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Kit or scratch build for beginner?


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  1. #1
    Join Date
    23rd September 2012
    Location
    Derby, UK
    Posts
    6

    Kit or scratch build for beginner?

    I'm trying to decide whether to go for a kit for my first rocket or dive in and scratch build one. I've got reasonable skills from other hobbies over the years like model boat building, general modeling from kits, building my own computers and other DIY hobby things so feel OK with scratch building a rocket. I've downloaded and had a play with a couple of rocket design programs that seem to hold your hand well through the design phase especially with them showing the center of mass/gravity and center of pressure. Also reading through the rather good rocketry education resource I found on Apogee Rockets website that has really helped me get my head round things :-) One of the things I'm interested in is mounting a camera, so guess that means a larger rocket.
    I guess my question is in a couple of parts, firstly should I buy a kit and learn a bit more about the working from something known to work or scratch build something from a computer design or plans, secondly what sort of size should I be looking at to be able to lift a camera and lastly if I did go with a kit what would you recommend?

    Cheers

    Dave.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    20th August 2009
    Location
    Kansas
    Posts
    1,109
    Hi Dave,

    Kit or Scratch for first build. Hmm. The obvious answer is Kit since it provides all the parts and holds your hand through the construction. However, since you want to mount a camera, you might end up modifying the kit anyway.

    I think the most economical camera today are the "Key Fob Security Cameras", also called 808 cameras. http://www.chucklohr.com/808/index.shtml is a site which has a lot of information about the vast variety of these. They are typically very cheap (<$15 or so) and correspondingly have very poor documentation and sometimes are a crapshoot for quality. On the flip side, they are tiny and can be incorprated into almost any rocket design. Many people just tape them to the outside of an existing airframe pointing down. This isn't elegant but certainly works.

    You could pretty easily mount one internally with some mirror or other mechanism to get the correct angle. If you want to go this way, you need to get something with about 1.5" diameter. I'm going to guess that you could make it work in BT-60 or BT-70 tube rockets.

    A nice easy start could be to pick up a Big Bertha, or something similar. I've launched my camera many times on a Quest Zenith II (taping it to the outside). The camera can easily be lifted using B size engines.

    Kevin

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave_h View Post
    I'm trying to decide whether to go for a kit for my first rocket or dive in and scratch build one. I've got reasonable skills from other hobbies over the years like model boat building, general modeling from kits, building my own computers and other DIY hobby things so feel OK with scratch building a rocket. I've downloaded and had a play with a couple of rocket design programs that seem to hold your hand well through the design phase especially with them showing the center of mass/gravity and center of pressure. Also reading through the rather good rocketry education resource I found on Apogee Rockets website that has really helped me get my head round things :-) One of the things I'm interested in is mounting a camera, so guess that means a larger rocket.
    I guess my question is in a couple of parts, firstly should I buy a kit and learn a bit more about the working from something known to work or scratch build something from a computer design or plans, secondly what sort of size should I be looking at to be able to lift a camera and lastly if I did go with a kit what would you recommend?

    Cheers

    Dave.
    NAR 91582 TRA 13980 L2
    Maintainer of OpenRocket.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    24th January 2009
    Location
    Glennville, GA
    Posts
    14,011
    I would concur with a kit. Start low and slow and work forward from that.
    -----------------------
    Chuck Haislip
    NAR/Tripoli Level 3 Prefect ICBM - TRA #60

    Level 1 - LOC Minie Magg; Level 2 - PR Broken Arrow;
    Level 3 - 10 inch Nike Smoke
    Ns for Year: 2250 but back in the USA. Builds starting today!!!!
    My rockets usually fly naked. If they survive, they earn their paint.

    Come fly with ROSCO or ICBM in Orangeburg SC => http://rocketrysouthcarolina.com/ind...erid=$1-ChuckH

  4. #4
    Join Date
    23rd September 2012
    Location
    Derby, UK
    Posts
    6
    I get what your saying, basically walk before you can run and you're right I guess. Looked at the Big Bertha rocket and it looks good for the price and very popular too so should be good. Flying something like that would give me the experience of launching and recovering a rocket so when time comes to move on I'll have a bit of an idea what to expect. One thing though, that rocket is class as a level one easy build so would probably want more of a challenge at the build stage, any suggestions? One thing I've noticed with beginner style rockets is you can get little ones that will fly to 1200ft or bigger one's going around 700ft. I know a lot depends on the motor used but I would have thought not going so high at first would be a better idea as it would make recovery easier, does that sound about right?
    The cameras look OK for what they are and I bet you can strip them out of their housing and make them lighter and easier to fit. Also if they are put together like web cams you can get different lenses for them. I have some experience doing stuff like that to use web cams for astro photography and at the price of those it's got to be worth a play :-)

    Cheers

    Dave.

  5. #5
    Big Bertha would be a great first kit. It has a motor mount and balsa fins for you to build.
    Kits with an 18mm (standard) motor mount can fly to different altitudes based on the motors. You can go low on an A motor, and out of sight on a C.

    kj

  6. #6
    Join Date
    20th August 2009
    Location
    Kansas
    Posts
    1,109
    Hey Dave,

    The Big Bertha is easy to build. Of course giving any rocket a first class finish and making it fly straight and high are not "easy". You can get a lot of fun out of the simple "three-fins-and-nose-cone" (3FNC). The more complex kits will add stuff like extra do-dads on the fins, harder to construct fins, parts that require careful alignment, or they might just require larger fields and fly higher. However, the Bertha is a very stable rocket and you can't mess too much up. The biggest downer about the Bertha is that the fins extend so far below the bottom of the rocket. This makes them prone to breaking when it lands.

    There are other 3FNC rockets out there which are also suitable for starting out. You might even consider one of the Estes starter kits which include launch pad and controller. They are pretty reasonable but (caution) sometimes the kits included are even easier to build (or are Ready-To-Fly).

    There are some really nice high-res cameras out there like the BoosterVision which are really sweet. But I'd work into those after getting adjusted to the water some.

    Good luck - and post your videos, we like those.

    Kevin
    NAR 91582 TRA 13980 L2
    Maintainer of OpenRocket.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    26th January 2012
    Location
    Florida, Near TTRA
    Posts
    2,214
    While I wouldn't necessarily suggest it for your very first build, check out the Estes QCC Explorer if you want a more in depth build. If you've built model ships, you should be able to tackle the QCC with no problems. It's a great flier, and with 24mm engines it can easily lift a camera to a respectable altitude.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    7th April 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA
    Posts
    142
    Kit.

    You can pick up a big Bertha or a monarch for cheap and build it to spec. For the skills you describe yourself as having it should only take a few hours if you knock it together with fast build methods. You'll learn a surprising amount by spending a few hours on a kit.

    Another option is to get a big Bertha or similar rocket and put a 24 mm mount in it. Then you can fly it slow and low with an adapter or send it high with a D E or F. Then you kit build but do a simple mod with the motor mount upgrade.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    23rd September 2012
    Location
    Derby, UK
    Posts
    6
    That doesn't sound like a bad plan, putting a larger mount in something like a big Bertha means there'll be a bit more interest with the build and will have more options when flying, good call! Looking forward to pay day! lol

  10. #10
    Join Date
    21st April 2010
    Location
    So central WI, USA
    Posts
    3,446
    a big bertha usually doesn't need any nose weight to fly 24mm motors, nor does it require any epoxy(wood glue/elmers white glue work fine). you should have some help tracking it if you decide to fly an E20 in it .
    rex

  11. #11
    Join Date
    30th August 2012
    Location
    new york, NY
    Posts
    8
    i would suggest you to have a kit first take some experience from it and as you will get experienced then surely you will be benefited from that as there is a saying that slow and steady wins the race

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