Estes Tube Line Drawing Tool & Jig Alignment Tool Together?

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ArthurAstroCam

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Most everyone has told me that the Estes jig is junk. But, I also hear the line drawing tool is great. Does anyone here use both, together? And if so, is that a good way to go?
 

David_Stack

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Personally, I can't achieve consistent results with the Estes Fin Alignment jig (2231) and as others have noted, for fins which extend far below the bottom edge of the body tube it is largely useless since you can't position the body tube/motor mount on the faux motor 'mandrel'.

I've 'moved on' to using the fin wrap tool from PayloadBay.com, and a length of aluminum angle 3' long to extend fin lines / launch lug lines on the body tube, and then the companion fin guide tool (also from PayloadBay) and a sheet of foamboard to fabricate my own 'jigs' for attaching fins to the body tube.

Fin_install.jpg
 

ArthurAstroCam

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Personally, I can't achieve consistent results with the Estes Fin Alignment jig (2231) and as others have noted, for fins which extend far below the bottom edge of the body tube it is largely useless since you can't position the body tube/motor mount on the faux motor 'mandrel'.

I've 'moved on' to using the fin wrap tool from PayloadBay.com, and a length of aluminum angle 3' long to extend fin lines / launch lug lines on the body tube, and then the companion fin guide tool (also from PayloadBay) and a sheet of foamboard to fabricate my own 'jigs' for attaching fins to the body tube.

View attachment 501858
Beautiful! It does seem there is no "one approach" to this. I keep trying to struggle as to how to do it. I have very limited skills. But I do know my next build, I do not want to struggle with "line of sight", eyeballing it.
 

neil_w

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One would think, or hope, that Estes would want to facilitate easier building with helpful tools.
Somehow, thousands of hobbyists have been building model rockets successfully for 60+ years. The manufacturer can't solve all the problems for you. Nowadays, you get laser-cut parts, preslotted tubes with through-the-wall fins. Some kits with challenging geometries come with laser-cut parts to put together a little jig. This is all far beyond what used to be available.

At some point, if you want to go beyond easy-to-assemble stuff, you just have to be able to problem-solve and develop your technique and *build*.

There is no perfect jig. Nowadays, many of the most effective jigs are custom-made for each rocket, not practical for Estes to sell.

Check out the Qualman fin guides if you haven't already done so. A lot of people like them.
 

K'Tesh

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I've 'moved on' to using the fin wrap tool from PayloadBay.com, and a length of aluminum angle 3' long to extend fin lines / launch lug lines on the body tube, and then the companion fin guide tool (also from PayloadBay) and a sheet of foamboard to fabricate my own 'jigs' for attaching fins to the body tube.

1643319223463.png

This is the method that I use nowadays myself.
 

dr wogz

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I keep trying to struggle ...

I find I struggle with no effort! :D

Most will tell you to make line along the tube axis (to align fins against) with a piece of angle, or as Estes says, against a door frame. The Estes jig for this does work, as that's all it really is, a fancy length of angle.

Marking these lines about teh diameter of the tube (so that teh fins are equally spaced about the tube), you either cut out the paper marking guide in the Estes instructions, the Estes tube marking tool, a fin marking guide download from Payloadbay.com , or with 'pencil & paper' geometry..

Lastly, and the hardest is keeping the fins perpendicular to the tube itself (so the fins stick out nicely!) There is the Estes Fin jig (teh grey plastic base one, and teh 'fin marking tool' has a notch at one end to hold fins) or a foamcore / plywood template (as David shows above), or the old Mk II eye ball. I have one better that is easier to make (see below). But all of these work [except the foamcore / ply template] for "typical" fins; fins that don't extend too far beyond teh bottom of the body tube

But all of this comes with practice, and a feel for what works & what just .. doesn't!!

You can also splurge and the the guillotine jig for fin placement & alignment, and there is a really fancy (and $$$) jig out there, which you can dial into 0.5° fine placement!

My fin perpendicularity gauge:
Go to Post #19 (I have a few!)

this thread will also help with the conversation



 

ArthurAstroCam

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I find I struggle with no effort! :D

Most will tell you to make line along the tube axis (to align fins against) with a piece of angle, or as Estes says, against a door frame. The Estes jig for this does work, as that's all it really is, a fancy length of angle.

Marking these lines about teh diameter of the tube (so that teh fins are equally spaced about the tube), you either cut out the paper marking guide in the Estes instructions, the Estes tube marking tool, a fin marking guide download from Payloadbay.com , or with 'pencil & paper' geometry..

Lastly, and the hardest is keeping the fins perpendicular to the tube itself (so the fins stick out nicely!) There is the Estes Fin jig (teh grey plastic base one, and teh 'fin marking tool' has a notch at one end to hold fins) or a foamcore / plywood template (as David shows above), or the old Mk II eye ball. I have one better that is easier to make (see below). But all of these work [except the foamcore / ply template] for "typical" fins; fins that don't extend too far beyond teh bottom of the body tube

But all of this comes with practice, and a feel for what works & what just .. doesn't!!

You can also splurge and the the guillotine jig for fin placement & alignment, and there is a really fancy (and $$$) jig out there, which you can dial into 0.5° fine placement!

My fin perpendicularity gauge:
Go to Post #19 (I have a few!)

this thread will also help with the conversation



What comes easy to some, does not come easy to me. Not when you have a bad case of astigmatism in your left eye, as I do. This is why I seek tools which can assist in this process which may seem basic to you, but that I really do struggle with.
 

dr wogz

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Arthur, I have super thick glasses. (about -4.5 in both eyes!) Any line I see is curved thru my thick 'coke bottle' lenses! And anything past 10" (without my specs) is a blurr. So I know your struggle. You do learn to cope after a while..

Having tools and just blindly using them (no pun intended) is one thing.. and most times not an issue. But knowing how to use the tools, knowing their shortfalls, knowing when one variation works over another, etc... make you a better fabricator.

I've made some suggestion to you, that I've come to use & be comfortable with. You need to try a few things, and figure what does work for you.. Don't be frustrated, but don't be dependent on tools / jigs / fixtures.

You can buy all the tools under the sun. Some will help, some will just gather dust. We all have our favorites. You can also build your own tools to help with your particular issues..
 

ArthurAstroCam

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Arthur, I have super thick glasses. (about -4.5 in both eyes!) Any line I see is curved thru my thick 'coke bottle' lenses! And anything past 10" (without my specs) is a blurr. So I know your struggle. You do learn to cope after a while..

Having tools and just blindly using them (no pun intended) is one thing.. and most times not an issue. But knowing how to use the tools, knowing their shortfalls, knowing when one variation works over another, etc... make you a better fabricator.

I've made some suggestion to you, that I've come to use & be comfortable with. You need to try a few things, and figure what does work for you.. Don't be frustrated, but don't be dependent on tools / jigs / fixtures.

You can buy all the tools under the sun. Some will help, some will just gather dust. We all have our favorites. You can also build your own tools to help with your particular issues..
I knew that was coming. I do not have the tools, or the capability, to build my own jigs.
 

ArthurAstroCam

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Woody's Workshop

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You might be able to. It's best used on BT-50 or smaller with 3/32" thick fins.
Check out Apogee for Ted's Fin Jig. I built one a few years ago just using a picture.
I made mine slightly larger with more adjustments, not as easy to use but more versatile and was way cheaper.
I'll see if I have a picture of it and post it. It currently sits in storage and get to it until spring.
Ted use to sell his plans at a fair price, not sure if he still does that or not.
To be honest, Big Berth's fins are large enough to easily eye ball the fins close enough.
BB isn't going to mind a fin or two off a little bit. It will still weather cock and all the good things it's known for.
 

ArthurAstroCam

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You might be able to. It's best used on BT-50 or smaller with 3/32" thick fins.
Check out Apogee for Ted's Fin Jig. I built one a few years ago just using a picture.
I made mine slightly larger with more adjustments, not as easy to use but more versatile and was way cheaper.
I'll see if I have a picture of it and post it. It currently sits in storage and get to it until spring.
Ted use to sell his plans at a fair price, not sure if he still does that or not.
To be honest, Big Berth's fins are large enough to easily eye ball the fins close enough.
BB isn't going to mind a fin or two off a little bit. It will still weather cock and all the good things it's known for.
If New England weather cooperates this weekend, and it is not too cold, I plan on launching BB on a B to start, and if it is a good flyer, a C to follow.

I hear you on trying the fin alignment by eyeballing. And while I made a valiant effort, believe me, a couple are still off. Probably not that much, but enough. Astigmatism has kept me from being able to have straight horizons in photography. And, once again, strikes another hobby. What comes very easy to most, does not come easy to me with this condition.
 

MidOH

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The Estes fin jig was really good in the '80s when it was molded from a stiff nylon carbon composite. Now it's made with plain olde plastic, and warps, or holds fins too loosely for any kind of accuracy. It's junk. They should quite making it.

I use Mach1 and Apogee fin guides.

I use angled aluminum for marking large tubes. Door frame for small tubes.
 

teepot

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I use the same method as David Stark. The payloadbay site will help you. I helped me a lot. Making a fin jig is as simple as printing the guide. Spraying some glue on it and sticking it to a foam board. I get the board at Walmart. I think it's 88 cents.
 

ArthurAstroCam

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I use the same method as David Stark. The payloadbay site will help you. I helped me a lot. Making a fin jig is as simple as printing the guide. Spraying some glue on it and sticking it to a foam board. I get the board at Walmart. I think it's 88 cents.
Sure, that helps you line it up, and provide a guide, but does not aid in keeping the fin straight. I may use my Estes catalog guide to get the line drawing tool, and the jig.
 

David_Stack

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Good Morning Arthur;

I've found that if the fin slots cut in the fin guide are an 'interference fit, then yes it does a fine job of keeping the fins aligned along the long axis of the body tube, no need for anything else (and the guide lines drawn along the body tube help the builder to correct for any 'slop' that may exist).

The other option would be to print and fabricate two of those fin guides; that way you could install one toward the leading edge of the fins, and another at the rear. Position them relative to each other such that there is no twist/helical/offset, and you are good to go.

r/
Dave
 

ArthurAstroCam

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Good Morning Arthur;

I've found that if the fin slots cut in the fin guide are an 'interference fit, then yes it does a fine job of keeping the fins aligned along the long axis of the body tube, no need for anything else (and the guide lines drawn along the body tube help the builder to correct for any 'slop' that may exist).

The other option would be to print and fabricate two of those fin guides; that way you could install one toward the leading edge of the fins, and another at the rear. Position them relative to each other such that there is no twist/helical/offset, and you are good to go.

r/
Dave
Thanks, but believe me, I do not have the means to be fabricating fin jigs.

As a starting point, I think I am going to purchase the two Estes tools, and take things from there.
 

Lee

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Attached are plans for making a simple fin alignment guide which I have found is good enough for LPR. I use payload bay for fin location and still draw the longitudinal lines using a door frame. I also enlarged it for bigger fins but have never actually built and used the larger version.
 

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  • Fin Alignment Guide.pdf
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neil_w

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Thanks, but believe me, I do not have the means to be fabricating fin jigs.

As a starting point, I think I am going to purchase the two Estes tools, and take things from there.
The process for creating one of those jigs is:
1) Go to Payload Bay, enter your parameters, and print out the single sheet of paper.
2) Glue the paper to a cheap piece of foamcore. I use a glue stick for this.
3) Cut out the middle parts with a hobby knife (use a sharp blade!!!!!!)

That's it. If you can build a rocket, you can make one of these.

The Qualman guides are basically the same thing, pre-made (perfect if you're staying in the LPR zone).
 

ArthurAstroCam

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The process for creating one of those jigs is:
1) Go to Payload Bay, enter your parameters, and print out the single sheet of paper.
2) Glue the paper to a cheap piece of foamcore. I use a glue stick for this.
3) Cut out the middle parts with a hobby knife (use a sharp blade!!!!!!)

That's it. If you can build a rocket, you can make one of these.
Kind of helps to have access to a printer, which i do not. I don't mind paying for the Estes tools, which makes sense to me to have, especially if I plan to build more rockets. Using line of sight for Big Bertha was painful, at best.
 

jrap330

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If New England weather cooperates this weekend, and it is not too cold, I plan on launching BB on a B to start, and if it is a good flyer, a C to follow.

I hear you on trying the fin alignment by eyeballing. And while I made a valiant effort, believe me, a couple are still off. Probably not that much, but enough. Astigmatism has kept me from being able to have straight horizons in photography. And, once again, strikes another hobby. What comes very easy to most, does not come easy to me with this condition.
I have bad eyes , bad astigmatism and currently I see 20/40. I get the fins on straight maybe 70 percent of time. Recently I reglued 3 out of 4 fins on a rocket, my worst case . The hard part is waiting for the fin to dry enough, so it does not move/slide a little and become crocked . That is the advantage of the fin jig. You can have someone cut a slot in aluminum angle iron and with rubber band that well help hold the fin on. But as stated nothing will work for all your rockets. So try or buy some jigs.
 

ArthurAstroCam

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I have bad eyes , bad astigmatism and currently I see 20/40. I get the fins on straight maybe 70 percent of time. Recently I reglued 3 out of 4 fins on a rocket, my worst case . The hard part is waiting for the fin to dry enough, so it does not move/slide a little and become crocked . That is the advantage of the fin jig. You can have someone cut a slot in aluminum angle iron and with rubber band that well help hold the fin on. But as stated nothing will work for all your rockets. So try or buy some jigs.
Yes, I actually do think I am going to give the Estes tools a try.
 
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Kind of helps to have access to a printer, which i do not. I don't mind paying for the Estes tools, which makes sense to me to have, especially if I plan to build more rockets. Using line of sight for Big Bertha was painful, at best.
I used the library for printing before I got a printer. Accessible and cheap.10 c a print. You don't need foam core. I used a panel out of a cardboard box ( no Monty Python jokes please) and that rocket went to 26k ft. So it works.....
 

ArthurAstroCam

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Just ordered the line drawing tool and the fin alignment tool. I did correspond with Estes, and based on the feedback they gave me, the majority of the "bad" or "marginal" reviews came from those not using them properly. Given my poor eyesight and astigmatism, they probably can't hurt, and will likely help me with my next build, whatever that may be.
 
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