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Launch report, sort of

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Ray Dunakin

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Last weekend I attended the Tripoli San Diego launch, and attempted a two-stage test flight of the BoosterVision onboard video system.

I arrived in the desert Friday night. Before going to the club launch, I went to the site of my private launch a couple weeks ago, where I had lost an entire rocket and camera. I'd already spent at least 10 hours searching for it on previous occasions. I spent about three hours looking for it Friday night without success. (Both the rocket and payload have reflective vinyl trim which makes it easy to spot with a flashlight at night.)

It rained off and on Friday night, so I ended up sleeping in my car -- oh, my back! Saturday morning was rainless and windless, but overcast. My first flight with the BoosterVision system was to be a two-stage flight on a K700 to K570. Payload contained the BoosterVision video system and a 35mm sequence camera. After waiting all morning for the cloudy weather to clear up, finally got a large patch of blue sky and sun, giving me a window to launch.

The sustainer rocket has flown several times on K motors, usually in single-stage configuration or as a booster for parasite staging. This was the first time with two cameras and two mirror shrouds on the payload.

The rocket went up to 952 feet, then veered sharply and came apart at the interstage coupler. The booster went horizontal and was destroyed on impact about a half mile away. The sustainer descended under chute, but landed on Andy Woerner's ATV. The payload lost its chute and landed flat on its side, knocking most of the paint off the nosecone but causing no damage to the payload or to the cameras and transmitter.

My first thought was that the interstage coupler had failed. Since the sustainer and payload were intact, I decided to try a single-stage flight on a K570. This had to wait until Sunday, as the weather became cloudier and windy late Saturday. I returned to my old launch site and spent a few more hours searching for my lost rocket and camera. More rain Saturday night, so another night spent in the car -- ouch!

Sunday brought perfect flying conditions: mild temperature, sunny, clear skies with just a few fluffy clouds and no wind. I prepped the rocket and payload, again with the 35mm camera and video system. Once again, the rocket encountered problems early in the flight. At about 1000 feet the rocket suddenly veered, this time making a complete loop. It straightened out and continued flying but at a 45 degree angle, corkscrewing as it went. I estimate it reached an altitude of about 3500 feet and about a mile from the launch site.

At ejection, the payload chute deployed but didn't open, and the payload fell hard, tail-first. The payload coupler was crushed, seriously damaging the altimeter inside. (Hence only a visual estimate of the altitude.) The camera bays were both shoved downwards a couple inches, and the mirror shroud to which the TV camera was mounted was torn loose. The 35mm camera had no damage; the only damage to the TV camera and transmitter was that the antenna cable was pulled from the antenna housing, and the wires were pulled from the battery pack.

Obviously, there was no interstage coupler on this flight. This rocket is very stable and has been flown on a single K motor before, without incident. However, on previous flights it had only one camera, and one mirror shroud. I can only conclude that the root problem was the positioning of the two mirror shrouds. They are mounted one on each side of the payload, offset vertically. Somehow this configuration must be causing a high degree of drag-induced torque. I have tried a similar dual-camera configuration on two previous rockets, as far back as 1989, and both of those flights had strange drag-induced problems too.

The video system worked beautifully and everyone was very impressed with it. But of course, I was unable to achieve the altitude required to test the transmitter range. I will be constructing a couple new payloads for the video system alone, and will be doing more flights in various configurations.

Some highlights of the club launch:

One fellow had built a rocket which was topped with a real bird house! It was a round bird house with a pointed roof, and on the peg in front of the hole he had mounted a very realistic looking fake bird. The rocket flew beautifully and to everyone's surprise, the bird remained attached!

Someone else had a delta-winged R/C plane that was originally powered by an electric motor and pusher prop. He removed the motor and prop and fitted a motor tube into the plane. It blew great on Estes E9's, performed some cool acrobatics, and came in for a smooth landing to much applause.

Andy Woerner had a successful test flight of his new 10" diameter Honest John kit, and his wife Joanna flew her own 10" diameter scratchbuilt rocket which was loosely based on an Estes design.

Before heading home, I spent another hour or so searching for my lost camera rocket. Still no luck!
 

nomopbo

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Too bad. Sounds like a costly launch for you.
Also sounds like a treasure hunt in the desert might be in order!
Good luck on the tests, and hope you find that rocket!
 

mkeene

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Hi Ray - I too was at the Tripoli SD launch last weekend. Heard a lot about you. Didn't get a chance to meet you. Next time.....

Sorry about the failure of your launches. From everything I've read as a BAR, your theory about the cause of the failure sounds plausible. I was standing right by Andy's ATV when the sustainer hit. Glad to hear that the damage it took was minor.

I'm good friends with the "birdhouse guy." He likes to see how many unique designs he can come up with on his rockets. He did a great job with that one.

Look forward to seeing you next time.

Mike
 

Stones

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Originally posted by Ray Dunakin
...
One fellow had built a rocket which was topped with a real bird house! It was a round bird house with a pointed roof, and on the peg in front of the hole he had mounted a very realistic looking fake bird. The rocket flew beautifully and to everyone's surprise, the bird remained attached!
...
I'm still working on getting good 'ol regular rockets to fly stable and this guy can fly a birdhouse? With a bird perched outside of it? ;)
Sorry to hear of the mishaps Ray. Hopefully, you'll come across that camera rocket, by chance or otherwise.
 

Ray Dunakin

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Originally posted by mkeene
Hi Ray - I too was at the Tripoli SD launch last weekend. Heard a lot about you. Didn't get a chance to meet you. Next time.....
Sorry about the failure of your launches. From everything I've read as a BAR, your theory about the cause of the failure sounds plausible. I was standing right by Andy's ATV when the sustainer hit. Glad to hear that the damage it took was minor.
I'm good friends with the "birdhouse guy." He likes to see how many unique designs he can come up with on his rockets. He did a great job with that one.
Hi Mike! Sorry I missed you, hopefully we meet at the next launch. What's the "birdhouse guy's" name? I may post a pic of his rocket, and want to attribute it correctly.
 

wwattles

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His name is Brian Moulton, and I credit (accuse?) him with getting me involved with rocketry in the first place!

He said he found the birdhouse at a Michaels, and for under 5 bucks, had a creative nose cone that was already painted.

WW
 

mkeene

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Ditto what ww said. Brian's a cool dude, a college prof and our sunday school teacher. Me an ww typically carpool together to the launches. I know that Brian would be totally cool with having a picture of the birdhouse on the forum. I'll tell him tomorrow.
Mike

In Progress:
Richter Recker
 

rocketkid88

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I was there too! i didn't have any rockets ( :( ), but i was there most of the day on Sat. I have a good video of you K2K flight on Sat... its too bad about the misshap, but it *was* spectacular as it corkscrewed away:rolleyes:.
the birdhouse suffered a seperation on Sat, and the house came in balistic. got that on video as well, but i can't post the vids on here... much to large:D
Another *spectacular* launch was on of the TARC qualification flights... staged about 100' off the pad and went horizontal. What else... *looks through folder of pic from that day*... there were a nr of mpr-hpr flights, and a whole lata lpr flights. here you can see a pic of a HPR taking off... i duno whose it is, or what motor, so if you know please tell me! i'd like to give credit to whomevers rkt it is!
I got a cool pick of 4 lprs dragracing... i'll atach it.
i have a whole bunch of other pics to, wana see them? if so i think i'll start another thread... i don't know whose most of them are, so you guys can help me with that!


post nr 88... the year i was born (well...)
 
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