So the last time I posted here, it was after the Airfest flight where the sustainer motor took 6 seconds to light and ended up coming up to pressure just after recovery system deployed. Not so good! I plan to repeat the flight later this spring when I get replacement motors from Wildman. The booster motor will be a bit larger, which should also help. The flight will be like the "Infinity Squared" flight, except that the "Serpent" flight focuses more on tilt changes than bearing changes (tilt changes are more difficult). It'll be fun.
Since I've been without a project, I have decided to try another attempt at something I did a few years back. Nearly 7 years ago (wow), I tried a beta group test of the vertical orientation system discussed in this thread. There were at least 6 experienced fliers that got a control board with the objective of building a system. There were a few systems built, and some limited success, but for the most part, the results were not as good as I would have hoped for. It's just not an easy thing to do. However, those of us working on this system have a desire to make the technology more broadly available, so we want to try another beta group. I don't exactly know how this is going to play out, but this is the starting point.
There are a couple of lessons from the previous beta group that I hope will result in more success this time around. It was clear to me from the first attempt that building an orientation system that is mechanically sufficient is not easy. Several of the systems built were simply inadequate and could never have worked. I think this factor also discouraged others from trying to construct a system. So, the lesson for me was that for this effort to be successful, a system needs to be provided that is proven and much closer to ready-to-fly. A second lesson, maybe learned after the original beta testing, is that a system probably won't work all that well unless combined with a spin can. This is another impediment to more wide-spread use of the technology since spin cans are also not that easy to construct.
I envision the following initial steps:
- Build a prototype of a design that is relatively easy to construct
- Adapt the design for 3D printing
- Develop a flight program that rocketeers can use that does useful things
- Develop a spin can that can be easily incorporated into existing or new rockets
The price of admission in the original beta testing effort was about $60 (the price of a control board). This won't be possible for the current effort due to the cost of development and the components used. But, it will still be a lot of fun - and hopefully worth the cost - for anyone that participates. I look forward to input and advice from the TRF community.