Level 1 Certification — What would you do differently?

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garlicsnapper

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I’m currently a Level 3 certified flyer with CAR-ACF (Level 2 equivalent for those in the U.S.). My oldest son is quickly approaching the age where he can go for his Level 1 certification. There’s obviously many newer kits out there than ever before. Plus the information available for pursuing high-power certification is no doubt better than its ever been. If you were to have to do Level 1 all over again in this day and age, what would you be looking for? I’m thinking in terms of kits, motor recommendations, best places for info, best places to shop from, etc. What factors would make it the most successful and educational experience in this day and age? What would you do differently?
 

Back_at_it

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I asked the level one question to an number of people online in various forums, meetings and launches trying to figure out what the best options were and everyone had the same thing to say. Get something that you can fly low and slow.

Two rockets kept coming up over and over regardless of who I talked to. The first was the LOC IV and second was the LOC Warlock. After talking to Jason and Dave at LOC I settled on the Warlock. I've been building it slowly over the winter and just about ready for paint. I'll be flying it on an H550. Expected apogee is only 600-650ft.

Hoping to do my LVL 1 this summer.
 

David Schwantz

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There are so many rockets to choose from, one can't just say one is better than the other. I think it comes down to personal choice. I agree with Back at it, low and slow for all cert flights. Motor eject, even if you have to walk a bit to recover it, most likely she will be down and in one piece. I used a JLCR for my L2 so main would deploy lower. I had used it before on L1 flights. I would not use a new toy on a cert flight that I had not already flown. Fly motors that you are comfortable with. Again, I would not do a reload for a cert that I had never built before. Have fun, have someone else take pics and video so you can watch the whole flight. Good luck to the both of you.
 

dr wogz

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@garlicsnapper : where are you? Alberta or ...
Angelo at Sunward or Pavel at Allrocket.ca or Tyler at Great hobbies for Canadian suppliers (No duties!) As others have said, a multitude of choices. A typical 3 or 4 fin, 4" dia is standard.

@Back_at_it : what kind of Gs are you simming? An H550 is quite a punchy motor. a lot of force in a short burn; it can rip fins off rockets..
 

Back_at_it

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@garlicsnapper : where are you? Alberta or ...
Angelo at Sunward or Pavel at Allrocket.ca or Tyler at Great hobbies for Canadian suppliers (No duties!) As others have said, a multitude of choices. A typical 3 or 4 fin, 4" dia is standard.

@Back_at_it : what kind of Gs are you simming? An H550 is quite a punchy motor. a lot of force in a short burn; it can rip fins off rockets..
I'm not SIMing G's as an H motor is required for Level 1.

In the Warlock you need the punch. Mine is 100oz before paint. Besides, the Warlock is a crazy strong rocket with 1/4 plywood TTW fins.

Here is an example. Low and slow.


 

boatgeek

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I'll come in with a slightly different view. My L1 was a scratch built 54mm rocket, built sturdy/heavy so it was on the edge of visibility at around 2500-3000 feet. It's close to my most-flown rocket since it's a nice size that can park fly on F's or go a little bigger on H's. Most of my flights are on F and G motors.

I think the biggest pieces of advice I'd give are:
1) Fly what you love. It's better to have a rocket that you want to fly when you're done than one that sits on a shelf. If you choose to kit build, that's really what will drive your choice of kits. Any 38mm-4" kit with a 29mm-54mm motor mount will do the job, so build to what you like.
2) Build what you can fly conveniently. If you fly exclusively with a club with a waiver, then by all means put a 38mm motor mount in so you can fly bigger stuff. If you mostly do park flying, then you might want to stick with a 29mm motor mount so that you're not continually adapting down. I may be a minority opinion on this, but I'd avoid a 54mm motor mount for an L1 bird--I'd build a separate L2 capable rocket for that. Motor availability from your local vendors is another part of this.
3) Don't be afraid to scratch build. Kits are nice and great if you're not comfortable designing your own, but scratch building makes it your own.
[edit]
Forgot #4: Fly what you know. If you've flown Chute Releases before, by all means go ahead and use one. If not, your cert flight may not be the place to start. Likewise dual deploy, altimeters, etc.
[/edit]

Good luck!
 
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NateB

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I flew a Darkstar Jr with only the booster section with motor deploy for my Level 1. I wouldn't change the rocket or motor, but the field was very busy with a bunch of school groups that day with number of kids who lost their rockets. If I could change 1 thing, I would have flown on a slower day.
 

teepot

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I scratch built my Level 1. 3" 46 ounce on a H195 to about 1800 feet. Low and slow. I would vote against the H550. They are supper fast. It would really stress the rocket. I would also suggest you Z fold your chute. There is a thread on how to do it. When I flew my level one I was used a different method and the rocket fell 1000 feet before the chute inflated. I would also use a 38mm motor mount. That way with an adapter you could use a 29 mm motors too.
 

dr wogz

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I'm not SIMing G's as an H motor is required for Level 1.

In the Warlock you need the punch. Mine is 100oz before paint. Besides, the Warlock is a crazy strong rocket with 1/4 plywood TTW fins.

Here is an example. Low and slow.



Back at it: I meant Gs as in "Gravities", how much oomph is the airframe supposed to take. An H550 as I said, can pack a punch.. big draggy fins, or weak centering rings can be ripped off or snapped. While the flight may be low, it won't be slow.. You are dumping 320N in half a second.. it'll be like getting hit by a linebacker..

 

thzero

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Only thing would have to been to correctly turn on the altimeter. Otherwise I enjoyed designing and building my own level 1 rocket as well as the prep work to learn how the JLCR worked in a bunch of midpower attempts, etc. in order to be prepared for my L1.
 

GalantVR41062

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If I redid my L1 flight I would be debating on my WM blackhawk 38 or my daughter's 4" Torrent with a 38mm mmt.

the WM Blackhawk would go up on a AT I500T dual deploy, gps, all the goodies.

The Torrent is built light and is under 3.3lbs with a 38mm G motor on the pad. I have flown it on a couple H motors, tried a AT I 327 DM motor and it pressure separated after motor burnout. So I would add shear pins to the payload if I were to try for more.

With a well built 4" kit or scratch built any of the 38mm H or slower burning I motors using motor eject and a JLCR would get the job done nicely. The H motor would keep it in sight the entire flight, the I motors would be just out of sight until the apogee event.

~John
 

_kestrel_

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I built a 3" Madcow Sport-X ( https://www.madcowrocketry.com/3-sport-x/ ) for my level 1, launched with a Aerotech H283 DMS motor with a Chute Release. The OpenRocket sim said 2303 ft and 402 mph. I wanted to get the rocket off the rail with good speed and accomplished that quite well. Another rocket that I have since built in this same size range is the Loc/Precision Athena ( https://locprecision.com/product/athena3/ ). The split fins weren't really any harder to build, just took more time. It has a 29mm MMT which makes it cheap to fly with Aerotech DMS motors. I plan to fly it this weekend on the Aerotech H182R DMS motor.

Things I wouldn't change
I didn't want to go the low and slow route. I figured that the 3" rocket hit a sweet spot for how I wanted to fly Level 1 motors and the high power fields and waivers for my club support going a bit higher/faster.
I would use the Chute Release again. I had flown it several times in mid power rockets and was comfortable with packing a chute with it. It also let me use a larger than normal chute without having to worry about drift. Even though the Sport-X fins are a good shape to prevent landing damage, I still wanted that extra insurance.
I would definitely go with a DMS motor again - less fuss for a launch that I was already nervous about.

Things I would change
I didn't have a preflight checklist written down. The launch still went ok but I now have a checklist that I keep in a binder that I follow before launching. I am starting to get into electronic deployment and have a separate checklist for that. I will also step through that list prior to leaving for a launch. It helps me to know that I have everything with me that I'll need for the day, which leads to...
I didn't have a dedicated range box when I did my Level 1. I scrambled to get everything I thought I would need gathered up and that added extra stress. I now have a dedicated range box with the tools and supplies I need, and some for just in case.
Bring somebody along to take photos. I thought I would snap a few pictures but decided to focus on just getting the rocket ready. I have a few photos from other club members but wish I had a few more.
And finally, I left my wallet at home the day of my launch. Not sure if that was good or bad, but it did keep me from buying out the inventory of our motor vendor.

At the end of it all, build and fly the rocket that makes him happy. If it is a minimum diameter screamer, go for it. If it is a 4", 5.5", or 7.5" low and slow - great. Just make sure you have the field and waiver to support what you are doing, find a mentor if you are doing something completely new (since you already have your CAR Level 3, that is you), and have fun. This is what I am doing with my son right now. He really liked the looks of the Loc/Precision 4" T-Loc and wants to get his Jr Level 1 with a H115DM DMS motor. He just finished his first set of fin fillets on it (they look better than what I can usually lay down) and will start painting it this weekend.
 

Back_at_it

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Back at it: I meant Gs as in "Gravities", how much oomph is the airframe supposed to take. An H550 as I said, can pack a punch.. big draggy fins, or weak centering rings can be ripped off or snapped. While the flight may be low, it won't be slow.. You are dumping 320N in half a second.. it'll be like getting hit by a linebacker..


Ahh Got it. Sim show 17.1G and 58.7mph off a 6ft rail.
 

mtnmanak

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As noted in many posts, there are many awesome kits for Level 1 and a lot of ways to fly it.

I would only really recommend a few things -

- Stick with motor eject for the cert flight (save all the dual deploy options for Level 2)
- Stick with a DMS motor. No reason to add reload variables into your cert flight. You have plenty of time to CATO your rocket after your cert :)
- Fly to your field. Any recommendations about what constitutes "low & slow" or any other recommendations about how high you should go are completely irrelevant to your local situation. Caveat to that is taking advice from fellow members of the club you will fly at - that is highly, highly encouraged. If your cert field is a tree lined hilly area with a 2000 foot ceiling, low and slow probably means under 1000 feet to be safe. If you are heading out to Black Rock to do your cert flight, then the sky is literally the limit.

Other than that, don't forget your vent holes.
 

askrob

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In 2001, I got my level 1 by building a Public Missiles Mini Black Brant X. My dad was also working on his level 1, and subsequently level 2. So, we got to bounce ideas off each other and learn from the club and the owner of the store that sold us our HPR gear.

20 years went by and of course my L1 was gone, I didn't stay a member for that long. Last year I decided to try again. I wanted to start from scratch and relearn how to build a HPR. I also wanted to get my L2 with the same rocket. From some advice I had been given, and my familiarity with PML, I decided on the PML Tethy's.

I built my Tethy's last year, and tried in October. During construction, I noticed the nose cone was tight. I thought to myself "I'm pretty sure the ejection charge will push that out." Well, it did not. I launched, it had a beautiful fight, and nose dived into the ground.

I still had my Mini BBX with me, so decided to try that. Launched, and the wind took it. Searched and searched, and never did find it. It's somewhere near Kloudbusters launch site in Argonia, KS. I'm guessing North, as that's how the wind was blowing.

After that, I decided to rebuild my Tethy's. I had to cut off 8 inches of the body tube, get a new nosecone, and fix one of the fins. Due to making it shorter, I felt like I had to add nose weight. I did make sure the nosecone would eject easily. I decided to attach the shock cord to the nosecone eyelit and said to myself "pretty sure that will work." Spoiler, it did not. I launched again earlier this month on an Aerotech H100. During ejection the nose cone broke free of the shock cord.

Thanks to the Houston, TX club, I was able to find a drill and bit to drill a couple of holes into the nose cone. I then fished the shock cord through the nose cone and connecting it back to itself. I got it ready, launched again on an Aerotech H100, and it flew beautifully. Parachute deployed correctly and everything was good. Finally got my L1, again. I have since put the Tethy's into retirement (for now).

What I learned from this:
  • If you are questioning yourself and saying "I'm pretty sure it will hold." Rethink it. Reinforce it. Make certain it will hold, or deploy.
  • There are lots of ways to do things. Find what works for you and keep with it.
  • Listen to the advice at your local club If it weren't for the people at Kloudbuster's suggesting I make it shorter, I would never have flown the Tethy's again. Also, if it weren't for the Houston club, I wouldn't have modified the nosecone like I did. There's a wealth of knowledge.
  • Fly what you like.
 

hobie1dog

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Seeing that I have to do it all over again with Tripoli, even though I've proven I could pass their requirements once before. First time I adjusted the legs on the pad for a little more angle, next time I'll leave it where it was for everyone else.
 

John_461

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I did my lvl -1 cert on a Madcow Cowabunga with an ATI H130W. In the years since then, It's been ripped apart and repaired enough that there isn't very much of the original left in it, but it still flies very well on H and I motors. After all I've learned with this rocket, I don't think I'd change anything. I may just pull it off the shelf and let 'er rip again this weekend.
IMG_4672.PNG
 

Nathan

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Like most people, my L1 cert rocket was motor ejection only and did not have an av-bay. So when I built it I glued the coupler to the payload tube. That was a mistake because after I progressed to L2 and started flying dual deploy I would have liked to upgrade my L1 cert rocket to dual deploy but was unable to because the coupler was glued in.

So if I could change anything it would be to attach the coupler to the payload tube with bolts or plastic rivets to allow for future upgrade to dual deploy.
 

Adam3836

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I will jump in also here
I highly recommend the apogee zephyr for a L1 rocket that’s what I used and many others have also.
apogee components has a lot of great info they even have a YouTube video for how to obtain your L1 in there personal opinion

rocksim was very helpful for me to narrow down what motor was best for my flight finding a balance with enough thrust off the pad but also keeping it on the lower altitude side

Some basic but important notes I went by was
Build a solid rocket something 4 inch diameter and around 40-60 inches tall something beefy.
That’s what worked for me
Keep it low and slow no need to reach 3000 feet on a L1 flight

Make a check list that you can run through when your at the day of the launch cause if your anything like me you will be extremely excited/nervous so a check list is your friend I should have made a check list that I could have looked at while getting set at my cert launch

I personally kept it simple....motor ejection charge (make sure you home in your delay I could have made my delay charge a bit shorter but still worked out fine)
The next and most important thing to remember is have fun lol
 
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Blast it Tom!

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Ahh Got it. Sim show 17.1G and 58.7mph off a 6ft rail.
Hmm. I went to the Wildman link posted and the thrust curve there showed a sledgehammer-like 600-620 N almost instantaneously for about half a second - for a 100 oz rocket (6.25 lb, wow!) that's 137 lb of thrust and 20.94 g's! (130.8 lb net up force after subtracting the rocket weight). I imagine that drag would quickly come into play, though. That'd be fun to look into.

ETA: so I did and I'm still coming up to speed on rocket drag numbers, but just using the old Cd*A formula and that speed, you'd need an impossible Cd to be at only 17.1 g, that's nearly 4 g's under mine... and that motor comes up to max thrust so quickly, but maybe the sim looks at that portion of the thrust curve really closely - getting off the rod correctly is important, so maybe they do.... ok, I'm rambling, I'll get my coat...
 
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SILVERFOX

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Like most people, my L1 cert rocket was motor ejection only and did not have an av-bay. So when I built it I glued the coupler to the payload tube. That was a mistake because after I progressed to L2 and started flying dual deploy I would have liked to upgrade my L1 cert rocket to dual deploy but was unable to because the coupler was glued in.

So if I could change anything it would be to attach the coupler to the payload tube with bolts or plastic rivets to allow for future upgrade to dual deploy.
Don't feel bad Nathan, I made the same exact mistake. Did a good DD flight on my second HP launch and it went very well, so the effort was well worth it.
 

Sooner Boomer

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I'm looking at the question from the other end. I plan on certing level 1 next time out (because - why not?). I've got a 54mm scratch built w/29mm motor mount I plan on using. I'll try it first on something smaller, using a JLCR to bring it closer before "blooming". Then I'll fly it on an H128 to cert. I have flown this rocket a *bunch* on G80's. It's come down HARD on the asphalt parking lot we used to fly on, with tangled or unopened chute. I *think* I've broken a fin and cracked the body tube, but I find no evidence of repair (dam' I'm good!). My reason for using this rocket is because it's paid for. I don't have the bucks to buy something big and heavy to cert with, which would only get flown once a year, when I could afford the motor. Cost is a real limiting factor for my participation in this sport. Just the cert flight alone is going to cost about $100 ($30 for the motor reload + $70 to Tripoli for dues). I *might* cert level 2 if I get a nice birthday present, but I feel no crushing desire to do so (just to be able to spend *more* money at each launch!).
 

mtnmanak

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I'm looking at the question from the other end. I plan on certing level 1 next time out (because - why not?). I've got a 54mm scratch built w/29mm motor mount I plan on using. I'll try it first on something smaller, using a JLCR to bring it closer before "blooming". Then I'll fly it on an H128 to cert. I have flown this rocket a *bunch* on G80's. It's come down HARD on the asphalt parking lot we used to fly on, with tangled or unopened chute. I *think* I've broken a fin and cracked the body tube, but I find no evidence of repair (dam' I'm good!). My reason for using this rocket is because it's paid for. I don't have the bucks to buy something big and heavy to cert with, which would only get flown once a year, when I could afford the motor. Cost is a real limiting factor for my participation in this sport. Just the cert flight alone is going to cost about $100 ($30 for the motor reload + $70 to Tripoli for dues). I *might* cert level 2 if I get a nice birthday present, but I feel no crushing desire to do so (just to be able to spend *more* money at each launch!).
One of the things I like about HPR is that it is much easier to scratch build the 3F&NC/4F&NC designs. What this means is you can spread out the cost.

In virtually every non-critical endeavor I assist people with (I am older now, but used to be a skydiving and SCUBA instructor in my younger days), I would always ask people "Do you have more money than time or more time than money?" and I had a program for both.

Certs are the same and I ask people the same question. In this case, the real question is where do you want to end up? If you want to be Level 2 and you have more time than money, maybe you set your goal on building a rocket that can handle both needs, but forget about kits. Build it in Openrocket or Rocksim and then research and cost out the appropriate parts. Over time, budget for a part when you can afford it. A body tube here, a nosecone there, etc.

I am doing that right now with my Level 3. My TAPs have long since approved my design, concept, materials, etc. But, frankly, I am not currently in a financial situation that will allow me to afford all the parts. I have spent the past six months acquiring parts where and when I can. I have a long way to go. When my local club did a start of the season cleanup, I was able to get some materials that they were planning to throw away - some sheet aluminum and fiberglass. I can use those to cut my own fins, centering rings, thrust plate, etc. This will take me many months to get the parts I need, but I am in no rush. I enjoy flying what I have right now and building what I can.

The hardest part of this approach is I get killed on shipping costs. If I know there is going to be a launch or event coming up that will have a vendor that carries something I need, I try to save up for that so I can avoid the shipping costs. By piecemealing a Level 2 or 3 rocket, shipping can easily add 20% to the overall cost.
 

berlinetta

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I think the only thing I would have done differently, if anything, would have been the time of year I got my Level 1. I got my Level 1 in the heart of winter. It was easily 20 degrees fahrenheit. I ended up with a massive cold afterwards, but it was worth it. The kit/ motor selection was great. I flew the LOC Bullet in a H123W. I even flew the rocket/motor combo again for fun years later.
 

dwightr

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4" paper tube, plywood fins, motor deploy, Aerotech DMS motor. Lots of kits out there now that would work fine. I used an Apogee Zephyr and it worked out fine but if I had it to do again I would probably pick something with a fin shape that is less damage prone.
Get a good parachute and shock cord and pack it carefully. Launching is easy, recovery is hard.
I also have a 3" scratch build that is under 1500 grams so it can also be used as a park flyer on F-G motors without a waiver. It flies fine on a small H, like a H135 DMS but you need a big field for recovery.
 

drgarymartinez

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I’m currently a Level 3 certified flyer with CAR-ACF (Level 2 equivalent for those in the U.S.). My oldest son is quickly approaching the age where he can go for his Level 1 certification. There’s obviously many newer kits out there than ever before. Plus the information available for pursuing high-power certification is no doubt better than its ever been. If you were to have to do Level 1 all over again in this day and age, what would you be looking for? I’m thinking in terms of kits, motor recommendations, best places for info, best places to shop from, etc. What factors would make it the most successful and educational experience in this day and age? What would you do differently?
I have been very impressed with the Apogee Zephyr. I obtained my level 1 cert with it, and mentored an 18 year old who built it as well and will fly it in May for his level 1 cert. it is a great kit with great instructions. It can handle mid power motors, H’s and I’s with no issue. Go to Apogee Rockets and check it out.
 

Ez2cDave

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I’m currently a Level 3 certified flyer with CAR-ACF (Level 2 equivalent for those in the U.S.). My oldest son is quickly approaching the age where he can go for his Level 1 certification. There’s obviously many newer kits out there than ever before. Plus the information available for pursuing high-power certification is no doubt better than its ever been. If you were to have to do Level 1 all over again in this day and age, what would you be looking for? I’m thinking in terms of kits, motor recommendations, best places for info, best places to shop from, etc. What factors would make it the most successful and educational experience in this day and age? What would you do differently?
"Bang For The Buck" . . . LOC Precision or PML ( Public Missiles Ltd. ) is your best bet.

From PML, my choice would be the TETHYS ( Add a Payload Section for Dual Deployment / Level 2 ) . . . Level 1 & 2 with the same rocket.

https://publicmissiles.com/kits/sportfliers

From LOC, I would choose the PHANTOM 438 EXL

https://locprecision.com/product/fantom-438

Dave F.
 

John Kemker

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See my .sig line for what I originally used for L1 cert.

I'm starting all over again, as my TRA membership lapsed. Next L1 will be a LOC Goblin. If I was going to give advice to a beginner, I'd probably suggest the EZI-65. Why?

1) 4" diameter
2) 54mm motor mount
3) Non-raked fins (Less likely to break off)
4) Able to cert L1 with a 29mm or 38mm H and a motor mount adapter
5) Able to cert L2 with minimum changes and a 38mm or 54mm J motor.
6) Easy to modify for dual deployment

I'd use a single-use motor for the L1 cert and a reloadable (preferably snap-ring, so Loki) for the L2. If you go the Loki route, you might even cert L1 with one of their 38mm H motors. You can also have lots of fun flying it using a 38mm G from Loki. Using the Loki 38mm line, you can avoid hazmat fees for most of your motor choices.
 

Michael L

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I built a LOC Graduator for my first MP rocket and haven't flown it yet (launch site shut down in Dec and just had it's first launch in April). I got a case of severe rocektitus, bought a bunch of low power rockets for me and my grandkids to fly OOPS, I mean for my grandkids to fly... no really, they got to launch them, almost all of them...

Then a LOC IV so I had a L1 rocket to build... then some scratch building parts... ok a lot of scratch building parts... then a Star Orbiter (for the grandkids, not built yet, seriously... it's really for them), then two Aspires, one to build "normal" and one to modify, still not built, then a Saturn V kit (still waiting to open that one), then an X-15, it's right next to the Saturn V...

About the time I finished (except final paint) the Graduator I started building the LOC IV. Both were built when I decided to add a tracker, dual deploy functionality but launch single deploy, etc. I used plastic "rivets" to hold the Av bay, payload section, and nose cone together for the maiden flights (when that finally happens) and motor deploy. I would have attempted my L1 flight this month (motor deploy) but, a day before the launch) I had a bit of a problem that required me to open up, fix, and repair the airframe near the bottom. That took all day and I had to make the painful decision to scrub the L1 cert flight because I simply wasn't ready. It was a good lesson and one that will stick with me going forward.

So the moral of the story, if your laser focused... no wait... never mind.

The LOC kits came highly recommended and having built and modified them both (wasn't recommended), I don't think you can go wrong with a LOC IV or equivalent for an L1 cert
 

KurtH

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I used an AeroTech G-Force. My thinking was to get my L1 with a rocket not much different than I was used to flying and building. I made some changes, I used an aeropack adapter and left out the baffle. But, I was limited to 29 mm motors, and did not end up flying that rocket much afterwards. Were I to do it again, or if I had to start all over, I think I would use a LOC EZ-I 65. I just like the way it looks. It is 54 MM but you can always adapt down, but not up. Later, this same rocket can be flown with an av bay and and extension and makes a great rocket for learning DD.
 
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