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  1. #1
    Join Date
    13th September 2010
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    Good Beginners Rockets.

    My sons want to try model rockets. What would be some good rockets to start with. I have acres & acres of open fields to launch from. I'm on a fixed income so I don't want to go cheap, but can't afford top of the line stuff right now. My sons are 12, 9, 7. They do help me build my R/C planes, so they do know their way around the shop.

    Thanks Johnny, Clay, Caleb & Chandler

  2. #2
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    If you want to avoid the plastics of the Estes E2X line, I highly recommend the FlisKits Thing-a-ma-jig and Whatchamacallit, depending on how big of a rocket you want to end up with.

    Jim Flis is a frequent contributor to these forums and he is very responsive via email, so you can get any answers easily.

    Fliskits Main Site

    Either one is a quick and easy build, with a unique fin can, and endless possibilities for decoration.

    Add a launch pad, launch controller, some engines and some cellulose insulation for wadding and you're ready for fun!

    G.D.

  3. #3
    Any skill level 1 kit should be just fine. However, if you want to keep costs down, there is no reason you can't make your own "kits" for your kids. Let them practice their gluing skills with paper towel tubes and cardstock fins. These rockets can be "finished" quite nicely with printouts from a color laser printer. Proper prep for painting these materials is tricky, but you can at least let them get some practice with basic spray paint application. There is no reason you cannot get perfectly decent flights with these simple scratch-built rockets.

    There are quite a number of sites with tips on cardstock construction, and you can find plans for just about all of the classic kits on-line. Once their construction skills have developed, you can go with the nicer materials offered with the kits.

  4. #4
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    18th January 2009
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    Hard to go wrong with the kits mentioned. I am a big fan of the Big Bertha, and with a larger tube, compared to many beginner rockets, is easy to prep the parachute. It has nice slow liftoffs, and is easy to find! Fliskits' Rhino and Semroc's Vega and Centurion are similarly sized, as is Quest's Big Betty.
    Lee
    NAR 55948SR
    My Rocket Stuff

  5. #5
    Join Date
    18th January 2009
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    Johnny, Clay, Caleb & Chandler,

    Welcome to TRF! You found a great spot to talk rockets!

    For "beginner" kits, you just can't go wrong with the FlisKits Thing-a-ma-jig and Whatchamacallit that gdiscenza was talking about. They have a very creative interlocking fin assembly system that makes them just about perfect for beginners. Another Fliskits design that is a great beginner rocket is the Rhino, because the parts can be lined up all at once on a flat work table, making fin alignment easy.

    I would also have to agree with the advice to stay away from the plastic "ready-to-fly" junk. Yes, they would have you out in the yard much faster. No, they don't teach you a thing about building, or how to glue, or really, anything useful except how to waste money. (I don't like them, and if you are going to "get into" this hobby, you probably won't either.)

    Estes is the brand you will probably run into if you go into a store (your local hobby shop, your local R/C store, your local Hobby Lobby, etc). Their entire line of "skill level 1" is designed for beginners. Some recommended Estes kits include:

    Alpha - A really great performer on A or B or C power. The original Alpha (kit 1225) is a bit more basic, but is easy to build. The Alpha III has a plastic fin unit which simplifies assembly somewhat, but ask the hobby shop guys what glues to really use on styrene parts (Estes recommends Testor's-type "tube" glues, but they don't work very well)

    Big Bertha - Relatively bigger, stays lower and slower, still a LOT of fun and another classic design. You can use B or C power; later, when you have more experience, you can pull out the motor mount and install a 24mm D or E motor mount for SPECTACULAR performance.

    Cosmic Explorer - Falls into pretty much the same category as Big Bertha, but with a little more jazzy design.

    Space Eagle, Vector Force, Super Alpha, Monarch, Stratocruiser, Der Red Max, Baby Bertha are all the kind of designs that would work well for you.

    And pretty much anything else in the Estes catalog in skill level 1 or 2.
    http://www.estesrockets.com/index.ph.../full-catalog/

    If you need the launch gear to get started, watch for a "Starter Special" (also by Estes). This includes a launcher, an electrical ignition system, and a model rocket or two, enough goodies to get you started in the hobby and keep you going for a while. If you can find an older Starter Special (on a dusty back shelf?) they used to include a couple motors to get you started.
    You can sometimes find a Starter Special at Wal-Mart, but at Hobby Lobby you can use a 40%-off coupon every other week.

    If you need help understanding the motor identification codes, and how to select motors for your rockets, bring your questions here. And when you are looking for a few "upgrades" we'll tell you how to find a better launch rod, how to rework your electrical launch controller to work better, and how to build more rockets!
    This is the country that built the transcontinental railroads, the Hoover dam, the Panama canal, coast-to-coast interstates, and put men on the moon....but we can't build a fence.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    18th January 2009
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    All of the above recommendations are great - let me add that I started in 1965 with a Centuri Javelin, and Semroc makes a clone of that kit
    http://www.semroc.com/Store/scripts/...?idCategory=76
    Any of the kits on this page would be good starter kits
    Attached is my 4X javelin I built in 2005 to celebrate 40 years in this hobby
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    Last edited by Bazookadale; 13th September 2010 at 03:12 AM.
    "I dream of a better world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned."

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  7. #7
    Join Date
    19th February 2009
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    Lots of good ideas have already been suggested. Here are a couple more:

    Quest Astra I (the wood finned one) - but use a Semroc or Estes 'chute in it, or a streamer - I've built two and the stock 'chutes just don't deploy as they should.

    Balsa Machining Service's School Rocket (this is my personal favorite for classroom use).

    Both of these have slots in the body for the balsa fins ("through the wall fins") which guarantee alignment and make the tube/fin joints MUCH stronger.

    Semroc has a new line called "ready to build" that also has through-the-wall fins. Several of these - the Start in particular - would be a good choice as well.

    In any case the least expensive way to get a launch pad and launch controller is to get a starter set from either Estes or Quest unless you want to create your own. There are instructions on how to do that and lots of other good stuff on the National Association of Rocketry site (www.nar.org).

    You'll soon be looking for a less-expensive source for motors than the local hobby shop, too. There are a number of good mail-order suppliers that offer good deals on motors. One I have had good dealings with is AC Supply Company. I'm sure you'll get other good recommendations as well.

    By the way, Semroc is right there in North Carolina.
    Last edited by BEC; 13th September 2010 at 05:01 AM.
    Bernard Cawley
    NAR 89040 L1
    AMA 42160
    KG7AIE

  8. #8
    Johnny,
    I live in Greensboro and fly with a club based in Charlotte. We fly everything from MMX to J motors. I good friend of mine who lives in Durham has a web page with a bunch of paper rockets that you print, cut out, fold, glue and fly. Here is a link to his sighthttp://rocketry.wordpress.com/ There are some very cool rockets on there. Fliskits also has a few free rockets to download as well as some great kits.

    Paul

  9. #9
    Join Date
    18th January 2009
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    San Antonio, TX
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    I agree with what's been said thus far but would like to add a plug for the Semroc Boid.

    http://www.semroc.com/Store/scripts/...s.asp?SKU=KA-6


    Its a fairly generic kit made from leftovers parts of other kits. That means some might be 3 fins and some might be 4, with differing shapes. That allows for some variety and for each kid to have something unique.

    As with all of the Semroc line, it is a very "traditional" build and will build skills.

    The Flis options already mentioned are good as well. They are distinctive and different from your run on the mill fin and nose cone assortment and are hard to get wrong. I like them, especially for a quick build. I just like begining with the basics first.

    Art Applewhite also has some free downloads built from cardstock. http://artapplewhite.com/123a4/index.html

    They are mostly oddrocs but are good for small areas with limited recovery area. Most use aerobrake recovery and don't need chutes. I often use these for outreach programs since they are almost free and have managed to launch in some pretty tight areas AND get most of them back. Think UFOs.

    I hope this helps.
    __________________
    John A. Lee O.S.L.
    Alamo Rocketeers NAR Section 661
    NAR 87285, L1 8 March 2008
    TRA 03040, L1 8 March 2008

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    I used to tell Mom, "...I want to fly rockets when I grow up!"

    She said, "Make up your mind, you can't do both!"

  10. #10
    Join Date
    18th January 2009
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    Merrimack, NH
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    Johnny, Clay, Caleb, Chandler,

    First, welcome to TRF and welcome to rocketry You're going to love both!

    The Whatchamacallit and Thing-a-ma-Jig kits are great for beginners and would be great choices if you want the kids to do most (all?) of the work.

    Each of our beginner kits (skill level 1) serve a purpose to teach different aspects of getting introduced to rocketry, depending on what you need to learn. I encourage you to look through our beginner kits (follow this link.) and see what the features of each kit is to see which one best fits your needs.

    Ask questions, build/fly rockets and enjoy! That's what it's all about

    jim

  11. #11
    Join Date
    18th January 2009
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    west Ft Worth
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    Are there any HobLobs close to you?

    You can print as many coupons as you want, but you can only use them one at a time.
    http://www.hobbylobby.com/weekly/coupon.cfm

    They usually have a pretty good assortment of Estes kits, motors, and several starter specials. It's a good way to get started in the hobby and save money at the same time
    This is the country that built the transcontinental railroads, the Hoover dam, the Panama canal, coast-to-coast interstates, and put men on the moon....but we can't build a fence.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    18th January 2009
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    There are a lot of kits out there that would be good for beginners but if you're getting started, using the 40% off Hobby Lobby coupon to get an Estes starter set might be the way to go if you need launch equipment. Also check Walmart because sometimes there's some good deals on the clearance aisle.

    I really like Fliskits Thing-a-ma-Jig for beginners and usually suggest that for first timer builders in our 4-H group.

    Here are some links from our FAQ'a on budget rocketry:

    Where can I find ideas for rocketry on a limited budget?
    http://www.rocketryforum.com/showthread.php?t=1086
    http://www.rocketreviews.com/feature...atured20.shtml
    http://www.howtobuildmodelrockets.20...etryPage8.html

    Welcome to TRF!
    Lisa

  13. #13
    Join Date
    20th January 2009
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    Phoenix, AZ
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    Our favorite easy to assemble rocket (great for the 7yro) is the Estes Metalizer. It's larger diameter and length like the Big Bertha, flies great on B or C engines and is easy to spot due to its reflective finish.

    I'd also recommend the Fliskits Caution Rocket for all of your boys. Best of all, it'll cost you about $.15 to build. They fly great on A through C engines but I'd stick to A or B if you want to fly them again. C motors will put it out of site.

    We also build a bunch of rockets out of toilet paper and paper towel tubes. All components are made by hand including engine tubes, centering rings and nose cones. Many of the necessary skills for these will be learned by using card stock modeling techniques.

    The pic is of my girl w/a couple of Caution Rockets. Senor Flis might recognize this one.

    The Pink rocket is a simple tube fin design out of one paper towel tube and a couple a couple of tp tubes and an easter egg. It has well over 30 flights on it and is just starting to show some wear. It is aptly named "Poop Tube". We also have one that flies strictly on 13mm motors.

    The last pic is is a two stage paper towel rocket that takes off on three C motors to a D motor for the second stage.

    The limits are only your imagination and desire to try.
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  14. #14
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    18th January 2009
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    The one I always recommend is the Estes Flash launch kit.

    It's widely available, builds quickly, is sturdy, doesn't fly too high on A8-3s which makes it perfect for park launches, and lastly, because I have two of them that have never disappointed me.

    From the economics side of things, you get the rocket, the launchpad, and the launch controller all for under $30 at the local hobby shop. Paid only $17 a piece for my two birds a Wally World but they no longer carry Estes rocketry products.
    Kit (AKA Cranky Kong)
    Total Total Impulse as BAR (2010): 8,466.69 Ns (Equivalent to a 65% M motor.)

    On any number of government watch lists...

  15. #15
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    27th July 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by o1d_dude View Post
    The one I always recommend is the Estes Flash launch kit.

    It's widely available, builds quickly, is sturdy, doesn't fly too high on A8-3s which makes it perfect for park launches, and lastly, because I have two of them that have never disappointed me.

    From the economics side of things, you get the rocket, the launchpad, and the launch controller all for under $30 at the local hobby shop. Paid only $17 a piece for my two birds a Wally World but they no longer carry Estes rocketry products.
    That's what I got for my 7 year old...not only does it fly well on A8-3s for park launches, but it'll scream off the pad on C6-5s...pushing 1000 feet. Capability of low flights in small areas and nice altitude if you have the space makes it very versatile.

    But it is an E2X kit and if you don't want to go that route, I thought the Baby Bertha was a nice easy one that gives good flights.

    Dandelion Preservation and Appreciation Association

  16. #16
    Join Date
    14th March 2009
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    Ohio
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    I also recommend one of the Estes launch pad and rocket combos. You get everything you need to launch small rockets (except motors in some cases). And if a place sells the combo kits they almost certainly sell motors. Once you have a few flights under your belt check out Fliskits for some truly awesome rockets with fantastic construction instructions.

    If you know someone with a launch pad and controller than you might just want to jump to a Fliskit right away.

  17. #17
    wow i need to download this

  18. #18
    Join Date
    2nd February 2010
    Location
    Watertown, Wisconsin
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    Well, I have to put in my vote for the Estes Sky Writer. (Looks like a pencil) Easy to build, great flyer. Flies nice on A's and B's, and really rips on C's. My daughter and I got 85 flights on ours before we officially retired it. It's last launch was on a Quest C6-5, what a way to go!
    Jeff Schubert
    WOOSH Member #2,867,951
    My YouTube Channel (All rockets!)

  19. #19
    Join Date
    20th January 2009
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    Phoenix, AZ
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    We started out w/a Estes Patriot Launch Set from Wally world. We still use the Estes controller as well as a Quest controller.

    IMOP the Estes launch pads are far superior to the Quest pad. As far as launch controllers are concerned I highly favor the Quest controller. I find the Quest unit to be far more ergonomic and has both audible and visual continuity signaling devises. The frosting for this unit is the ability to purchase a 12v adapter to use off a cigarette lighter or alligator clips.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    17th February 2009
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    Randolph, NJ
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    Let me second Jeff's recommendation of the Estes No.2 Skywriter (pencil rocket). My son wanted this one so we built it and I must say it is probably the best overall flyer in our fleet. On a B4-4 it goes high but not too high and gives consistently great flights. The kids at the launches always think this one looks cool and it builds very quickly with no painting required. We are actually on our second one as the first was ruined in a water landing at NERRF a couple years ago.

    Glenn

  21. #21
    Join Date
    30th January 2009
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    indiana
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    Starlight has EX2 to skill #3 that won't break the bank.
    Mr. Bob
    Starlight Model Rockets LLC
    www.stalightrocketry.com

  22. #22
    Join Date
    25th April 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by JAL3 View Post
    Art Applewhite also has some free downloads built from cardstock. http://artapplewhite.com/123a4/index.html
    A better link for these is: http://www.artapplewhite.com/free.html

    The more direct link John gave will change from time to time. This is so folks will read the liability disclosure.

    Art Applewhite
    www.artapplewhite.com

  23. #23
    Join Date
    26th January 2010
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    Did we scare the original poster away? He hasn't replied...

    My first rocket when I was 12 was the venerable Estes Alpha III. I made my own launch pad from a piece of 1x12 pine, a coffee can lid for the blast deflector, and a welding rod for the launch rod. My launch controller was an extension cord and an old 12v dry cell battery. It worked, but nowadays you can get a launch set for $10, but I would recommend one of the bigger sets like the Flash for $15. You can't beat the price.

    As for where to buy, if you want an online source, I highly recommend Hobbylinc.com. They have a great selection and awesome prices, and really good service. They haven't disappointed me. They carry low, mid, and some high power rockets, and motors. Here is a link to their launch sets:

    http://www.hobbylinc.com/prods/tad.htm

    Also, if I were you, I would see if there's a local club you can get involved with. It's so much more fun that way, you'll see a lot of spectacular rockets and launches, and there will be lots of people to offer you help and advice. And a word of warning - rocketry is addicting!

  24. #24
    Join Date
    13th October 2010
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    Suffolk, Virginia
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    I started model rocketry with my son about a month ago with the Estes Customizer launch starter kit. You get the parts to build 2 rockets (in 64 variations), a launch pad, and controller for about $30 from Hobbylinc.
    http://www.hobbylinc.com/htm/est/est1500.htm

    Throw in a few motors and some recovery wadding and you're flying for under 50 bucks. The models can easily be built in a day, and once the glue sets you're ready to go. I was flying the taller one on A's to about 150' and it flew great. B's sent it to around 450' and it also did well on these flights. Yesterday evening my boy wanted to see it really go so I popped in a C that was supposed to send it to approx 1000'. It did, and that was the last we saw of it, LOL.

    Lots of good options out there for beginner rockets, but the Customizer set got me all the peripherals (launch pad, controller, etc.) and 2 rockets for a good price, so I'd recommend it. Best of luck!

  25. #25
    Join Date
    13th October 2010
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    Suffolk, Virginia
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    Quote Originally Posted by qquake2k View Post
    As for where to buy, if you want an online source, I highly recommend Hobbylinc.com. They have a great selection and awesome prices, and really good service. They haven't disappointed me.
    http://www.hobbylinc.com/prods/tad.htm
    Ditto. Hobbylinc by far is the best I've dealt with for price and service.

  26. #26
    I will echo what many others have already said. My favorite beginner rocket is the Estes Alpha. The Alpha has all of the important components and assembly steps of bigger rockets except in a small format easily assembled by a new model builder with small hands. The Alpha helps a new model builder learn real model assembly. No pre-assembled plastic fin cans here.

    As a matter of fact any of the Skill Level 1 kits make great first kits. Some of my favorite kits from my childhood are still in production: Estes Alpha, Super Alpha, Big Bertha and Der Red Max to name a few.
    Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment. - Bob Packwood

  27. #27
    The first rocket my son made (with just a little coaching) was an Estes Executioner. Through the wall fins make it an easy build and it flys on Ds and Es. He was 6 when he built it.
    L1 4/09 LOC Vulconite "Morning After Bad Thai Food"
    L2 7/09 Wildman JR "A Little Wild"
    L3 9/10 Ultimate Wildman "Wildman CT"

  28. #28
    Join Date
    18th January 2009
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    Behind enemy lines in Socialist California
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    The Estes Alpha III is almost a tradition among rocketeers as the bird they started with. It's easy to build quickly and it flies well. Most of us lose our first Alpha on Day One. That's the part that sets the hook..."Man! I wanna do that AGAIN!"
    Kit (AKA Cranky Kong)
    Total Total Impulse as BAR (2010): 8,466.69 Ns (Equivalent to a 65% M motor.)

    On any number of government watch lists...

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