New MicroMaxx Kit, Parts, and Tools

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tjkopena

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Rocketship Games is happy to announce our entry into model rocketry! We've opened a new storefront with a cute little rocket kit, tools, and parts, currently all oriented around Quest MicroMaxx 6mm motor micro-rockets.

Our first kit is the R3 HoneyBee, a sport styled micro-rocket that friends & family have had a lot of fun flying the past few months.

PXL_20210501_124552407~2.jpg
honeybee-5.jpg

We also have a simple-to-use adapter for putting 1/16" micro-rocket launch rods onto standard 1/8" pads.

tmm-adapter-1.jpg
honeybee-4.jpg

Finally (for now!), we have a collection of nosecones for T-MM tubes, including ten shapes with each in four lengths.

nc-tmm-tangent_ogive.jpg
nc-tmm-conic.jpg
nc-tmm-secant_ogive.jpg

Currently we are offering free first class shipping within the US for orders of $15 or more. Please let us know if there are any problems with the storefront, e.g., in shipping options, as the underlying service is new to us.


Rocketship Games' short story is that we---really I, tjkopena---have some experience in designing, manufacturing, and selling miniatures, terrain, and accessories for tabletop wargaming and roleplaying, drawing in part on a professional background in engineering design research as well as robotics. So we are new to producing and selling for model rocketry, but not to this kind of hobby business broadly.

We hope you like these new products, look forward to seeing them out there flying, and are excited about what we've got in the works for the future. Enjoy!

2021-rocketshipgames-multiline-trf.png
 

Scott_650

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Well thanks a lot - you just made trying a MMX rocket irresistible! Just what I need, more kits for the pile 😆

Seriously, placed an order for a couple Honeybees and a launch adapter, looks like I’ll be ordering some tiny motors next...
 

kuririn

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Welcome.
Always happy to see another MicroMaxx vendor.
Order placed.
 

Saluki

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Order sent.
Would it be possible to give us what kits and parts you have in mind for future releases?
I really hope there's are more to come.
 

tjkopena

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Thanks everybody!!

The first batch of orders are going to the post office as soon as I get off this real-work telecon I'm on (do they not know I have important rocket business to do??).


Another set of items should be out at the end of this month. A big part of that is just waiting to hear feedback and ensure the pieces are all surviving shipping, people are happy with the parts & instructions, etc..

Assuming all is well, we just need to put together final illustrated instructions for:
  • R4 "The Brett"---a similar BT5 MicroMaxx sport kit with a touch of ICBM styling; many of you may have seen early prototypes of this in the MicroMaxx forum.
Well into development are:
  • Lady Alice---another BT5 MicroMaxx sport kit with some decorative sci-fi stylings, evolved quite a bit from the R6 also seen in the MMX forum.
  • Micro-Hawk---a T-MM MicroMaxx downscale of the ~1996 era Estes Hawkeye, one of my favorite kits as a youth.
Tool-wise, I expect to put out a T-MM tube cutting helper as well as T-MM and BT-5 fin alignment jigs.

I am very interested to hear what parts people are looking for.

Beyond that we've got a bunch of other rocket ideas in various states of development but not in flight yet. We're very committed to MicroMaxx based designs though. They make it so easy for my daughter & I to meet up with friends at some neighborhood soccer fields and have a great after-school rocket launch. Anything more powerful than MicroMaxx or maybe a low-flying 1/2A and we need to wait for the weekend to go drive somewhere more open. So we're pretty into this kind of rocket.
 

Saluki

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tgkopena,

Thanks for sharing a look into what you hope is the future of your new endeavor. I for one am glad to see the new MMX produces and kits. I have followed the MMX since it started. I followed Micromeister here and was always amazed by all the MMX rockets he built. He was a true master of these little rockets.

Flis came along and has for me put out some outstanding MMXs. My favorite of his designs is Dead Ringer, Hemv-4, M.A.C.M.E Shrew, Stinger, and the TOG. As you can see I like designs that look a little strange and futuristic.

Hope the future holds good things for you and all of us for Micro Maxx Rockets. Please keep us informed on your line of products.
 

WillMarchant

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Got the order. Super fast shipping! The kits and display stands look great! Looking forward to building one this weekend for flight at the NOVAAR launch in a week. Keep up the great work!
 

tjkopena

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Excellent! Thanks for the report. Very much looking forward to hearing what you think of the build & flying.
 

Scott_650

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My little box of little rockets arrived intact - motors should be here Monday so I guess I’ll build myself an R3 Honeybee today! Great looking kits, the launch adapter looks top notch and thanks for the little rocket stands - I didn’t know those were included, very nice touch!
 

Woody's Workshop

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Until I read the post, I was looking at the photo and I thought it was a Custom Fiesta.
I always wanted to try an MMX, but small things and I don't get along well any longer.
I wish you success and hopefully can be around for a long time!
 

kuririn

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Joe, if you can put those orange rocket stands on your website I would probably order a few, depending on the price.
 

tjkopena

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Thanks for the reports!

@kuririn, that's good to know, thanks! I'm glad people like the bonus display stands. I have to work out how to print them a bit more efficiently, but am planning on them going up as an item of their own with the next wave of stuff.

@Scott_650, it's on my to-do list to reach out to Quest and see what's involved in becoming a retailer so I can stock MMX motors for people to order along with their little rockets. If anyone has contacts there and is willing to connect me to boost that discussion, that would be highly appreciated. I am aware of the extra shipping constraints that motors entail, prepared to buy in reasonably substantial quantities, etc..

Just packed another case full of HoneyBees as the first batch had sold out. I hope people are liking them!
 

kuririn

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Joe, any reason why there's a slot in the airframe for the launch lug?
Seems like that could be a possible failure point when the ejection charge blows.
 

tjkopena

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That's a very good observation & question. My test pilots & I have not seen such a failure after a number of launches and with the lugs attached & coated in a couple ways (CA or white glue, naked rocket or full primer+base+color painting). If anybody does experience such a fault I would really like to hear about it and will refund your rocket.


That slot is a method to very accurately align the launch lug without an external jig. In line with some of the comments up-thread, I think MMX rockets can be pretty fiddly. Earlier this year I got to watch my father-in-law, who has model rocket experience and is a very handy craftsman, assemble what wound up being a prototype for these kits. At that point there was no slot for the launch lug. Even though that lug was longer and thicker, aligning it was a bit of a frustration for him, even with an angle guide.

I also feel like MMX rockets are more affected by misalignment of the launch lug than larger rockets. On the one hand that makes sense, if you as a human make roughly the same amount of error in absolute terms, then in relative terms it's a much bigger variance on the little rocket. On the other hand, these rockets accelerate way faster than most larger models, bringing aerodynamic stabilization into play earlier, and the launch rods are much shorter, so I could see an argument that such variance matters less. But, other than some questionable Quest ready-to-fly models, the only stability problems we've seen with MMX rockets I attributed to misaligned launch lugs. I would be very curious to hear others' thoughts and experiences around that.

In any event, between the fiddliness and what I saw as a major determinant of successful flights, I wanted to do something to better ensure the launch lugs would be aligned properly. I considered including an angle guide like ASP does, but thought that can still be a bit too fiddly for many people. Then it occurred to me that a slot allowing the lug to barely sit within the wall of the tube would be a straightforward, highly accurate guide.

The slot does introduce a potential weakness, but I don't think the MMX ejection charge is strong enough to blow the lug off provided it's reasonably glued on. Compared to a T-MM rocket, even assuming they're the same height, a BT-5 model has quadruple the volume inside. I could be mistaken, and am very interested to be corrected, but I don't think the charge is applying significant direct force or generating significant pressure in these tubes. Our crew uses really really small quantities of wadding or else we don't get a good ejection. My impression is that the charge does just enough to maybe bump the nosecone a touch as well as destabilize the rocket, and it's really the tumbling and chaotic airflow following boost that are doing the bulk of the work. The nosecone and streamer are being extracted rather than ejected. That's why the shoulder on the nosecone is comparatively somewhat shorter than I would make it on a larger rocket, to make it even easier and more likely to tip off. Coming back to the launch lug, I'd be surprised for the relatively weak charge to blow it out. But I wouldn't use the same technique on either a smaller-volume T-MM design or a rocket w/ a more powerful motor, both cases where the pressure seems (much) more significant.


So, that's the whole long line of thought behind that part of the design. As always, I'd be very curious to hear other people's thoughts and experiences.

Thanks for the question @kuririn, and please let me know how the build and flights go for you!
 

kuririn

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Thanks for the reply. I also notice that there are no discernible micro ridges on the nose cone. Are you using a high end 3D printer?
Motor mount and fins are glued on.
0524210546[1].jpg
 

tjkopena

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No, the nosecones are printed on a standard home-use resin DLP (an Anycubic Photon). The key to making that viable is just many iterations of calibration and refinement. Resin printing doesn't lend itself well to mechanical products (at least, not as well as FDM) because it can be difficult to achieve dimensional accuracy. For these parts the thickness of the walls, print settings like exposure time, and the post-print processing have all been closely tuned to result in acceptable & repeatable tolerances within an acceptable level of effort.

An ABS-like resin is also used to make it durable enough for this purpose. Such resins don't capture fine detail as well as some others, but plenty fine for rockets. Resins generally produce heavier parts than FDM filament, but for micro-rockets it's often not a terrible thing for the nosecone to be a little heavier than it might be, since they're easily dominated and made tail heavy by the motor.

On the positive side, resin prints of course are much smoother. They're also isotropic, they don't break between print layers like FDM parts can. Production also scales well. Resin printing one of these nosecones takes about 6x longer than printing on an FDM printer. But printing ~20 takes no longer than printing one, and not much more post-print effort once the process is dialed in.

PXL_20210511_125853120~2.jpg

Just a sampling of calibration prints & cuts from the development of these kits.
 

kuririn

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Ah, I learned something new today. Resin DLP versus filament.
Good to know.
Now to find me an affordable resin DLP printer.
 

CalebJ

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We assembled two kits last week and I was really impressed with them. One small thing that jumped out at me (and it's possible I was just rushing and misjudged it) but it seemed like the slot for the launch lug was just a tiny bit shorter than the lug itself. Definitely something that could have been easily dealt with on a normal build, but it jumped out at me when trying to build for a launch the next morning.
 

tjkopena

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That's good to hear, thanks @CalebJ!

The launch lug should fit, but the lengthwise tolerance is indeed very tight. I've had to quickly reseat it once or twice before the glue dried when I realized I had set the lug in just slightly off. I didn't want to extend the slot further and create an annoying gap between the lug and tube. Potentially I can further reduce the variance on the jig for cutting the lugs. Also possible that this whole lug slot idea is a bit too clever for its own good.
 

DebZee

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Just received my Honeybee kit and the quality looks great - nice attention to details! The launch lug fit on mine looks just right. Really looking forward to putting it together. Hoping to see more kits released!
 

Sandy H.

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[snip]

View attachment 465757
Just a sampling of calibration prints & cuts from the development of these kits.
I own a production laser and a Form2 Resin printer and I can say for fact that I have had plenty of times my table looks just like yours during development. I ended up giving up on a rocket related venture, but wish you great success. It is obvious that your attention to detail is very professional and I'm sure your products will be very high quality.

The MMX Hawkeye is also a brilliant maneuver. It was a great 13mm rocket and having a backyard flier in MMX would be great.

If it isn't too much of a sidetrack, are there still MMX motors in production or is there only new old stock?

Sandy.
 

Sandy H.

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I understand that they are still available, but I thought they went OOP years ago when the Quest 'Brick' starter kits didn't 'take-off' (ouch, bad pun). I assumed all motors still around were from that time and that supply would eventually run out. If they are still being made, that would make adding MMX kits to my stash a lot more attractive. I don't know if I'm interested in starting to build MMX if the motors will be unavailable moving forward.

Sandy.
 

kuririn

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I have also read that they are no longer being produced but that Quest has a humongous supply, enough to last a long while at current use rates. These are speculative third party posts so take it with a grain of salt.
For the definitive answer I would email Quest with your question.
Laters.
 

tjkopena

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Thanks @DebZee, that's great to hear, thanks for the report!

Thanks @Sandy H. People seem happy with the kits, so seems so-far so-good.

Thanks @OhioFlyer, it'll be out to the post office this afternoon!


Whether a repackaging of existing stock or not, I do wish MMX motors were more widely available in bulk packs, and in larger ones. I've seen a few places with 24-packs available, but pricing+shipping made it still cheaper to buy a bunch of 6-packs elsewhere. All that extra packaging seems unfortunate, though I guess if these are all existing stock the packaging is expended already either way. Regardless, even at 24 motors, that's only a couple sessions for us. Between me & my test pilot/builder friend, my daughter, and often a couple of her friends or visiting family, we regularly set off 8--12 rockets in a ~60--90 minute after-school launch. I'd love to have a 48-pack of motors available.
 

OhioFlyer

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Got my kits and launch adapter today. They look great and I really like how complete the instructions are for the rockets themselves.

One thing I noticed is that the nosecones seem a bit undersized, is that intentional? Should be able to snug them up with some tape I think.

Looking forward to getting these built!
 

tjkopena

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Great to hear @OhioFlyer, thanks!

The bulb of the nosecone should be essentially flush with the outer wall. The shoulder has a bit of play by design. If you put the nosecone on and then rotate the tube to point downward, it should rotate past 135° before falling out. If there's a noticeable gap between the bulb and outer wall or if the shoulder doesn't stay in at all, then there might be an issue with that specific print; please let me know if so. Otherwise, referring to the shoulder not being especially snug, as you seem to be, long story short, that's intentional. They're just a touch looser than I personally prefer for display purposes. But for flight purposes I think the slight looseness aids successful ejection. I definitely understand shimming it with tape though. I personally would use Tamiya masking tape or Scotch tape rather than typical painter's masking tape; they're thinner, smoother, and cleaner. The plug is 6mm tall, so a Tamiya 6mm roll fits just right.




Long story (much) longer, the nosecone sizing is intentional within a set of goals & constraints. My line of thought went as follows below, for anyone interested in some rambling about kit design, which in many ways differs from and even competes with rocket design. I of course don't have a huge depth of experience in model rocket kit design, but a lot of this is partly coming from the same kinds of considerations and tradeoffs in similar hobby-level business designing models for tabletop wargaming (mostly terrain; think model train layouts, but shuffling soldiers and tanks around on it and going "PEW PEW PEW!").

Foremost is my belief that getting a proper recovery ejection on MicroMaxx motors is a bit tricky. T-MM sized minimal diameter rockets are real easy to overstuff and the streamer or whatnot just gets stuck. BT-5 rockets like the HoneyBee have more space so the packing isn't as difficult, but it's a lot more volume as well as a bit more nose weight that the charge has to overcome. Objectively it doesn't matter, the rockets will usually be fine even if they lawn dart. But my friends & I find launches a lot more satisfying when the streamer does pop out and flutter down in the wind properly. That's a big motivator behind some of my design decisions, in this case pushing toward looser rather than tighter.

With these kits I'm also trying to minimize the amount of prep needed and make them more accessible to young kids and new rocketeers. That also encourages leaning toward looseness that can be tolerated vs tightness that has to be reduced. As a reasonably experienced modeler, I can appreciate a somewhat oversized nosecone shoulder that has to be sanded down to slide into the tube but results in a perfect fit. When I give a kit to my 5-year old though, the first thing they're going to do is try to put the nosecone onto the tube. Ideally that just works and they can start swooshing it around right away without it having to be sanded and so on.


So, in one approach to making the nosecone sit tighter, the plug could be longer such that it has less freedom to cant. I was worried though that additional length, as well as the consequent additional weight, would decrease the likelihood of the nosecone ejecting. More testing of different length plugs is an experiment I'd like to do at some point. But by the time I got everything else squared away on this design & kits I felt like I had to make a decision and end development, so I erred toward shorter/looser.

The plug could of course also be bigger in diameter. But I find sanding resin and plastic to be very unpleasant, not at all satisfying like sanding balsa can be. For a wood nosecone, especially balsa, I'd perhaps err toward too big and possibly having to sand it down. But for resin and plastic, given the choice I err toward taping if necessary. This is especially so for casual, beginner & youth friendly models.

Feeding into that point, model rockets are funny. On the one hand, they don't need tight dimensioning at all. Tape an engine to a spool or stick a nosecone & some hastily cut fins on a paper towel roll and those rockets will probably fly just fine. On the other hand, the dimensionsing is fairly tight compared to a lot of hobby activities, in particular woodworking and 3D printing.

My take on the general consensus in FDM printing (common filament based printing) is that dimensional precision & accuracy of 0.5mm is about what you can hope for and 0.25mm is well tuned. Somewhat unexpectedly, resin printing arguably has even worse expectations in general because it's more affected by variations in resins and curing. But in rocketry, the walls of BT-50 and smaller tubes are all 0.3--0.35mm thick, and you can tell if a part is too thick or too thin by a wall's width. The resin & ABS 3D printed parts in these kits have been modeled with a 0.25mm tolerance. For the resin parts in particular I was worried that going tighter would risk variances yielding parts that required sanding, which for these purposes I see/saw as worse than looseness. Now I think I could go a touch tighter and stay in tolerance, but at the time it was again a question of diminishing returns in the pursuit of perfection versus getting something good out the door and I erred toward looseness.

Beyond all that are calculations of cost and efficiency. E.g., much fancier printers or outsourcing the printing could permit tighter tolerances but would also raise the costs and required capital outlay quite a bit.

All that said, for the HoneyBees and our next two similar kits in preparation I'm kind of committed for the time being to these decisions about looseness and so on (most of the parts are already made). But one nice thing about this kind of low overhead, semi on-demand light production is the ability to adapt easily compared to full scale production and traditional manufacturing. For example, the cutting alignment and variance on the HoneyBee decals has already improved from the first batch as I continue to refine tools & processes. As a particular opportunity to adapt, I do have another somewhat more intricate and less beginner friendly model in the early stages of design. Especially in light of this kind of productive input, it might be reasonable to make the nosecones for that kit a bit tighter even if that meant they might require light sanding.

So, I can't say the choices were definitively correct, but that was the whole line of thinking and history behind the nosecone sizing. I do appreciate the question, @OhioFlyer, it's a totally reasonable one that a lot of thought had gone into.

As some small reward for anybody that read to the end of this, and because I'm dying to share, here is a render of the sim'd and partially prototyped but not yet flown MicroMaxx design referred to toward the end there, Obsidian.

Obsidian-draft.png
 
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OhioFlyer

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@tjkopena thanks for the run down of your thought process. It all makes sense to me, and I'm super excited to grab new kits as they become available.

I tried a little tape this evening and that works well enough but if you do ever decide to make some sand to fit nose cones, I'll definitely grab some as that's my personal preference.

Keep those kits coming!
 
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