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Estes SkyWinder

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JAL3

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I'm going to be taking part in a rocket exhibition for some elementary aged kids next month and wanted to show a wide variety of types. In thinking about it, I realized that I have not built a true helicopter recovery model before. I began to look around to see if I had a really simple one and I found the Estes SkyWinder which seemed to fit the bill.

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JAL3

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The first step in construction is to locate the two halves of the plastic fin can. I found them and test fitted them and they seemed to fit together fine but I did find some plastic flash I wanted to clear off using a razor knife. I then put the halves together using Plastuct intead of the tube type cement recommended.

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JAL3

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Next up was the lower launch lug. It was found on a sprue which ostensibly contained the upper lug as well but the instructions said to discard the upper part since, on this rocket, the upper lug is molded into a different part. The lug was placed with plastruct as well.

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JAL3

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After the lug came the fins. There are four plastic fins to be attached. I test fitted them and found 2 to be perfect fits and 2 to need a little trimming. The fins were then bonded into place with Plastruct.

SW-fins-1.jpg


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JAL3

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The shoulder for the lower rotor hub was then located as was a cardboard centering ring that needed to be inserted within it. I sanded around the ring to smooth it up a bit and test fitted it. That's when I noticed that there is a directional key slot. It will fit correctly only in the right orientation. For this step, the ring was bonded with Testor's tube style cement.

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JAL3

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The shoulder also required the insertion of a blue, BT5 sized insert. I assume that the cardboard hold up to the ejection charge better than the plastic but that's just a guess. It too was placed with the tube cement and, as per the instructions, every effort was made to clean up any excess at the end.

SW-laft-shoulder-3.jpg
 

JAL3

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With that, the aft shoulder was slid into place on the fin can. It too is keyed so that it can fit only in the correct orientation. It was bonded into place with more plastruct.

SW-fin-can-4.jpg
 

Micromeister

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John:
I really don't like to knock Estes products but I have to make an exception with the skywinder. It's really not a very good representation of one of the most interesting recovery types in model rocketry, the Helicopter recovery model. unfortunately it's proven pretty unreliable and from much observation of many skywinder flights very easily damages. It's also a tail rotor configuration which is opposite of just about every HD model flying;) If it's the only HD model you have handy I guess it beats a blank but it would be much more fitting for your exhibit to show a Rotoroc or Rose-a-roc type model. A little more difficult to build but not really anything all that special.
Fliskits has an excellent "Kit" rose-a-Roc out currently (there are a bear to build however). Rotoroc plans are available just about everywhere. If you need one let me know I should be able to forward something if needed. The Tasmanian Devil is another option in a fixed rotor type HD "qualifier" type. and there are a number of other "Maple seed" type Helicopter recovery types that could be shown.
Here are a few examples that may spark interest. If you do finish your Skywinder, I'd keep it as a static display model;)

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FooBag

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I'm going to second the opinion that the Skywinder is a less than spectacular product. I have owned two and both were destroyed on their first flight. From my experience, it seems that the instructions call for way too much nose weight to be added. The central body tube on one of mine completely collapsed from impact with the ground as the rotors were unable to slow it enough. The rotor tipss also tend to shatter on landing. This is definitely one to be flown somehwere where it can hopefully have a soft landing to minimize damage.
 

JAL3

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John:
I really don't like to knock Estes products but I have to make an exception with the skywinder. It's really not a very good representation of one of the most interesting recovery types in model rocketry, the Helicopter recovery model. unfortunately it's proven pretty unreliable and from much observation of many skywinder flights very easily damages. It's also a tail rotor configuration which is opposite of just about every HD model flying;) If it's the only HD model you have handy I guess it beats a blank but it would be much more fitting for your exhibit to show a Rotoroc or Rose-a-roc type model. A little more difficult to build but not really anything all that special.
Fliskits has an excellent "Kit" rose-a-Roc out currently (there are a bear to build however). Rotoroc plans are available just about everywhere. If you need one let me know I should be able to forward something if needed. The Tasmanian Devil is another option in a fixed rotor type HD "qualifier" type. and there are a number of other "Maple seed" type Helicopter recovery types that could be shown.
Here are a few examples that may spark interest. If you do finish your Skywinder, I'd keep it as a static display model;)
I appreciate the warning.

I do have the Flis Rose-a-roc and an Apogee version in the stash. I picked this one out because it was an E2X and time is of the essence. I have a session with my Vacation Bible School coming up in a few days and needed to get it done. The flights won't actually be for a few weeks after that and I may have time for the actual demo.
 

JAL3

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I'm going to second the opinion that the Skywinder is a less than spectacular product. I have owned two and both were destroyed on their first flight. From my experience, it seems that the instructions call for way too much nose weight to be added. The central body tube on one of mine completely collapsed from impact with the ground as the rotors were unable to slow it enough. The rotor tipss also tend to shatter on landing. This is definitely one to be flown somehwere where it can hopefully have a soft landing to minimize damage.
Ouch! I didn't have time to write it up last night but I actually got past the nose weight point and made a change. I didn't want to mess with the clay snakes so I weighed out an equivalent mass of BBs and epoxied them into the nose. They aren't comming out.:(

The field where I usually fly is pretty soft but for this class, it's going to be a parking lot. It looks like it might be a one flight wonder.
 

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Sorry to hear it hasn't worked out for some. Mine is built per the instructions and it has always performed flawlessly.
 

davel

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I didn't want to mess with the clay snakes so I weighed out an equivalent mass of BBs and epoxied them into the nose. They aren't comming out.:(
Good. That amount of noseweight is REQUIRED for a stable recovery.

The field where I usually fly is pretty soft but for this class, it's going to be a parking lot. It looks like it might be a one flight wonder.
That could be true. It does come in nose first (obviously) and fairly fast.


The SkyWinder is one of my favorite rockets. And it is always a crowd pleaser. I have used it in both spot landing (on a B6-2) and as a qualifier for Helicopter duration (B or C). Do be careful to do an extra good job on the plastic to paper glue joints, or it WILL come apart at those points. I highly recommend a methacrylic adhesive for those (such as Devcon Plastic Welder) as the MMA truly bonds to both paper and plastic.
 

JAL3

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Good. That amount of noseweight is REQUIRED for a stable recovery.



That could be true. It does come in nose first (obviously) and fairly fast.


The SkyWinder is one of my favorite rockets. And it is always a crowd pleaser. I have used it in both spot landing (on a B6-2) and as a qualifier for Helicopter duration (B or C). Do be careful to do an extra good job on the plastic to paper glue joints, or it WILL come apart at those points. I highly recommend a methacrylic adhesive for those (such as Devcon Plastic Welder) as the MMA truly bonds to both paper and plastic.
This is another place where I've gotten ahead of my writeup. The little red tube that holds on the rotor was supposed to use the tube cement. I did it that way but the joint sheared when I tried to install the main body tube. I made sure that everything would still spin and then reseated the hub cap with CA. That did stick. I'll find out later today, I hope, what the final result is.
 

gpoehlein

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If I might suggest, as a backup plan, how about a Cosmic Cobra? They're still available and definitely a crowd pleaser even if only the nose cone is heli recovery.
 

davel

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the joint sheared
Another critical joint is where the nose stop fits into the body tube. I've seen many SkyWinders blow the nose completely off on the first flight.
 

dcastle

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This is another place where I've gotten ahead of my writeup. The little red tube that holds on the rotor was supposed to use the tube cement. I did it that way but the joint sheared when I tried to install the main body tube. I made sure that everything would still spin and then reseated the hub cap with CA. That did stick. I'll find out later today, I hope, what the final result is.
My son and I both had that model. When I was fixing his I accidently CA'd the rotor assembly to the tube so that it no longer freely rotated. He said "don't worry dad, I think the rotors will be fine and the whole rocket will spin instead of just the rotors". So we flew them in a drag race...and he was right...it recovered perfectly fine even with a stuck rotor. In fact his tends to have longer flying times.
 

JAL3

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If I might suggest, as a backup plan, how about a Cosmic Cobra? They're still available and definitely a crowd pleaser even if only the nose cone is heli recovery.
That's not a bad idea. I think I have one of those around here...now if only I can find it.
 

JAL3

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Another critical joint is where the nose stop fits into the body tube. I've seen many SkyWinders blow the nose completely off on the first flight.
That's a good point. I might reinforce that with CA as well.
 

JAL3

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My son and I both had that model. When I was fixing his I accidently CA'd the rotor assembly to the tube so that it no longer freely rotated. He said "don't worry dad, I think the rotors will be fine and the whole rocket will spin instead of just the rotors". So we flew them in a drag race...and he was right...it recovered perfectly fine even with a stuck rotor. In fact his tends to have longer flying times.
I had wondered about that and suspected it might be true. I didn't suspect the longer flight times though.
 

JAL3

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Here's a question for people.

Where does one go to get those itty bitty rubber bands used in this thing?

I went to the local hobby shop and nothing came glose by at least a factor of 6
 

Indiana

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Here's a question for people.

Where does one go to get those itty bitty rubber bands used in this thing?

I went to the local hobby shop and nothing came glose by at least a factor of 6
A beauty supply place will have strong little rubber bands. You'll have plenty left over when your done to tie off the little pig tails you get when you put your hair in corn rows.

I had to redo mine last summer, because the old ones rotted off. I have a bulk box of Sig model airplane rubber, and I just cut short lengths and tied them into little bands.
 

JAL3

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A beauty supply place will have strong little rubber bands. You'll have plenty left over when your done to tie off the little pig tails you get when you put your hair in corn rows.

I had to redo mine last summer, because the old ones rotted off. I have a bulk box of Sig model airplane rubber, and I just cut short lengths and tied them into little bands.
Beauty supply, hm...

Not quite up my alley. They see me come in and start saying I'm bad for business.

I guess I'll have to send the daughter.

Whoops! I don't have that much money:y:
 

davel

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That's a good point. I might reinforce that with CA as well.
I re-recommend you look at a mythacrylic adhesive. CA can be quite brittle, and that joint gets a hard shot at ejection.

I got a whole box of those rubber bands at an office supply store. I did have to special order them though. Don't recall the size...
 

JAL3

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I re-recommend you look at a mythacrylic adhesive. CA can be quite brittle, and that joint gets a hard shot at ejection.

I got a whole box of those rubber bands at an office supply store. I did have to special order them though. Don't recall the size...
OK. I'll bite.

What is mythacrylic, where is it obtained and what else do I need to know about it?
 

JAL3

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The rotor hub was easy to locate and identify because it is a white plastic piece in the midst of mostly black. It was placed on the shoulder and checked to make sure it rotated freely. It did without any problem. The cap to hold it in place was then located. Its a short piece of red coupler tubing for BT5. I test fitted that and found there was no problem there either. The coupler was then pulled back off and given a dose of tube cement, as per instructions, and then replaced, making sure that it did not interfere with the rotor.

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JAL3

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The rotor hinges were the other bits of white plastic. They were located and, after careful examination of the illustrations in the instruction to ensure proper orientation, were snapped into place. They did not travel as freely as I expected but I suspect that the range of movement is adequate.

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JAL3

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The actual body tube for this rocket is a white section of BT5. It was located along with a plastic stop meant to fit into one end. As per instructions, the stop was installed with tube cement.

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JAL3

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The upper slide is another plastic black component. It was located along with a black cardboard ring meant to be installed around the tongs of the slide to prevent them from opening too much. The ring was bonded with more of the tube cement and allowed to dry.

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