Fears of Losing Rockets

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As I am wanting to fly higher rockets, and my budget doesn't allow for GPS trackers (pm me if you want to sell), I am curious to know how high you can fly rockets and still see them and have successful recovery. I have plenty of expirience myself, but would like to see what the rest of the community feels the answer is, expecially in terms of larger rockets, where I have less expirience. I understand that many factors may come into play when it comes to visibility such as sky clarity and rocket size, but in general, how high can you launch your rocket and still feel safe about recovery?
 

Charles_McG

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Very Very generally, 1000' per inch of diameter for visual tracking.

There are alternatives to GPS tracking. Sonic beacons really do help. Even the beep code of a simple altimeter (like an eggtimer Quark) helps. I've picked up the beep code from 300' with a directional microphone - which is now part of my launch box. 300' is rare - but it's come in really handy for getting the last 50' in tall grass.

 

Charles_McG

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Very Very generally, 1000' per inch of diameter for visual tracking.

There are alternatives to GPS tracking. Sonic beacons really do help. Even the beep code of a simple altimeter (like an eggtimer Quark) helps. I've picked up the beep code from 300' with a directional microphone - which is now part of my launch box. 300' is rare - but it's come in really handy for getting the last 50' in tall grass.

That rule of thumb is very interesting. I have been researching personal alarms that have even higher decibals then the microbeacon. I have never heard of directional microphones before. I wonder how far you could detect with a combination of these things. Its seems like a bright prospect. Thank you so much for sharing!
 

Charles_McG

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Go to a club launch with lots of eyes on you altitude junkie flights. Paint your rocket fluorescent orange. Use reflective surfaces, tracking powder and bright chutes. Chute releases rock. Patience of a Jedi on weather conditions.
++. More than half of not-losing-rockets is knowing when not to fly - and sticking to it.
 

Sooner Boomer

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I've got a Baby Bertha I built with a 29mm motor mount. It flies really well on Estes bp F motors. It goes out of sight on the way up (OR says over 2000 feet). The reason I can track it on the way back down is that I built it with 12 feet of streamer. Finding/tracking a rocket is not just for the trip up.
 

waltr

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Sky color, clear dark blue or whitish/grey clouds, also make a bad difference is seeing and following the smoke trail.
Long silver streamers reflect and can be seen pretty easy.

Club launches are great since many eyes are better. I've had a few out of sight launches where a club member spots it on the way down.

Then even if not flown high is the Corn and other crops that hide rockets.
The beacons, beepers etc are then needed.
 

cerving

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++. More than half of not-losing-rockets is knowing when not to fly - and sticking to it.
That's true for HPR, too... I lost one at Las Vegas when it hit the upper winds and drifted 6 1/2 miles away, landing in a huge gravel pit. I KNEW it was going to drift a bit... but even with a GPS you can lose one if you try hard enough.
 

Charles_McG

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That's true for HPR, too... I lost one at Las Vegas when it hit the upper winds and drifted 6 1/2 miles away, landing in a huge gravel pit. I KNEW it was going to drift a bit... but even with a GPS you can lose one if you try hard enough.
OH NO!

I don't fly terribly high. Swamp flying being rather different than desert flying. But I am really happy the MultiLevelWind add-in for OpenRocket has been updated to work with the 22 Beta. Even just going to 3000', the night before I look at the sounding forecast on Windy and enter every 500' or so. Then I look at the drift estimation in the sim.
 
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G_T

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Main at apogee and a thermal can theoretically result in a long flight from even a fairly short launch. Once the button is pushed there are no guarantees.
 

cls

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Long silver streamers reflect and can be seen pretty easy.

Often, I can hear the streamer before I see it. But every sense helps...

I thought crinkly streamers were such a good Idea, I put an 8 foot length of aluminized 5 mil mylar on the shock cord of my minimum diameter K185 rocket... Wow did that go high! Could see it in binoculars... Streamer came out... I'm following it, yeah got it... It's drifting with the upper level winds... For minutes...

I finally realized that the streamer wasn't coming down! Duh, it had separated and was heading for Utah.

Meanwhile the rocket landed a few hundred feet behind me. Everyone else knew it. We had to laugh.
 

Zman1961

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++. More than half of not-losing-rockets is knowing when not to fly - and sticking to it.
+1! I always bring a variety of rockets to a club launch; oddrocs, LPR, MPR, and HPR. Sometimes you just can't launch everything (avoid "go fever"), which can be tough with limited club launches each year. Sometimes you can launch a LPR or other light weight rocket with a streamer in the morning, and wait for calmer winds or a more favorable wind direction, or vice versa on time of day. etc. A chute release or similar device helps tremendously. Sometimes you can do lower altitude oddrocs (spinners) while waiting for the ceiling to lift. Gaining experience at a particular field helps too, don't be afraid to ask others, but everyone has a different tolerance or interpretation of risk.
 

Handeman

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A pair of binoculars helps a lot when tracking your rocket. I would recommend a 6x40 over a 10x50. The first number is the magnification, but is related to field of view. The larger the magnification the narrower the field of view and the harder it will be to find your rocket when you put the binoculars up to your eyes. I have a pair of 8-24x50 zoom binoculars and usually keep them on the 8 power setting when tracking rockets.
 

Voyager1

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A pair of binoculars helps a lot when tracking your rocket. I would recommend a 6x40 over a 10x50. The first number is the magnification, but is related to field of view. The larger the magnification the narrower the field of view and the harder it will be to find your rocket when you put the binoculars up to your eyes. I have a pair of 8-24x50 zoom binoculars and usually keep them on the 8 power setting when tracking rockets.
I generally use 10x50 bins to follow my flights. Although I typically use GPS, another tool I include is having a predicted landing point from a sim using multilevel wind forecast.
 

rharshberger

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I generally use 10x50 bins to follow my flights. Although I typically use GPS, another tool I include is having a predicted landing point from a sim using multilevel wind forecast.
I generally have found that my 8x20 Pentax Jupiter II binoc's were plenty for rocketry, since we fly mainly in daytime and at the distances we start looking for them in the air the FOV of even a smaller objective lens bino is sufficient (I also like them for duck hunting), and my Jupiter II's are so light (about 6oz) and compact I can keep them in a jacket pocket or hanging on a lanyard and barely know they are there.
 
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