Apogee Maker's Dozen build/review

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mooffle

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Hi everybody,
A quick background to this build; as covid regulations fluctuated in my state I invited sister and nieces to a small park for a launch day. She made the comment of doing a space camp with the kids since at this point they have no summer camps, and hopefully in the fall we can have some launch days. Between my nieces and nephews there are 8 kids ranging from 2 up through 15 who as far as I know have never built anything like this. I'll be detailing this from the view of myself and my son (who is 3) doing this together.
Because of COVID and 'supervising' their builds remotely I'm also going to send this thread link to my family, feel free to add in any good tips or tricks along the way.

P.S. Stop worrying mom, I'll be using the hobby knife and super glue. The kid will be doing the wood glue and stickers.

Anyway, lets dive in!
Maker's Dozen kit pack
As stated all the kits have equal size but very different shaped fins, different noses, and different sticker packs. Siblings will definitely not have clones of each other and get unique looks but the same essential build. I thought the packaging was pretty cool in the fact that you cant tell which are which until opened, only the nose and common parts are seen.
IMG_20200702_150931094.jpg
On open the kit has got everything we expect
IMG_20200702_112424659.jpg

Sorry for the blur. I've seen kits in the past that say white or wood glue, and I'm happy they chose to say wood glue here. I personally can't stand using white glue on a rocket. In a pinch I guess it can work, but otherwise go wood glue.
They also say plastic cement which I think is good, this will be used exclusively for the nosecone. However, and I may start an argument here (see above comment), I don't have plastic cement on hand and opted for superglue.
Yes, how hypocritical of me...

For the moment we have only gone through the fin shaping and motor mount assembly (up to step 4) and then the kid took a nap. A quick note for now:
Step 2 mentions the fin shaping and sealing all at one time, I'd stress the fact that the sanding sealer is optional especially on a skill level 1 kit but I love that they included it. For the patient kids (not a 3 year old) it will give a really high quality look and feel if they put the time into it. Though for a first rocket seems unnecessary.
They show in the picture but don't spell it out that the sandpaper for shaping should be on a flat hard surface. Don't freehand sand the fins or they can easily end up uneven.
 

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neil_w

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Great project! Would love to see a picture of them all working on theirs. Maybe for the next session?
 

mooffle

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Since the kid is taking his nap I skipped ahead through the steps that require cutting and super gluing.
Step 16 and 17 relate to the parachute and nosecone.

Using the superglue on the 2 part nose is a bit risky, our kit has the shorter yellow one. Thankfully the superglue did not melt it and strength seems good. I cant vouch for the longer yellow or red ones. Glue these at your own risk.

The parachute sort of has its own sub steps on the parachute sheet itself which are ALMOST the same as the instruction sheet. A couple things here: the chute has 8 and 12 inch cut lines. I reccomend the 12 since its always easier to downsize (we will be launching on A8-3 so being carried farther by a 12 inch parachute shouldn't matter much anyway). Apogee's site says 12 for the specs so i get the feeling thats what they intended here.

One of my sisters like to singe rope closed whenever she cuts it, and in my own scratch builds I like to use nylon so that generally works.
The strings used here are not nylon (maybe someone knows for sure and can inform us, it feels different than the kevlar shock cord) and as the pic hopefully shows they will just burn and then stay glowing embers, I had to run them under my sink. So yeah, don't do that...
To seal the cut threads a dab of wood glue (or thin superglue, adults pay attention here!) might be best.
 

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mooffle

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I'll see if they want to send some pictures as they build, we are semi social distancing within our family and with the kids spread accross different households I may not even see half of them until launch day.
I will certainly post their final creations though!
 

mooffle

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After nap we made some more progress, making our motor mount today was completely straightforward from the instructions.
I can definitely say my 3 year old likes putting the glue fillets on and picked it up super quickly. Free license from dad to make a total mess

Some tips
This kit comes with a cutout tube marking guide that they say to tape together, my only addition- tape both ends of the guide with small pieces of tape to the tube. I tried to do it without taping it down and my first line came out as a squiggle, my hands were just not steady enough to rotate the tube and keep it aligned.

As far as the fins go, and I remember this same situation pretty vividly from an estes bulk pack my class did in highschool, the method described seems a bit lacking. It's to glue the root edge. let it dry to be tacky but not wet, and then stick it onto the tube. Maybe someone can correct me why this is so common or maybe my hands just aren't steady enough to hold the parts so I never liked it.
Instead put a small piece of tape lengthwise on the surface of the fin by the root edge and fold it halfway back. Next run a thin bead of glue on the root edge, line it up with the marks and fold the tape down into place.
In the first post I have a small cradle built out of sloped legos (any house with kids these days probably has a few) that the tube can go in. Keep the fin completely vertical and wait until it is dry to do another fin. When I say completely dry I mean 2 hrs or more, if its rotated before the glue is dry the fins are liable to sag.

Real quick note for the parachute attachment, the eyelet on the yellow nose cone base is smaller than the one for the red cone base. I had a tough time getting all three lines through it. If you get a yellow nosecone follow the same tie method but feel free to just go around the kevlar shock cord. If kept between 1 or 2 inches from the eyelet it should not have any negative effects



Regarding the illustrations included I always feel apogee does a good job with showing vs just telling. The pictures do not show any one of the kit styles being made, instead everytime the fins are shown they are a different shape or orientation. Kind of neat to reinforce that even though the rockets look different all the same fundamentals apply, and will essentially continue to apply if they make another rocket kit.
 

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neil_w

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I'll see if they want to send some pictures as they build, we are semi social distancing within our family and with the kids spread accross different households I may not even see half of them until launch day.
I will certainly post their final creations though!
Sorry, my slowly-turning-to-mush-brain forgot for a moment about social distancing and had pictured everyone in a room building together. :rolleyes:
 

kyle

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For the fins maybe try the double-glue method. With nice thin coats it's really quick, definitely not two hours/fin. More like 15 minutes, if that. Humidity dependent, of course.

 

mbeels

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After nap we made some more progress, making our motor mount today was completely straightforward from the instructions.
I can definitely say my 3 year old likes putting the glue fillets on and picked it up super quickly. Free license from dad to make a total mess
Very cool! (and especially impressive for a 3 year old)

Instead put a small piece of tape lengthwise on the surface of the fin by the root edge and fold it halfway back. Next run a thin bead of glue on the root edge, line it up with the marks and fold the tape down into place.
Neat, and I like your body tube holder.
 

mooffle

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I will definitely try the double glue joint from that thread on my next build. Or the kids can learn from my mistake and try it now.
I can't believe I've never heard of this method to be honest.

The lego tube jig thing was born out of an 'oh crap' moment when I started getting back into rocketry and didn't give any thought to what happens after I glue parts together and then have nowhere to let it dry.
 

mooffle

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As for the rest of the build we finished tonight and there isn't anything more to add as all the other steps are really clear and concise.

Step 12 has an awesome picture of what happens when you mess up the grain direction and how fins split. Note for my family: If grain direction is wrong I wont let you fly your rocket without cutting off the fins and realigning them, so please pay attention here.

Quality of the parts I glossed over on the kit opening and I didn't really notice some things until assembly. The tube spirals are totally prefilled to the point that even though I can see them, I can't feel them AT ALL.
The stickers that come with the kit are equally impressive. They almost feel too high of quality, though I'm pretty sure I just feel this way because the kids will decorate their rockets however they want and have the decals go to waste. If any of them aren't used I'll definitely request them back to use on future projects.
One thing thats interesting is that they include two 1" launch lugs, seems like overkill for the size of the rocket but nice that they're there.

I'll show off as many of the builds as the kids finish them, for now I just have my son with his first engine mount.
 

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mooffle

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Here is the finished project, he wanted to use all the stickers and paint it red.
I'm really looking forward to seeing what the rest of the family comes up with.

As for the kit I would highly recommend it, they are supposed to go 250 ft on an A8-3 which is what we will use. Perfect for a park during quarantine and even if the kids don't go nuts with decorating they won't have cookie cutter builds.
IMG_20200705_151722791.jpg
 

gna

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Nicely done.
 

BABAR

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Modern Art at its finest!
 
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