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Fiberglass vs Bluetube (L1/L2 Rocket)

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checked02

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Hi, I'm planning on building my L1/L2 rocket over the summer and launching. I'm looking to build a durable rocket which will hold up over multiple launches.

I've been deciding what to build the airframe out of, and I've narrowed down my choices to Bluetube and Fiberglass. Fiberglass would be ideal (more aesthetically pleasing/durable) but Bluetube is cheaper.

What would you all recommend?
 

djs

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How high/fast are you looking to go? No experience with bluetube, but my FG rockets hold up to a lot of stress.
 

BDB

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I built my L1 and L2 rockets out of LOC cardboard tubing because it was an easy extension of the LPR techniques that I already knew. I love my kits from Binder Design, but now that I have built a fiberglass kit, I'm starting to see why everyone loves it so much. It's not harder to work with, and it is waaaaaaay more durable.
 

checked02

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Looking to attain around 1500-2000ft for my L1 and 2000-2500ft for my L2
 

Flyfalcons

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Fiberglass is expensive and heavy, but oh my does it turn into a rocket that you're proud to own. I'm not exclusive to any particular construction material, but fiberglass is lovely. There are multiple reports here of people crashing fiberglass birds and doing little more than cleaning the dirt out before flying again.
 

NateLowrie

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Hi, I'm planning on building my L1/L2 rocket over the summer and launching. I'm looking to build a durable rocket which will hold up over multiple launches.

I've been deciding what to build the airframe out of, and I've narrowed down my choices to Bluetube and Fiberglass. Fiberglass would be ideal (more aesthetically pleasing/durable) but Bluetube is cheaper.

What would you all recommend?
The short answer: Fiberglass is the better material but you pay for it. Both are going to be far and away superior to cardboard. Blue Tube should be similar to phenolic without some of the brittleness. If your only experience is paper tubing, both are a huge step up.

The long answer:

Automatically disqualify paper tube stock from your head unless you plan on glassing it. I have exactly one HPR that's paper tubing (Madcow Super Batray) and out of the 4 flights I made with it the tubing has crumpled once and zippered once from far less than ideal deployments. In fact, I just ordered a blue tube replacement for the top section and plan on glassing the fin can to bring the out diameters close to equal. It'll work but it's a heap of trouble and using blue tube or fiberglass will save you some damage on deployment.

Filament Wound Fiberglass is a dream to work with. Durable and dependable. You can't go wrong if you can stomach the price tag and don't care too much about the weight. It will survive most high speed deployments. When you are drilling holes in it, be sure to back it with a block otherwise the fiber tearout is pretty bad.

Blue tube is easier to work with than phenolic cause you don't have to fill in the grooves. I would rather have fiberglass but if I need a dependable workhouse rocket on the cheap I would go blue tube. It's great for L1 and L2 airframes and pairs will with both plywood or fiberglass fins.
 

AfterBurners

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I built my L1 and L2 rockets out of LOC cardboard tubing because it was an easy extension of the LPR techniques that I already knew. I love my kits from Binder Design, but now that I have built a fiberglass kit, I'm starting to see why everyone loves it so much. It's not harder to work with, and it is waaaaaaay more durable.
but its always more expensive and heavier, which is fine if you can afford it and aren't concerned with how high you wanna fly. For me if I were to choose fiber glass it would be for the simple fact of not having to fill spirals.
 

Fearoflightning

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My L2 was bluetube, it's good stuff, but it absolutely pales in comparison to fiberglass. If the rocket happens to get wet, bluetube will become useless, fiberglass is immune. (Two water landings last Saturday, one BT, one FG....) If I can help it, I really try to avoid anything other than fiberglass for anything over 54mm.

Could we get more details on the design of your rocket? I might would choose bluetube in certain, very specific, applications. Durability and reusability are not those though. What speeds are you predicting? Fin material? Diameter?

Also, what is your prior experience with?
 

crossfire

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I have built a good number of fiberglass kits. Last summer I built a LOC Warlock clone using blue tube. It was fun building a plywood fin blue tube rocket. Everyone is right a fiberglass rocket can drop from 8K with no chute just shock cord out and live to fly again.
 

BDB

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but its always more expensive and heavier, which is fine if you can afford it and aren't concerned with how high you wanna fly. For me if I were to choose fiber glass it would be for the simple fact of not having to fill spirals.
The weight is a valid point. My L1 flight was a 7.5' tall 4" dia. Binder Tyrannosaur with a Loki H144. A fiberglass rocket of that size would only fly on hight thrust L2 or L3 motors. I can fly my 4" cardboard rockets on $25 reloads.
 

AfterBurners

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The weight is a valid point. My L1 flight was a 7.5' tall 4" dia. Binder Tyrannosaur with a Loki H144. A fiberglass rocket of that size would only fly on hight thrust L2 or L3 motors. I can fly my 4" cardboard rockets on $25 reloads.
I think something else to consider is the tools you need to cut it and work with it, if you're not working with a kit. For me all my stuff as far as scratch build is stuff I can cut with simple hand tools or I have someone laser cut the stuff I can't or I'm building a kit. I think in the long run it's what the builder wants and his expectations. Everything we use to build rockets has pros and cons...bottom line is to have fun and when you light up that candle hope it boost straight and great recovery.
 

DavidMcCann

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Looking to attain around 1500-2000ft for my L1 and 2000-2500ft for my L2
I did my L1 and L2 on blue tube. the L1 has 30 flights and the L2 7. Both are in great shape.

4" bluetube will just about nail that with a 38 mount. can put in a 54, you'll want it later.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/31757945@N05/albums/72157641417394354

https://dbmccann.wordpress.com/emerald-dragon/


I have seven flights on it, between 800' and 5,000 (J510W) My L2 was on a J500G to 3300' It flew yesterday on a 38 6 grain EX motor to 2700'



If you use bondo glaze filling the spirals isn't too bad.

 

checked02

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Thanks everyone for the great responses! I think I'm going to go fiberglass and just grin and bear the expense.

Does anyone know a better (cheaper) site than Apogee to buy the parts for construction?

Thanks again!
 

DavidMcCann

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Anywhere is better than apogee.

Madcow rocketry, and wildman carry fiberglass.

Also consider MAC preformane canvas tubes, there's a ton of threads here about them if you search
 

boatgeek

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AMW also has FWFG tubes. I also support fiberglass. If you're scratch building, you might go down a tube size to offset the weight. If you did it just right, you could probably fly L1 without an upper body tube and L2 with. At those target altitudes, you may not need to do dual deploy, or you could do it with the Chute Release.
 

Salvage-1

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I have built a few rockets out of both materials. My choice would be Bluetube 2.0.

Don't listen to stories about it warping when it gets wet, that was BT 1.0, and has been fixed. Also, sanding sealer inside and out, stops the moisture and helps a lot when cleaning the BP soot out of the inside.
I have had a 3" Bluetube rocket fall drogueless from 6K. It bounced and scratched the paintwork.
Also had a 3" fiberglass do the same, it didn't bounce, and there was no chance of rebuild.

Both materials have their pluses and minuses, but, for the job you are looking at, I would choose Bluetube without hesitation.
 

blackbrandt

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I'm going to input something here....

Fiberglass makes you lazy when it comes to recovery techniques. Flying cardboard really forces you to work on your recovery techniques because you can't just drop it in like a brick.
 

NateLowrie

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Anywhere is better than apogee.

Madcow rocketry, and wildman carry fiberglass.

Also consider MAC preformane canvas tubes, there's a ton of threads here about them if you search
MadCow is my first choice when sourcing fiberglass. Wild man is second. Also, if you go Fiberglass get a filament wound nosecone with the metal tip. Best nosecones in rocketry.
 

DavidMcCann

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MadCow is my first choice when sourcing fiberglass. Wild man is second. Also, if you go Fiberglass get a filament wound nosecone with the metal tip. Best nosecones in rocketry.
I like the FWFG cones... but have come to prefer the epoxy tipped ones. I'm moving away from using all thread in noses, and the epoxy ones are just less hassle.
 

MikeyDSlagle

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Performance hobbies is a good place to source fiberglass tubes and nose cones. They have g10 and FWFG.

I have had a fiberglass bird come in ballistic. Only damage to rocket was it took the clear coat off the nose cone, was soft ground though. Never dealt with blue tube but I've looked at it a dozen times.

MAC Performance materials may be an option. I know David mentioned them but maybe if I endorse them enough Mike will give me a discount. Lol.

My level one was a 2.6" fiberglass. 1200 foot on an AT 38/240, 1900 foot on an AT 38/360. A J would put it out of sight so I am a bit hesitant without tracking. Level 2 will be a Tyrannosaur, which is paper. I go back and forth.

Mikey D
 
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dhbarr

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Garolite if you feel up to turning/printing your own nose.
 

Fearoflightning

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I have built a few rockets out of both materials. My choice would be Bluetube 2.0.

Don't listen to stories about it warping when it gets wet, that was BT 1.0, and has been fixed. Also, sanding sealer inside and out, stops the moisture and helps a lot when cleaning the BP soot out of the inside.
I have had a 3" Bluetube rocket fall drogueless from 6K. It bounced and scratched the paintwork.
Also had a 3" fiberglass do the same, it didn't bounce, and there was no chance of rebuild.

Both materials have their pluses and minuses, but, for the job you are looking at, I would choose Bluetube without hesitation.
The bluetube rocket I flew the other day (made with 2.0) had significant shrinking issues when it got wet. It was sealed inside and out with sanding sealer and had a good paint job over that. We could not get it to separate at the couplers no matter what we tried.

I will agree that bluetube makes for slightly more versatile (motor-wise) rockets simply because it's lighter - and that is why the rocket mentioned above was made from it.
 

DavidMcCann

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The bluetube rocket I flew the other day (made with 2.0) had significant shrinking issues when it got wet. It was sealed inside and out with sanding sealer and had a good paint job over that. We could not get it to separate at the couplers no matter what we tried.

I will agree that bluetube makes for slightly more versatile (motor-wise) rockets simply because it's lighter - and that is why the rocket mentioned above was made from it.
agreed. blue tube 2.0 may not warp, but it certainly shrinks or expands with humidity and heat... couplers and nosecones can lock up if you're not careful.
 

Handeman

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Looking to attain around 1500-2000ft for my L1 and 2000-2500ft for my L2
From your initial post I'm assuming you want to L1 and L2 on the same rocket.

Well, I don't think you are going to be able to obtain those flight altitudes unless you cert L1 on a large I motor and L2 on a baby J motor. If you only get 1500 ft on a large I, you probably shouldn't ever try flying it on an H. It would probably fly great on K motors and small Ls. I would say you have to have at least a 54mm MMT and should probably go with 75mm MMT if you are going to build that heavy. And since you are going that heavy, definitely go with fiberglass and dual deploy.

The opposite condition is what many people end up with for L1/L2 rockets. They build small and light motor deploy rockets so they get 1000 ft on a small H motors. It's when they put the baby J in it when they are pushing 4000+ with motor ejection. The JLCR really helps in this condition.

In your case, you will be building a L2 rocket that you'll be using for L1 also. In the opposite case, they are building a L1 rocket they use for L2.

Either condition is OK if that's really what you want, but I think you are missing a lot doing it that way. First of all, when you are done you have one rocket that will be better with L1 motors or L2 motors. A rocket the flies well on both is almost impossible to get and depends as much on your flying field and normal conditions as it does on the motors. If you don't understand that, then I strongly suggest you build a true L1 rocket for your L1 cert and build a second true L2 rocket for your L2 cert.

First, if you are doing your L1 cert, you really have no practical experience with L2 size motors. All the sims are great, but until you actually fly them and get that experience, you really don't understand the difference in thrust levels. That's where getting L1 experience with the full range of small H to large I motors helps a lot. It give you a better idea of what to expect when you move from J to K to L motors.

With all that said, it's still a hobby and we are all in it to enjoy and have fun. So bottom line, do what you enjoy.

and good luck
 

MikeyDSlagle

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From your initial post I'm assuming you want to L1 and L2 on the same rocket.

Well, I don't think you are going to be able to obtain those flight altitudes unless you cert L1 on a large I motor and L2 on a baby J motor. If you only get 1500 ft on a large I, you probably shouldn't ever try flying it on an H. It would probably fly great on K motors and small Ls. I would say you have to have at least a 54mm MMT and should probably go with 75mm MMT if you are going to build that heavy. And since you are going that heavy, definitely go with fiberglass and dual deploy.

The opposite condition is what many people end up with for L1/L2 rockets. They build small and light motor deploy rockets so they get 1000 ft on a small H motors. It's when they put the baby J in it when they are pushing 4000+ with motor ejection. The JLCR really helps in this condition.

In your case, you will be building a L2 rocket that you'll be using for L1 also. In the opposite case, they are building a L1 rocket they use for L2.

Either condition is OK if that's really what you want, but I think you are missing a lot doing it that way. First of all, when you are done you have one rocket that will be better with L1 motors or L2 motors. A rocket the flies well on both is almost impossible to get and depends as much on your flying field and normal conditions as it does on the motors. If you don't understand that, then I strongly suggest you build a true L1 rocket for your L1 cert and build a second true L2 rocket for your L2 cert.

First, if you are doing your L1 cert, you really have no practical experience with L2 size motors. All the sims are great, but until you actually fly them and get that experience, you really don't understand the difference in thrust levels. That's where getting L1 experience with the full range of small H to large I motors helps a lot. It give you a better idea of what to expect when you move from J to K to L motors.

With all that said, it's still a hobby and we are all in it to enjoy and have fun. So bottom line, do what you enjoy.

and good luck
Well said sir.
 

Steve Shannon

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Don't forget about Quantum Tube from Public Missiles. Just be sure to sand it aggressively before applying epoxy and don't count on it for supersonic flights, but it's easy to work with, has no spirals, and isn't terribly expensive or dense. For L1 or L2 rockets it can work just fine.


Steve Shannon
 

dhbarr

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Don't forget about Quantum Tube from Public Missiles. Just be sure to sand it aggressively before applying epoxy and don't count on it for supersonic flights, but it's easy to work with, has no spirals, and isn't terribly expensive or dense. For L1 or L2 rockets it can work just fine.
Also "more temperature sensitive than most materials".
 
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ColumbiaNX01

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I did my L2 and L3 on Blue Tube. I would stay away from any public missiles tube if your concerned about speed and your not gonna fiberglass. A LOC tube that you fiberglass is good. Bluetube right out of the box is excellent. PML you will have to do some additional reinforcement if you go mach in my opinion.
 

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I'm going to input something here....

Fiberglass makes you lazy when it comes to recovery techniques. Flying cardboard really forces you to work on your recovery techniques because you can't just drop it in like a brick.
This. I like paper and paper variants over fiberglass. They are lighter and they way I view things that fly, lighter is always better. Also with the introduction of the Jolly Logic Chute Release, you can put a huge flat panel chute in your bird and get really soft landings.
 
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