New Astron clones...but not for sale!!

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Jan 17, 2009
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I finally decided to take a break from the kit building/manufacturing part of the hobby.

It was kinda sucking the fun out of it for me.

So I decided to build two projects just for me!

The first is a BT-70 sized 2.27X upscale of the Astron Constellation. Power will be a 3 X 24 cluster.

The second is the Astron Apogee II a Two stage single D12-0 to an E9-8 BT-70 sized 3X upscale

Look at the slabs of 3/16" balsa...yes I said balsa!...for the booster fins! 10" wide at the cord!

That's a regular BT-50 sized Astron Constellation in the middle for reference.

Gordon I'm proud of you.

Every once in a while you have to put the fun back into it, otherwise it's just another job.

It looks like you're off to a good start. Now don't forget to post pictures of your progress.

Well, I can certainly appreciate the pictures. Can anyone else remember sandman's old digital camera? :eek: Nice work. Your wood, parts, and build look very "clean" - almost kit-like! :p
Originally posted by eugenefl
Well, I can certainly appreciate the pictures. Can anyone else remember sandman's old digital camera? :eek: Nice work. Your wood, parts, and build look very "clean" - almost kit-like! :p

Almost kit like? All of sandmand's builds have been top quality , neatly packaged , well made instruction manual , everything! I'd say better than a kit!
I remember you drooling over the prospect of these two projects when Apogee unveiled their new mid-powered Dyna-Star kits and those BT70 sized clear payload tubes....

It was only a matter of time!

Looks good so far! I like the idea of the cut nose cones on the Constellation fins.

But - don't you want to consider going with at least a 2xD(possibly 3xD) cluster for the Apogee upscale? Granted, that will make the gap staging a bit tricky, but that's gonna be one heavy bird.....

*Edit - I'm talking about clustering the booster of the Apogee, not both the booster and sustainer.

Can't wait for the pics!
The gap staging is already using a 10" stuffer tube.

I don't want to chance it with a cluster.

The Constellation is a cluster.

The Apogee II clone will be happy with a D12-0 to an E9-6 sustainer.

Those aren't nose cones that I have cut in half for the fin pods. I turned them specifically to be fin tip pods. I blew up the pattern sheet from JimZ's site then used that to make the pods. Then I cut them in half on the band saw.

When I made the BT-56 sized upscale kits I made one as a master then made a mold and used Alumilite resin for the pods.

I'm glad you're getting back to having fun, but don't have too much fun. I'm next on the list for the Little Joe II!!;) :D
Where'd you get your clear BT-70?

Somewhere someone suggested B BT-60-based Apogee II built arund a Big Bertha. That still seems kind of appealing to me.
Apogee components just started carrying the clear tubes to fit a BT-70.

Go to their site

Go to "building supplies" on the left then go to "body tubes".

It's listed as an "airframe" tube part number 56/10. $11.53 each (not cheap!) They are 10" long.

Perfect fit for a BT-70.


Apogee Rockets has the clear BT70 payload tube - they use it in one of their new Dyna-Star kits and sell it as a part. I'm not sure if it's on their website yet, but it *is* in their catalog, which you can download from their website in PDF format. It's listed as $11.53 for a 10" long piece.
There's an echo in here..... ;) (You were quicker on the trigger than me, Sandman!)
Originally posted by Peter Alway
Somewhere someone suggested B BT-60-based Apogee II built arund a Big Bertha. That still seems kind of appealing to me.

For clear BT-60-ish body tube, you can probably find a very close diameter match at your local hardware store. They carry a very clear (polycarb?) plastic tube in lengths like eight feet. It is designed to slip over industrial-sized fluorescent light bulbs as a safety feature (containment of broken glass in case the bulb breaks). This clear plastic is a hair (0.03? 0.05?) larger than official BT-60, but you can tape up the base of your NC for a good fit. Heck, if you are going to turn your own custom NC anyway, just make it to fit!
Originally posted by eugenefl
Can anyone else remember sandman's old digital camera? :eek:
Crikey! Don't I just - never did any of your work the justice it deserves. I'm so glad you've got a new camera, Gord, we can REALLY appreciate your work now.

I'm looking forward to seeing these models going together - glad you've decided to take time-out, and build something for yourself ... and for us to drool at! ;)
More pics if you please.
What can I say, I like to build vicariously.;)
Originally posted by sandman
I finally decided to take a break from the kit building/manufacturing part of the hobby.

It was kinda sucking the fun out of it for me.

So I decided to build two projects just for me!

Where can I buy these? :D

Just kidding -- these look great! More pictures please...
Sorry I haven't posted much on this...

I work with schools all over Michigan repairing the Stage/Theatrical dimming controls for their auditoriums.

Work has been very slow with the "cutbacks" to education lately and now that it's graduation time they discover that forgotten maintinence is causing them some problems.

I have had more than my share of lighting "emergencies" lately!

I can't use the "Lack of preperation on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part." line to them.

I just have to go and fix the dumb thing!

Hopefully I can get back to my "project" this weekend.


P.S. I do get to charge MORE for "emergency repairs"...KAAAA...CHING!!!:D :D :D :D :D
OK! I finally got back to them.

First the Constellation.

I finished the fin tip pods smothed sealed and matched them up for a nice fit then sanded airfoils into all the ply fins.

Again an original sized Astron Constellation for scale.

Here is a dry fit of all the parts.'s a lot bigger than I thought it would be...but this is a good thing.

I will glue the motor mount and the fins on tonight before bed so I can do filets tomorrow.

WOW that looks fantastic ! I gotta get the plans for one of these!
The Apogee II does not have through the wall fins. They will just be surface mounted.

I don't plan on sealing the fins any more than needed. I just don't want them to soak up too much paint.

I want the balsa grain to really show through...for effect.

The motor mount is the foil lined 24mm tube from Totally Tubular for the gap staging so the tube should last longer than just a few flights.

Well done Sandman ! Another fine creation! What size tube are you using BT-80? Where did you get the clear payload ? :p I want one lol !

The plans are readily available on JimZ's site and just "upscaled".

I used a BT-70 (2.217" in diam) and the clear tube comes from Apogee Components.

The Constellation.

and the Apogee II

The Constellation is blown up roughly 2.25 X (2.217/.977= 2.27)

and the Apogee II is 3x upscaled (2.217/.736= 3.01)

Since these are not "scale" models just "upscales" I just blew up the fin patterns on a copy machine.

Nice lookin' rocket ya got there!

I really like the constellation. Some day, I'd like to try a modified one with a boattail.
As usual excellent work! When I see posts like these I want to stop my other projects and start one of these. But then my wife already wants to shoot me and I don't need to give her any more reasons...:D

Would you do me the favor of taking some pics (with your great new camera :) ) of how you construct the motor mount for the Apogee II using the foil lined tube?

I have some of these but haven't really figured out how to best use them.

The Gus

Let me try to get some close-up shots of the motor mount.

With the foil lined tube, since you really can't glue inside on the foil lined part, you can do one of two things.

1) Just use the proper sized engine hook only, no bulkhead, glued onto the outside. That's what I did.

I make my own engine hooks out of windshield wipers (metal strip parts). I found some that were wider than normal engine hooks and they seem more secure to me.

2) Glue the bottom centering ring flush with the rear of the motor tube and use a positive motor retainer and a rear shoulder to transfer the engines power forward through the rocket. (Did I say that right???:confused: ) Like the rear shoulder on an RMS case.

Sorry, Gus,

But the motor mount was already glued into the models when you asked.

Again I'll explain. I make my own motor hooks out of the wider stainless strips from windshield wiper blades. So they are pretty strong. I make the top tab (hook?) twice as long as the Estes ones when I use the foil lined tube.

I use epoxy (not much), in the slot cut for the engine hook and I wrap the motor hook with nylon straping tape. You know the stuff you just cannot tear!
I also try to get one of the centering rings positioned right at the top of the motor hook for more strength.

Here is a pick of the staging end . The top of the boostern and the bottom of the sustainer on the Apogee II.

This is a 24mm motor mount.:D

Here is a pic of the Apogee II finished.

It has about a 7" gap for gap staging an Estes BP D12-0 to an E9-6.
The cluodyness on the payload section is sawdust...I forgot to clean before the picture.

I am not trying for a lot of altitude...more for effect.

And here is the pair finished.

The Constellation is about a 2.25x upscale and the Apogee II is a 3x upscale.

I should have put something into the picture for prospective. The Constellation is 39.5" tall and the Apogee II is 42.5" tall.

Man, I am gonna need a LOT of paint!

The Constellation will be white with a red nose cone and fin pods and one black fin.

The Apogee II I think will have a red nose cone and fins (both stages) and a yellow body.

Decals...I gotta think about that yet.