Certifying Experimental Motors

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AlexBruccoleri

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I apologize if this question has already been asked and please link me if it has. My question. Can experimental motor enthusiast submit their motors to Tripoli for certification for non-commercial purposes? The RCS site is crazy cool and offers the opportunity to make custom motors trivially. It would be neat to make some unique motors, and then have them certified so they can be flown at non-EX launches. I suspect it is a violation of the RCS terms to sell them so this would have to stay non-commercial, though RCS might be willing to negotiate licenses if it made financial sense for all involved.
 

Alan15578

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You will not like the answer. I always hoped that Tripoli Experimental rules would lead to many new legitimate motor manufactures entering the field. or at lest getting thier developments into production at established manufacturers. Sadly, this is not our reality.
 

dvdsnyd

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Alex,
As I understand, under the new Tripoli Unified Rules (explained in link) There are no longer commercial and experimental launches, which really makes what you are proposing moot, because those motors can now fly at any Tripoli launch.
You could certainly start a discussion in the research section discussing the various combinations of propellants/geometries that you've come up with using RCS propellant grains and components. Then other people could use that data and make those motors.
Dave
 

G_T

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Nope. You need to be officially in production, and submit sample motors for testing. Someone else can dig up the links, or perhaps one of the manufacturers will respond.

Getting in production - licenses, zoning, facilities, shipping, purchasing chemicals, setting up for production, insurance, getting your processes down, is not a small or cheap thing to do. It would be much worse than setting up for most small businesses.

You will also find that many if not most of the EX crowd would likely not have interest anyway, even if things are different... We tend to do our own thing, though we do share info. Odds are many who do EX are well beyond where you think they are.

If you are not on the Research forum, consider applying to get added there. For others, US citizen, I think L2 required. It's that annoying ITAR and EAR thing. It's a good piece of why many of the US EX crowd don't put out much info on the open forums.

Gerald
 

AlexBruccoleri

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Alex,
As I understand, under the new Tripoli Unified Rules (explained in link) There are no longer commercial and experimental launches, which really makes what you are proposing moot, because those motors can now fly at any Tripoli launch.
You could certainly start a discussion in the research section discussing the various combinations of propellants/geometries that you've come up with using RCS propellant grains and components. Then other people could use that data and make those motors.
Dave
I am actually confused on that. Maybe someone can clarify.
 

Steve Shannon

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I am actually confused on that. Maybe someone can clarify.
Tell me more specifically how you’re confused and I’ll try to clarify.

The simple answer is that we no longer have two distinct types of launches: commercial and research. Now we just have Tripoli launches. Any Tripoli or NAR member can fly commercial motors within their certification level.
Research motors can only be flown at Tripoli launches by Tripoli members who are L2 or above.

Of course the Prefect or LD can opt out of allowing research motors.
 

MClark

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Reasons TMT doesn’t test members motors,
There would be an overwhelming number.
Failures would damage the stand. People say they will pay to fix it but either don’t or take forever, even with manufacturers.
 

Steve Shannon

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Steve - just to clarify - research motors can only be flown by the motor maker.
I’ll let the actual language of the new Safety Code speak for itself:

From the definitions section:
Research Motor: A Rocket Motor, made by a Tripoli member or team of Tripoli members for their own use at a Tripoli launch.

From the limitations section: 10-6 Research Motors which have been sold for a profit may not be used at a Tripoli Launch.
 

FredA

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Thanks Steve - the thread pointed to above mentions selling motors out of the trunk of a car.....
 

AlexBruccoleri

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Tell me more specifically how you’re confused and I’ll try to clarify.

The simple answer is that we no longer have two distinct types of launches: commercial and research. Now we just have Tripoli launches. Any Tripoli or NAR member can fly commercial motors within their certification level.
Research motors can only be flown at Tripoli launches by Tripoli members who are L2 or above.

Of course the Prefect or LD can opt out of allowing research motors.
I think you answered it. Essentially unless specifically not allowed by the Launch personnel , all Tripoli launches allow EX? This does indeed make my thread question pretty much moot.
 

Bat-mite

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I think you answered it. Essentially unless specifically not allowed by the Launch personnel , all Tripoli launches allow EX? This does indeed make my thread question pretty much moot.
If someone makes a motor for you and you pay for cost, it was not a sale for profit. The motor manufacturer is required to be at the launch, and the flight is considered a "group project."

Beyond that, it's an honor system. If you are L2 and you say you made the motor, even if you didn't, there isn't much anyone could do to prove you didn't. If someone else made the motor and sold it to you for profit, again, it would be awfully hard to prove.

Rocketry is a small community, and we count on each other's integrity.
 

AlexBruccoleri

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Reasons TMT doesn’t test members motors,
There would be an overwhelming number.
Failures would damage the stand. People say they will pay to fix it but either don’t or take forever, even with manufacturers.
Quite understood. TMT could require amateurs to show they did some pre-testing, but it sounds like this is getting silly. Tripoli has pretty generous rules for EX motors, at least that is now my understanding. The only caveat is the NAR. I believe they are quite strict and certifying a motor would be useful for their launches.
 

AlexBruccoleri

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If someone makes a motor for you and you pay for cost, it was not a sale for profit. The motor manufacturer is required to be at the launch, and the flight is considered a "group project."

Beyond that, it's an honor system. If you are L2 and you say you made the motor, even if you didn't, there isn't much anyone could do to prove you didn't. If someone else made the motor and sold it to you for profit, again, it would be awfully hard to prove.

Rocketry is a small community, and we count on each other's integrity.
Another poster was discussing the "selling" issue. My thread was not started about that. No confusion or dispute about that on my end. I only mentioned it in my original post since if by some process, individual motor makers could certify their motors, they would still not be able to sell them if they did it with RCS components unless RCS gave them a license.

Good point though on the honor system. That is critical for the hobby!
 

jimzcatz

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I don't understand why you think you need a license for RCS componets. Once paid for they are mine to do with what I want, keeping it in the legal codes of course.
 

boatgeek

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I’ll let the actual language of the new Safety Code speak for itself:

From the definitions section:
Research Motor: A Rocket Motor, made by a Tripoli member or team of Tripoli members for their own use at a Tripoli launch.

From the limitations section: 10-6 Research Motors which have been sold for a profit may not be used at a Tripoli Launch.
A clarifying question: if an L2 TRA member buys fuel grains and appropriate additional supplies (case, closures, nozzle, liner, smoke grain, etc.) off of RCS and assembles a motor from them, does that count as "made by the TRA member"?
 

Steve Shannon

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A clarifying question: if an L2 TRA member buys fuel grains and appropriate additional supplies (case, closures, nozzle, liner, smoke grain, etc.) off of RCS and assembles a motor from them, does that count as "made by the TRA member"?
Yes - hopefully they will have done the necessary calculations to understand which components work well together.
 

Sandy H.

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I’ll let the actual language of the new Safety Code speak for itself:

From the definitions section:
Research Motor: A Rocket Motor, made by a Tripoli member or team of Tripoli members for their own use at a Tripoli launch.

From the limitations section: 10-6 Research Motors which have been sold for a profit may not be used at a Tripoli Launch.

Hope this isn't a dumb question, but if it is or de-rails the thread, please delete it.

Where is the line drawn on the limitations of 10-6; specifically what defines the research motor? I imagine if someone bought 100% of the components from RCS that RCS made profit. If that is instead considered a bag of parts, not a motor, then is it allowed for a person to make grains, nozzles etc., and sell that as a bag of parts?

The distinction may be obvious, but I don't understand the difference.

Sandy.
 

Steve Shannon

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Hope this isn't a dumb question, but if it is or de-rails the thread, please delete it.

Where is the line drawn on the limitations of 10-6; specifically what defines the research motor? I imagine if someone bought 100% of the components from RCS that RCS made profit. If that is instead considered a bag of parts, not a motor, then is it allowed for a person to make grains, nozzles etc., and sell that as a bag of parts?

The distinction may be obvious, but I don't understand the difference.

Sandy.
When full bag of parts is sold it’s the same as a commercial reload kit. It must be certified or it cannot be flown at a Tripoli launch. If we allowed that I could understand an AHJ objecting on the grounds that it undermines commercial motor certification.
Many research flyers take advantage of the quality individual components sold by manufacturers. It’s not Tripoli’s place to regulate such sales.
The intent of our Safety Code is to allow our members to genuinely participate in research activities without writing a document that requires a lawyer to read and write. It’s possible that some members will try to exploit that. If so we would have to figure out what to change. It could be like many other activities where one or two people who think they have found a way to take advantage of a perceived loophole ruin things for many others.
 
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AlexBruccoleri

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I don't understand why you think you need a license for RCS componets. Once paid for they are mine to do with what I want, keeping it in the legal codes of course.
You might be right. I skimmed over their site and thought they had that language there. The personal use may have been for designs though. Reverse engineering would certainly be a no, but if someone did start selling motors with their components, RCS would make money on every sale. That being said, they might be pricing RCS components for educational purposes...etc. Anyway I am far from an expert on this, but I would check with RCS and be respectful of their wishes.

Edit: The language may not have been for business purposes, but rather for the safety code. Either way check if this is more than an abstract conversation.
 
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AlexBruccoleri

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Hope this isn't a dumb question, but if it is or de-rails the thread, please delete it.

Where is the line drawn on the limitations of 10-6; specifically what defines the research motor? I imagine if someone bought 100% of the components from RCS that RCS made profit. If that is instead considered a bag of parts, not a motor, then is it allowed for a person to make grains, nozzles etc., and sell that as a bag of parts?

The distinction may be obvious, but I don't understand the difference.

Sandy.
I think "intentions" is where the line is drawn. It is very clear that the RCS store is for tinkering and education. And wow is it COOL!
 

Sandy H.

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When full bag of parts is sold it’s the same as a commercial reload kit. It must be certified or it cannot be flown at a Tripoli launch. If we allowed that I could understand an AHJ objecting on the grounds that it undermines commercial motor certification.
Many research flyers take advantage of the quality individual components sold by manufacturers. It’s not Tripoli’s place to regulate such sales.
The intent of our Safety Code is to allow our members to genuinely participate in research activities without writing a document that requires a lawyer to read and write. It’s possible that some members will try to exploit that. If so we would have to figure out what to change. It could be like many other activities where one or two people who think they have found a way to take advantage of a perceived loophole ruin things for many others.

I don't want to argue for sure, but I also am not trying to find a loophole.

In my particular case, my goal is to start research in the next year or two. I am not comfortable with making my own grains due to my living situation and logical safety concerns. I am most interested in core geometry (38mm-54mm, nothing huge) and doing stuff repeatably, which the RCS stuff seems to be ideal for. Someday, I'd like to try doing my own chemistry, but that has to be years away for me.

Having said that, I still don't understand if buying a bag of parts (based on running sims myself and specified by me) from RCS vs. CTI (or AMW, Gorilla, Estes, Loki or other - I know some are no longer around) would be acceptable to launch at a generic TRA launch. I like the idea of trying the RCS options for sure, but if I could buy either from a known manufacturer or a buddy on the field would be good to understand very clearly before trying to figure out what road to follow.

At the end of the day, I really want to do hybrids, but I think learning about each option is important. While plenty of people probably know the right answer, for me it is true research to learn it for yourself with your own effort. I think learning about solids will be easier due to user base, as it seems that hybrids are 1/100 of the flights. Do you have to know everything about solids to try hybrids - I assume no, but why not become educated about everything you can before trying something new.

Sandy.
 

Rocketjunkie

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I don't understand why you think you need a license for RCS componets. Once paid for they are mine to do with what I want, keeping it in the legal codes of course.
You don't if for your use. However, if you are going to sell them, you will open a whole can of worms.
 

Steve Shannon

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I don't want to argue for sure, but I also am not trying to find a loophole.

In my particular case, my goal is to start research in the next year or two. I am not comfortable with making my own grains due to my living situation and logical safety concerns. I am most interested in core geometry (38mm-54mm, nothing huge) and doing stuff repeatably, which the RCS stuff seems to be ideal for. Someday, I'd like to try doing my own chemistry, but that has to be years away for me.

Having said that, I still don't understand if buying a bag of parts (based on running sims myself and specified by me) from RCS vs. CTI (or AMW, Gorilla, Estes, Loki or other - I know some are no longer around) would be acceptable to launch at a generic TRA launch. I like the idea of trying the RCS options for sure, but if I could buy either from a known manufacturer or a buddy on the field would be good to understand very clearly before trying to figure out what road to follow.

At the end of the day, I really want to do hybrids, but I think learning about each option is important. While plenty of people probably know the right answer, for me it is true research to learn it for yourself with your own effort. I think learning about solids will be easier due to user base, as it seems that hybrids are 1/100 of the flights. Do you have to know everything about solids to try hybrids - I assume no, but why not become educated about everything you can before trying something new.

Sandy.
Research can involve many things, not just mixing chemicals to make your own propellant. If you were to take a commercial reload apart and try a different nozzle geometry, that modified motor (modified with an goal) would be Research in my opinion. To that end I have no problem with individual components being sold for a profit, just like cases and closures are.
However, I don’t think I would feel comfortable with a manufacturer selling all the parts for a single motor together in a convenient bag as a way to skirt the requirement of motor certification. Motor certification is so inexpensive and easy to do, that there’s no good reason for an established manufacturer not to do it.
Research in hybrids is cool, I think. When I was learning Rocketry, several people were playing with hybrids.
 

Sandy H.

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Research can involve many things, not just mixing chemicals to make your own propellant. If you were to take a commercial reload apart and try a different nozzle geometry, that modified motor (modified with an goal) would be Research in my opinion. To that end I have no problem with individual components being sold for a profit, just like cases and closures are.
However, I don’t think I would feel comfortable with a manufacturer selling all the parts for a single motor together in a convenient bag as a way to skirt the requirement of motor certification. Motor certification is so inexpensive and easy to do, that there’s no good reason for an established manufacturer not to do it.
Research in hybrids is cool, I think. When I was learning Rocketry, several people were playing with hybrids.

OK, I think I'm starting to get it. If I bought a bag of parts to replicate an Estes kit that's one thing, but if I buy a sheet of balsa, various tubes and a nosecone and then craft that into my own rocket that happened to look like the Estes kit, I'm buying parts and not a clone or whatever, its just a scratch build. Subtle distinction, but easy for me to understand.

Thanks for the clarification.

Sandy.
 

FredA

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When one buys a commercial, certified motor from Aerotech that's K or smaller, it looks like a bag of parts from RCS.
Nothing but the label on top. the sealed bag and the instructions tell me it's certified.
You can buy all the same parts, toss them in a bag, but the resulting motor is NOT certified per my understanding of the rules.
 

AlexBruccoleri

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When one buys a commercial, certified motor from Aerotech that's K or smaller, it looks like a bag of parts from RCS.
Nothing but the label on top. the sealed bag and the instructions tell me it's certified.
You can buy all the same parts, toss them in a bag, but the resulting motor is NOT certified per my understanding of the rules.
You make it sound like instructions and pre-selected correct parts and packaging is a triviality. The quality control aspect of packing is a serious task for a lot of small businesses and should not be ignored. I think having fliers selecting motor parts would on average compromise safety and its reasonable to keep that in the EX category. I started this thread because I incorrectly thought EX flying was rare and was curious if fliers could have their EX motors certified.

Anyway in my opinion, RCS selling grains to the rocketry community is a gift to tinkerers and propulsion geeks. I hope people do not try to take advantage of that, or bend the rules etc.
 
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