Estes Astrocam build

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shockie

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Is it possible I got a bad AstroCam cam or maybe I just can't read instructions?
On Page it tells you how to charge it.
I plugged it into my PC and the blue led started blinking until it was charged and then it turned a solid blue. Ok it's charged
I unplug it and the blue led light goes off.

So I press the On button for 2 sec and the blue led comes on and then blinks maybe 3 times then no blue led after that.
Is this thing defective? well Estes tech support on this is closed till Monday.
 

BABAR

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Is it possible I got a bad AstroCam cam or maybe I just can't read instructions?
On Page it tells you how to charge it.
I plugged it into my PC and the blue led started blinking until it was charged and then it turned a solid blue. Ok it's charged
I unplug it and the blue led light goes off.

So I press the On button for 2 sec and the blue led comes on and then blinks maybe 3 times then no blue led after that.
Is this thing defective? well Estes tech support on this is closed till Monday.
Do you have the SD card in place?

IIRC, it will turn off automatically if the SD card is either absent or full. I will try to check the instructions tomorrow.
 

shockie

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Do you have the SD card in place?

IIRC, it will turn off automatically if the SD card is either absent or full. I will try to check the instructions tomorrow.
It didn't like my 128gb SD card. I plugged the original 16gb csd card and it worked fine.
 

Sooner Boomer

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It didn't like my 128gb SD card. I plugged the original 16gb and it worked fine.
The instructions for the camera say it will support up to a 128GB card. Maybe it just didn't like the brand or type of card you had. The instructions also say the included 16GB card is good for 90 minutes of recording, however, the battery is only good for 40.
 

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I mentioned that I put a wrap of electrical tape just forward of the fins, to hold them in place.

tape.jpg


I also replaced the cord to the top of the nosecone with one slightly longer, and with a snap swivel. I also tied a snap swivel to the elastic cord. This allows me to unhook the nosecone camera, and either put it on another rocket, or to fly it as internal payload on something higher power. I'll probably replace the rubber band with woven elastic after a few flights.
 

BABAR

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The instructions for the camera say it will support up to a 128GB card. Maybe it just didn't like the brand or type of card you had. The instructions also say the included 16GB card is good for 90 minutes of recording, however, the battery is only good for 40.
Might be a formatting issue. Maybe format the new card, COPY a successfully used 16gb card to the new card, and try it.

I suspect the battery wil run out of juice before you fill up the 16gb card, so 128 may overkill anyway. YMMV
 

shockie

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Here's a pic of mine:
I'm using a lariat Loop double knotted and then masking taped to the motor. I'm not going to use the red screw cap as it will probably get toasted so I'm using masking paper. The shock cord is a combo of 100# braided kevlar and 95lb 1/16" bungee cord aka paracord. aka nylon-covered elastic this is attached via a split ring. The bungee cord part is attached via a snap swivel to the nose cone. the bottom 4-5 in of the kevlar shock cord has been wrapped in heavy duty aluminum foil. I will also be flying mine with at least 1 altimeter. the nose cone is attached with 100# kevlar via a snap swivel and has a Top Flite 12" chute attached, although I can change it out to a streamer or a plastic Estes chute with a spill hole if need be.
 

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rklapp

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Here's a pic of mine:
I'm using a lariat Loop double knotted and then masking taped to the motor. I'm not going to use the red screw cap as it will probably get toasted so I'm using masking paper. The shock cord is a combo of 100# braided kevlar and 95lb 1/16" bungee cord aka paracord. aka nylon-covered elastic this is attached via a split ring. The bungee cord part is attached via a snap swivel to the nose cone. the bottom 4-5 in of the kevlar shock cord has been wrapped in heavy duty aluminum foil. I will also be flying mine with at least 1 altimeter. the nose cone is attached with 100# kevlar via a snap swivel and has a Top Flite 12" chute attached, although I can change it out to a streamer or a plastic Estes chute with a spill hole if need be.
Don’t put the altimeter there or this will happen. However I want to see if adding a second loop will allow me to the see the reading as it’s going up. That’d be cool...

 

shockie

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The altimeter blocked the cam on the descent.
I was too lazy to actually create a 2" length payload bay for the altimeter, but may do so now. I'm having difficulty packing the chute/shockcord/altimeter into the top of the body tube as is....something is going to tangle for sure.
 

BABAR

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Well, my first flight had a failure of parachute opening. My fault, not enough wadding, chute was melted closed. It was coming down fast.........toward pavement........ I was thinking of those plastic fins......those tapered plastic fins.......sticking waaaaaaaay out the back. Anyway, I was quick enough to get over there and catch it before it impacted, but it was very close.

Video here. I can't edit worth beans, so just jump to 55 seconds.

Rotation on ascent wasn't baaaaaaad, but it wasn't great either. Descent was crazy, but blame at least a part of that on an ejected but melted chute. Also no swivels

Also the lens position puts more rocket in the picture and less scenery.

I have noticed on my Tank Killer rocket, which has box fins kind of like WW2 Bombs, as well as some other rockets I have seen posted here, that box fins seem to be somewhat immune to rotation.

So I slapped together a Box Fin can and rocket body. I added swivels between the chute and the Camera/Cone and between the Camera/Cone and the body. I also put a wad of paper in the bottom of the camera slot so the lens is tilted out a bit. I used electrical tape (yellow, so if the camera fell out with the tape on it I could find it) to hold the camera in place.

Watching the rocket from the ground, the most thrilling and heartstopping moment was between 38 and 40 seconds. Those two seconds my mind must have screamed 100 times, "C6-3, you idjit, not C6-5!"

Again, I can't edit well, so jump to 30 seconds.

Sooo.

Things I learned:

1. C6-3. C6-3. C6-3.:facepalm:

2. I think tilting the camera out really helped provide more viewing area. I really doubt the camera would fall out, and I was able to attach it with electric tape without obscuring the lens and with access both to the single On-Off button AND could still see the light through the little hole/window. I WISH this camera had a loop or something I could attach a lanyard to easily. I can thread a kevlar thread through the USB ports as a stop-gap, so if it came loose it would stay attached to the nose cone.

3. I REALLY am pleased with the stability of the Box Fin Can on Boost. Things got a little crazy there after Apogee with a late deployment. Once it settles out a bit, it got better but still bobbed a bit. Interestingly, from the GROUND the body of the rocket and the fin can seemed relatively stable on descent, much more than it appears looking at the on board video. So I theeeeeenk I should keep the swivel between the chute and the nose cone tip but take OUT the swivel between the Camera/Cone and the body of the rocket. Rationale: if the body of the rocket is falling without rotation, let the body stabilize the camera (no swivel there) but let the chute do what it wants (swivel there.) (BTW, I cut a spill hole in the chute and the chute [the same one that got singed on first flight] was perfect ONCE it opened. So there was no rocking I can blame on the chute. I did get a small zipper on the body tube. Still, not bad for a mock up where the launch lug was glued on 2 hours before the flight.

Anyway, this will definitely fly again, this time on a C6-3.
 

Sooner Boomer

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Flew it once on Sunday. Once. On a B4-4. Up was fine. There was plenty of wadding, but the chute hung up on the way out and partially melted. It didn't open, but streamed out like a ribbon. That was enough drag to prevent any damage (plus it landed in two-foot tall wheat). Video on the way up was great, but the chute caused the camera to spin like mad (it had a snap swivel). I'm going to rebuild and keep flying. I think the camera design is acceptable, but the rocket body is flimsy and the construction/design could use some (a lot!) improvement. Oh, one other thing; the launch lug loops are *tiny*. I had to tape a piece of a copperhead shipping tube on the side to have something large enough to fit over the rod (I bet none of you have done that ...).
 
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rklapp

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Well, my first flight had a failure of parachute opening. My fault, not enough wadding, chute was melted closed. It was coming down fast.........toward pavement........ I was thinking of those plastic fins......those tapered plastic fins.......sticking waaaaaaaay out the back. Anyway, I was quick enough to get over there and catch it before it impacted, but it was very close.

Video here. I can't edit worth beans, so just jump to 55 seconds.

Rotation on ascent wasn't baaaaaaad, but it wasn't great either. Descent was crazy, but blame at least a part of that on an ejected but melted chute. Also no swivels

Also the lens position puts more rocket in the picture and less scenery.

I have noticed on my Tank Killer rocket, which has box fins kind of like WW2 Bombs, as well as some other rockets I have seen posted here, that box fins seem to be somewhat immune to rotation.

So I slapped together a Box Fin can and rocket body. I added swivels between the chute and the Camera/Cone and between the Camera/Cone and the body. I also put a wad of paper in the bottom of the camera slot so the lens is tilted out a bit. I used electrical tape (yellow, so if the camera fell out with the tape on it I could find it) to hold the camera in place.

Watching the rocket from the ground, the most thrilling and heartstopping moment was between 38 and 40 seconds. Those two seconds my mind must have screamed 100 times, "C6-3, you idjit, not C6-5!"

Again, I can't edit well, so jump to 30 seconds.

Sooo.

Things I learned:

1. C6-3. C6-3. C6-3.:facepalm:

2. I think tilting the camera out really helped provide more viewing area. I really doubt the camera would fall out, and I was able to attach it with electric tape without obscuring the lens and with access both to the single On-Off button AND could still see the light through the little hole/window. I WISH this camera had a loop or something I could attach a lanyard to easily. I can thread a kevlar thread through the USB ports as a stop-gap, so if it came loose it would stay attached to the nose cone.

3. I REALLY am pleased with the stability of the Box Fin Can on Boost. Things got a little crazy there after Apogee with a late deployment. Once it settles out a bit, it got better but still bobbed a bit. Interestingly, from the GROUND the body of the rocket and the fin can seemed relatively stable on descent, much more than it appears looking at the on board video. So I theeeeeenk I should keep the swivel between the chute and the nose cone tip but take OUT the swivel between the Camera/Cone and the body of the rocket. Rationale: if the body of the rocket is falling without rotation, let the body stabilize the camera (no swivel there) but let the chute do what it wants (swivel there.) (BTW, I cut a spill hole in the chute and the chute [the same one that got singed on first flight] was perfect ONCE it opened. So there was no rocking I can blame on the chute. I did get a small zipper on the body tube. Still, not bad for a mock up where the launch lug was glued on 2 hours before the flight.

Anyway, this will definitely fly again, this time on a C6-3.
Very nice. Just the right amount of spacing to position the camera. I might add more yellow tape to mine and use my traditional masking tape instead of the rubber band.

Can’t blame ya because the C6-5 is the recommended motor. Same thing with my Little Joe I. I thought the C5-3 was great but others prefer the C6-5 which I thought went in too ballistic for my taste. The C5-3 work mostly well when I taped the Astrocam cam to the LJI.

I added a swivel to the shock cord but agree it’s better at the chute.
 

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Flew it once on Sunday. Once. On a B4-4. Up was fine. There was plenty of wadding, but the chute hung up on the way out and partially melted. It didn't open, but streamed out like a ribbon. That was enough drag to prevent any damage (plus it landed in two-foot tall wheat). Video on the way up was great, but the chute caused the camera to spin like mad (it had a snap swivel). I'm going to rebuild and keep flying. I think the camera design is acceptable, but the rocket body is flimsy and the construction/design could use some (a lot!) improvement. Oh, one other thing; the launch lug loops are *tiny*. I had to tape a piece of a copperhead shipping tube on the side to have something large enough to fit over the rod (I bet none of you have done that ...).
Nope, haven't done that. Nor have I had any issue with the launch lug "loops" on this model or the Ghost Chaser (which uses the same fin can, but molded in translucent blue).

I have found that it does take some pretty tight folding to get that 15 inch chute out reliably in my 22 sorties so far with my Astrocam. I'm probably hitting ~60% good deployments. Of course I'm complicating it buy also stuffing an FS Mini in a fleece pouch in there....
 

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Time to rebuild! Do I go with the 18mm engine mount (w hook) inside a BT50 body tube, or do I go with the body tube as a motor mount (will still use hook)? I haven't done any sims yet, but I think anything bigger/heavier than a D motor is going to need some nose weight. That's going to be a bit tricky with the Astrocam. With an 18mm mount, I can fly up to a D20. With a 24mm mount, I can fly all the 18mm motors (with a slight weight penalty for the adapter), the C and D BP motors, plus the 24mm single use and RMS. Two things I look at; cost and risk. Would I fly it more with the higher power motors? Would the risk of recovery from higher altitude flights be worth it?
 

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Time to rebuild! Do I go with the 18mm engine mount (w hook) inside a BT50 body tube, or do I go with the body tube as a motor mount (will still use hook)? I haven't done any sims yet, but I think anything bigger/heavier than a D motor is going to need some nose weight. That's going to be a bit tricky with the Astrocam. With an 18mm mount, I can fly up to a D20. With a 24mm mount, I can fly all the 18mm motors (with a slight weight penalty for the adapter), the C and D BP motors, plus the 24mm single use and RMS. Two things I look at; cost and risk. Would I fly it more with the higher power motors? Would the risk of recovery from higher altitude flights be worth it?
Grappling with this train of thought as well for ours. We successfully two-staged it a bit over a week ago (B6-0;B6-6) but the sustainer spins bad so I'm building a new one and I plan to put the fins on straight this time :) (Multi-Roc kit). C6 to C6 should get up there pretty good. I whipped up something in OR and a 16" BT50 tube with an E20 in it didn't need nose weight. Three svelte fins out back. Sims to 2400'. An Apogee E6-8 in it sims out to 3400' or so. Oof. Invisible rocket...

I think I'll stick with the ability to two-stage for now. Maybe eventually build a booster that can do Ds...got other stuff to build though :)
 

rklapp

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Grappling with this train of thought as well for ours. We successfully two-staged it a bit over a week ago (B6-0;B6-6) but the sustainer spins bad so I'm building a new one and I plan to put the fins on straight this time :) (Multi-Roc kit). C6 to C6 should get up there pretty good. I whipped up something in OR and a 16" BT50 tube with an E20 in it didn't need nose weight. Three svelte fins out back. Sims to 2400'. An Apogee E6-8 in it sims out to 3400' or so. Oof. Invisible rocket...

I think I'll stick with the ability to two-stage for now. Maybe eventually build a booster that can do Ds...got other stuff to build though :)
Had a wonderful flight with the Multi-roc and B6-0/B6-6. All three landed within 30ft of each other. Tried again with C6-7 and the sustainer landed in a medium tree. Now I'm wondering what if I taped the Astrocam to the sustainer.

I also wonder if the Estes Booster-55 could attach to the sustainer if a screw on retainer was used.
 

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I started building new carriers for the Astrocam. First I did a couple of sims. These are just very rough guesstimates of values (for example, no weight for camera)
 

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Next I made a template for the fins out of matte board, then marked and cut them out of some nice hard 1/8" balsa. I cut a length of BT20 for the motor mount. I tied on a piece of #100 kevlar and glued the centering rings on. When the glue is dry, I'll cut away the centering ring above the engine hook. I wrapped a couple of turns of fiber tape to secure the engine hook.

fin1.jpg


fin2.jpg


Got pretty close. I thought about making the fins out of 1/16" ply, but after papering, I think the balsa fins will be tougher and less suceptable to flutter.

mm1.jpg


mm2.jpg


Will glue this in body tube when glue dries and I can cut engine hook free.

I found a 13 inch piece of BT50 body tube. That's how big the first rocket will be.
 

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More on the (re-)build...

Individual fins marked, cut out, and ganged to sand to shape

fins ganged.jpg


Got them to be the same shape/size. The root edge is marked, and marked ON the edge (because at my young age, I'm going senile). Yellow glue was rubbed into the root as well (2 stage glueing).

fins sanded.jpg


I painted them all with thinned yellow glue and papered them. I was able to fit all 3 onto a scrap piece (about a half-sheet of typing paper.

fins paper.jpg


I wrapped cooking parchament around them, then clamped between two pieces of plywood for about an hour. Let them sit for a couple of hours (actually, I got busy with something and forgot). Cut them apart.

fins after paper.jpg


I trim the paper close with some tiny suture scissors, then sand the edges with an emory board to get the rest of the paper off and round off all edges but root. Dripped a small amount of CA onto all the edges but root.

I marked the body tube for fin and LL positions. Glued fins on, and started fillets when the fins were set.

fins fillet.jpg


Who can tell me what I did wrong?

fins aft.jpg


When all the fillets look good, I'll make it look pretty with a dab or two of spot putty, primer, sand, and paint. I think the original paint scheme is fine, so I will try to reproduce it.
 

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Which leaves me with the original Astrocam rocket. There's nothing wrong with the design. The gripe I have is with the paper the tube is made from.

I dug a nosecone out of the parts box. Looks good. Should I paint it? What color? Looks a lot like an Alpha.

orig ac.jpg


I removed the plastic "lump" that held the shock cord in place. The paper was very soft and coming apart. I put a drop of CA on the area, and when that set, wrapped a band of red electrical tape around the area to cover the hole.

orig nose.jpg


At the first launch, I had used some blue painter's tape to attach a temporary launch lug. Painter's tape is not supposed to stick. Except to Astrocam body tubes, where it peels it apart. So I used CA to glue the lug on, and put a wrap of blue electrical tape on. It doesn't looks stock, but doesn't look too bad.

orig ll.jpg


I put the rubber band shock cord back into the body using a tri-fold mount. I think I'll put a streamer in for recovery. I'll take it along to the next launch, possibly give it away. The rocket would make a great first flyer.
 
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