MAC Performance 6" Blackfly Build

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hotwings

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Following up on my last build of the 4" Blackfly from Mike, I've just started a 6" Build. I'm building this with a no-expense-spared attitude, and my aim is to methodically hone in my build skills, and at the end, have a durable airframe I can fly lots... Well, that is the plan! Let's see how it goes.

I'll document the whole build here, and open to tips and feedback others have!

Mike has been fantastic to work with, and I can't recommend MAC Performance enough. Returning to the hobby after ~12 years, I am new to the modern build materials. But I simply can't imagine how the fit and finish of these components could be any better. Also key is his hands on customer service.

Buddy "Rocketman" is also working on an Apollo 11 Parachute for this build, and a great setup with a deployment bag and pro experimental drogue, and a pro experimental drogue for apogee deployment. My estimated total mass for the painted and epoxied airframe, with an emtpy motor, is around 20 - 25kg. So I am calculating a 2ft drogue will get me ~100 fps descent, and 12ft main will get me a soft 15-17 fps landing. And frankly, I love the idea of seeing a big Apollo parachute.

In preparation for flying this build, I passed my L2 Exam with a 98%, and recently signed a lease on a shop that I'll primarily use for rocket building! I plan to fly a lot this year, weather and rocket gods permitting. So having the space is going to be awesome.
I will also be doing some machining for some future plans, so I've got a 13" x 40" Clausing lathe on the way that is in pristine shape :cool: Have some work to do to install three phase 240V yet.

So, regarding the 6" Blackfly!...

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Components

  • 6" FWFG Airframes, fitted perfectly to the fins and avbay
  • 6" Wildman nosecone. A Kevlar recovery harness attachment came pre-installed!.. it's the small things that make these kits so nice
  • Complete AVBay setup, basically dry fit assembled, with all required hardware. It does come with a very well printed sled, but I will be designing a custom one for some Eggtimer components from Cris. I will also be flying my own high-frequency dynamic data logger. I'm going to be grabbing both acceleration and gyro data in all 3dimensions, along with 3D magnetometer measurements all at 1,000 Hz, and GPS at 10Hz. This computer will be on a separate power supply, completely isolated from the recovery avionics. I have scoped out a dual deploy system, with one Eggtimer Proton as primary, and the Eggtimer GPS TRS as backup. Both, also, on their own separate batteries. The specs of this may change, once I get into implementing the design I've worked out.
  • Custom made Recovery Harness Set. Mike sewed this together for me, and man it is just awesome. It's red, and has the nomex sewn in. Of course, I forgot to take a pic, and it's at the shop.
  • 5 Canvas Fins
  • Motor Mount assembly with three centering rings, and two U-Bolts pre-attached
  • Molded fiberglass tailcone
  • Machined Aluminum Thrust Plate. This thing is just beautiful. My uncle was a lathe guy, and I've seen good work, and I've seen not so good turning work. This is very much good turning work and well worth the extra $60. The mechanical fit with the Motor Retainer is tight, and the aesthetics of the two are great together.
The kit came in perfect order. UPS did a little damage to the box, but the packing job inside was perfect, so everything was safe. Right out of the box, everything dry fit perfectly. One fin needed som every light sanding and that was it.

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It's been a while since I've worked with this much fiberglass, and I noticed my hands having a reaction. I immediately applied a layer of epoxy on the inside of the tail cone, allowed to cure evenly,and that solved it. Bonus is it should strengthen the tailcone, also.

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This is just qualitative, but I did notice the rigidity of this component increased after the epoxy was allowed to cure for two days.

Motor retainer installed onto the Thrust plate, and Dry fitted to the installed tailcone. I did a small amount of sanding on the aft edge of the tailcone, so as to even the edge for a tight fit with the thrust plate.
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I took a pause on the build to move into the new Shop! Many more updates to follow, hopefully this weekend.
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Neutron95

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If this is going to be a L2 certification rocket, what motor are you planning on certifying with? A L2 cert on an L would be impressive, and kind of unusual.
 

hotwings

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If this is going to be a L2 certification rocket, what motor are you planning on certifying with? A L2 cert on an L would be impressive, and kind of unusual.
I'm waiting until I can measure a final empty mass to pick a motor, but yes, I think an L, would be the smallest I'd fly this on.
I may also build a smaller kit in parallel to certify on a J or K. My goal for this rocket is to have a durable airframe with a large AVBay that I can use for some flight dynamics research, and to get in lots of practice with dual deploy, avionics, and charges.
 

Donnager

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So, regarding the 6" Blackfly!...

View attachment 447288
I have been itching to buy one of these, for level 3, but I have a couple of other projects that I am working on. One of my projects may turn out to be my level 3 project, but I think I like the looks of this one better.

What's the cat's name?
 

hotwings

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I have been itching to buy one of these, for level 3, but I have a couple of other projects that I am working on. One of my projects may turn out to be my level 3 project, but I think I like the looks of this one better.

What's the cat's name?
That's Linus (named after the physicist, Linus Pauling). And No he won't be onboard 😁

I'm sure I'll fly this on larger motors at some point, but I'm going to work closely with my TAPs to design a L3 project, commencing after I cert L2. But I do plan to work with Mike @ MAC Performance for the components for all my projects for the foreseeable future.
 

3stoogesrocketry

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Mike flew his 6 inch last fall on a Aerotech L850 to 4000 ish feet . A K1000 would loft this rocket no problem.
 

Theory

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HECK YEA!!!!

ive had my eye on this for some time

looking forward to your build
 

hotwings

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Mike flew his 6 inch last fall on a Aerotech L850 to 4000 ish feet . A K1000 would loft this rocket no problem.
Yeah! Mike shared that, and thought the L was a good strategy. My goal is a simple cert flight, not showing off. Just get er back safely
 

Dudeman247.

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I drooled on my keyboard a bit...I have this kit on my list. Mike has some great products and I have built two of them so far.
 

hotwings

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Still getting sorted in the new shop, so didn't get as much done as I'd like this weekend. But I've got the FWFG airframe and Motor Mount assembly fitted and rough sanded to be installed this week. And I began fitting the 10-24 hardware on the aft centering ring for the Thrustplate.

The Centering ring is drilled for 10-24 pass through holes. I have a washer on either side, a nylon lock nut on the foreward end of the CR, and a lock washer and hex nut on the aft end. The 10-24 threaded rod is a bit long, I'm going to trim off a few cm to fit 2.5cm standoff nuts, double nutted into another hex nut on the end of the threaded rod.

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There two are installed just to measure the proper length. I'll add more photos showing the assembly, basically exactly as Mike does it, later this week.
 
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hotwings

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Made some more progress today. Cut the 10-24 threaded rods to size, deburred, and cleaned up the threads on the ends with a die.

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Then, assembling the aft centring ring was a snap. Used nylon locking nuts on the forward side, and lock washers on the aft.
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Test fit the assembly with the tailcone, and thrust plate / retainer assembly. All fit together perfectly.

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After all this, I removed the all motor mount components, and rough sanded the fiber glass and centering rings. The forward most epoxy joint is curing overnight.

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Next up is the middle centring ring epoxy joint, then fins!

Once the fins are finished internally, I'm going to install the aft Rail Button, and an aft facing Camera mount that will be removeable with a bolt.

One last thing I meant to share before was the recovery harness. I ordered two, 40ft long harnesses, with sewn in loop for quick release and Money protective cloth. These are just superb, and handed by Mike.

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Dudeman247.

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After reading this from the beginning again I am wondering if you meant lbs or really 20-25kg?
 

hotwings

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After reading this from the beginning again I am wondering if you meant lbs or really 20-25kg?
This would be fully loaded, recovery system, motor, and all. I've also got a kg or two just in custom avionics and power supply that are outside the recovery control loop I'll be flying. I may be a bit high, but we'll see.
 

Dudeman247.

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This would be fully loaded, recovery system, motor, and all. I've also got a kg or two just in custom avionics and power supply that are outside the recovery control loop I'll be flying. I may be a bit high, but we'll see.
Looking forward to it as the build continues.
 

hotwings

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Finally got back to building! Mike makes a very easy to use fin guide for all of his kits. To be honest, it saves a lot of time to just pull this out of the package, and slide it over the airframe.

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To affix the fins, I first put a bead of AeroPoxy along the fin chord, inserted in the airframe. Tilted back and forth to spread the epoxy, pulled back out, then applied another bead and re-inserted. After all five fins we're done, I tie-strapped the fins together, with perhaps 10-15 lbs of force.

This sat overnight. Then started the process of fitting the aft centering ring, and adjusting the positioning of the 5 long nuts on the threaded 10-24 rods.

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The molded fiberglass tailcone needed a bit of sading, to ensure it was flush with the thrust plate - and that the thrust plate was flush with the end of the motor mount tube. An hour or so of careful adjustments with a sanding block, resulted in a nice fit.

Just to be sure (and because it just looks awesome), I slid the 4 gr 75mm casing into the motor mount tube and hand tightened the AeroPak retainer.

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I've started the internal fillets, using a method where I warm up the Aeropoxy so that it runs, and pour it down the root of the fin. I'm only doing two at a time, so as to position them relative to gravity so that they settle in nicely. I've done one set, and will do another set every day, until all 5 sets are done.

So it's coming along nicely! I'll post another update once the internal and external fillets are done. After this, I'll need to mount the aft Rail button, and fill the fin area with expanding urethane foam.
 
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