Launch day finally...

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Well-Known Member
Sep 23, 2004
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After scrubbing yesterday dut to high winds, I woke this morning to find no winds this morning. Yes! My whole family was going out, as well as my buddy Mark and his family. My son and I got to the park first around 12:00 just as the winds came back. Hard. Conditions at the park were a constant 10-15mph winds, with gusts much higher, and temp was around 40', such is late November in NJ. Wind be damned, I hadn't gotten anything launched in a month, so we were going to try. Key to launching was going to be waiting out the sustained winds for short periods of relative calm.

Since conditions were speculative the first rocket to be offered up to the gods for approval was the 'Argon' spare parts rocket I had just made. A string test the night before confrimed a need for nose wait. Since its a small rocket, used an A8 for the motor. This was also the maiden field test for my newly constructed launch controller, so I was a little nervous. Key in, Power on, Arm switch on, Pad select to launch pad 1, continuity test good, countdown cross fingers and hit the big red button. Within a half second I had ignition and the rocket was up and gone. It arced a little into the wind, but tracked true, and showed no signs of the instability from the first initial string test. Apogee was about about 400 feet, and the chute deployed just after. It came down way downfield due to the high winds, but was recovered with no damage. Score one for impromptu engineering; I have a new "first launch field condition tester rocket".

Next up was the maiden flight of the recently completed Semroc Lune R-1. Due to the winds, I put in a 12" chute with a spill hole cut into it. Engine was a B6, and since this built out so light, I wa a little nervous. Again, at zero countdown, the rocket lit off within a very short time of hitting the luanchs button (new launcher performed great all day.) The Lune R-1 took off like a shot completely straight up, with nary a rotation. Given the windy conditions, it was nothing short of spectacular. Rocket went up probably 600-700 ft at least, and ejected at apogee. We sweated out the decent, and the rocket came down 'just' in front of the trees bordering the far end of the field; we used every inch of the park. Great flight for a nice rocket.

Next up was the Quest Super Eagle on a C. I had recently shortened it about 3 inches to remove a baldy creased section of tube at the bottom near the fin can. Luckily it hasn't affected the stability any and it flew great. Maybe its a little overstabile in its stock config. My buddy Mark who was standing about 150 yards downwind had to move 2 feet to his right to catch the rocket on the fly.

My friend Mark then flew his Alpha III on an A8 for a nice uneventful flight. Field recovered with no damage

Next was the old Micron I had painted purple and white for my wife. This was an interesting ' launch'. The Micron is a friction mount and has a streamer recovery. I got distracted during athe course of prepping the bird (there was about 10 people in our group talking and playing nearby), and somehow completely forgot to install the wadding and check the streamer. Total brain fart on my part. In went the A8 and an ignitor, prepped it on the pad, hooked it up, and taught my wife how to use the controller. Sucessful countdown, she hits the button and up it goes about 350-400 feet (we angled the launch into the wind). Motor burns out, it noses over at apogee and starts down. Ejection charge hits and two things happened which weren't obvious from the ground. The streamer, which I had not checked, was packed so tightly that the ejection charge was not going to budge it, instead, the motor is blown out of the back, and the rocket pointed straight down, is suddenly accelerated to a very high velocity. It was disconcerting seeing a rocket in a freefall suddenly zoom downwards for no apparent reason. Thump! It lawn darts vertically into the field past the NC and about 1/3 up the tube. After pulling it out, it miraculously suffered no damage. Amazing, I thought it was toast.

Next up was my daughters pink Centuri Tomahawk. This we packed with the spillhole chute and a B6-5. We had a good high launch with it on a B, and the chute didn't completely deploy, and it came down fast, but still 100 yards away. We reloaded it again so my daughters friend could take a turn at launching a rocket. The Tomahawk went straight up, and consequerntly a fair bit higher than the previous flight, and this time the chute deployed correctly. And away it went.... It drifted past the confines of the field, over the fence, past the parking area, and out towards the busy main road we came in on. Luckily there was a 20' high tree right next to the road, and the rocket came in about 3/4 of the way up, otherwise it would have been roadkill. We were able to retrieve it, and considering the near misses we had, decided to call it a day.

Unless we get a dead calm day this winter, I'm packing it in till spring.
The LCS-300 launch controller; powered two separate pads all day and performed flawlessly.
The Lune R-1 streaking off pad 2 at lift-off. This is probably my best launch picture to date.
That's a real cool launch controller!

Where'd ya get the casing?
Its a PacTec enclosure, most any sizable electronics parts distributor will cary them. I went through here:

I felt kinda cheesey pretending I was a company considering buying in bulk in order to get test enclosures, but their ya go.

It works well, and the aluminum is soft enough to cut with the tools I have at my disposal.
Hey Lugnut, where is your field? I'm always looking for good fields in NJ, they are unfortunately rare in our oh-so-densely populated state!

Yeah no kidding. I'm down in Monmouth County about an hour from you. I've been going two different places, one is Dorbrook Park in Colts Neck on Rt 537. It has a couple of potential drawbacks that I won't go into detail here, but if your interested in learning it about email me offline ([email protected] - remove 'nospam').

The other is the Softball Fields behind Monmouth Regional High School in Tinton Falls. Its not huge, has trees, but is definitely workable for me.

If your in Randolph though, your probably much closer to the GSSS site, no? Are rockets limited to launch days at that park? I've been meaning to head up there the next time they have a launch day.
Cool, I grew up in Monmouth County, Marlboro to be exact! Yes, I am a member of GSSS although the field is probably right between you and me, in Bridgewater. I've been meaning to find out if we are limited to launch days there because unfortunately the last 5 months in a row have been rainouts and there is no rain date ever scheduled. Our next launch is supposed to be Dec. 18, so I'm hoping for some unseasonably warm weather because I doubt we'll go in Jan or Feb even if the launches happen.

If you happen to find out if their field is accesible on non-club-launch days, please let me know. Like you, always good to have a contingency plan for another field here in NJ.