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Apogee Level 2 Build

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mtnmanak

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Starting an Apogee Level 2 build. This is a completely fiberglass rocket made by MadCow for Apogee.

No instructions with this kit, but TVM did a full video instruction. I watched the entire video series first (it is a bit dated - looks like they used an old VHS cam for it).

The kit is supposed to come with two tubular nylon shock cords (a 10' and a 15'). My kit was missing the 10' shock cord, but not too concerned, I have plenty of nylon.

The build is pretty straight forward and the video walks you through it well. The kit has very high quality materials and includes everything except the electronics.

Only real change I plan to make is to add a centering ring just fore of the fins to sandwich the fins between rings. Other than that, TVM uses the fix-it clay in the video and I think that stuff is awful - will be sticking with Aeropoxy for structural and Rocketpoxy for fillets. Also plan to sew the shock cords rather than knot them. Probably will substitute forged eyebolts for the eye bolts provided. Also planning to use a screw switch instead of a push button.

Planning to use a Stratologger CF in this build.

I already washed all the parts and scuffed all interior and exterior surfaces with 220 grit.
 

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Adam3836

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Curious on your opinion of this kit as you build and finish. I have been eyeing it for a while.
good luck keep us posted
 

mtnmanak

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Curious on your opinion of this kit as you build and finish. I have been eyeing it for a while.
good luck keep us posted
This is a superb kit so far. It seems a little pricey, but if you compare it to other companies, for a 4" diameter, 70" long, 100% fiberglass rocket that includes an e-bay, electronics sled and recovery, it is a pretty competitive price. If you really want to, you can find all the parts on MadCow's site and my math seems to indicate you would save about $20 to obtain all the pieces, so you can technically put this kit together cheaper if you buy the pieces separately.

The tubes are excellent. The nose cone does look a little rough, I have to admit. I will take some close ups of it before I do any finish sanding, but once it is cleaned up, it is still coated full fiberglass nosecone.

I have built a number of MadCow rockets (I have their 4" fiberglass Nike Smoke next in the build queue) and this kit lives up to their reputation for quality.
 

Adam3836

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Great info good to hear.
Definitely looks like a solid kit iam all for saving cash where I can but for 20 bucks mine as well just keep it simple and buy direct from apogee
As you did
 

mtnmanak

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Great info good to hear.
Definitely looks like a solid kit iam all for saving cash where I can but for 20 bucks mine as well just keep it simple and buy direct from apogee
As you did
That's what I figured. Also, shipping separate parts usually costs more than shipping a kit. You would probably end up eating most of that $20 in additional shipping charges.
 

T34zac

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I used this kit to get my L1 and L2 certifications.

I followed the video instructions as this was my first high power rocket and first fiberglass rocket.

I personally don’t like how short the shock cords are that came with it, and I swapped them out for longer ones (20’ and 30’ IIRC) before I did my level 2. I also didn’t like the location of the parachutes on the shock cord.

On my first dual deploy flight, my nose cone ended up colliding with the fin can multiple times and put a hole in it. I was able to patch that up and after changing the locations of the parachutes, this never happened again.

And I also didn’t like the fix-it clay epoxy either. If I were to do it again, I’d use something like rocketpoxy instead.
 

mtnmanak

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I used this kit to get my L1 and L2 certifications.

I followed the video instructions as this was my first high power rocket and first fiberglass rocket.

I personally don’t like how short the shock cords are that came with it, and I swapped them out for longer ones (20’ and 30’ IIRC) before I did my level 2. I also didn’t like the location of the parachutes on the shock cord.

On my first dual deploy flight, my nose cone ended up colliding with the fin can multiple times and put a hole in it. I was able to patch that up and after changing the locations of the parachutes, this never happened again.

And I also didn’t like the fix-it clay epoxy either. If I were to do it again, I’d use something like rocketpoxy instead.
Great advice, thanks

I already changed things up a bit with the shock cords. In the fin can, I pretty much always use 1500# Kevlar cord in a loop. Makes is easy to replace if it wears out and is easy to attach to the longer shock cord. Just make the upper loop of the cord below the lip of the body tube and it won't zipper. If you are really good, get the knot right at the lip and it works well. Last month at a launch, I had a Zephyr deploy late and it was moving pretty fast when the recovery system whipped out - the knot was perfectly positioned and it turned out just fine.

You can see the kevlar in this picture just before I glued in the motor mount today
 

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mtnmanak

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There is a point in the video instruction that have you find the center of a the e-bay bulkheads and draw a line perfectly through the center. They tell you to print some template and use that draw the lines.

Recommend getting a center finder tool if you don't have one, I have an 8" version (shown in the photo below) and 18" version. They are super helpful in rocket building, but also in woodworking, metal working, etc. Finds a perfect center line easily. Got mine on Amazon.
 

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Steven88

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This is one kit that I’ve been interested in over the last couple years but haven’t purchased it yet. Keep us posted.
 

Steven88

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Starting an Apogee Level 2 build. This is a completely fiberglass rocket made by MadCow for Apogee.

No instructions with this kit, but TVM did a full video instruction. I watched the entire video series first (it is a bit dated - looks like they used an old VHS cam for it).

The kit is supposed to come with two tubular nylon shock cords (a 10' and a 15'). My kit was missing the 10' shock cord, but not too concerned, I have plenty of nylon.

The build is pretty straight forward and the video walks you through it well. The kit has very high quality materials and includes everything except the electronics.

Only real change I plan to make is to add a centering ring just fore of the fins to sandwich the fins between rings. Other than that, TVM uses the fix-it clay in the video and I think that stuff is awful - will be sticking with Aeropoxy for structural and Rocketpoxy for fillets. Also plan to sew the shock cords rather than knot them. Probably will substitute forged eyebolts for the eye bolts provided. Also planning to use a screw switch instead of a push button.

Planning to use a Stratologger CF in this build.

I already washed all the parts and scuffed all interior and exterior surfaces with 220 grit.
When you are finished, I’d be curious to see how much time you get into this build if you have an approximate. I know it’s different for everyone but would be curious to know incase I build one like it. I have yet to build a fiberglass rocket.
 

mtnmanak

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When you are finished, I’d be curious to see how much time you get into this build if you have an approximate. I know it’s different for everyone but would be curious to know incase I build one like it. I have yet to build a fiberglass rocket.
Well, I started this one at the beginning of the week and as of tonight, I have the ebay itself done and the fin can done and the shock cords sewn up. Tomorrow, plan to get the rail buttons, rivets/sheer pins and electronics installed and put the external fillets on the fins. After that (barring any unforeseen issues), it should be ready to paint this weekend and done by Monday. Not including painting (that can always go sideways) and waiting for epoxy to dry, I would say you are looking at 3-4 hours of work. Note - I am not using quick dry epoxy - I am using Aeropoxy which takes many hours to cure (I have a "hot room" to accelerate the curing time), so I suppose you could go quicker. I really, really don't recommend quick cure on fiberglass, though.
 

QFactor

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Another use for the center finder - when I am installing fins, I use the center finder to make sure they are straight. I make pen marks on the body tube and motor tube as well to keep the fins aligned.
Now that's a good idea. Thanks!
 

Banzai88

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These help, too. I print them on regular paper and rubber cement them to foam core, cut with an xacto.....and keep them around for other projects later on.

Rocket fin guide tools
 

mtnmanak

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Motor mount tube installed, fins installed, internal fillets done, all loops sewn

Rail buttons, aft centering ring and external fillets going on this morning and looking to complete e-bay, including electronics, today

After that, just need to get the nose cone in shape and should be ready to paint and ground test the ejection charges.
 

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mtnmanak

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I've whipped up the ones I've needed in CAD and done the same.View attachment 435723
I have a bunch of fin jigs as well, but, for some reason, this particular MadCow FG body tube was about a mm too big to fit in my 98 mm template. It has worked on a number of different builds, so I was reluctant to modify the jig to fit the tube
 

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mtnmanak

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I do, however, us my guillotine jigs all the time - pretty much every build. Often, I use them in conjunction with the various template jigs. Even so, I always make the pen marks with the center finder tool. It is just a quick and easy way to get a visual check on all the tools/templates/jigs etc. I find that no matter how good the jig is, there always seems to be a way to have the fin slightly angled or the root edge slight off center, etc. The pen marks are just another way of adding a control.
 

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Steven88

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I do, however, us my guillotine jigs all the time - pretty much every build. Often, I use them in conjunction with the various template jigs. Even so, I always make the pen marks with the center finder tool. It is just a quick and easy way to get a visual check on all the tools/templates/jigs etc. I find that no matter how good the jig is, there always seems to be a way to have the fin slightly angled or the root edge slight off center, etc. The pen marks are just another way of adding a control.
How does the center finder find the exact center of mmt for your markings? Where can you purchase one at?
 

mtnmanak

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It finds the center of any circle, hexagon, octagon, or square and allows you to draw a line bisecting those shapes.

The center finders come in two sizes and each one has two sides to accommodate any size/shape that tool can handle. You put your round thing in the template and it centers a line across the circle. It is a lot simpler than it sounds - this is one of those tools that is brutally simple, but just works.

PXL_20201022_024832902.jpg


Multiple different vendors, but here is one link on amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07SBGG9G5/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
 

Buckeye

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TVM does a good job designing the Apogee kits. He makes the fins a little bigger than most HPR kits, and that helps the flight performance. I have an Apogee Katana, and it flies nice and true on a variety of motors. Some of the Madcow kits, especially the old Rocketry Warehouse fiberglass models, have fins that are a bit too small, IMO. And yes, for a mere $20 extra for the Apogee kit, you save a lot of time and effort versus shopping around for components.
 

mtnmanak

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I installed both 1010 and 1515 rail buttons. This kit comes with 1010 buttons and does not need a 1515 rail, but, at the club I normally fly at, the 1010 rails can get backed up for quite a while if the launch is crowded, but the 1515 rails are almost always open. Having the 1515 buttons installed means I may be able to get onto a rail quicker, but I also think it is just a friendly "play nice with others" gesture so you don't take up a scarce 1010 rail position on a busy day.
 

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mtnmanak

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Okay, the building part of this rocket is essentially done.

Photos below depict today's progress:

  • Installed and filleted the rear centering ring
  • External fillets on the fins (Rocketpoxy)
  • Installed electronics
    • Went with a Missile Works RRC3
    • Used a Missile Works screw switch and guide. Glued to the board, wires soldered to the switch
    • Everything tested out
  • Completed e-bay assembly with terminals and charge wells
    • Going to leave the e-bay unassembled until after painting and ground testing
Next step is to ground test the charges and paint it this weekend.
 

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