Estes Mean Machine Build

Discussion in 'Low Power Rocketry (LPR)' started by rocketgeek101, Aug 25, 2019.

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  1. Aug 25, 2019 #1

    rocketgeek101

    rocketgeek101

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    It has been quite a while since I have done a build thread -- or really for that matter been active on this forum. A combination of work/university and travel have kept me pretty busy as of late. I have still been active flying rockets but haven't really been building anything new these past few years. As a result, the fleet has been starting to show its age, and the recent loss of my Aerotech Arreaux to the rocket gods have spurred me to start adding to the fleet again. Back when I was first getting started into model rocketry my first "big" rocket was the Mean Machine. On its maiden flight it ended up landing in some trees (I eventually recovered it, but not before it got rained on damaging it beyond feasible repair). Since my fleet is most lacking at the moment in large LPR/low end MPR it seemed appropriate to get back into building with the Mean Machine 2.0!

    Anyway on with the build!

    The kit/parts:
    IMG_5503.jpg
    IMG_5504.jpg

    First step after unpacking everything was to paper the fins:
    IMG_5506.jpg
    IMG_5507.jpg
    I first used Weldbond to apply the paper to the fins and then soaked them with super thin CA and sanded smooth to create a hard finish.

    The next step was to assemble the motor mount. I decided to ditch the motor hook and use a Rocketarium aluminium screw on retainer as I plan to eventually fly this on some small composite motors. Plus it looks sexy ;)
    IMG_5509.jpg

    Then using a payloadbay.com template I made a quick jig and tacked on the fins with Weldbond (and glued in the MMT):
    IMG_5511.jpg

    After the fins were dry, I applied some fillets using Rocketpoxy (overkill on a rocket this size, but It makes for some pretty nice fillets :)). I also decided to replace the launch lugs with rail buttons:
    IMG_5524.jpg

    I then glued the airframe tubes together. I used some leftover Rocketpoxy from the fillets to do the middle twist and lock connector, and Weldbond for the two standard couplers. I supplemented the included elastic cord with a length of kevlar attached to the upper coupler:
    IMG_5522.jpg

    Using some spackle I had laying around I touched up the fillets and filled in the spirals
    IMG_5528.jpg

    I didn't take any pictures of the process, but after sanding I painted the rocket using Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch 2X gloss white for the booster and gloss blue for the upper half. It worked pretty well, though I had to sand down the first coat a bit to knock down some fuzzies that were a result of sanding the bare cardboard tube after filling the spirals. To add insult to injury, the spackle I used didn't really do that good a job. I think I'll stick with wood filler and/or Bondo in the future. The end result still looks pretty good though. The Rust-Oleum paint does a good job of filling in all the flaws compared to the other brands I've used. All in all, one of my better finishes for sure. Once the paint was dry I applied the decals and glued on the retainer using some JB Weld and done!
    IMG_5530.jpg

    I'll post some better pictures with the two halves attached tomorrow. I'm hoping to fly it next weekend. I have a CTI E31 that might give it a nice ride, though for the maiden flight I'll probably keep it safe and fly it on a D12.

    Anyway, that's all for now. Thanks for looking!
     
  2. Aug 25, 2019 #2

    mbeels

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    Putting the tree in rocketry

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    Nice, that came out looking good.
     
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  3. Aug 25, 2019 #3

    GlenP

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    a D12 is nice and slow and low, it almost starts to backpedal and pops the chute while still vertical. An E12 takes it almost out of sight. It can drift quite a bit on the stock chute in the wind. Very nice finishing job. Hard to take a good picture of that thing when it is twist locked together at full height.
     
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  4. Aug 25, 2019 #4

    beantownJPL

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    I just built one of these and maidened it this weekend with 4 flights.

    Flies awesome on either the D12-3 or E12-4. E12-6 is just too much delay.

    My mods:
    I tossed out the couplers that came with the kit and used Apogee's couplers which are longer and feel more secure.

    I used an Apogee ejection baffle as the lower coupler ... no wadding makes me happy.

    I replaced the rubber shock cord with 1/8" round shock cord ... also from Apogee.

    The provided launch lugs are too small even for their own "E" launch pad (WTF are they thinking, this thing needs SUPPORT at over 6' tall!). I replaced the launch lugs with 1/4" ... I ALSO added rail guides. Launched off the rail and off the rod ... the rail is definitely preferable if there's even a puff of breeze.

    I used a 15" nylon 'chute. Not "quite" enough, as I definitely beat up the fins and lower section of body tube a bit. I grabbed a second 15" 'chute from another model and used tandem 'chutes. That worked out real nice and looks very cool coming down under a double canopy. I didn't video that flight ... wish I had.

    Here's a vid of the maiden launch off the rod with a D12-3:


    And one off the rail with a D12-3 (ejects the motor and tears out the motor hook - maybe a motor issue - flew again with friction-fit E12 backed up with a round of masking tape holding it in place):


    The only "E" launch I filmed was an E12-6 ... E12-4 is a better match, the extra 2 seconds were a little tense. :D

     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2019
  5. Aug 25, 2019 #5

    mbeels

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    Putting the tree in rocketry

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    Oh my goodness, the maiden flight almost landed on top of you!
     
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  6. Aug 25, 2019 #6

    beantownJPL

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    Well, I did take a few steps to try and catch it.

    Apparently the image stabilization on my phone did a good job of hiding it. :)

    Almost getting hit by the ejected motor in the second video was a bit more of an eye opener. Usually I try to follow the rocket down, but that got me to stop recording...
     
  7. Aug 26, 2019 #7

    rocketgeek101

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    Here are some better pictures of it all put together :)

    IMG_5534.jpg

    IMG_5535.jpg

    IMG_5536.jpg
     
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  8. Aug 26, 2019 #8

    rocketgeek101

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    Those are some nice flights! The Mean Machine is a really great flyer :)
     
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  9. Aug 26, 2019 #9

    beantownJPL

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    It really is, and it definitely gets attention at the field.
     
  10. Aug 29, 2019 #10

    Back_at_it

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    Nice flights. Is it just me or did the D12 fly higher than the E12??
     
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  11. Aug 29, 2019 #11

    Red7Fifty

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    Videos/titles mixed up.
     
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  12. Aug 29, 2019 #12

    beantownJPL

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    Yeah ... you're both correct, and I goofed and got my motor designations all scrambled :D. I updated my Youtube title, and the post above. They are both D12 flights ... I'm 100% sure of that as I remember wondering if I had lost the E to D spacer with the motor ejection (I didn't). The additional altitude may be attributable to launching off the rail vs. the rod. The model is MUCH better supported on the rail and probably had much less friction during launch with the Apogee rail guides.

    Motors I launched it on that day:
    D12-3 - Very nicely matched motor
    E12-4 - Also nicely matched motor
    E12-6 - Boy ... that extra 2 seconds had me feeling a bit tense! (Video below)

    That said, I thought more about that second D12 flight since posting and decided to contact Estes earlier this week. Besides the lost motor hook, I also noticed a small (<1") zipper at the top of the BT. I showed them the video and they agreed that the ejection charge was both early and overly energetic. If you watch the first video, you cannot hear the ejection charge, while in the second one a loud "POP" is clearly audible. This was some sort of motor CATO (sadly, I didn't save the casing, so can't report the batch#). Estes is sending me a new Mean Machine kit and a new pack of D12's.

    Can't wait for the new kit to arrive. While I'm mostly satisfied with my build, there's a couple things I may do differently. For one, a guy at the field also had one, and rather than using the twist-lock in the middle, he used removable rivets at all of the tubing junctions. Ends up with a slightly lighter-weight build and the whole rocket breaks down to 18". Another benefit is easier repairs if you zipper, kink or CATO a tube.

     
  13. Sep 2, 2019 #13

    rocketgeek101

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    Flew the Mean Machine on it's maiden flight yesterday. Motor was a D12-3. Flight was perfect with a slow arrow straight lumbering ascent and perfect recovery. IMG_9732.JPG IMG_9735.JPG
     
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  14. Sep 3, 2019 #14

    beantownJPL

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    Great looking launch ... such a fun rocket to fly. I envy your field ... Not a singly hungry tree in sight!
     
  15. Sep 8, 2019 #15

    dpower

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    I substituted a 29mm mount in mine, it flies great on the E16-6 and F15-6. The extra speed off the rod really helps for straight flights.
     

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