. The old Estes E15 was good, but I have yet to try the newer Estes E9.
Even staged, short delays are the rule.

I have 80% of the parts I need for an H-I sized version, that'll stand nearly 6ft tall.

All Range Safety Officers fear me!

1st pic by KeithAlanK, pics 2-4 by John Lee.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I was speechless!

I'm over it now.
This is the longest I've gone between posts.

When the Obama administration killed the NASA Constellation Program I truly did not know what to think. Since I didn't want to start blathering like an idjit without knowing any real facts,
I just shut up. Too bad politicians and newscasters can't do the same. I do try to look at both sides of anything, thus I can't be gung-ho about every cool aerospace project that comes along,
or about a cancellation. I did NOT like the Constellation Program, particularly the Ares I, top and bottom. I won't miss it a bit. The Ares V/VI iterations looked better, but were plagued by problems as well. As near as I can tell, it needed bigger engines than are currently available. Until they re-approach or exceed the Saturn Program F1 engine they're wasting time and money. Now it appears that NASA is going to redirect research money in that direction. The "New Hydrocarbon Engine" is intended to meet or exceed the Russian RD-180 which puts
out 860,000 Lbs of thrust. Not big enough I say. Hydrocarbon is fancy talk for Kerosene. Not as much energy per pound as burning Hydrogen, but it's a LOT denser, which saves volume on the first stage where it can be used. Saved volume means less booster weight and height, and it doesn't need to be insulated, or defueled if a launch is seriously delayed.
Another article spoke of NASA initiating real research into orbital fuel depots. Another needed link in the chain to future space activities.

Between cancellation of Constellation and the Shuttle retirement, the job loss numbers are nothing short of staggering. I hear numbers like 20,000 jobs lost in Florida alone. Combined job losses in others states may rival that. This is a bad time to even threaten that, given the nation's financial woes. That's a lot of folks that aren't going to spend an extra dime towards improving the economy even while they can. Another factor to consider is the message this sends to our children. We are trying to get more kids interested in science and high tech educations, meanwhile the folks who currently hold those kinds of jobs are getting laid-off enmasse.

A recent report stated that it would take 2 years from the go signal to add new flights to the shuttle's remaining few. No big stumbling blocks besides putting the fuel tanks back in production. The shuttles will still be flying for most of this year, so that still leaves a bit of a gap. Maybe some overtime or the temporary shift of extra workers would close that gap somewhat.
I do think the STS system is aged, but we should not walk away from its' capabilities for any reason. I never felt that the STS should be our only major access to space, and now less than ever, but we should continue to use it where other vehicles won't suffice. At this point it would take quite a while to produce new improved shuttle orbiters, but we should get on with that. It'll always be more expensive to do so later.

Special thanks to the articles I found at Spaceflight Now.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Basically, I'm Annoyed!

Here's a rare picture free post.
This is just words, about words.

It's not uncommon for fad words to come and go in daily use in our culture. Some words stick around, some peak and then decline rapidly, some not fast enough. The word; "Problematic" thankfully has faded away. It's not a bad word in itself, but so few people used it correctly,
it would set my teeth on edge every time by reflex.

What has me growling this time is the word; "Basically".
What really set me off was an American reporter in Haiti being interviewed by another reporter over a live feed right after the recent earthquake. This guy said "Basically" at least six times, but never kept it basic. That's as bad as a hippy saying "Like" and/or "Y'know" every sentence. This guy was educated and experienced though, how embarrassing. I hope his colleagues make a blooper disc of it. I wouldn't mind "Basically" so much if it didn't precede the LONG version of an explanation so often. It should be followed by one or two concise sentences of explanation tops, otherwise it's not basic is it?

After listening to enough people say "Basically", I realized that a lot of the time it's thrown in while they're collecting their thoughts or composing the next sentence before launching into an explanation, thusly it takes the place of dead air or the more honest; "Uhhh" or "Um".
No excuse!
After a few times though, it has a negative effect on one's appearance of intelligence.

OK, I wrote; "Basically" 5 times, [including this time] but only USED it once, in the title. There it was used correctly and concisely, IF you don't bother to read the post.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Ace MonoKopter in Action

This is my Ace MonoKopter when I flew it in Oct 2009.
The motor was an out of production [rats!] Aerotech G33-5J.
I've wanted to do a post about the MonoKopter for a while
now, but a lack of decent photos held it up. You must agree,
this sequence of pics are well worth the wait.

To give y'all an idea, the MonoKopter is 48" from motors to
wingtip fin, the wing is 27" x 7" x 3/4"thick, the flybar is a
1/2"dia x 36" oak dowel.   The weight is approxx. 28oz less

I ordered the Monokopter from Korey Kline in person, along
with a couple of his other Ace kits at LDRS-6. Being an ARF,
I had a bit of a wait for it to be produced and shipped. Well
worth it though. After numerous flights in the late '80's and
throughout the '90's, I considered it retired after a bad
landing damaged it. In fact I planned to give it a Viking funeral
after I completed CAD drawings of it. I'm glad I decided to
start flying it again. I figure by next fall I should have a serious
replacement for it after my smaller [and cheaper] monocopter
autorotation experiments are concluded.  Ummm, lets say
instead, when the experiments progress far enough.

You might wonder why MonoKopter is spelled with a capital K.
Normally monocopter is spelled with a lower case C. I can't
recall for sure at this point if it was correct, but the MK's
designer Korey Kline, like myself, Ken Kzak, are fond of K's.
I do know I've always spelled it that way.
The photo set was a good bit longer but I left a few out. will only let me upload five per post.

Friday, January 1, 2010

25% More Goblin

Pics by; KeithAlanK

Welcome to 2010.

This is my slightly upscale Goblin. I originally built it
for a halloween Goblin contest that was going to be
held at a launch at McGregor TX about 10 or so years
ago. The launch got rained out as I recall, but I'm
glad I built the new Goblin anyway.  It uses an Estes
Citation Red Max/Patriot black plastic nosecone. The
fins are 1/16" plywood through to the MMT, and the
airframe is BT-60 with 1 layer of 3oz glass. The
motor mount is 24mm for D12's thru small F reloads. 
Like the original Goblin it uses streamer recovery.

The demon artwork came from one of my favorite
comic books; Those Annoying Post Brothers by
. When I first saw that demon I thought of
the Goblin artwork, they're from different artists
but appear to be from the same Hell.
The Indecline art on the left fin is from a stenciled
graffitti that is on freight cars all over the country.
I skewed the art slightly to better fit the fin, and
now the character looks like he's walking downhill.
Indecline inclined.

As a kid I built an original Goblin kit, making it my
first D kit though I never flew it on more than a C6-5.
The trees verging on my local field were already well
enough decorated with my model rockets. That Goblin
got scrapped long ago, but its' nosecone still flys on
another rocket.
The stand is a cast iron star that came from a Texican
gee-jaw store.  My brother gifted me several different
stars one Xmas after I flashed on the concept of using
them for rocket stands. Thanks bro.