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christopher.r.burns

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Im considering getting my 14 year old son a model rocket for Christmas. I have no idea where to start. Willing to spend a decent amount of money to get him started. The basic kits ive been looking at run 20-40 dollars for the rocket and additional 15-20 for an engine. Seems cheap and am unsure of those are worth the time. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
 

mbeels

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I got started at about that age with a basic Estes starter kit, and it was plenty of fun, and more than enough to get me hooked. The Apogee Apprentice would also be a good option. Low power is a great place to start, but if you're looking for bigger rockets you could look at mid power options (E, F, G motors).
 

prfesser

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Try AC Supply. The prices you quote above seem a bit high for most low-power model rockets. A launch set that includes one or two rockets plus a launch pad runs around $17-22. The price you quote for a motor is more in line with large (mid power) model rockets. A bulk pack of 24 rocket motors runs about $40-50. If you get a bulk pack of motors I'd suggest the #1672 as it includes A, B, and C motors for varying altitudes.
 

Nytrunner

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Look for a launch set that includes rockets and launch pad. Then you'll only need to buy motors.
I always recommend the Tandem-X launch set. It has an easy to build rocket, and another that takes a little steadier hand.

Where are you located? Sometimes the most challenging (and annoying) part of the hobby is finding a suitable launch site: clear land, distance from traffic'd roads and occupied buildings, etc..

A digital aspect of the hobby is design and simulation (may appeal to a young person). Download the free program OpenRocket and you can gets started today!
A simulation allows you to get an idea of how high your rocket will go, and how far it will drift. Part of good flying is not shoving the biggest motor you can get into the rocket unless you have sufficient space to recover it (nothing spoils a first launch like your rocket drifting out of site into trees)
 

neil_w

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How much modeling experience does he have? If not much, then the Estes launch sets are good. Strongly recommend getting one with two rockets in it. The Tandem-X set (https://www.acsupplyco.com/estes-tandem-x-launch-set?search=tandem-x) is a particularly good one: the Amazon is big and extremely easy to build (all plastic) and the Crossfire is an intro to "real" building, with wood fins and painting required and all that. It's a good set to test whether he has the interest and inclination to go forward.

The set has a basic launch pad and launch controller. Only need motors. Use Estes 18mm A,B, and C motors to get started.

Good luck!

(ha ha, ninja'd by everyone :) Note the consistency of replies: get the Tandem-X launch set)
 

Fishhead

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Hobby Lobby is a great place to start looking if you have one local. You can pick up a starter set and the motors you need to fly it in one trip.
 

neil_w

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One other recommendation: when it comes time to launch, see if you can find a club in your area that flies low power (most do). You'll have folks there helping out, and you get to see a whole bunch of rockets fly, including bigger stuff. It's great.
 

christopher.r.burns

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hes good with building and model making as long as the instructions are clear. rocketry seems like a good fit for him.
 

neil_w

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Please check back here and let us know how it goes, and send him here as well if he runs into any questions or difficulties. Folks here will help.
 

boatgeek

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One piece of advice that nobody else gave--Estes chutes usually have a round marking -3" in diameter in the middle. Cut that out before flying unless you have a really big field or you're landing on hard surfaces (packed dirt or worse concrete). It's easier to glue on fins than replace rockets that drift out of sight or into trees.
 

K'Tesh

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One piece of advice that nobody else gave--Estes chutes usually have a round marking -3" in diameter in the middle. Cut that out before flying unless you have a really big field or you're landing on hard surfaces (packed dirt or worse concrete). It's easier to glue on fins than replace rockets that drift out of sight or into trees.
If you do have a problem with a treed rocket, we even have ideas on how to deal with those that won't get your local city council's knickers in a twist...


Also on the subject of protecting and strengthening (balsa) fins, we can help with that too...

 

HHaase

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Chris;

Any starter set made by ESTES rockets that you find on the shelves will be a good starting point. They're a great way to get flying at a decent price, and not too complex. Yes, they are the mass-market brand, but they are also very nicely refined. A lot of us are still building the basic little ESTES kits after being in the hobby for decades.

If you've got any questions, feel free to ask We enjoy our hobby and want to help others enjoy it too. Don't be afraid to have some fun yourself too.

If you have a Hobby Lobby near you the 40% coupon via their phone app, combined with the bulk-pack of motors, can get you a lot of flights for fairly cheap.

-Hans
 

Zeus-cat

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The best thing I ever did in rocketry was join my local club. We can help you find one if you tell us where you are at.
 

Back_at_it

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If you have a Hobby Lobby nearby, simply go there and pick up your choice of Estes Starter Sets. I personally would recommend one that comes with a rocket that you need to build.

The Alpha 3 starter set is the perfect place to start. While you are there, grab a few of the other rockets they sell. I personally recommend the Generic E2X, Dragonite and Cadet as quick builds that will get you flying. The next step up in something without plastic fins. For this I'd grab a Baby Bertha and see how well you guys can build that.

As for Engines. Every rocket listed above will fly great on the A8-3. Start with these as you are less likely to lose the rocket. When you feel comfortable move up to B6-4.

Keep in mind you are going to need glue. Get thick CA for assembling the plastic rockets. DO not use model cement. Grab some TiteBond for the paper, cardboard and wood pieces.

You'll also need recovery wadding and 4 AA batteries. Hobby Lobby has al of these.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I've gotten a number of people started in rocketry over the years
 

Scott_650

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Yet another vote for the Tandem-X set. Another great resource that you can look at is the NAR website - they have a getting started section with tips and pointers: https://www.nar.org/model-rocket-info/. Click through the how to build tutorial for some insight on the process. The great thing about the Tandem-X set is the E2X Amazon rocket can be built in roughly an hour and flown the same day. It’s fairly heavy for it’s size so you get a nice low apogee that let’s you see the whole flight. I started rocketry as an eight year old the summer of Apollo 11 - way more fun than building static plastic cars and planes, model rockets actually fly with smoke and flame!
 

BABAR

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Another vote for Tandem-X. Avoid starter sets with helicopter or glider recovery, keep it simple.
Clubs are generally great, lots of enthusiasm, generally people love to talk to kids and encourage them.
Consider book, “The Handbook of Model Rocketry.” It is a good read (you should read it too!), it’s written at a teenage level, and it talks about a lot more facets of Rocketry than just the standard “build, load launch, recover”, so it expands the options in the hobby and encourages creativity.

Straight trails.
 

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These guys know way more than I do, but my two cents is, yeah, it sounds like you are starting higher than you need to.
An Estes starter set would be the way I'd go. Maybe add a second, slightly more advanced rocket kit to go with it.
I'd stick with 18mm motors, at first. Cheaper to fly.
You can order directly from Estes, but you can probably find better deals elsewhere.
 

Senior Space Cadet

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The one negative thing I'd say about buying a starter set is the launch pad may be very limiting.
If he gets into rocketry, he's going to want a better launch pad, meaning a longer, larger diameter rod or, even a one piece.
Might not be a bad idea to buy the launch pad separately and get a little bit better one and an electronic launcher that will handle bigger motors, or two or more motors at once. It will cost you a bit more, but sounds like you were planning on spending quite a bit anyway.
Apogee components sells a tripod adaptor that turns a camera tripod into a launch pad. You can buy a reflector for about $6. I ordered a one piece stainless steel rod for mine. Can't remember the company, but someone else on this forum can give you the name.
 

Scott_650

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The one negative thing I'd say about buying a starter set is the launch pad may be very limiting.
If he gets into rocketry, he's going to want a better launch pad, meaning a longer, larger diameter rod or, even a one piece.
Might not be a bad idea to buy the launch pad separately and get a little bit better one and an electronic launcher that will handle bigger motors, or two or more motors at once. It will cost you a bit more, but sounds like you were planning on spending quite a bit anyway.
Apogee components sells a tripod adaptor that turns a camera tripod into a launch pad. You can buy a reflector for about $6. I ordered a one piece stainless steel rod for mine. Can't remember the company, but someone else on this forum can give you the name.
Oddl Rockets is the vendor that makes/sells the Adeptor for camera tripods - nice little gizmo. You can get one piece steel rods at about any home improvement/hardware store, not usually stainless so it’ll need cleaned and oiled after every use but also just a few bucks. The Adeptor plus tripod is a solid setup for just about anything you can fly on an Estes 24mm motors though staking the legs or added weight is a good idea with bigger rockets or breezy conditions.

One easy way to make the Estes Porta Pad easier to use is just putting it on a folding table. It isn’t the best by any stretch but it is serviceable - but lifting it up a bit and either weighting or clamping the legs down makes it much nicer to use.
 

Back_at_it

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Nothing wrong with the Estes launch pad and controller. Just keep fresh batteries in it and it'll last you a long time. The pad itself can take 1/8 and 3/16 rods so that'll let you fly 95% of everything Estes, Quest and Custom have to offer. The suggestion for a better rod is a good one. I wouldn't bother with the stock piece. Most home improvement stores have 4ft pieces of 1/8 and 5ft piece of 3/16 in stock for a couple of bucks. These are worth the upgrade.

Only real issue I ever had with any of my Estes launch pads is the fact that they sit on the ground and it's a pain in the butt to get down there to hook up the igniter. As someone else mentioned, Put it up on an inexpensive card or folding table. For a while we launched right off the tailgate of my truck.


Eventually you will grow out of the stock piece but only you can determine how fast that will happen. When it is time to step up, you can do something from a PVC pipe or take the easy way out and use a construction horse like it did.
 

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neil_w

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RocketRev

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Another vote for the Estes Tandem X starter set.

And another vote for the Apogee Web site videos on building rockets. These are professional quality and very well done. Apogee also sells many wonderful kits and just about everything else you and your son will need.

And a HUGE vote finding a local rocket club with which to fly. Local clubs are called "Sections." Check out local clubs with NAR (National Association of Rocketry) at:

And the other national rocketry organization in the USA is the Tripoli Rocketry Association, whose local clubs are called "prefectures" at:

Joining a local club is a wonderful way to be able to learn from the experience of others.

But I would not suggest that you buy a larger separate launch pad....at least not YET! If your 14 year old really gets into the hobby, then he will eventually need a larger pad, but many people fly for years without getting into anything bigger than needing the 1/8" diameter rod in your typical starter set. Besides that, getting involved in a local club will almost always get him alongside all sorts of people who will gladly let him use their larger launch pads.

If you're in the Mid West, there are probably more clubs in this area than anyplace else.

Brad, the "Rocket Rev.," Wilson
 

Back_at_it

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Just one word of advise when searching out a club. Before joining, ask if you can attend a meeting and be sure to ask if they are focused on low, mid or high powered rockets. When I returned to the hobby I searched out clubs and went to a couple of meetings. Most of the clubs around here didn't really focus on low power stuff and the people in the group didn't really want to talk to you unless you were flying high power.

I was turned off by the whole experience and never joined a club. I have a few friends that I fly with and we share ideas and techniques. Just ask questions before you join up.
 

jqavins

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First, welcome to the forum. You've obviously noticed by now that we're all happy to give advice, and usually too much of it :) . Here's one more vote for an Estes starter set, one with a very easy build rocket and a somewhat easy build rocket. I don't know the various sets, but it seems like Tandem-X is the consensus pick.

Here's also another voice for joining a local club. Because there you can get even more too much advice ;). And also a flying field and launch equipment all set up, and the added fun that comes with doing something as a group.

Another thing you'll find here and in clubs is that some of the copious advice will include some people contradicting others. I'll start.
Keep in mind you are going to need glue... Grab some TiteBond for the paper, cardboard and wood pieces.
I'd use Elmers Glue-All or equivalent (not School Glue) white glue rather than Tightbond. When my esteemed associate suggests that you "grab some Tightbond" he's used an all too appropriate word: grab. Tightbond grabs quickly as pieces are being pushed together and can get you into trouble; white glue is far less grabby. There are many discussions here about the pros and cons of various glues, but the general (if not universal) consensus is that white glue makes a bond that's stronger than balsa and paper being joined, and is easier to work with than wood glues like Tightbond.

Apogee has been mentioned a few times as a good vendor and for their videos. They also have a free newsletter which would be great to subscribe to if you continue with the hobby. Issue number 1 (it's up to #535) is worth reading right away; it talks about how flying is as much of a skill to be learned as building is. As a vendor they offer good customer service and are happy and quick to answer questions (and offer even more more advice.) Their prices are a little high, yet I consider it worth supporting the things they do for the hobby; a fair price I'd happily pay for the newsletter alone would be as much as I pay in higher prices than other vendors.

And let me be the second to say: have fun, both of you and each of you. (Let's see if we can get two hooked for the price of one.)
 

Alan R

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Just one more point I wanted to add. Everybody here mentions Hobby Lobby because they always have a nice selection of kits and motors. But ...

Try your local hobby shop first if you have one. Especially in these times. Support your local mom and pop shop if you can. Most of them cater to trains and R/C guys nowdays but most will carry a selection of Estes kits and motors.
 

Back_at_it

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Just one more point I wanted to add. Everybody here mentions Hobby Lobby because they always have a nice selection of kits and motors. But ...

Try your local hobby shop first if you have one. Especially in these times. Support your local mom and pop shop if you can. Most of them cater to trains and R/C guys nowdays but most will carry a selection of Estes kits and motors.

Agreed.. Unfortunately the one hobby shop in my area that carries rockets has a staff with very poor attitudes. They cater to the vintage train market and have a small selection of rockets. If you aren't in there to drop $1000 on train parts they treat you like dirt.

The only other hobby shop is about 30 mins away and it's a chain store and they think everything they sell is made of gold. I'll support a local shop but I'm not paying 50% markup of MSRP. It's a sad day when someone is asking $31 for a Big Bertha (not a SBB).
 

mo2872

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Agreed.. Unfortunately the one hobby shop in my area that carries rockets has a staff with very poor attitudes. They cater to the vintage train market and have a small selection of rockets. If you aren't in there to drop $1000 on train parts they treat you like dirt.

The only other hobby shop is about 30 mins away and it's a chain store and they think everything they sell is made of gold. I'll support a local shop but I'm not paying 50% markup of MSRP. It's a sad day when someone is asking $31 for a Big Bertha (not a SBB).
Or $35 for a Big Daddy!!😳😳
 
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