Benefits of kits

The Rocketry Forum

Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

What are the most important benefits of kits (over scratch-building)?

  • I know the rocket is stable

    Votes: 19 22.4%
  • I know what motors will work

    Votes: 6 7.1%
  • All the pieces are provided

    Votes: 63 74.1%
  • It comes with instructions

    Votes: 12 14.1%
  • I know what the result will look like

    Votes: 21 24.7%
  • It's cheaper than buying components

    Votes: 45 52.9%
  • It's easier to get past the RSO

    Votes: 7 8.2%
  • It comes with decals

    Votes: 17 20.0%
  • I don't like to design my own rockets

    Votes: 2 2.4%

  • Total voters
    85
  • Poll closed .

JohnCoker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2013
Messages
1,689
Reaction score
324
I'm curious why rocketeers prefer kits in general to scratch-building. (Note the "in general"; if you rarely or never build kits, this poll isn't addressed to you.)
 

afadeev

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Sep 21, 2017
Messages
1,206
Reaction score
493
I'm curious why rocketeers prefer kits in general to scratch-building. (Note the "in general"; if you rarely or never build kits, this poll isn't addressed to you.)
Various reasons:
  • For real-world scale rockets (Saturn V, Nike Hercules, etc) - I have neither the time, nor frankly the desire to research and measure and scale each individual component's size and shape. Buying someone else's research efforts to achieve the desired final model shape is a definite plus.
  • I can't (conveniently) mold or cut certain materials and shapes. Shaping nose cones of any size is WAY out of my league or abilities, or interest. Same goes for complex transitions out of molded plastic and/or fiber-glass.
  • Then there is a matter of convenience and personal safety. Laying, curing, cutting, and sanding fiber-glass or carbon-fiber is within reach, but the precautions, equipment, and real-estate demands for doing so safely and competently would be more than I can reasonably justify.
  • Last, but not least, I work with kids of various ages and dexterity levels. A lot. A few are mine, many more are local cub scouts. Giving them a bagged kit, with instructions, is part of their educational experience. Handing out well documented kits is the only reasonable entry way into this hobby.
 
Last edited:

fyrechaser

Builder of flying things
TRF Supporter
Joined
Apr 2, 2009
Messages
763
Reaction score
40
Location
Blackwell, TX
Yeah, none of the choices (to me at least) seem to be an advantage over scratch building. But like you John, I am curious and encourage folks to participate in the poll. Thanks for posting it.
 

les

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jan 20, 2009
Messages
2,620
Reaction score
274
I do a mix, although more of my rockets are kits vs scratch

First - I prefer sci-fi and odd-roc over 3FNC
Second - there are a lot of great kits out there - Fliskits, Shrox, Estes, New Way, Excelsior, Fat Cat, Semroc, etc. Might as well take advantage of their genius and
Third - yes - getting all the parts, decals, etc is easier
 

neil_w

Hunkered down and slowly going crazy
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jul 14, 2015
Messages
9,047
Reaction score
2,382
Location
Northern NJ
I chose “it comes with instructions“ but I am not sure it quite captures my true #1 advantage: frees me from doing a lot of thinking. Kit building is much more relaxing than scratch building.

Regrettably I don’t have to build nearly as many kits as I’d like, most of my builds are scratch.
 

NOLA_BAR

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2019
Messages
147
Reaction score
57
None of the choices really fit me either. I’m about 50/50 kit and scratch. Kits if I like the design and the parts involved (complex plastic molds or laser cutting). Basically parts I cannot replicate (lack of time, equipment and skill). Though I guess that is choice number 3. It is also similar in process to a LEGO kit. Sometimes it is just relaxing not to think too much and put something together. (Same as number 4?) Scratch is definitely a more fulfilling process though.
 

PatD

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jul 25, 2015
Messages
319
Reaction score
179
Sorry, none of the above. I scratch, kit and kit bash build, but boy am I slow. Something that I see that I want in a size not available or with changes I scratch. I am definately not in the league of many on here with scratch builds. Probably don't have the imagination many of you do. Kits are fun and easy, plus you know that they are probably stable. :)
 

Fattbank64

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 9, 2018
Messages
123
Reaction score
52
I chose not to participate.

I prefer kit-bashing instead of buying kits.
 
  • Haha
Reactions: REK

Alan15578

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2018
Messages
315
Reaction score
72
It is generally cheaper to clone a kit from parts. However, it is difficult and expensive to make your own decals and some plastic parts. Complex kits with lots of parts and decals are generally better values. No matter how spectacular your custom designed rocket is, spectators at your demo launch will always be more engaged with rockets built from kits that they can identify.
 

lowga

A.K.A. 'Mr. HoJo'
TRF Supporter
Joined
Dec 4, 2016
Messages
460
Reaction score
117
Location
Birmingham, AL
I'm in favor of people doing whatever they enjoy as part of the hobby. I'm not a great builder, but admire those who are. I enjoy kit bashing, flying, videography from rockets, and telemetry.

Enjoy kits, but don't hesitate to scratch build or kit-bash to meet an objective. As for safety, that's job #1 for me. If I'm not 100% certain it's safe, I don't fly it. No hobby is worth someone getting hurt over.
 

GlenP

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 4, 2014
Messages
1,806
Reaction score
239
I buy kits for the decals! I can make my own, but that requires more work if you have to draw them yourself first. The kit original artwork tells a story. It’s what makes an Alpha VI 60th anniversary commemorative edition more then just a 3FNC with a plastic fin can and matching nose cone in a shiny metallic finish! Personal reasons may vary over the years, as experience and tastes change.
 

OverTheTop

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 10, 2007
Messages
3,804
Reaction score
1,133
Location
Melbourne Australia
None of the poll options are relevant to me.

LPR/MPR I usually buy the kits. As GlenP mentioned they have the decals so I can apply the non-human equivalent of makeup to the rocket and tart it up very well. As examples I like the kits from Sirius Rocketry and Apogee in this regard.

For HPR kits are a good way of getting the necessary airframe, NC and possibly the fins all in one batch. I rarely follow any instructions for HPR kits and sometimes change out fin shapes or material if I feel inclined. Couplers are sometimes shortened to get mass down and chute space up if needed. Basically I kit-bash every HPR I have built to at least some degree.

I do have the wherewithal to scratch build, including airframe tubes, but choose not to nearly every time. YMMV.
 

mooffle

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 20, 2020
Messages
45
Reaction score
24
...learning novel and unique building techniques.
I like to buy mass materials and scratch build most of my stuff. However this exact reason is why I bought a Hydra 7. It looked cool and I know there was no way I could make a rocket look like that at the time.
Also scratch oddrocs can be hard to sim so if there is fighter plane or spaceship then I'll get it knowing it's safe.
 

TheTank

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 2, 2020
Messages
52
Reaction score
55
#1 reason for me that isn't on the poll... time (Or lack thereof).
 

RobertH3

Active Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Apr 18, 2020
Messages
35
Reaction score
29
Location
Central Indiana
afadeev got most of them - I gave a hand-turned 75mm cone a try and think I can get it, given the proper material. Scratch-built often requires multiple tries if you are doing a first time fab. Decals are expensive for a scratch build. Also did a trial glassing (tough first time but successful if you don't count amount of primer required ha-ha).
Intro to new materials and techniques...bought a Mach 1 Nike XII just to get learnin' in on fiberglass and because it looks great. The HPR kits all seem to require a bit of a bash, and also seem to leave a fair amount of problems for you to solve.

Cheers / Robert
 

Funkworks

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2018
Messages
657
Reaction score
283
What I like is scaled versions of real and well-known fictional rockets. So if a kit of something I like exists, there's no point for me to build it from scratch. Having all the parts included is very convenient and everything I know I learned from instructions (and this here so-called "internet" place). I would only scratch build what I can't find as a kit.
 
Last edited:

prfesser

Lifetime Supporter
TRF Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 7, 2017
Messages
1,163
Reaction score
993
Location
Murray, KY
Most kits that I buy (scale and sci-fi) would be a lot more work to duplicate from parts. Mostly I scratch-build because I have a fair stock of tubes, fin/centering ring material, and parachutes (for MPR-HPR; I make my own chutes for scratch LPR). Sometimes I make the nose cone as well.
 

LW Bercini

Well-Known Member
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jun 15, 2011
Messages
2,524
Reaction score
52
Location
Macon GA
my true #1 advantage: frees me from doing a lot of thinking. Kit building is much more relaxing than scratch building.
Like Neil, my true passion is scratch building. And I agree that scratch building is more "mind intensive". I will very often finish one of my more complex scratch projects, then pull out a kit or three just for the pure pleasure of building.

Given that my life has been extraordinarily complicated these last 3 years (multiple family members with serious illnesses), I have been more prolific in my kit building than I ever have before. But even the kits I choose need to be unique enough to sustain my interest. You will rarely see me build a 3FNC kit unless it is a scale subject (e.g. Black Brant).
 

Leo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 19, 2009
Messages
1,851
Reaction score
124
Location
Germany
If I buy a kit then it's because the manufacturer designed a kit that interests me so much that I need to have it or two :)
The only other reason I purchase kits is for spare parts (which I voted for).
 

rharshberger

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2014
Messages
9,406
Reaction score
1,471
Location
Pasco, WA
I buy kits mainly because all the components are already made. I have rolled a few tubes and as much as I enjoyed it, I just don't have the shop facilities for remaining components.
+1, sometimes I just want something that already to be put together without cutting fins, centering rings, airframes, AV Bay parts etc.
 

JohnCoker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2013
Messages
1,689
Reaction score
324
Thanks for all the responses. I added a couple more options in response to comments.
 

kalsow

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 14, 2010
Messages
56
Reaction score
32
I almost alway scratch build -- HPR. I make my own tubes, nose cones, centering rings, and composite fins. I like the hours and hours of mind noodling. I'm not artistically inclined, so most of the design work is discovering techniques and processes that will result in a flyable rocket.

Scratch building feels cheaper. It takes months and months to finish a scratch build, but only a few days to build a kit. So the $$$/day cost of the hobby goes way down! I don't usually consider buying tools a cost of the hobby, it's a reward for living. :)

The last kit I bought was so that I could upscale it. I figured the original designer deserved his pay. I did the upscale, but haven't built the kit.
 

Thundercloud

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2017
Messages
165
Reaction score
14
I am mainly a scratch builder, but I like kits as a way to start into the next level. I started with a LOV IV kit to get into High Power, and I think a nice fiberglass kit would be a good way to certify level III.
 

mbeels

Yes balsa
TRF Supporter
Joined
Feb 9, 2019
Messages
2,083
Reaction score
962
I also mostly scratch build, but two additional reasons I buy kits are:
  1. Sentimental reasons, it's fun to rebuild a kit from years ago (if it is still around)
  2. It's easier involve my 5 year old son. He likes to glue things, sand, and check off instruction steps as we go. (Although he is getting into drawing his own designs now.)
 

JackC

Member
Joined
May 2, 2020
Messages
11
Reaction score
1
Hi John! I met you at Black Rock in 2010 or so where I introduced you to Vern Knowles.

My answer to your poll is all the pieces are there and the instructions are available. For most rockets, I scratch build. But, when I'm trying to do something I haven't done before, like a multistage rocket, I'll go the kit route. So, I have a PML Quantum Leap in my garage waiting for me to build it.
 
Last edited:

rklapp

NAR# 109557
TRF Supporter
Joined
May 8, 2020
Messages
341
Reaction score
190
Location
Oahu, Hawaii
Scratch build can be expensive when I realize there’s one piece missing and I have to buy a pack which means I have to build more scratch to use up the extra parts except for the one piece I’m missing. It’s a vicious cycle.

As a kid, I would tire of my models and would shoot them with my BB gun or stick firecrackers in them. Model rockets seem a lot more civilized.
 

jrap330

Retired Engineer, NAR # 76940
TRF Supporter
Joined
Jan 25, 2020
Messages
272
Reaction score
76
Location
NJ
I'm curious why rocketeers prefer kits in general to scratch-building. (Note the "in general"; if you rarely or never build kits, this poll isn't addressed to you.)
I would say speed...it takes time to design and procure all the parts....there are so many great kits out there and new ones every year. I want to launch..that is the exciting part.
 

Latest posts

Top