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Apogee Level 2 Build

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Steven88

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Thanks for the helpful info. Love this forum :)
 

mtnmanak

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Back on thread again (with relevancy to the RRC3 question), I launched the Apogee Level 2 yesterday on a couple motors. Both flights used an RRC3 and the flights were perfect.

First flight was on an I599. Went to 898 feet, main deployed at 600. Great test flight, everything went great.

Second flight was on a J315. Went 2291 ft, hit 355 MPH, main deployed at 500 ft. Landed about 200 feet from the pad.

Both flights were perfectly straight. Great bird.

Video from the J315 flight:

 

Steven88

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Nice main chute, not the stock parachute... Which one did you go with and did you up the size a little?
 

mtnmanak

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Nice main chute, not the stock parachute... Which one did you go with and did you up the size a little?
Used a LOC 58" chute for that flight. No wind yesterday, so it was a great chute for the conditions.

Next weekend, planning to fly at MDRA and it is looking like it may be a little windy - 5-10 MPH. Will probably switch to Fruity Chutes for most of my flights that day. Their chutes are great - many of the models have a high Cd, so you can size down a notch, still get great lift, but also not get carried in the wind so far. They are expensive, but they are worth the money as far as I am concerned. The LOCs are no slouches either - very well built.

Also for the windy conditions next week, I may switch the 18" drogue out for a 24" Dinochutes guide chute.
 

Bobfly

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Nice flight with great videos. Was that at the METRA field?
 

mtnmanak

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Nice flight with great videos. Was that at the METRA field?
It was at METRA! Great weekend. Virtually zero wind, about 70 degrees, not a cloud in the sky. Literally could not ask for a better launch weekend!
 

hobie1dog

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finally started mine today and got to the rail buttons and the rail buttons are the same size on the inside diameter as the well nut posts that poke through the fiberglass, so there was no way they were going to go on so I had to drill out the plastic so that it will go over the steel post just something that I definitely had not planned on doing so I was pretty disappointed about it. I've already got an hour and a half into the process and other people have said that they built the entire rocket in two and a half hour so my estimates of 10 to 12 hours is more likely what I'm looking at.
 

Bobfly

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Hi Hobie 1 dog,

Don’t get frustrated. If your trying to build this kit carefully it’s going to take you some time. I think mine took about ten hours to build. It’s a learning experience that will help you with more complicated builds in the future.

The well nuts aren’t the best method of securing the launch lugs. Try labratrocketry.com for their conformal rail button nuts. While the Level 2 kit is a great starter fiberglass kit, some of the parts could be of a much better quality. Take the AV Bay sled for example.

Keep working on it. If it takes ten hours it takes ten hours. When you are done you will have a great flyer. The finial rocket is very strong. Mine decided to roost in the trees three times. The only damage was scratched paint.

All the best,
Bob
 

g.pitts

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finally started mine today and got to the rail buttons and the rail buttons are the same size on the inside diameter as the well nut posts that poke through the fiberglass, so there was no way they were going to go on so I had to drill out the plastic so that it will go over the steel post just something that I definitely had not planned on doing so I was pretty disappointed about it. I've already got an hour and a half into the process and other people have said that they built the entire rocket in two and a half hour so my estimates of 10 to 12 hours is more likely what I'm looking at.
I took MUCH longer than two and a half hours to build my Level 2 rocket, which was used for both my L1 and L2 certifications. For me, it was more about the journey than the destination, so I took my time and had no preconceived notion about how long it should take. I took my time on each stage of the build, and I didn’t advance to the next step of the build until I was happy with the current step. It was done when I was happy with the build. So don’t view a build as a race against time. Take your time and enjoy the experience!
 

mtnmanak

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finally started mine today and got to the rail buttons and the rail buttons are the same size on the inside diameter as the well nut posts that poke through the fiberglass, so there was no way they were going to go on so I had to drill out the plastic so that it will go over the steel post just something that I definitely had not planned on doing so I was pretty disappointed about it. I've already got an hour and a half into the process and other people have said that they built the entire rocket in two and a half hour so my estimates of 10 to 12 hours is more likely what I'm looking at.
I do get what you are talking about with the Apogee rail buttons with the weld nuts. The fit of the button onto the post is tight. Most often, I force it on the first time (maybe even with a pair of pliers), then, subsequently, it fits better when I take it on and off. I do this 3 or 4 times before I glue in the weld nut. I realize it is a bit late in your build process, but if you want to use buttons with weld nuts in the future, I highly recommend the ones from Doghouse: http://binderdesign.com/store/Rail-Button-Supply-House.html. At some point in the past, they had a killer sale on these (I think back when Binder Designs bought them) and I literally bought 100 black ones and 100 white ones. I have the literal bucket o' buttons and those are the ones I use.

I realize I didn't specifically cover the rail button installation in my build thread and that was probably a mistake. I ended up using a tee nut on a small piece of plywood for a backing, much like John Coker describes in this video:
. Apologies for not being clear. At some point in the past, I just cut out like 30 of these little plywood squares in a couple different thicknesses and drilled holes in them for the various sizes of tee nuts I may use. Most rail buttons use either #6 or #8 screws, although I do have some 1515 buttons that use #10 screws and some mammoth buttons that use 1/4" screws. Before I install them, I use my Permagrit curved sanding block to conform the plywood slightly to the internal curvature of the airframe.

PXL_20201214_134543315.jpg


When I do use the weld nuts, I use some CA to tack them in place and put a round "sticker" of masking tape in the inside to protect the threads, then secure with a good covering of epoxy. I have never had a rail button fail using that method and they are still removeable. It also helps to ensure they are relatively smooth inside the tube so recovery parts don't catch on them.

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I have done these techniques many times and they take me maybe 5-10 minutes, so I may have underestimated the time it would take to get through this process.

I am not a big fan of the conformals - I just think they are more difficult to get right/straight and securing them onto the airframe long term is difficult (for me), but a lot of people have success with them. As I did with my Apogee Level 2 build, I use both 1010 and 1515 rail buttons every time I build. The 1010 rails at most launches are usually in high demand, but the 1515 rails are always open. I agree with Bob, that weld nuts can be wonky, but if you glue them in properly and secure them on the back side with epoxy, I have had the weld nuts work just fine.

I agree with Bob that AV bay sled could be a bit better, but it is good enough. Just do not use the switch that comes with the Apogee wiring kit. I have been using a screw switch and it has been rock solid. These days, I have been using the pre-printed sleds from Missile Works along with RRC3s and RRC2Ls and that is my currently favorite solution.

I also agree with Bob and others on the durability of this rocket. For the price, you get a seriously well made bird. I flew mine twice this weekend, once on a Loki K690 that went just sub-Mach (688 MPH) to just under 8000 feet (photos below) and it was just fine. I used a Dino Chutes 24" Guide Chute for a drogue and a Fruity Chutes 60" Iris Ultra Compact for a main at 400 feet and it was a picture perfect flight. It did get dragged along the ground quite a ways in the wind, but didn't have a dent. It has also survived multiple 4 hour drives in the bed of my pick up truck with no issues (I just wrap it in a blanket and throw it in the back).

You will be hard pressed to find an entry Level 2 rocket at this price that can handle Mach / high altitude / hard landing flights without blinking.

This rocket is a tank.

IMG_2834.jpg


IMG_2835.jpg
 

hobie1dog

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Thanks guys for all the information. Most of my frustration comes from being disabled and having very low hand strength so for an example I dropped the rail buttons probably six times(again just no gripping power in my fingers) which required trying to get them off of the floor, and I can't pick things up off of the floor because of low finger strength so I have to get a set of pliers to be able to grab them. I already know that I cannot balance a well nut on the end of a finger and then stick it inside the tube and have the post on the weld nut come up through the hole that I drilled ,,, it's just not going to happen, so I'm going to have to get my wife to probably do that part.
Once I get everything sanded and fitted then I am going to get my son to use the epoxy gun which has a two-part cartridge that has a mixing tip on the end , so he puts his 125 pound speakers together with this epoxy which the subwoofers move 5 inches of travel so this was really good stuff as Dan Aykroyd would say in The Blues Brothers movies "good stuff". The fin fillets will use the same epoxy as it is a self-leveling epoxy and makes for great joints. My son uses this epoxy everyday so he is very proficient at making beautiful looking joints.
 

hobie1dog

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I watch a lot of rocket launching videos and I noticed that there are lots of people that seem to have to put a cover over top of an avionics bay, and then are being seen twisting wires together which I don't understand why. it looks like a primitive, time consuming, way of doing things. I found the one site that sells the small key switch which has the red tag hanging off of it, so that's what I want to use on this rocket.
Thanks for the launch pictures, they look great.
 

Antares JS

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I watch a lot of rocket launching videos and I noticed that there are lots of people that seem to have to put a cover over top of an avionics bay, and then are being seen twisting wires together which I don't understand why. it looks like a primitive, time consuming, way of doing things.
I use twist-and-tape to activate my avionics. I do it because it's easy, I don't have to buy anything and can just use a piece of leftover wire, and I don't have to hassle with aligning a switch so that the activation mechanism is usable from outside.

That said, considering your physical challenges, twist-and-tape might be hard for you. In the end, do what you want. It's all good as long as your electronics turn on reliably.
 

mtnmanak

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Thanks guys for all the information. Most of my frustration comes from being disabled and having very low hand strength so for an example I dropped the rail buttons probably six times(again just no gripping power in my fingers) which required trying to get them off of the floor, and I can't pick things up off of the floor because of low finger strength so I have to get a set of pliers to be able to grab them. I already know that I cannot balance a well nut on the end of a finger and then stick it inside the tube and have the post on the weld nut come up through the hole that I drilled ,,, it's just not going to happen, so I'm going to have to get my wife to probably do that part.
Once I get everything sanded and fitted then I am going to get my son to use the epoxy gun which has a two-part cartridge that has a mixing tip on the end , so he puts his 125 pound speakers together with this epoxy which the subwoofers move 5 inches of travel so this was really good stuff as Dan Aykroyd would say in The Blues Brothers movies "good stuff". The fin fillets will use the same epoxy as it is a self-leveling epoxy and makes for great joints. My son uses this epoxy everyday so he is very proficient at making beautiful looking joints.
Got it about the hand strength issue, that makes a big difference.

For the rail buttons, there is a much simpler route. Forget the backing altogether, drill the hole just slightly smaller than the screw size and screw the button right into the airframe. Put some epoxy on the threads of the screw before you screw it in and then a bunch of epoxy on the screw threads on the inside. This would not be a great idea on cardboard tubes or thin wall FG, but the tubes on the Level 2 are thick and very strong. The rail buttons don't actually get all that much pulling force perpendicular to the tube. The biggest danger of ripping the button out is when you load it on the rail. True, with this method the buttons are not really replaceable, but I have lots (hundreds? many hundreds?) of rail flights and I actually have never had to replace a button because it wore out (YMMV - other people insist they have issues with the button "flattening" on the inside). It also helps that I install both 1010 and 1515 buttons - you can alternate and double the longevity of the buttons. You will have some people balk at just drilling them into the frame, but, frankly, with hand strength/dexterity issues, the benefits may outweigh the negatives.

For the switch, the pull pin is definitely a great way to go if you have hand strength/dexterity issues. The biggest issues with those switches are that they are relatively difficult to install properly and are susceptible to failure over time because they rely on tension and fairly precise alignment. You will have to decide if your situation warrants them. Lately, I have been going with surface mounted Shurter switches.

PXL_20201020_164140627.jpg


A bunch of people will gladly tell me how much they hate surface mounted switches or that Shurter switches fail, etc. My experience so far has been that they are super convenient - just turn the switch with screwdriver, no searching through a small hole in the switch band - and none have failed me yet (I have bought "name brand" ones at Apogee and Missile Works - can't opine on the cheap knock-offs you may find on Amazon).

Twist and tape certainly works - it is probably the most reliable method. I agree, though, that it may not be suitable in your case.
 
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hobie1dog

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I hope you don't mind me putting all this on the backside of your build but I figured you had plenty of experience with this. I can't really hold the screwdriver very good so that's why I'm going to go with the key switch.
 

mtnmanak

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I hope you don't mind me putting all this on the backside of your build but I figured you had plenty of experience with this. I can't really hold the screwdriver very good so that's why I'm going to go with the key switch.
Understand completely! If you need help with installing the pin switch, post it here when you get to it and we will all be happy to help!
 

mtnmanak

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As far as build times go, everyone goes at their own pace. Very difficult to tell how long a build will take and I need to ensure I stop giving advice in this area. Or, at the very least, caveat it with any context that is important. For me, I tend to build fast and finish slow. It may take me just a few days to structurally build a rocket and then weeks or months to finish it. If I don't document the build, I can move very fast. Back in 2014, I started keeping a database of my builds and, since then, I have logged almost 70 builds (mix of LPR/MPR/HPR). That works out to about one build every 6 weeks or so. That would be a lot of context to understand when thinking about how fast a build may take me.

Over that course of time, it isn't just about gaining experience with the builds themselves, it is also gaining experience in your build environment. By the time I get to a step, I not only know what I am going to do, I don't have to think about where a part or a tool or epoxy, etc is - they are all setup and ready to go. Epoxy/glue is a great example. Over time, I have acquired probably 40+ different adhesive products and systems. At least 10-15 different epoxy products/systems. I know exactly which resin and hardener I am going to use for a particular job and have them at the ready in squeeze bottles. And in the adhesive station, there are two different scales and at least 10 different kinds of mixing cups. All the dyes, mixes, additives, etc are also there. I also have a "hot room" setup to drastically decrease cure times. I think it is actually faster for me to get the right epoxy ready than it is for me to get the wood glue out. I go through a solid quart+ of epoxy a month, on average. That amount goes way up when I am in the middle of a big build.

Documenting a build takes far longer than the build itself. Probably a 10x increase in time. I think it is accurate to say that for every minute I spend building, it takes 10 minutes to take the pictures, upload/edit them, and then write the text for documenting the step.

On the other hand, it feels like no matter what I do, the painting and finishing of a rocket is laborious, time consuming and nothing I setup seems to quicken the process. That is why most of my rockets get the one or two color paint scheme with no decals. I just don't have the patience to do intricate finishing jobs. And, I mess them up. A lot. Other people seem to whip through the finishing process at lightening speed and their rockets look like works of art. I just stand there in awe.

At the end of the day, unless you are on some timeline to get to a particular launch, the build journey will have peaks and valleys and everyone takes the time they need. I genuinely love to build rockets and I love to share the builds.

If any of you want to paint my rockets, though... I am willing to pay! ;)
 

dvdsnyd

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Just want to follow up on the Eggtimer switch suggestion, yes they are kits, but there are guys out there that will build the kit for a small fee.
Can even have Cris drop ship it right to them.
 

thzero

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This is my approach too

...

When I do use the weld nuts, I use some CA to tack them in place and put a round "sticker" of masking tape in the inside to protect the threads, then secure with a good covering of epoxy. I have never had a rail button fail using that method and they are still removeable. It also helps to ensure they are relatively smooth inside the tube so recovery parts don't catch on them.

View attachment 442346

View attachment 442347

View attachment 442348

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View attachment 442351

I have done these techniques many times and they take me maybe 5-10 minutes, so I may have underestimated the time it would take to get through this process.
...
 

hobie1dog

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I got my eight year old grandson to help me today and we cut some tape to protect the threads, then used some double-sided tape so that we could stick the well nut flat portion to my grandson's finger so that it would stay on there and not fall off while he put his hand in the tube and pushed the well nut up into the hole. I did not have any CA glue like they used in the video so I used some old two-part epoxy (which I threw away after I got done using it ) but it seemed to hold it up in there so I will go check it tomorrow and likely put some of the good epoxy that I'm going to do the fillets and fins with. I'll get my son to do that part as well.
My hands and fingers are in such bad shape that I I really shouldn't be attempting to put this thing together but I want to put it together and finish something that I should have done years ago. But after getting really messed up I just put the thing away in the box and forgot about it, as we ended up moving four times in the last six years and now I just want to get the level 2 so I can mark it off the Bucket List
 

mtnmanak

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I got my eight year old grandson to help me today and we cut some tape to protect the threads, then used some double-sided tape so that we could stick the well nut flat portion to my grandson's finger so that it would stay on there and not fall off while he put his hand in the tube and pushed the well nut up into the hole. I did not have any CA glue like they used in the video so I used some old two-part epoxy (which I threw away after I got done using it ) but it seemed to hold it up in there so I will go check it tomorrow and likely put some of the good epoxy that I'm going to do the fillets and fins with. I'll get my son to do that part as well.
My hands and fingers are in such bad shape that I I really shouldn't be attempting to put this thing together but I want to put it together and finish something that I should have done years ago. But after getting really messed up I just put the thing away in the box and forgot about it, as we ended up moving four times in the last six years and now I just want to get the level 2 so I can mark it off the Bucket List
Great to hear! Great use of your natural labor force :)

You didn't mention it, but I would recommend you screw the button onto the weld nut while the epoxy cures - will ensure the whole thing cures tight and straight. With the tape on the back, it should protect the screw from getting any epoxy on it.
 

hobie1dog

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Great to hear! Great use of your natural labor force :)

You didn't mention it, but I would recommend you screw the button onto the weld nut while the epoxy cures - will ensure the whole thing cures tight and straight. With the tape on the back, it should protect the screw from getting any epoxy on it.
Darn, rat crap, that makes me mad enough to want to smack the Pope right in the mouth, I didn't think about doing that.

OK, I got my wife to go back down and put the rail buttons on with the screws and tighten them down. with epoxy being old then maybe it will take longer to cure so I'll leave it that way for a day or two and then remove them
 
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Bobfly

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It must be so nice to live in an area where you can launch all year. In New York we just had a blizzard.
 

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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.
Where did you get your jigs or plans from? Looks like a great idea.
 

mtnmanak

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It must be so nice to live in an area where you can launch all year. In New York we just had a blizzard.
I live in NJ - still shoveling out myself. Luckily, MDRA really gets cooking in the winter when they move to the Higgs Field, so, while it is a 3-4 hour drive, winter is actually the only time in the NYC area that I can launch the bigger stuff!
 

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