Build Thread - Scratchbuilt Level 3 Prototype + DD-converted PML X-Calibur

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Antares JS

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Welcome.

My blue tube is on its way and my order includes both the 6" tubes for my level 3 rocket and 4" tubes for the prototype that will be documented in this thread.

This project has a bit of a history already. It will be partially built out of parts salvaged from the wreckage of an older rocket built out of PML quantum tube that shredded on its first flight attempt under K power. (It had six successful flights under J power under its belt when this happened) If you were at Midwest Power 10 in 2012, you might have seen the shred. I recovered most of the parts and the fins and nose will be reused in this build. (Good thing too as the fins were a custom job from PML.) I've been intending to do this rebuild for a long time, but was delayed by my California rocketry hiatus, lack of funds, and then the unavailability of blue tube.

Since it took me so long to get to this rebuild and my level 3 project is on the horizon, I've decided to test a couple of things I'm going to be doing on the level 3 project on this rocket first.

To summarize, the project objectives are as follows:
-Try the construction methods planned for my level 3 rocket on this rocket first.
-Try bag deployment on the main parachute for the first time.
-Set up recovery connections so that minimal force is applied to wood bulkheads. Forces should be applied to metal parts only.
-Reuse parts from old rocket.
-Successfully fly and recover the rocket in a series of four flights on an I229T, J275W, J415W, and K540M.
-Achieve a decently smooth finish with body tube spirals not visible.
-Anything else important that pops into my head later.

The blue tube isn't here yet, but i started the build by dremel-ing off the old epoxy from the fins and assembling a 4" blue tube e-bay kit I had lying around.

Also, since it's being built partially from salvaged parts, the rocket's name will be Phoenix and the paint scheme will be blended blue, yellow, orange, and red to suggest a flame.

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Antares JS

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One more thing - I am also building a PML X-calibur kit that will be used to prototype the silver and gold finish I am planning for my level 3. This is my third time building an X-calibur. My first one, which I certified level 1 with, was destroyed when its ejection charge failed and it lawn darted. The second cracked badly on a hard landing after ejecting its motor case instead of its parachute.

This time, rather than building it stock, I am going to convert it to dual deploy and see if I can fit a 9V battery and stratologger into the 4" long coupler tube it comes with. Since it's part of the prototyping for my level 3 rocket, I will document that build here too.

Today I measured out where the centering rings needed to go on the motor mount to accomodate the slimline motor retainer while leaving room for the fins to mount through the wall. It was a little tight but doable with about 1/4" to spare. I epoxied on the forward ring and will come back tomorrow to epoxy the drogue harness to the side of the motor mount. I also epoxied a 29mm slimline adapter I intend to use with this rocket to a 29mm motor mount.

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Antares JS

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Further reinforced that forward centering ring and attached nylon harness cord to motor mount. Also attached forward ring to 38-29 adapter.

Blue Tube is scheduled to arrive on Monday according to FedEx.

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Antares JS

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X-Calibur motor mount assembled with aft ring and motor retainer. Internal fillets on a rocket this size are probably more trouble than they are worth. Installation tomorrow or Thursday and fins hopefully this weekend.

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Antares JS

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Motor mount installed in X-Calibur, and applied sanding sealer to blue tube for Phoenix.

I wish I had taken a picture but I stacked all of Phoenix's tubes together with the nose and realized I didn't know what 9-1/2 feet was until I saw it. And to think this will be immediately followed by my 14-foot level 3 rocket. It's going to be an exciting rest of the year.

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Antares JS

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Big day yesterday, installed fins on the X-Calibur and started assembling Phoenix's motor mount. The holes in the centering rings are for a threaded rod reinforcement. I'm continuing today with X-Calibur's fin fillets and continuing to work on the motor mount in Phoenix.

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Antares JS

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Finished X-Calibur's fillets, installed Phoenix's fins, stacked Phoenix for a photo op, then poured some epoxy in between the fins to bond the front of the fin tangs to the centering ring.

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The PML "X-Calibur" was the rocket I used for my Cert-1 flight at High Frontiers.
Went Dorothy Gale on a subsequent flight at Argonia.

Good luck with your Cert-3 venture.
 

Antares JS

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It's been a pretty productive weekend.

X-Calibur painted.
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Phoenix fillets done.
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Phoenix upper tubes: spirals filled with Bondo and on their second layer of filler primer.
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Antares JS

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No pictures yet but I closed the aft end of the booster section and installed the motor retainer last night. I also discovered that the motor mount tube is really tight. My 54/1280 only went in part way with considerable force. The extra length of 54mm tube was also really tight when I tried it.

So tonight I have a date with a big file to get that problem corrected.
 

Antares JS

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Worked on the tiny sled for the X-Calibur, fitting a Stratologger, 9V battery, and Lab Rat pull-pin switch into the tiny 4" long coupler. It was challenging but is coming along nicely.

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mbeels

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Wow, that is intense! It's really going to standout on the flightline! I'm pretty sure it is glowing. What kind of paint is that? I like it.
 

Antares JS

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Wow, that is intense! It's really going to standout on the flightline! I'm pretty sure it is glowing. What kind of paint is that? I like it.
Just Krylon fluorescent yellow, orange, and pink, on top of white primer, on top of gray filler primer.
 

Antares JS

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Decals and official name for X-Calibur. Decided to name it after my first X-Calibur that I certified level 1 on.

Principality comes from one of the lower angel ranks. My other certification rockets are Dominion and Seraphim after higher ranks.

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Antares JS

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Decal'ed up. Also got some witness mark decals on the back for tube alignment once the screw holes are drilled. "PHOENIX" name decal is from Stickershock, and the rest are from my wife's cricut.

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Antares JS

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Installed LumaDyne tube fasteners at all the joints in Phoenix and Principality II.

Assuming all of these dang little things bonded properly, there will be a final few bulkheads to install tomorrow morning and then it will be ready for deployment tests.

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Antares JS

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That's looking great! I love the glossy / matte texture combination of the phoenix decal.



I totally did a double take at the image, I thought you were growing petunias out of the booster.
Yeah, I noticed it only after I posted but didn’t feel like taking another picture.
 

Antares JS

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One other thing worth mentioning, the OP mentions the first test flight being with an I229T motor for a shakedown flight. That flight is not going to happen. As I’ve made progress and refined my RockSim file for the Phoenix, it is weighing in too heavy to fly on an I motor. The simulation shows it reaching only 700 feet on the I229T and that is much too low for comfort as in my experience, my sims tend to overestimate the altitude. The first flight will be on the J275W, which should take it to a more comfortable 1500 feet.
 

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Checked all the inserts this morning and unfortunately some got clogged with epoxy. Thankfully a quick run through with a tap cleaned out all the clogged ones.

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