REWARD: Information Leading to Return of my L3

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blackbrandt

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Hello everyone,
I would greatly appreciate any help I can get.

On Saturday, April 8, at LDRS36 around 1245, I launched my Level 3 certification attempt:


It is a lime green rocket, with a black nose cone and black fins. It is 8" diameter, and 13' tall.

My name and number is on the tracker tube on the shock cord.


The rocket also has names on the side (unfortunately I didn't put my number on the airframe).



I had a red and blue Cert 3 Large in the rocket.



It launched on a white motor.



Unfortunately, the main deployed at apogee for an unknown reason. The expected altitude was approximately 7000 feet.

The sustained winds at launch at surface were approximately 15 mph with gusts to 25.


I had an eggfinder in the rocket. Unfortunately, I lost all tracking at liftoff. The last coordinate I got was the coordinate of the away cell.

From the calculations I've run, I've expected a drift of about 2.5 miles.



The pin at the bottom left corner shows the location of the launch.
Search Area.jpg



This is a zoomed in picture of the expected landing area. We have done a drive along of all of the roads in the area, and have found nothing. I also talked to the lady who
Close Search Area.jpg



I did a search through this area already, and was unsuccessful. I did talk to the landowner at the bottom right and she said she would keep an eye, and we exchanged contact information. She and I both did a search through her property, and were unsuccessful.

Presearched.jpg




If this rocket is safely returned there will be at minimum a $50 reward. Information leading to its return (e.g., confirmed GPS coordinates) will also lead to a reward.



Thank you for any help you can give.
 

BABAR

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You just had to paint it green didn't you?

Seriously it's a beautiful rocket and I hope you find it
 

DavidMcCann

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Dig around here for winds aloft historical data. Not always, but sometimes it'll be different up top. https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/

head the direction of others recoveries, see if anyone has any gps tracks posted yet to see how they were falling under drouge, etc. from the photos it looks like a good solid boost, so you've got a decent guess on where it started drifting from
 

cbrarick

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I'd search well to the right of where you have. Last I saw of it it was crossing El Downes rd at about 8k. I'd also look farther downrange then you did. It was really booking....
 

blackbrandt

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I'd search well to the right of where you have. Last I saw of it it was crossing El Downes rd at about 8k. I'd also look farther downrange then you did. It was really booking....
The rocket only went to 7k at maximum.


The wind data showed wind of about 15 mph with gusts to 20.
 

djs

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Stupid question- but did you see the main open at apogee, or are just assuming it based on it not being found? If you saw the main, can you put an arrow on the original picture with the direction you think it was going in?

Best of luck finding it! I'm sure given it's size that it will turn up soon
 

blackbrandt

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Stupid question- but did you see the main open at apogee, or are just assuming it based on it not being found? If you saw the main, can you put an arrow on the original picture with the direction you think it was going in?

Best of luck finding it! I'm sure given it's size that it will turn up soon

Multiple people confirmed that the main was out.
 

Flyfalcons

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If there are any flight schools nearby, you could check to see how much it would cost for an instructor to take you up for a 30-min aerial search. When the waiver/TFR is closed of course.
 

rstaff3

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Sorry about the (hopefully temporary) loss. I agree with cbrarick's assessment. I thought the wind was more easterly that is indicated by what you are showing.
 

SS/EA 6BBL 71 Cuda

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Multiple people confirmed that the main was out.
Main was definitely out...watched it come down for quite a ways and, then it disappeared into the hazy. Sorry to see that happen Matt and, hopefully someone will see it today or soon and, contact you.
Remember what I said though- With it or another rocket, I will follow you to see and, sign you off someday on your L-3!
By the way- drove straight home last night, 700 miles and, pulled into my driveway at 6:30am this morning.
I had more fun this weekend then I've had in along time.
Good luck getting her back Matt, she's out there somewhere.
 

blackbrandt

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If there are any flight schools nearby, you could check to see how much it would cost for an instructor to take you up for a 30-min aerial search. When the waiver/TFR is closed of course.
That's a potential, if I get desperate.
 

Woody's Workshop

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blackbrandt,

I've lost a lot of rockets of the years.
But mine have been mostly under 24", with a few exceptions.
I can not fathom how something that huge get lost.
It seams like you could see it 1/4 mile away.
I really hope it tuns up and you get it back in A1 shape.
And I guess a better luck next time on L3 is in order as well.
I'm willing to bet (from personal experience) that it's in trees, judging by your maps.
Please, let us know how this turns out for you buddy.
I have my fingers and toes crossed for you.
 
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kweaver

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If you have not already tried,You might try https://www.windytv.com for an idea of the wind speed and direction, in your area, at various levels from surface and up.
Also you might try one of the balloon landing predictors such as: https://predict.habhub.org/Ascentrate
Use average velocity to apogee for ascent rate, apogee for burst altitude, and average descent rate, under chute for descent rate.
Remember to convert to meters.
Hope this helps and you find your rocket.
 

blackbrandt

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If you have not already tried,You might try https://www.windytv.com for an idea of the wind speed and direction, in your area, at various levels from surface and up.
Also you might try one of the balloon landing predictors such as: https://predict.habhub.org/Ascentrate
Use average velocity to apogee for ascent rate, apogee for burst altitude, and average descent rate, under chute for descent rate.
Remember to convert to meters.
Hope this helps and you find your rocket.
Thanks! I'll try this now.
 

blackbrandt

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That's what my dad said as well.

Interestingly enough my chute was actually undersized for the rocket. I flew that with a Cert 3 Large, and I had a 45 pound apogee weight.
 

ksaves2

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dont underestimate thermal currents.
Or winds aloft. If the main was seen at apogee and confirmed out visually, there is the problem explaining why the EggFinder wasn't heard at altitude. Usually at least under main, the EF's settle down and positions are more reliably decoded.
A high velocity ballistic or drogue descent not as good a recovery of positions but as I said, it settles down once under the slower descent of the main chute. If I'm at the proper venue, it's the reason I have a tendency to deploy the main at a higher altitude to maximize the chance of decoding more positions. Same holds true for any kind of APRS tracker too. Even Ham Beeline GPS trackers that transmit a position once every 5 seconds one might see
10, 15 or 20 seconds between packets on a high velocity descent. Some of this can be related to the power output of the tracker. Higher power output = equals more reliable decoding for reasons that would be lengthy to
explain for the moment.

Matt, how did your range test turn out with your tracker installation installed in the tracker bay before flight turn out? You did do a formal test at home didn't you?:shock:

Winds aloft can wreck havoc with a descent but if you were able to follow your rocket visually for a ways you're in a position to establish a track. How soon after the noted deployment was the sight lost? If the rocket was low to the horizon when the visual was lost your search area should be a pretty good estimate.

A couple of tips and many may have seen these posted before.

Patch antenna on a stick:antennastick.jpg Has a wide enough beamwidth so it's easy to keep pointed at the rocket while in flight. 900MhzYagi.jpg 900Mhz Yagi for the ground search especially if one knows the approximate whereabouts of the rocket. The Yagi has too narrow a beamwidth to follow a moving rocket in flight but when it is more or less stationary on the ground it is helpful and will increase the ground footprint. One can find a Yagi on eBay usually with a connector needed for their receiver. I use SMA as I got a bunch of them for projects but RP-SMA might be had to.

garmin-gpsmap.jpg A handheld mapping GPS with a SIGHT 'N GO feature that allows one to shoot a line in a direction and be able to follow it. I show a pic of an out of production Garmin 60CsX but
any mapping GPS of any brand that allows one to take a sighting and then allows navigation can be used. This is perfect for shooting a line at a descending rocket to lock a bearing.

Another thing, when certifying with a large project that can tolerate "added weight", consider using as high a capacity battery as you can fit/carry. GPS trackers have higher current requirements and might as
well be able to power the tracker for as long as possible for a delayed recovery. Of course some use RDF backup trackers to ride along and that can be helpful at salvaging a recovery. Especially if one
has that all important visual and gets a bearing lock with a SIGHT 'N GO mapping GPS. Get roughly into position as suggested by the bearing lock and have the backup RDF tracker ground footprint save the day.

My patch antenna was an $18.95 special I got right after I bought some EggFinders once Cris released them. I'm afraid one will have to spend $50.00 or more to get one. Putting it on a post to get it up in the air extends the range
a bit. I suspect one should be able to find "SIGHT 'N GO" capable GPS units on ebay for a reasonable used price. You don't need the latest or the greatest and essentially you don't need the best maps either if you just want to
follow fixes. It's how I acquired a 60CsX that was hardly used for cheap.

Matt, if you drove around the area with your EggFinder receiver (LCD perchance?) before the battery died and heard nothing it may mean your rocket is down on the ground. If it was up in a tree, I'd expect your ground footprint to be a much larger radius maybe a mile or more but likely less. If you had a Yagi, it would have further increased the ground footprint by increasing receiver sensitivity.

Ground footprint of the EggFinders are adequate for most recoveries but it is smaller than the Ham stuff on 70cm and 2 meter bands. The 33cm band and 100mW output really isn't that much on the ground. If the EggFinder rocket
lands in a depression, the ground footprint is zilch and that's why it's essential to get a good last known position fix which Matt unfortunately doesn't have.

Screenshot (82).jpg Screenshot (85).jpg Is a live flight shot of EggFinder positions of a rocket flight to just above 3000', the Jolly Logic Chute release fouled and the flight was entirely sight unseen. I knew which direction it was headed from the live map so I knew where to point that patch antenna during the flight in the picture above. One can see the walk to the pad to the south and the rocket did a tumble recovery to the North. The ground footprint is the number "2" rocket icon receiver base. I was able to re-establish the receiver link by holding the "patch-on-a-stick" above my head once the rocket was down. Stupidhead forgot to query the software to give me a distance fix but I expect it was a quarter mile or less. BTW, the altitude reporting at least with this software is not very good. I haven't had a chance to monitor if the EF LCD displays better numbers. The TRS system certainly does because it telemeters the altitude from the baro chip.

If there was a tracker failure because a battery wire came loose, a less than adequate ground test or paint that turns out to attenuate 900Mhz Rf, will have to hope somebody eventually finds the rocket. If it's flyable again,
can determine the cause of the glitch and remedy it.

I'm sorry about the loss Matt and lest anyone thinks I'm casting stones, I'm not because I've committed all those sins I speak of above. I preach so others may learn and maximize their success rate at GPS tracking.

Kurt Savegnago
 

DavidMcCann

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Or winds aloft. If the main was seen at apogee and confirmed out visually, there is the problem explaining why the EggFinder wasn't heard at altitude.
With his last reading being the pad, I'm guessing the battery disconnected or something critical left the board on his tracker.
 

ksaves2

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Those SMT projects are pretty resistant to G forces and my EF's have taken some pretty hard recoveries and have kept on working. The G's on that rocket shouldn't have been that bad although if the battery worked free and yanked the wire off the
soldered hole, game over for tracking. Gives new meaning to using aft thrust blocks on devices on mission critical batteries. Kurt
 
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rstaff3

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Based on comments from people who performed shock/vibration testing professionally, the vast majority of failures come from interconnect wiring. That was before SMTs so I have no reason to suspect that this changed. Strain relief on all wiring is critical.
 

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You need to get historical data on winds aloft. Check aviation weather sites. If surface winds were 15 to 20mph, winds at 5K feet could easily be 40mph. Assume that your horizontal speed under chute could be approaching 50 ft/s. If you descent rate is around 20ft/s then the horizontal range could be 50/20*7000'. I would be looking 3.5 miles out.

When searching for a rocket I rarely find it 'closer' than I thought it would be.
 

ksaves2

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Looks like some witnesses saw it for a time so I suspect they have a general direction it was heading by visual means. Kurt
 

SS/EA 6BBL 71 Cuda

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When searching for a rocket I rarely find it 'closer' than I thought it would be.
+2. I couldn't find you this weekend John...Looked high and, low-
Marsa 54L in Cosmic Cheesecake worked like a charm. Love those little Critters!:eek:
 

jderimig

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+2. I couldn't find you this weekend John...Looked high and, low-
Marsa 54L in Cosmic Cheesecake worked like a charm. Love those little Critters!:eek:
Good to hear Gus, last minute pileup at my day job kept me from making the trip.... :-(
 
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