November Fireside Chat - Art Applewhite

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Well-Known Member
Jan 17, 2009
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TRF is pleased to announce that Art Applewhite of Art Applewhite Rockets will host the November Fireside Chat pm 28 November.

This is your chance to inquire about saucers, oddrocs or anything else in his unique lineup.

Art Applewhite is hosting the fireside chat tomorrow from 6-8pm central time. That would be 7-9 for those of you in the east.

Art Applewhite is hosting the fireside chat tomorrow from 6-8pm central time. That would be 7-9 for those of you in the east.

And that's 24:00 to 02:00 GMT for the rest of the World.

Art Applewhite
<Art_Applewhite> Welcome to my first TRF Fireside Chat and although I touch type, I'm a slow thinker so please be patient.
<Art_Applewhite> anyone who doesn't have a question please put _Pass beside your ID using the /nick YourName_Pass function
<Art_Applewhite> Right now the names appear to be alphabetical, who's got the first question
* BlueNinja is now known as BlueAintHere
<WiK> Elapid, H20 and verb0ss are probably away as well
<andy> will start... what made you get into non-conventionally shaped rockets, instead of 3fnc ?
<Art_Applewhite> I have been doing model rocketry since the late 60's and I got tired of 3FNCs
<Art_Applewhite> I thought there ought to be something else but
<Art_Applewhite> No one else seem to be doing it.
<Art_Applewhite> Once I got my first flying saucer to work, I was hooked
<Art_Applewhite> I discovered that with draggy rockets you don't have to walk so far and you can see the entire rocket flight.
<Art_Applewhite> Prep time is much quicker without a parachute also.
<andy> I like that bit :)
* Chrisn is now known as Chrisn_pass
<Art_Applewhite> My approach to rocket design is a bit backwards.
<Art_Applewhite> I first consider what it will take to recovery a rocket safely,
* Chrisn_pass is now known as Chrisn
<Art_Applewhite> then I think about things like the motor and altitude
<Art_Applewhite> Chrisn, do you have a question?
<Chrisn> What is the highest altitude you have flown a saucer too?
<Art_Applewhite> I don't really know but certainly under 1000 feet
<Chrisn> Have you considered a saucer altitude record contest?
<Art_Applewhite> For me, altitude is not really an issue.
<Art_Applewhite> No, not really because saucers aren't really suited for altitude.
<Art_Applewhite> In my experience, even people who fly high power rockets aren't much interested in altitude records.
<WiK> a contest for the lowest safely recovered flight on a certain motor might be fun
<Art_Applewhite> Yes but difficult to judge,
<Art_Applewhite> What is a safe recovery?
<Chrisn> put some shock stickers on them
<Art_Applewhite> Some would say, a safe recovery is one where the rocket isn't damaged but,
<Art_Applewhite> I've seen rocket lawn dart without damage but you won't want to be under it when it did.
<WiK> hmm
<Art_Applewhite> shock stickers?
* WiK thinks debating that part of the rules would make up half the contest ;)
<Art_Applewhite> Agreed
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<Art_Applewhite> It would definitely bring out the "Pink Book" lawyers. :)
<WiK> haha
<Chrisn> Ive seen them on mythbusters (shock stickers)
<Chrisn> trying to find the website
<Art_Applewhite> Chrisn, I hope that answered your question. Elapid
<Art_Applewhite> do you have a question?
<WiK> I think Elapid is probably elsewhere, as is verb0ss
<WiK> so I guess it's me ;)
<Art_Applewhite> Got a question for the Saucer Man?
<WiK> have you ever considered making a Qubit with hinges which will pack down flat?
<Art_Applewhite> Yes, but all the things I tried were either too heavy or too complex (unreliable) or both
<Chrisn> qubit hinges?
<Art_Applewhite> It's hard to put it in words
<Art_Applewhite> Instead of square sides, make it with triangular side then add another set of triangles that fold down for the recovery phase
<Art_Applewhite> The gain in aerodynamic effiency is offset by a loss of stability, increased weight and a reduction in reliability.
<andy> i thought wik was probably refering to one that folds away for shipping/travelling?
<WiK> yeah, that... though one which unfolds in mid flight sounds very cool#
<Art_Applewhite> Oh, it's shaped like a box already. In fact the Priority Stealth ( is already a box.
<Art_Applewhite> Yes, cool but complex and my design tend to be simple and reliable.
<Art_Applewhite> My approach is to use the minimum amount of materials to acheive a safe flight.
<WiK> yeah, I guess weight needs to be kept at a minimum for aerobrake recovery
<Art_Applewhite> One of the consequences of this philosophy is to eliminate the parachute.
<Art_Applewhite> Weight in one of the main factors determing descent rate
<Art_Applewhite> The lower the weight the lower the descent rate.
<Art_Applewhite> In general, when I design a rocket using aerobrake recovery, I first consider the desired descent rate (20 to 30 fps)
<Art_Applewhite> Then I select the heaviest motor and determine it weight when spent.
<Art_Applewhite> Use a formula that takes into account the Coefficient of Drag (CD) of the airframe I can then determine the necessary frontal surface area.
<Art_Applewhite> Once the frontal surface area is known the other dimensions of the rocket can be determined and an approximate total weight can be found.
<Art_Applewhite> If that weight is still low enough not to exceed the desired descent rate the rocket can be flown.
<Art_Applewhite> Folks have asked me why I don't make an M powered flying saucer kit.
<Art_Applewhite> The reason is the descent rate is too high using the available motor casings and airframe materials.
<Chrisn> even CF?
<andy> it's interesting that you start with descent phase, rather than ascent phase, in the design process. I'd have thought most people would start from the thrust:drag ratio
<Art_Applewhite> I could use CF but I consider it too expensive and too difficult to use by the average builder.
<Art_Applewhite> Thrust:drag is useful if maximum altitude or speed is your goal but with most odd rockets these are a secondary consideration.
<Art_Applewhite> Once your free yourself for the "need of speed" and the "yearning for altitude" you open up a whole new world of exploration.
<andy> I find non-rocketeer spectators like the low and slow kits with the biggest motor that will fit :)
<Art_Applewhite> There are so many more possibilities when your only goal is safe, reliable recovery.
<Art_Applewhite> Yes, this seems to be the norm.
<andy> an E15 aerotech in the Qubit always has people asking about them
<WiK> the I540 in the 38mm Qubit at IRW was one of the more impressive flights of the week, I thought
<WiK> far too many 3/4FNC rockets in HPR, IMO
<Art_Applewhite> With the Qubit and its derivatives it is possible to use somewhat larger motors are possible.
<Art_Applewhite> 3FNCs have their place but people need to experiment more with airframes. I've just barely scratched the surface so far.
<Art_Applewhite> Urban sprawl is making it harder to find places to fly well designed 3FNCs so people are making them fatter and heavier.
<Art_Applewhite> just to keep from busting the waiver with a M motor.
<Art_Applewhite> A flying saucer is just the logical conclusion of making a fatter rocket.
<WiK> so are you working on anything new at the moment?
<Art_Applewhite> Yes, some smaller (free) rockets that are like 3FNCs but with a simplified recovery system.
<Art_Applewhite> Otherwise, I haven't had anything I consider ground breaking since I came out this the Helix and Double Helix.
<Art_Applewhite> I'm always open to new ideas.
<andy> multi-stage qubit? (or is there one already?)
<Art_Applewhite> I saw one done by a guy in Germany.
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<Art_Applewhite> He put it on the modellrackeden forum
<andy> oh? not me, but I will take a look
<Art_Applewhite> The problem with 2 stage, high drag designs is they stop suddenly when the thrust stops.
<Art_Applewhite> This causes the second stage to tip over and fly somewhere between horizontal or downward once the motor starts.
<Art_Applewhite> No, not andy. A local guy and it was a couple of years ago.
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<WiK> hey
<Art_Applewhite> Randy, Welcome! Any questions for the Saucer Man?
<RandyT0001> pass for now
<Art_Applewhite> Okay.
<Art_Applewhite> One other things about 2 stage saucers.
<Art_Applewhite> I have tried several ways of doing it.
<Art_Applewhite> I even tried a 18 mm CAD two stage Delta Flying Saucer.
<Art_Applewhite> That's where you tape a C6-0 to the bottom of a C6-3 and shove it into a stock 18mm Delta.
<Art_Applewhite> It flew okay until the booster motor burned out but it tip over to horizontal before the sustainer could light.
<Art_Applewhite> I have seen videos of the FlisKit Frick-n-Frack ( and it seems to have this problem.
<Art_Applewhite> Sorry, the Frick-n-Frack link is here:
<Art_Applewhite> I also tried a larger saucer with a smaller saucer on top so that the two together looked uniform.
<Art_Applewhite> The booster got a hole burned in it by the sustainer motor when it started. It also went off in a less than vertical direction.
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<Art_Applewhite> John, Welcome
<andy> hey
<WiK> hey John
<JAL3> howdy
<Art_Applewhite> Any questions for the Saucer Man?
<JAL3> I want to here more about the Magness effect rocket Any progress
<Art_Applewhite> Not lately. To get the best effect, it needs to be fat and balanced
<JAL3> I'm real good at fat
<JAL3> Since Im in late and it seems quiet, do you have anything new on the horizon?
<Art_Applewhite> It is also difficult to translate from vertical flight to horizontal rotation.
<Art_Applewhite> Just some small (free) stuff in the works. Featherweight recovery and cardstock construction
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<Art_Applewhite> Still working out the details.
<Art_Applewhite> Something alone the lines of the Six but with backslide-like recovery.
<JAL3> I still have that orange 13mm quibit you gave me at the first AR launch I attended. I still fly it too.
<JAL3> What do you mean by backslide?
<Art_Applewhite> Backslide recovery is based on the observation that long rockets tend to backslide, fly horizontally, tail first, before the recovery system deploys
<JAL3> Sp os yours intended to back all the way down?
<Art_Applewhite> Yes, or tumble but not come in ballistic
<JAL3> That's Stu's job.
<Art_Applewhite> Oh, Snap!
<JAL3> What is the largest diameter saucer you have built and flown?
<Art_Applewhite> 18 inches on a J90W
<JAL3> That's the one you sell; I was just wondering if there are any monsters you are hiding from us
<Art_Applewhite> I'm not that into HP so I leave the testing of bigger rocket and more powerful motors to my Beta testers
<JAL3> fair enough
<Art_Applewhite> I haven't flown the 54 mm Stealth but I have sold a few.
<Art_Applewhite> I even provided the materials and plans for a 75 mm M powered Stealth to a guy in Chicago
<JAL3> I'm working on a scratch saucer, a semi scale of the PEPP aeroshell. I sized it to use BT20 motor tubes...12 of them.
<JAL3> Now that its getting close and I realize that its almost 30 inches in diamter, I am wondering if I will have enough power.
<Art_Applewhite> Are all the motor tubes going to have motors in them?
<Art_Applewhite> I would say no.
<JAL3> I have a bunch of the long burn Quest C6s on the way. The plan is to light them all.
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<Art_Applewhite> I doubt you can get them all to light without using a flash pan for ignition
<Art_Applewhite> Welcome hazegry.
<WiK> it's a shame quickmatch isn't more common over there
<JAL3> Plan B involes a bunch of the long burn Apogee Ds and making a lot of quickburst igniters.
<hazegry> hi art
<hazegry> hey wik
<WiK> perfect for igniting odd clusters like that
<WiK> hey haz
<JAL3> hi
<hazegry> hi jal
<Art_Applewhite> Haz, do you have a question for the Saucer Man?
<hazegry> no I am in here almost everynight
<hazegry> like your stuff though
<Art_Applewhite> Thank you.
<hazegry> yw
<Art_Applewhite> John, I haven't done the math but I don't think 20 C or long burn D motors will work in your PEPP aeroshell
<JAL3> I'm only going to have 12.
<Art_Applewhite> I've flown my 18 inch Delta on a J90 and it looped over under power toward the end of the flight
<Art_Applewhite> Even worse
<JAL3> I was only thinking in terms of scaling when I started this about a year ago.
<Art_Applewhite> A 30 inch saucer on 12 Cs is underpowered
<JAL3> Gordon Agnello turned the parts for me and I never really gave much thought to the shroud until I drew out the rest of it after the framework.
<Art_Applewhite> I understand, but folks often make the mistake of thinking as long as there enough power to get it off the rod and saucer can fly on anything.
<JAL3> Now its getting close to the finish line.
<Art_Applewhite> If a saucer isn't pushed hard it tips over.
<JAL3> I didn't want to go to plan C but that involves a balloon launch and RC gear.
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<Art_Applewhite> That would be more to scale.
<JAL3> Like the prototype.
<Art_Applewhite> Exactly
<JAL3> I talked a little to Dave Hein about the electronics.
<Art_Applewhite> Would you use a parachute also
<JAL3> The PEPP was designed to test chute deployment for the Vikings. I laready have the chutes set up, a cluster of 4
<Art_Applewhite> It would have to be ejected backwards and be rated for supersonic flight on Mars.
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<JAL3> Further down the line I have the PEPP 2 on the drawing board. It would only have 8 motors but conceivably might work better because they are 24mm
<JAL3> That would give me possibly 8 Fs
<Art_Applewhite> That might work with something like a 20 inch or smaller shell
<JAL3> The scaling is the problem.
<Art_Applewhite> Some compromises must be made.
<JAL3> that's what my wife tells me.
<Art_Applewhite> SWMBO - She who must be obeyed
<JAL3> You didn't spell it right. SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED
<JAL3> I notice on your site the RR motors. Have you tried the Es?
<Art_Applewhite> No, not yet. I haven't done much flying lately.
<Art_Applewhite> The last launch I attended was yours.
<Art_Applewhite> Whenever that was.
<JAL3> That's been 4 or 5 months
<Art_Applewhite> Yes, it's been a while. I hope to make it to the December launch but no promises.
<JAL3> The december launch will be on the first Saturday instead of the 2nd.
<JAL3> I hope you can make it.
<Art_Applewhite> I saw that today and corrected my Launches page.
<JAL3> 8 has come and SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED beckons me, requesting and requiring my presence forthwith.
<JAL3> Thanks for participating.
<JAL3> I know I speak for all of TRF when I say that we very much value the manufacturer participation.
<Art_Applewhite> My pleasure and I hope to host a chat again soon.
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<Art_Applewhite> If there aren't anymore questions for the Saucer Man, I'll see about getting some supper.
<andy> no more from me
<WiK> thanks for doing this, and sorry about the lack of turnout this evening
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<andy> thanks for taking the time to host the fireside chat
<WiK> maybe thanksgiving weekend isn't the best time for this sort of thing
<Art_Applewhite> Agreed, I look forward to doing it again.
<WiK> we'll look forward to having you back!
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