BAR How to cert lvl 1 from a to z

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Well-Known Member
Dec 29, 2010
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Seems to me that folks find trf rather quickly when googling rocketry and want to get back into the hobby. Being a recent bar myself i came, i saw, i posted... the same things that get rehashed almost weekly. The trf community is great about retyping and coherently answering the questions over and over without making it seem like a huge issue, most other forum communities follow a repost by a n3wb with flaming about using the search tool a true testament to the good folks in this hobby and the attitude that will allow the hobby to grow. I have found that all the answers are here just scattered and buried so I am going to try to put a quick guide here for those looking to get into HPR.

Part 1. WTF is hpr?
High power rocketry is simply defined as a rocket that uses any size over a G (but includes certain g's watch when ordering if not certed). Hpr is governed for the most part by NAR and Tripoli in the U.S. so seeking a membership in either organization is required. These larger motors provide an exciting experience but use of them is regulated.

Part 2: OK, how do I start down the hpr road?
This question really got me bogged down for a while and can be a little overwhelming. The first step is locating a NAR section, or Tripoli Prefect that you can fly with. After locating a club send the contact an email, or visit their website. Get whatever information is available easily and plan to attend one of their events, or even better volunteer to help.
-The first hpr launch
Prepare yourself for the launch, I know sounds dumb but really sit down for a few minutes with a little pad of paper and prepare a group of questions that come to mind about the hobby, you dont want to get home after the launch and wish you would have asked something. While your at the launch enjoy the show and pay attention to the folks flying prepare their rockets. Check out the preflight inspections and if they allow it ask someone if you can follow them to the pad and check out what you need to do when you get your own rocket to the pad.

Also it will be important to note the vendors stock, if available. The onsite vendor will become your best friend when it comes to motors as ill cover later on. Things to note are the motor brand that he/she carries, the rocket kit brands, and the best part take a look in the discount bin if they have one out, rocket expenses go up exponentially from mpr to hpr.

Part 3: Back home, now I WANT A ROCKET!
Yes it will happen, my stepfather is absolutely conservative with his money and rarely makes time for anything beyond family work and a little fishing, but after watching my cert flight he has pulled out the wallet and started his own build.
Choosing a kit can be overwhelming, so many choices, materials, and stores. The first thing to think of is a budget, how much are you willing to spend? Remember that it is not unusual for kits to not include parachutes, rail guides, or motor retention, all of those add to the cost. A smart way to save some money is to order from a vendor that sells everything you need to complete the build from epoxy to rail buttons and pay one shipping charge.
After a budget has been established you are ready to shop. Rockets now days are made from a lot of materials, when i left the hobby in 1999 I had never seen a composite rocket, that now days seem to be the standard for hpr. Simply put there are 3 materials widely available:
-kraft paper: plenty strong enough for simple designs and level 1 motors. one could f/glass wrap the tube and make it super strong but not necessary in most cases.
-Phenolic: A tough tube that magical unicorns lick to make them strong, yet prone to shattering if hard landing on a rock or pushed over on hard ground. People wrap these in f/g as well to increase durability but not a necessity.
-Fiberglass: These tubes are tough, if you break it you did something bad...
**There are a few other types of tubes Quantum, blue tube etc but not as widely used as the above, neither quantum or blue tube need wrapped in fiberglass and are both very tough**
Prices vary from tube type to type but in reality all of these types of tubes should do fine for a level one. General rule of thumb i follow is if the tube type isnt specifically mentioned it will probably be a kraft paper loc style tube.

The key to a cert rocket is simplicity if you are reading this how to guide. The more experienced rocketeers tend to scratch build but for the guys just getting back into the hobby instructions are nice and the less crazy designs the lower the chance of failure. Being certified doesn't necessarily mean one is "experienced", it just says "you built and flew a rocket on an h or i, and it landed safely".
Also when shopping for a level one kit check the mmt sizes 29mm or 38mm is a good range for level one. The size of the rocket matters as well, a little mach buster will be harder to find than a fatter larger rocket... How far do you want to walk?
Now your ready to buy your kit, read the descriptions to see if you need any extra's (parachute, rail guides or tabs, motor retention). Call the vendor if you have any extra questions, this hobby is full of vendors who are knowledgeable and will answer your questions.

Part 4: Finally, I waited 2 whole weeks for this box to get here :mad: now how do i build this thing?

Simple answer is to just follow the instructions included. Use a 15 or 30 minute epoxy to glue and fillet the fins. Yes yes if you have paper tube and wood fins wood glue can be used and in some cases is stronger... So if you feel that epoxy is bad dont use it... I always use epoxy on anything big and have never had a problem and if your so smart why are you reading this how to guide????

A couple of got ya's when building
-aeropac/pml hamr retainers may require you to leave more motor tube hanging out the rear. CHECK BEFORE GLUING... ask me how i know :bangpan:
-Attach the shock cord to the motor mount before gluing... also a hard lesson to learn
-Rail guides go on easier before paint while buttons can go on after.
-Throw away the launch lugs for a launch rod, your club generally wants hpr on rails.
-When attaching metal to the rocket i like to use jb weld rather than epoxy. and it is nearly required for motor retainers for heat issues as well as bond issue. A good practice to get into.

Part 5: That was quick... Now what to shove up in the rear of this rocket.

The great debate CTI or Aerotech :bangpan: I halfway dont want to touch this one so i will try to equally represent pros and cons of both.
-cheap cases, easy cleaning, reliable delay times, easy to assemble
-Reloads can be more expensive, not as available as at,
Aerotech pros
-widely available (market saturation), cheap reloads, cases can be found used in good shape often saves money
-Can be tricky to assemble, Messy (like cleaning a muzzleloader), more expensive cases

Now the real reason to choose one over the other is personal preference check out videos of both, and find the correct propellant YOU want then go with it. A forum post asking which one is better will reopen the wound of people bashing each company for somehow doing them wrong, remember these are isolated cases or said company wouldnt be in business. Another factor is the brand that your local launch site vendor sells, good rule of thumb is to buy what is available to you. A cti case is no good if you cant aquire the reload easily.

Now you have your motor, kindly ask someone experienced to supervise the assembly if you havent done it very many times. The rocket community is full of friendly people and more than likely will help you out.

Follow the directions and rules of the launch when messing with motors, some clubs may only allow assembly in a specified area. Do not insert the igniter until you are on the rail. Press the cont check button hear the tone then step back to the viewer safe area.

5..4..3..2..1.. and hopefully up goes your rocket. A few short seconds later hopefully the chute pops and lands without breaking not to far away. Recover the rocket when it is safe and carry it back to your cert officials for inspection. If the rocket survived get the papers signed and mailed to nar or tra and now your level one.

Level 1 cert is ominous to the folks new to hpr, but it is fun. The excitement of and sound of hp motors is worth the money and the stress to get there. There is no need to rush a cert tho, make sure you feel safe and comfortable with flying prior to making the leap. Learn the rules and safety guidelines and enjoy the process. Dont judge yourself and your rocketry skills or passion by a silly number on your id card, your missing the point. The fun of rocketry can be sucked away if you think only hp motors and huge rockets can be fun, the whole spectrum of the hobby is absolutely enjoyable. Don't miss out on the fun of a lpr from time to time, or try your hand in some sort of competition flying.

Lastly pay it forward. This hobby got me outside on sunny calm days when i was a kid with a handful of estes motors and an alphaIII and kept me running to retrieve it and back to fly it again. I find the thrill of the hobby is not flying my high power rockets but taking them to a 4-h, scouts, or elementary school and telling them about the hobby.

I hope you all enjoy this I know it is lengthy. It quickly covers the need to know items so I am sure there are details I jumped over or maybe even some things that you disagree with, but I believe a quick simple read like this would have made my return to rocketry easier and saved a couple hundred searches.

P.S. Do not turn this thread into a debate, the information here is viable if you disagree feel free to simply state how, why, and show proof for your correction this thread is for solid simple information.
All sounds about right. Very good information. Thanks for putting this together. I just recently passed my L1 and the info given should help someone looking into HP. I would only add to use the KISS method(keep it simple stupid). Also, don't get discouraged if all does not go as planned the first time out. It is not the end of the world, just get another motor(that is if the rocket is still ok to fly or pick a different one) and try again. The third time was a charm for me, I swear I had gremlins stalking me that weekend. Have fun!
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I had to edit it down or else i would have referenced my first attempt fail as well lol.