LPR Upscale Airborne Surveillance Missile

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May 21, 2016
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Madison, AL

I was walking through the hobby shop today, just kinda wandering around. And what did my eyes find... Well, I saw an ASM on the wall. Now to most that's something we see when we buy rocket stuff; kits right? Well, to the left of the ASM I gazed upon a designer special from estes... I said, "self, wouldn't this be a great upscale?

25 minutes and 50$ later... I'm printing fin patterns on sticky labels to use for my cutouts...

More later!

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There's the upscale you wanted!
Make sure to show the club any progress when it happens.

I saw this thread before I saw the author and thought "Uh-oh, I know [name of Forever Metal] wanted to build this as a unique project"....
yeah, saw it and had to at least upscale it to 18mm (d21 ofcourse...)

I should have the fuselage ready by next meeting! The MPR version will be a G capable bird. And then I'll move on to the HPR J model...

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Alright, here we go!!

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Everything laid out on some fairly dense .1" balsa sheet...

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Everything cut out and sanded to shape save the fin tab; will cut the fin tabs after the motor mount is done

More to come...

Does the original 13mm have tabbed fins? Or is this just to add strength because the fins get oversized with upscaling?
I tabbed them to help the fins stay attached. If I go any bigger (should say when I go bigger) I'll have to reduce the booster fins probably by about 20-30%

Anyway, more more more...

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The motor mount... just enough space for the tabs...

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Booster tail end; I'll remove the glassine from the fin mounting point and glue the fins directly to the motor mount, then fillet accordingly

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Sustainer aft fin layout... again getting rid of the glassine layer to directly mount the fins top and bottom.

Next, rounding the leading edges and papering the fins. Oh and building the motor mount too!


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Just a motor mount today...

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Also squared up the fin leading edge to root edge (sorry no pic) on the booster fins. I'll round the LE on all the fins then paper and ca them up.


Another day...

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As you can see, slotted the tube. Found that as the glue cured, the edges sorta collapsed a little so will have to add .0965" balsa strips to help keep them from bowing.

Eventually I'll get the fins papered and clearanced for the motor clip brace.

Till the next installment

What did we get done today...

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If you look close, the bt is not maintaining its shape. So after cutting the slots, had to do...

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Insert balsa slats to help it maintain the roundness; which now that I think about it is just for aesthetics...

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Here is the insertion of the last set

Fins are next!

Here we go again...

So, there is a clip retainer on the motor mount that will keep fin tab from sitting flat on said motor mount.

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So to make this fit...

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I took my sanding block and sanded a relief

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Now it looks like this.

And just when you thought there is nothing else, we papered half the fins too!!

So we start...

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Sanded the LE round (ish), then on to the paper.

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Cut a piece big enough from scrap labels, peel and stick on

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Press it down with a flat piece of plastic, then trim the first side. Roll it halfway on the LE then add a drop of CA to the LE (make sure it flows edge to edge) to help keep it down. Fold over, press flat and trim again.

After heating the fin and paper up with a monokote iron, pressed again using a c-clamp and parallels until it cooled off.

Edit: Well, as with all things, gremlins (and their dia-bow-lical sab-o-tajee), have found their way into this. I have 1 fin that is not behaving as it should, and after i installed it; yep you guessed it, it twisted up. It's not worth trying to fix at this point, and it is very slight. When performing this step with an iron (or heat gun works too), it's important to make sure to heat both sides as evenly and quickly as possible, then get them in-between flat surfaces and clamp them down till they cool

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To seal it up, I dunked the fin edges in CA.

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And now they are pretty much done!

Next up, fins to booster

thanks for watching!!!


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I'm not sure why nobody has upscaled this one sooner, but I'm subscribed :pop:.

I was thinking about how your BT swells a little after cutting the slots for TTW fins, and I'm wondering if coating the inside of the BT with Thin CA prior to cutting the slots would help maintain its shape? It's just a thought. I haven't tried it myself.
I'm not sure why nobody has upscaled this one sooner, but I'm subscribed :pop:.

I was thinking about how your BT swells a little after cutting the slots for TTW fins, and I'm wondering if coating the inside of the BT with Thin CA prior to cutting the slots would help maintain its shape? It's just a thought. I haven't tried it myself.

There's someone with an ASM build in the scratch forum, but he started it years ago. I'm betting that FM gets his done first!
I was thinking about how your BT swells a little after cutting the slots for TTW fins, and I'm wondering if coating the inside of the BT with Thin CA prior to cutting the slots would help maintain its shape? It's just a thought. I haven't tried it myself.

I was thinking the same thing, or possibly minwax wood hardener. The problem with either of those is I would not be able to use wood glue for assembly; wood hardener would require an epoxy and CA would require CA as wood glue wouldn't be able to soak in. Using the slats added almost no weight so at this point it probably doesn't matter much. But we'll see...

Thanks for checking in

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I'm not sure why nobody has upscaled this one sooner, but I'm subscribed :pop:.


I'm kinda glad this rocket hasn't been up-scaled much; had my heart set on super-scaling my firsty, an interceptor, but that has been done already (boy it was AWESOME!). There is one other ASM that I know of, he up-scaled it to fly an H128. There is a fairly cool video of it on YouTube


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Your probly right. I wonder why would that be important to you?

I'm glad there is some interest in the bird. It was the coolest thing I'd seen (and could afford to fly) when it was first released and it still ranks on my top 3 list of the best rockets ever designed. And what I'm finding is other folks like it too. What's better is I have gotten some promises of assists when I do start the UPUPUP-scale edition; it's gonna go high and fast!

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Ok, so we have to fast forward a bit...
The fins are on, the motor mount is soaked, and while I'm taking a break from calculus...

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What we have here is the beginnings of the mount for the top section of this bird. As you can see, I'm using the thick paper centering rings. Before gluing the bottom one down, I used the large green ring to position the lower paper ring flat/perp to the tube. I continued with the middile ring (using another greenie), sanding with some 120 grit to rough up the tube, then glued it down with CWG. Since I was done with the greenie between the fins and the ring, i moved it into position then used thin insta-cure CA to lock it down. The top ring got installed with a little JBW since this is the shock-cord attachment point. I put CA, JBW, and CWG fillets above and below all rings and let cure.

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Here's the final booster assembly all glued up. I've also added an eyelet for the Kevlar to attach to, and reinforced the top ring with a small qty of JBW and hard basswood plate. I'm sacrificing a little weight for strength here as this thing will get flown often by the kids and I. The only part that remains are the conduits; those will be primed, sanded and installed after the primer coats on the booster are done. Just want it to be smooth when the color and clear goes on.

Thanks for looking in!

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Someone else has already up scaled the ASM. There is a 3' version in the scratch built section.
This thing is going quick!

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Well, fast forward again... it's magic you know? Anyway, standard deal for the sustainer fins. Remove strip of glassine, use jig and glue fins. Will filet with med CA then coat all fin paper and sand.

Edit "Still waiting on nose cone from asp." the one I was hoping for not a very good fit, will try again later as the nosecone can be handled separately

Thanks for looking in!

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Alllllll righty then...

Well, now that I'm back within range of a tower I can upload an update.

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Gluing in the bottom conduit, used my little tool there to project the line from the fin forward to keep them straight-ish.

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So this is what I ended up with. Using some thin ca to soak and seal, doesn't need to be strong bond.

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Now, continuing with the projection of the fin line to the bottom centering ring that will have the top portion of the conduits attached to. Not sure if I'll drill a hole in that bottom ring or just glue the conduit to the bottom ring.... decisions decisions

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Now that the attach points are marked out, gonna have to decide on how to attach; drill or butt-joint... again... decisions decisions. Suggestions?

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I added a launch lug the other day.

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When I get everything done and painted, I was wondering how to get this thing lined up right. TaDa! Again with my straight edge, there is just enough space to use the booster fins and the sustainer top fins (which are supposed to be in line) for alignment.

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Here it is! Up'd and stacked. The nose cone is a stand-in until I get the right one made. ASP sells a balsa cone that would be a decent starting point, and could probably get BMS to make one from scratch... Price would be a factor, but we'll see.

Thanks for checking in!

Looks great but... did you say you're using CA for fillets?

Actually, the fillets will be almost nonexistent on the booster and sustainer, as the TTW fins should have a strong enough bond to keep it all together. I'm sanding the joint then flowing some denatured-alcohol thinned 30 minute, then squeegeeing as much away as possible so there is the most ever-so-slight filet radius. I'll scuff it then prime.

This particular bird is for nothing more than practice on scratch-making parts; it will be flown until it is ugly (it'll probably start that way anyway...). The 1st no kidding painted pretty upscale will be to MPR this coming fall (will have to order stickershock decal set too!). I wanted this out quick so I can build paint and fly for validation before I start my L2 build.

Thanks for checking in

A little late to the post, but I'm bored at work and have been digging through the forums. Here's a pic of a BT-20 / BT-60 upscale ASM I built along with an original-sized clone. I made these a few years ago before Estes re-released the ASM. Now that they have, I bought a half-dozen of them for my stash. :)

Hey Gang! Happy New Year:clap:!

Well, it's a new year (by a day) and I think it's time to continue...

So we'll jump a little... Got everything in primer grey, gonna sand and paint by next week. The nose cone is a stand-in until I get balsa machining to turn a replica upscale ASM nose; though it doesn't look too awful bad the way it is...:confused2:

BUT (there is always one of those), this puppy is now too heavy to fly reliably on a C6 :facepalm:... Had built it to fly on a 18mm AT D21, but after the 3 catos on the last batch I had, will not even ponder the opportunity to fly it on that motor :no:. Sooooo, sorry to waste the space on the forum on a build thread to nowhere; though got some good ideas from you all out there, it will end up on my wall at work as a static display:cool:.

Hope you like!