Archive for the ‘Rockets’ Category

Ode to my 36 E squared rocket

November 8, 2015

36 E Squared croppedSome days, the rocket Gods win. Today they must have been dancing the cha cha.

I have a steadfast rule that I snap a pic of every one of my rockets before launching them on their first flight, the thought being that it may be the only memory I ever have if something goes wrong. Today, that rule sadly proved itself a wise move. Yeah, rocketry can be a maddening hobby at times.

It’s not just loosing a new rocket that bothered me so much. Or the video camera that has a nice flight recorded on it. Or that last minute altimeter I decided to tack on so I could also get some data.

What’s frustrating was that this was a replacement rocket for an old favorite of mine, an Estes 36 D squared that finally had one too many flights and was no longer worth the repairs it needed after 19 flights. This is a dual cluster rocket that has curved fins, exposed motor mount tube and three transitions. Not your average bread and butter rocket design.

Finding a replacement, was extremely hard and I soon learned after searching that it was no longer in production. Then, I happened to find an online  school supply store of all places, that not only carried a few but at a bargain price. But a few days of trial and error navigating their website and their support personnel, neither of which we’re designed or accustomed to Canadian orders, and I finally got them to ship the rocket… to New York where I had to pick it up across the border.

When it arrived I not only decided that I would put everything into the build (coats of polyurethane for the fins, fine finish, primer, fancy paint job, decals, rail buttons for that future dual E flight, all topped off with some nice clear coat to give it that extra shine and protection), but I would also mod it to also be capable of flying it on E’s some day and really put her up there, sims putting an E flight at 1500ft. But that would have to wait for a nice windless day of course.

But today was a bit windy so I only dared a D cluster flight. And it flew beautifully. I could already anticipated a nice video when I got the rocket back. As it was descending, I knew right away that this was going to be a long walk. But I got a pretty good bead on it and even saw it go down. But As I walked the ‘line’ I had I knew that I was approaching the 2nd of two ditches at our launch site and beyond it was dense, tall weeds and shrubs. I spent over an hour searching in front of the ditch making sure it wasn’t lost somewhere there and after a long sigh, I knew I had to tackle the other side, which wasn’t even easy to get to. Spent more than an hour there, until I just had to give up. Over 3 hours of searching in total.

Barring a miracle that someone else finds it, it’s a goner.

But there is one silver lining in all this. When I realized that this was a rocket that was going to be hard to find in the future, I was at least smart enough to by TWO from that online source. The last two they had in stock. So the 36 E squared will be back! someday, but I’m too tired to even think about that now.

And now, I’ll just go in a corner and cry for a while if you don’t mind. We rocketeers are also a fragile bunch at times.

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Rockets 101

July 31, 2010

As a kid, I’d often see the adds for those neat little Estes rockets in all the comics and wonder what they really looked like and what kind of flight these ‘toys’ were capable of. Living in the inner city, I never came across these kits in stores and never saw anyone else flying one, so it was just one of those thoughts that went on the back burner of life and would have faded into obscurity.

I’m not sure how I even found it, but one day I came across an Internet site for a seemingly active local rocket club, the Ottawa Rocketry Group (ORG) and noted that not only did they meet every second weekend (weather permitting of course), but their launch range was mere minutes from my home. I bookmarked the link, and made it a point to get out there one day. If nothing else, I hoped to at least see a few rockets go up one day.

Peace, Love and Rockets
As is often the case, I did not follow up with the club for a long time. But all that changed one day and the catalyst came under the weirdest of guises; a seminar at the 2008 Ottawa Linux Symposium (OLS). Among the myriad of technical discussion among the panels that week, one that caught my eye was entitled “Peace, Love and Rockets” presented by Bdale Garbee. The presentation basically described Bdale’s work on creating a fully open source, (software and hardware) platform for a rocket altimeter payload. As fascinating as the technical details of the platform was, the real an eye opener for me was the tangential details about the hobby rocketry itself. I promised myself that I would follow up on that ORG site and get myself down for a launch.

The ORG
I met up with the Ottawa Rocketry Group one Sunday just prior to them going on to their range. I was immediately impressed by some of the more sizable rockets they launched. While the majority of rockets on hand were what are considered low power, I could see how quickly someone would want to progress with the larger models. After seeing a few rockets that first day, I knew that I would be back soon with my own to fly. The ORG,like most other clubs, is open to everyone, encourages neophytes and all the members are eager to share information and guidance. As is the case of other hobbies these days, there are many web sites as well with just about all the information you will need to understand, build and fly rockets. Most metropolitan areas have at least one hobby shop where you will be able to buy some of the smaller ready-to-build kits, Estes being the most prevalent manufacturer for first time builders.

My next rocket blog will describe my first rockets and how my first launch day progressed.