# L3 build documentation and protocol

### Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

#### TMJ

##### "Where the heck'd it go!"
I'm not real clear on the proper procedures for documenting my L3 build, prior to a certification flight. I'm about a five hour drive from the launch site/the local club that will have the TAP's available for examination of the rocket and perform the certification thing. Can I simply document my build, via photo's and written text, then show up at the launch, unannounced, with rocket and documentation in hand... or, must I go about this L3 certification build/documentation thing in a different manner?

#### rharshberger

##### Well-Known Member
I'm not real clear on the proper procedures for documenting my L3 build, prior to a certification flight. I'm about a five hour drive from the launch site/the local club that will have the TAP's available for examination of the rocket and perform the certification thing. Can I simply document my build, via photo's and written text, then show up at the launch, unannounced, with rocket and documentation in hand... or, must I go about this L3 certification build/documentation thing in a different manner?
Usually you have identified your TAPs/L3CC in advance, submitted a proposal build on which they may accept or they may request clarification and changes. Once you have approval you build and document EVERYTHING including about a zillion photos (with ruler for reference). They may accept photos in place of a physical inspection, get approval, fly, succeed, get cert.

#### TMJ

##### "Where the heck'd it go!"
Usually you have identified your TAPs/L3CC in advance, submitted a proposal build on which they may accept or they may request clarification and changes. Once you have approval you build and document EVERYTHING including about a zillion photos (with ruler for reference). They may accept photos in place of a physical inspection, get approval, fly, succeed, get cert.
Thanks Rich!
If I understand you correctly, I probably need to contact the prefect for the club where I will be doing my flight cert, in advance, and go from there according to his instructions? Is this correct?

Last edited:

#### Worsaer

##### Amateur Propulsionist
I'm not real clear on the proper procedures for documenting my L3 build, prior to a certification flight. I'm about a five hour drive from the launch site/the local club that will have the TAP's available for examination of the rocket and perform the certification thing. Can I simply document my build, via photo's and written text, then show up at the launch, unannounced, with rocket and documentation in hand... or, must I go about this L3 certification build/documentation thing in a different manner?
Unannounced? No. You should be working with your TAPs, looking for a review of your plans even before you begin your build. They will confirm your approach,and perhaps make some suggestions,along he way. You will want to ensure they will be at the launch to sign off in your documentation, inspect your work in person, and witness your flight. Think of it as a partnership, rather than an approval gate.

#### PokerJones

##### Well-Known Member
I would contact your nearest TAPS before you do anything. They will want to talk with you about the build prior to the start of construction. You can find them here https://www.tripoli.org/TAPMembers

#### KenRico

##### 'Just the Tip'
I picked a TAP , then a project, then reviewed the project with the TAP and wrote up the data capture ... then got approval to begin after getting a second TAP and he concurred approval to begin.

Because of past documentation issues (lack there of) .. my 1st TAP also asked for a sample L3 doc from me beyond the capture form .. so after reviewing others l3 docs online and reviewing the tripoli site l3 requirements. . I prepared the capture form, pic of myself, diagram of electronics , and the motor thrust curve . Also threw in a couple of sample photos from past fg builds.

That became the boiler plate. .and as i built it i replaced the sample pics with my real pics with brief descriptions.

When they both viewed the rocket prior to flight..they had intimate knowledge of its stability, construction and performance & signed off for the flight attempt.

This is not a show up, ready to fly and then poll a TAP to review your bird..more of a documented project requiring prior approval to begin, supervised construction (mine were eMail updates) - that cumulates in a flight for certification ..

TAPs vary , you cant assume anything until you find a willing one and hear what he has to say

Kenny

Last edited:

#### TMJ

##### "Where the heck'd it go!"
Okie dokie! I get the picture, now.
I just sent an email to the prefect where I'll be doing this. He'll get back to me and let me know just how to proceed with my L3 venture from this point forward.
Thanks guys!

#### rharshberger

##### Well-Known Member
Thanks Rich!
If I understand you correctly, I probably need to contact the prefect for the club where I will be doing my flight cert, in advance, and go from there according to his instructions? Is this correct?
Others have since answered the question better than I, but yes. The planning, proposal, build, documentation, inspection, and everything are part of the experience.

#### MikeyDSlagle

##### Well-Known Member
Ride out to High Cotton this weekend. Several TAPs will be on site that you could talk to face to face. We have a 10,000 foot waiver with a call in to 14,500, and miles of ag fields for recovery. There will be two vendors on site this weekend. But... we are about 6 hours away in Winnsboro, LA. I know you are probably closer to Argonia but I bet we have better food in Louisiana!
I think Whitney is gonna try to tickle the waiver with a 4grain M. And if we're lucky, Scott Taylor will show up and fly one of his awesome pyramid rocket things.

It's a bit of a drive, but maybe something to think about.

Mikey D

#### jimzcatz

##### Boss, Carolina Rocket Mafia
It's possible to do a L3 cert with a rocket you already have built. I did it myself. Just be able to answer any and all of your TAPS questions.

#### rharshberger

##### Well-Known Member
It's possible to do a L3 cert with a rocket you already have built. I did it myself. Just be able to answer any and all of your TAPS questions.
But dont be surprised if the TAP says you need to build and document a rocket specifically for them.

#### jimzcatz

##### Boss, Carolina Rocket Mafia
Then that person should not be a TAP. We do not have the power to "demand" anything. Thinking otherwise is a severe misuse of the power entrusted to us.

#### ksaves2

I'm not real clear on the proper procedures for documenting my L3 build, prior to a certification flight. I'm about a five hour drive from the launch site/the local club that will have the TAP's available for examination of the rocket and perform the certification thing. Can I simply document my build, via photo's and written text, then show up at the launch, unannounced, with rocket and documentation in hand... or, must I go about this L3 certification build/documentation thing in a different manner?
You are going to get a pile of answers on this. NAR seems to want a candidate to get "prior approval" of a project before building. I've been told in TRA that may not be absolutely necessary if not doing something other than a standard DD project or
single deploy for that matter. Depends on the TAP. What I gather is if you are in an isolated geographical area is to approach TAPS (email or phone) and if they consent, send all your build details, documentation, pictures etc. to them for perusal and make arrangements beforehand. Sure a little biography/CV of what you've done and flown before could be helpful too. Flown a fiberglass rocket with an L to 10k' and successfully recovered? That should
carry some weight as opposed to someone who has only flown J350's in cardboard rockets only. Tip: Setup a video camera of you doing something like epoxy work with the centering rings or a shot of the inside of the fincan before you
epoxy the last ring on. I have some videos using a keychain camera and they're quite viewable.

Showing up at a launch completely unannounced I believe is very poor form. If a TAP is geographically nearby, by all means take advantage of their advice during building but if that's not possible I don't think that's a very big deal. Heck if they're nearby, I'd be proud to show them directly the rocket way beforehand away from the pressure of a launch to point out my "superior" craftsmanship and "excellent choice" of adhesives. If that's not possible, as long as they've seen your paperwork beforehand, they like it, you can show them the rocket and its features onsite. All the required TRA or NAR paperwork has to be completed. Show up on the appointed day with TAPs/L3CC people who are familiar and it should go smoothly.

Some of them might want every piece of fly poop that is on the rocket documented. Example: A screw is not a screw. Is it nylon, plain steel, blue steel, aluminum, stainless steel and if stainless steel what kind? 304? 316? 410? 430?. What are the ratings? Some of them can be very pimpy so that's where contacting them beforehand can be helpful. If you find they're a jerk. See if you can get someone else.

I hate to sound so harsh but I've known of situations where someone indeed has showed up cold at a major launch, was able to get the paperwork perused quickly, rocket inspected and have a successful L3 attempt.
Seemed to me that was way too simple but the project indeed looked capable. Ok by me.
I also have known a fellow that their TAP made them travel long distances 7 times during the build process for "inspections". That really was stupid and no it wasn't NAR it was TRA and I will say it was about 9-10 years ago.
That is outrageously asinine and I hope no one has had to do that in the recent past.

Also, find out what they consider a "success" is. There are TAPs who totally will not accept electronic verification that a flight was nominal ie. GPS and/or altimeter data for a completely sight unseen attempt. They need to see it under the main chute at some time during the descent. They won't accept walking/riding out the recovery site with you to get first sight and inspect. As long as we're on the topic of sight unseen, one needs to be cognizant of the waiver radius. If your candidate rocket is a 4 inch diameter screamer, you better go to a venue with a radius more than a mile 'cause even if your rocket performs perfectly, if it lands at 1.1 mile away with a 1 mile waiver radius it's a failure. That's the rules. If you have an accommodating "official" maybe they'll wink and look the other way. But then again maybe it's $300 to$400 of propellant wasted. A baby M can push something like that up pretty high unless it's "weighted down". The rules are the rules in that regard and I'm not arguing that.

Gives meaning to the contention to do an L3 attempt with something large, heavy and low. L3 with a bucket rocket anyone? Don't laugh, its been done successfully. Sure if you live way out west with a very liberal waiver, shoot for 30k' on the L3 flight. Live any place else and one needs to be more discerning.... Or willing to travel for that screamer rocket they want to certify on.

BTW, I am totally incredulous of those who feel we should make everyone do a Mach screamer dual deploy for an L3 flight attempt for many of the reasons I state above. It should be up to the candidate which route they wish to
pursue as already accepted by both organizations (and not likely to change thank heavens) Kurt

Last edited:

#### ksaves2

But dont be surprised if the TAP says you need to build and document a rocket specifically for them.
Yeah, I built a stretched Wildman 3 with extended bays 8 years ago 'cause I like longneck rockets. Used premium Duralco 4525B and flew to 10k' on an L1400. Technically I am able to fit two modern deployment devices in my 10" long ebay, swap out the
standard nosecone with one that mounts a tracker and go for it with a Loki 54mm M. The sustainer I built long and there's plenty of room. Problem is the rocket sims to 17-18k' and too high for around here! Kurt (I do have the L2050 and hardware already)

#### tbonerocketeer

TRF Supporter
It's possible to do a L3 cert with a rocket you already have built. I did it myself. Just be able to answer any and all of your TAPS questions.
It is bad to encourage this Jim. The point of the process is to make sure things are going to be sufficient for the flight. I have failed 4 flights for L3, 3 of which showed up without prior guidance.

#### CzTeacherMan

##### Well-Known Member
Thanks Rich!
If I understand you correctly, I probably need to contact the prefect for the club where I will be doing my flight cert, in advance, and go from there according to his instructions? Is this correct?
Yes, but more ask your TAP... Unless you're NAR, then ask your L3CC. All these kinds of questions are best directed to those people, not TRF. Speaking from experience, TRF will give you a thousand responses and just about zero actually helpful answers...

Last edited:

#### jimzcatz

##### Boss, Carolina Rocket Mafia
It is bad to encourage this Jim. The point of the process is to make sure things are going to be sufficient for the flight. I have failed 4 flights for L3, 3 of which showed up without prior guidance.
Chris, I wasn't encourageing it, just saying it's possible. There are too many power mad TAPS out there in my opinion.

#### MClark

##### Well-Known Member
Chris, I wasn't encourageing it, just saying it's possible. There are too many power mad TAPS out there in my opinion.
1+
I did my L3 on a rocket I had laying around. It had been launched before on an O motor. Only paperwork was the sign off sheet. "The Level 3 Experience" is a bunch of bs, it was just another flight to satisfy a regulatory requirement.

M

#### CORZERO

##### Well-Known Member
It is bad to encourage this Jim. The point of the process is to make sure things are going to be sufficient for the flight. I have failed 4 flights for L3, 3 of which showed up without prior guidance.
The first statement from tripoli.org/Level3 that causes me some confusion:

"It is best if this TAP review is performed before the day of the launch to allow adjustments to the rocket design if deemed necessary by either of the 2 TAP reviewers." Suggesting the model was complete before design details were provided.

Adding to the ambiguity is this statement:

"TAP members should be kept informed of any changes during construction."

Suggesting that the plans should be presented to them prior to starting a build, despite stating only that design details must be presented to and signed off by 2 TAP's and not specifying when.

My reasonable interpretation is you are good to go whether you want your TAP to hold your hand throughout the entire build or walk up to a TAP on flight day and make an attempt as long as two TAP's agree that you meet these criteria -from https://www.tripoli.org/Level3-:

• A completely filled out Pre-Flight Data Capture form
• Drawings of the rocket showing airframe components, fins, bulkheads, recovery system components, payloads, etc...
• A parts listing that includes material descriptions, adhesive types, screw sizes gauges, thicknesses, etc...
• A simplified wiring diagram of the electronic recovery system that shows the major components.
• Pre-flight checklist describing: field assembly of the rocket, motor installation, recovery system preparation, launcher installation, system arming, etc.
• These items should be neatly drawn, and, if possible, lists typed. The primary preparation criteria are those drawings and lists are neat and legible. All items will be returned to the submitter if desired. A self-addressed envelope or supply postage funds to assist the TAP member with returns.

Unless I knew a TAP that was interested in my progress from an entertainment standpoint there's no way I would bother him by filling up his voicemail or inbox with a new picture of what I glued together every day.

Last edited:

#### jimzcatz

##### Boss, Carolina Rocket Mafia
1+
I did my L3 on a rocket I had laying around. It had been launched before on an O motor. Only paperwork was the sign off sheet. "The Level 3 Experience" is a bunch of bs, it was just another flight to satisfy a regulatory requirement.

M
Same here, but my previous flights weren't as aggressive. Just Blue Thunder clusters into the upper "L" range. I was flying these before the 3 level process was even thought up.

#### rharshberger

##### Well-Known Member
I strangely find the TRA certification procedure disappointing if its truly as easy as some have made it out to be.

#### FredA

##### Well-Known Member
I strangely find the TRA certification procedure disappointing if its truly as easy as some have made it out to be.

Dirt simple....way too easy and demonstrates little....disappointing is an understatement.
IMHO, the TAPS with multiple failures should be re-evaluated....nobody should fail.

Last edited:

op: op:

#### Worsaer

##### Amateur Propulsionist
I strangely find the TRA certification procedure disappointing if its truly as easy as some have made it out to be.

Dirt simple....way too easy and demonstrates little....disappointing is an understatement.
IMHO, the TAPS with multiple failures should be re-evaluated....nobody should fail.
Hey Fred, do you have some specific failure rate stats in mind? If I recall correctly, at the last Tripoli annual meeting Debra said there were something like 30 successful L3 cert flights over the previous year, and only one failure. That seems like a pretty good success rate.

#### DavidMcCann

##### Well-Known Member
Hey Fred, do you have some specific failure rate stats in mind? If I recall correctly, at the last Tripoli annual meeting Debra said there were something like 30 successful L3 cert flights over the previous year, and only one failure. That seems like a pretty good success rate.

Some people Just want their merit badge to shine brighter. If your ego needs that, I say we make these people a "Phd of rocketry" maybe include a hat and jacket for them. If their personal achievements aren't enough for them to feel cool.... we'll just give them a bullshit title to shut them up and let them feel better than everyone else...

I nominate we give Fred the first Phd.

#### TMJ

##### "Where the heck'd it go!"
Mind sharing some of that popcorn with me? This might turn out to be a good one!

#### dford

1+
I did my L3 on a rocket I had laying around. It had been launched before on an O motor. Only paperwork was the sign off sheet. "The Level 3 Experience" is a bunch of bs, it was just another flight to satisfy a regulatory requirement.

M
I hope one day i'm an L3 that requires an L2 candidate to satisfy a "BS" regulatory requirement.

#### TMJ

##### "Where the heck'd it go!"
I have a great idea. How's about we all get back on topic and stop pointing fingers, making accusations and stirring a pot that wasn't meant to be stirred! Tripoli/NAR both respect either/or certifications at their launches. If one of those entities was substandard in their practices and certification standards, the 'other' would not allow them to fly at their launches. Come on guys. Let's get real and stick to rockets. Leave the B.S. in the north forty pasture where it truly belongs! I actually belong to 'BOTH' Tripoli 'and' NAR. I personally have no complaints about the practises of either/or. "Why should i?" They are both great organizations meant to promote this wonderful hobby in a safe, competent manner....

#### ksaves2

I strangely find the TRA certification procedure disappointing if its truly as easy as some have made it out to be.
Depends upon which TAPS one is using.................

As far as TAPs with multiple failures Fred, do you mean that they fly themselves and have multiple failures?:wink:
Or their candidates have multiple failures? That is not a dig. I've known of an adequate TAP who makes a subtle suggestion
concerning an item like a parachute and the candidate discounts that recommendation (even when the flying buddies offer a
"better" chute) and the chute fouls and it's a DNF. I don't think that reflects poorly on the TAP.

Harness attachment unscrews and sustainer core samples. Candidate said it was secured with threadlocker. Again I don't think that's
a TAP issue. I don't think trusting a candidate telling the truth is a TAP problem

There are things that "could" be done to a rocket that are not necessarily game stoppers as far as making an attempt.

As far as flying a previously built rocket, if the rocket is up to the task, by all means why not? :horse:
My modified 3" Wildman rocket I recounted above is certainly up to the task with a Loki 54mm M but I don't have an
easily accessible venue to make an attempt.

Would someone try to pass off a cardboard rocket with lousy adhesives as a candidate rocket? If so, easy to suggest they not use it. Why would one lie about an adhesive or technique? Cripes, if it's the right venue meaning no people are around, I like to see a good confetti flight every now and then. Believe me, I've seen my fair share of them. (Not mine of course.)
Oh, BTW I do have a 4" diameter cardboard rocket with multiple wraps of fiberglass, four 1/4" Baltic birch fins with 1/3rd, 2/3rds and full span 2oz fiberglass laminations where I rotated the cloth 45 degrees on the second layer. It just might be able to handle an
M after an L is tried. If I ever accomplish L3 I just might try it at an isolated venue. Cripes M's were flown in cardboard in the past
with the appropriate building techniques. My confidence level with that one would be just slightly less than the Wildman.

The thing about NAR is the deal about contacting L3CC's before construction. If one is going to use a "collection of parts" of a rocket that has been successfully used by others, what's the big deal to have to get a note from your "nanny" to go ahead and build it?
I think that is degrading. Remember NAR had the "safety switch on every circuit (ematch)" rule for years. TRA did too until some started relaxing it and TRA officially did away with it. Few years ago when I recounted this, there were several stupidheads who said they still do it. :bangpan: Kurt

#### FredA

##### Well-Known Member
OK - I'll keep this brief. Not interested in starting a war with my haters when I express my opinion.

TWO TAPS need to review and sign off on the rocket BEFORE the flight.
If that flight fails, I see the failure as both the candidate and the TAPs....after all two "guru's" said it was good to go....

I can see a failure once in a while due to Murphy, but you shouldn't see TAP's with multiple failures within some reasonable period of time.
Multiple failures would seem to indicate failure to properly coach/mentor/monitor and they shouldn't have signed off on the flight if it didn't have a very high probability of succeeding.