Launch day! Here she is in all her glory! J275 to I195 to H180.
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Sadly it started to go downhill from there. At the pad I had a good fix on both GPS units with everything powered up. When I returned to the flight line, I had lost connection with both, so it seemed. The Featherweight tracker showed GPS lock on both units, but showed them disconnected from the ground station at the same time. However I said go to launch because I could see packets actually being received from both units. The system was flaky at the previous launch too, where it tracked both units but didn't detect launch or vocalize the flight, so this wasn't that surprising.
After leaving the rail it headed downwind. Probably should've gone with the J460 instead of the J275. Simulation showed the forward button leaving the rod at 40fps which is what I normally shoot for, but wasn't quite enough in this case.
Other than heading downwind it was awesome, popping off the Talos at burnout, coasting 2 seconds, and igniting the I195! Lost sight of it at Taurus burnout, and never saw or heard the H180 ignite. This time the GPS DID detect launch and was reading out the stats, topping out just over 5,000ft. So I knew at that point we had no ignition on the 3rd stage. Bummer!
At that point we could see the Talos stage under chute, so that was good. The GPS continued to call out the descent of the Black Brant at around 89fps which seemed alright for drogueless and with that additional nose weight. Not ballistic for sure. Last call out was below 700ft where I had set all the mains. GPS showed last known position over 4,400ft downrange.
Since I had the GPS in the upper stages I first went looking for the Talos which came down in a corn field. Had the rocket flown into the wind as planned the Talos would've been in the grass instead of the corn. I spent an hour in the corn walking along the line it was sighted on, using the GPS location and satellite image on my phone to stay on track, stopping and listening for the Stratologger's siren, but no luck.
With some trials and tribulations with the GPS I was able to locate the Black Brant. And the Taurus. Damaged, together, no chutes. I stashed those in the car and went back to look for the Talos until dark but couldn't find it.
After I got home I went through the data to see what happened. The flight data recorded on the Black Brant's Raven was just garbage. Pretty much recorded static. So it didn't detect launch, burnout, anything, so didn't arm any of the pyros. So after 2nd stage burnout it didn't fire the separation charge. The Taurus - Black Brant assembly reached apogee just over 5,000ft and the Taurus fired its separation. That was enough to slow the whole thing down to that 89ft/s freefall. Thankfully without the separation charge they were still pinned together at the interstage coupler so I didn't end up with a full lawn dart. At 700ft the Taurus then ejected its main as programmed but with the velocity and combined mass of the whole thing it just shreaded it. All I have left is about an inch of shroud line!
Even after impact the av-bays were in perfect order, nothing dislodged, powered on as normal when I got them home and downloaded the flight data. So I have no idea what happened with that upper Raven. I have flown these so many times on 3 stage flights with no issues before.
So here is what I brought home. Sad, but it will fly again. The av-bays and fin cans are actually undamaged aside from some scuff marks. It could've been a lot worse.
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I'm sad about the Talos because I don't make a habit of losing my rockets, in fact I've never lost a mid/high power bird before. Having logged my tracks in the corn field I believe I know where it rests, in a small area that I missed, so I will take a look for it next month. That field gets irrigated so it was a goner by dark, maybe at least I can recover the motor casing if I can find it.
That's a swell idea, might just order me one of those, thanks!
According to them you can, you just need a separate dongle for each tracker. Then in the application just open a separate tracking window for each.Don’t think you can track 2 rockets at same time even with Altus system. Why not just put different systems in each stage?