Estes Phoenix clone build thread

novahobbies

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Title pretty much says it all! I wasn't sure if I should put this in low-power or mid-power. The original Estes kit would be a low-power build but this one....maybe not. I never did get around to building a Phoenix when I was a kid, so when I got back into the hobby and discovered people cloning kits that were otherwise too much on the Bay, I thought, "why not try for a Phoenix clone?" I found the fin pattern online, a nose cone that was pretty close to the original, and decided to give it a go.
With one exception. The original launched on a single D power motor. I'm using a triple cluster with the extended-tube 24mm mounts so I can fly this on 3 D motors or 3 24mm E motors. I figure, at worse I'll have one fun-looking launch. At best we'll have plenty! Got the fins cut, sanded the bevels (not perfect but they'll look good in white) and glued in. Assembled the cluster mount and got it glued in today. Getting set to start the fin smoothing process this week!

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bjphoenix

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That looks good. I would put some big fillets on those fins, maybe also paper the lower ones. I have an Estes Phoenix that I built 20+ years ago and its biggest problem when flying was breaking the lower fins on landing.
Mine of course only has the single D mount, but it flies really well on an Aerotech E30.
 

Back_at_it

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Really nice build. Love the Phoenix. I totally agree on prices of these things. You can build one for around $20 in parts (less if you buy in bulk). I don't care about packaging so there is no way I'd spend more on the kit off Ebay or any other vendor than what the cost of the parts would run me.

Like bjphoenix said, fillets on those fins are a must as they tend to snap off on every landing.

Also, the Phoenix is known for needing nose weight to be stable in flight. My first dead stock Estes Phoenix needed an additional half oz. of nose weight over what Estes provided to be stable right out of the package. After adding the additional nose weight I had a really nice flier. For reference the CP of a stock length, stock fin Estes Phoenix is right at the 15.50-15.75" mark down from the nose cone. I added nose weight until I got my CG at 17.5" mark. With this my stability is at 1.24 Cal with the heaviest motor I'm ever going to fly.
 

novahobbies

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Thanks, yes I know we're going to need some significant nose weight in what with the upgraded engine block. I ran filets on the fins with tightbond but I'm thingking of taping the edges off and doing a second filet with epoxy now. Especially with those lower fins.
 

waltr

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I build the Estes Phoenix back in the 80's. Flew fine but not high on a D12.

A 3 motor cluster will be fun.
 

novahobbies

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Just sanding and sealing some fins tonight, nothing fancy to see at the moment. I plugged three E12 motors into the mount and started messing with CG to determine how much I'm going to need to add. Looks like 180g is the magic number to get the cg about half an inch ahead of the fins here. CP *should* be exactly the same as the original Phoenix, whose stats are already online. The OG Phoenix came with an 18 inch chute, but I'm wondering if maybe a 24 inch nylon chute might be safer given the additional weight of the rocket compensating for those 3 E motors.
 

Back_at_it

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Just sanding and sealing some fins tonight, nothing fancy to see at the moment. I plugged three E12 motors into the mount and started messing with CG to determine how much I'm going to need to add. Looks like 180g is the magic number to get the cg about half an inch ahead of the fins here. CP *should* be exactly the same as the original Phoenix, whose stats are already online. The OG Phoenix came with an 18 inch chute, but I'm wondering if maybe a 24 inch nylon chute might be safer given the additional weight of the rocket compensating for those 3 E motors.

24 inch is a good call if you have the room to recover. I few on a 30 inch when I had the space with a stock rocket. Less fins to repair that way. Of course it was often a long walk to recover
 

novahobbies

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24 inch is a good call if you have the room to recover. I few on a 30 inch when I had the space with a stock rocket. Less fins to repair that way. Of course it was often a long walk to recover
Mmmmm, tough call, one of the fields I fly in is a little smallish. I'm thinking maybe just use swivel clips and swapping out the standard 18 inch chute for the small field and a 24 inch chute for the big field. Naturally the smaller field is the one that's closest. Heh. Thanks for the insight.
 

novahobbies

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I found #4 lead shot on Amazon sold as diving weight, $15 for a 3 lb bag. Good enough for me for right now; I just need ~6.5oz for the phoenix and I can mix it in resin to keep it in place. Epoxy is great but I have tons of 2-part urethane resin hanging around that is water-thin and will fill the voids between balls much better. Come to think of it...better just use 5.5 oz of shot to account for the weight of the resin.
 

novahobbies

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Just learning my way around openrocket now. Found a Phoenix rocksim file, modified it for the 3-engine cluster and tested it on 3 E12 motors. Got an estimated 600 feet apogee and 110m/s max velocity. My CG is nice and foreward with the 6.5 oz nose weight so I think we're good to go test it! I'm just sealing and sanding the fins this weekend and should be able to put a base coat down by Sunday. Meanwhile my decals will be here......soonish, I guess. I love it when they create a label and then sit on the package for 2 or 3 days before actually mailing. LOL. Not sure if I'll be able to wait for the decals before I go out to the launch site.
 

novahobbies

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Ah, I love moving past the sealing and sanding phase. Fins nice and smooth, first coat of white applied to the body, and the nose cone is sitting in a glass of water letting the resin set over the nose weight.
Why water, you say? Because urethane resin gets pretty hot as it sets. Figured it wouldn't be good if I warped the plastic on the nose as the build was finishing up.
Tomorrow I'll lightly sand the model, add a second coat of paint, and install the shock cord. Tracking on the decals now say Tuesday, so the model should be on track to be ready for application by the time they arrive.
In the meantime, something else is beginning to take shape in another corner of the garage20220909_181239.jpg ....
 

novahobbies

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I didnt like the way my weight was sitting, si i decided to break into the nose cone and redo it. I'll cut a plywood circle and epoxy that into the nose with an eyelet, and use a piece of spare BT cut up to replace that big shoulder that, if I'm being super honest here, I didn't really care for anyway.
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Back_at_it

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If you have 1 inch of shoulder that is plenty. Just cut it off even all the way around and call it good.

Go look at the big daddy nose cone mods
 

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novahobbies

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If you have 1 inch of shoulder that is plenty. Just cut it off even all the way around and call it good.

Go look at the big daddy nose cone mods
Yeah, this nose cone doesn't have 1 inch of shoulder on that angled side. Most like half inch. But thanks for that anyway, because I DO still want to cut off more of the long side and make it a bit more even. I'll still fill in the angled side with a bit of tubing epoxied in. It's a minor setback but nothing a weekend can't fix.
In the meantime. the Stickershock23 decals came in last night. I'm going to give the model a quick clear gloss tonight and then probably start applying the decals tomorrow after work. My hope is to have this, the Gemini, the Leviathan, and the two Saturn rockets up and ready to launch by Thanksgiving. I have some family kids coming into town that week who would probably like to see these birds take their maiden flights.
 

rcktnut

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Just learning my way around openrocket now. Found a Phoenix rocksim file, modified it for the 3-engine cluster and tested it on 3 E12 motors. Got an estimated 600 feet apogee and 110m/s max velocity. My CG is nice and foreward with the 6.5 oz nose weight so I think we're good to go test it! I'm just sealing and sanding the fins this weekend and should be able to put a base coat down by Sunday. Meanwhile my decals will be here......soonish, I guess. I love it when they create a label and then sit on the package for 2 or 3 days before actually mailing. LOL. Not sure if I'll be able to wait for the decals before I go out to the launch site.

Nice Build!!!
I have the Estes Phoenix. What is the total weight of your rocket? 600 ft. on 3 E12's seems a bit low.

BTW if using epoxy for the nose weight retention sand the heck out of the inside of the nose cone. I've heard of and seen epoxy nose weight "clumps" come loose. Polyurethane (Gorilla) glue works very good without the need for sanding.
 
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novahobbies

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Nice! Which nose cone is that?
A BT-80K nose cone from Rocketarium. I think it might be a bit longer than the original but it has a nice ogive shape and looks good on the rocket. I cut the shock cord support plug last night as it so happens, and I'll have this one done and ready to fly by this weekend.
 

novahobbies

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It flew! And BOY It flew. I want to add an altimeter for next time because even as heavy as it was.....3 E12-4's really sent it high.
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novahobbies

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Next time I need to use E's with longer delays. I have a vid from the rocket and the ejection was a bit rough...could have used 2 more seconds of coast. Will post the vid as soon as I get a good way to convert from .avi to mp4 and edit it down to size.
 

bjphoenix

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Title pretty much says it all! I wasn't sure if I should put this in low-power or mid-power.
What is the break between low power and mid power? I have an original Estes Phoenix and I've flown it on an AT E30. I'm sure there are plenty of people who would put an F or G in one, I've heard of people putting big motors in the Executioner and Big Daddy. I seem to remember that stability is questionable with the stock Phoenix so with anything larger than an E30 you might need some nose weight.
 

DeltaVee

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What is the break between low power and mid power? I have an original Estes Phoenix and I've flown it on an AT E30. I'm sure there are plenty of people who would put an F or G in one, I've heard of people putting big motors in the Executioner and Big Daddy. I seem to remember that stability is questionable with the stock Phoenix so with anything larger than an E30 you might need some nose weight.
When I used to live in Utah, I flew mine on the Aerotech F39-6... no additional nose weight was required. Flew very well. it eventually ended up lost in the woods of downeast Maine.
 

novahobbies

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What is the break between low power and mid power? I have an original Estes Phoenix and I've flown it on an AT E30. I'm sure there are plenty of people who would put an F or G in one, I've heard of people putting big motors in the Executioner and Big Daddy. I seem to remember that stability is questionable with the stock Phoenix so with anything larger than an E30 you might need some nose weight.
From what I understand it, Mid-power is anything E, F, and some G in the 24 to 29mm motor size. Now personally I don't REALLY think a single 24mm E-12 is midpower. This motor has barely more kick than a D when you look at its total impulse. But when you stick three of 'em in a rocket? Yeah that is a solid mid-power. That's just what I got from reading articles from Apogee, so your mileage may vary here.

Because I was using three E12 motors, the rocket was very butt-heavy and was too close to the CP for my comfort. I needed to add a fair amount of weight to the nose to put the CG just above the front fins. Gotta say she flew like a freaking arrow. But the next time I launch her I will want to actually use E12-6 motors instead of E12-4. If you watch the playback of the astrocam, you can see it's still moving UP at a fast clip when the ejection charge blew and it was a pretty violent ejection. I also had some questions as to if all three motors fired at exactly the same time. The cam footage almost makes it appear as if two motors burn out but the third is still firing for about a second when the others are in tracking smoke. It's hard to know for sure.

Quick shot from a pretty decent height of the ball fields which were about a quarter mile from the launch site:
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Here is a screen grab right after the ejection. The shock cord is dragging back along the fin, and the rocket is still oriented more or less straight up. It hasn't even begun an apogee curve.
screenShot_Phoenix1.png

Nice shot of everything beginning to open.
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