Scout Rockets

smstachwick

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I’ve found three rockets on ScoutShop.org that appear to be unique to the Boy Scouts of America.

Currently I’m working on a set of FAQs and recommendations for Scout units and other youth groups who wish to join DART at our launches, and I was wondering if anyone has any experience with these rockets and would recommend them to first-timers.

As far as criteria I’m looking at ease of assembly, ease of flight prep, motor flexibility, and beginner-friendly flight characteristics. Those prices look about right.

Estes Voyager:


Estes Starseeker (looks like a redecorated Firestreak SST)


Estes Scout Spirit E2X. I’m willing to bet that that’s an Alpha variant and that @BEC might know a thing or two about it.

 

Scott_650

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Those all appear to be redressed versions three Estes beginner kits - the Scout Spirit looks to be an #1256 Alpha III, the Starseeker is #0806 Firestreak SST and the Scout Voyager is the #0804 Firehawk. I’ve built an Alpha III, it’s a basic Estes E2X kit that doesn’t have any “gotchas” that I can recall. All three of the Estes kits these are based on are covered on Rocket Reviews if you’d like some detailed insight on building them https://www.rocketreviews.com/ plus Estes has the instructions on their website.

Good luck with your initiative - I spent a day at a Scout event helping to build Estes #0886 Gnomes which I would not recommend for very young Scouts since you really need to use CA in the build if you’re going to fly them right after you’re done with assembly. IMO any of the three on the BSA site would be better than the Gnome.
 

smstachwick

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Those all appear to be redressed versions three Estes beginner kits - the Scout Spirit looks to be an #1256 Alpha III, the Starseeker is #0806 Firestreak SST and the Scout Voyager is the #0804 Firehawk. I’ve built an Alpha III, it’s a basic Estes E2X kit that doesn’t have any “gotchas” that I can recall. All three of the Estes kits these are based on are covered on Rocket Reviews if you’d like some detailed insight on building them https://www.rocketreviews.com/ plus Estes has the instructions on their website.

Good luck with your initiative - I spent a day at a Scout event helping to build Estes #0886 Gnomes which I would not recommend for very young Scouts since you really need to use CA in the build if you’re going to fly them right after you’re done with assembly. IMO any of the three on the BSA site would be better than the Gnome.
Thanks!

I’ve built my share of Alpha derivatives and I’ve also done a Firestreak. Also a Gnome, you’re correct that that can be more challenging for youngsters than it looks.

Also thanks for the ID on the Voyager, I have never built a Firehawk and didn’t recognize it.

Currently I’m leaning towards recommending the Athena for anyone who wishes to go RTF, and Generic E2X for anyone looking for a simple build. They’d be easier to pack than the classic Alpha III or a Gnome.

Scouts looking to earn the Space Exploration Merit Badge must not only build their own rockets (taking the Athena out of the equation) but also make a second flight for a specific purpose. I’ve come up with a few recommendations for that one but I think getting an Alti-Tracker and having a closest-to-target-altitude competition with the Generics would be the simplest.
 

Scott_650

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I’ve done build and fly sessions several times with a pretty wide range of ages - I’m partial to tube fin rockets for a couple of reasons, the tube fins self-align so you get a nice straight flight, they’re draggy so you can use Estes A8-3s (or even adapted 13mm motors) on a small field and they’re inherently rugged so you don’t snap off a fin from a bad recovery. There are a couple of vendors with easy to build tube fin kits - https://www.rocketryworks.com/ and http://discountrocketry.com/ both have a tube fin beginner kit.
 

smstachwick

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I’ve done build and fly sessions several times with a pretty wide range of ages - I’m partial to tube fin rockets for a couple of reasons, the tube fins self-align so you get a nice straight flight, they’re draggy so you can use Estes A8-3s (or even adapted 13mm motors) on a small field and they’re inherently rugged so you don’t snap off a fin from a bad recovery. There are a couple of vendors with easy to build tube fin kits - https://www.rocketryworks.com/ and http://discountrocketry.com/ both have a tube fin beginner kit.
There’s an idea 🤔

I can think of a tuber I’d want to avoid though, and that’s the one from Quest. I’ve seen it skywrite without nose weight in it.
 

BEC

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Scout Spirit is a #1799 Make-it Take-it with the colors reversed, not an Alpha III. It builds up into a configuration essentially identical to the RTF HiJinks (or a shortened RTF Athena, if you want to look at it that way), though if they are using the same actual plastic parts as in Make-it Take-it, they aren't as nice as Alpha III/HiJinks/Athena parts.

I've seen a few of these at my club launches.

Can't directly speak about the other two....
 
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smstachwick

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Scout Spirit is a #1799 Make-it Take-it, not an Alpha III. It builds up into a configuration essentially identical to the RTF HiJinks (or a shortened RTF Athena, if you want to look at it that way), though if they are using the same actual plastic parts as in Make-it Take-it, they aren't as nice as Alpha III/HiJinks/Athena parts.

I've seen a few of these at my club launches.

Can't directly speak about the other two....
Impressive. Looks like I tagged the right man. Thanks for the info and your time, as always.
 

afadeev

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I’ve found three rockets on ScoutShop.org that appear to be unique to the Boy Scouts of America.

Currently I’m working on a set of FAQs and recommendations for Scout units and other youth groups who wish to join DART at our launches, and I was wondering if anyone has any experience with these rockets and would recommend them to first-timers.

These are all E2X Estes kits with either pre-fab plastic fin cans, or glue-them-up plastic fin cans.
I find that to be a liability for working with the scouts troops, especially the younger Cub Scouts. Plastic glues are way messier, a bit toxic, and require a bit too much supervision if plan to hold build sessions.

After years of flying rockets with Cub and Boy Scouts, and certifying kids for Space Exploration badge, I've settled on one recommend kit - BMS School Rocket.
It's both sturdy and large enough to work with, looks good, flies great and predictably on anything from A8-3 to C6-5, comes with a streamer, and can be fully assembled with just the wood glue.

Any wood glue. Which you can leave unattended on the table as kids get messy and go nuts, and it will still wash off (if cleaned within reasonable time frame) from both the clothing and the furniture.

The assembly instructions are well illustrated, and are perfectly accurate:

HTH,
a
 

mikec

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The Alpha III doesn't require the use of any glue except wood glue, the plastic fin can is trapped between centering rings of the MMT. See https://estesrockets.com/wp-content/uploads/Instructions/001256.pdf I suspect the same is true of the other Estes plastic fin can kits.

I've run several scout build sessions and have not had great luck with fin attachment so the plastic fin can has substantial appeal. YMMV. The BMS School Rocket is great and very reasonably priced for what you are getting. But a traditional "balsa fins or nothing" approach may not be optimal depending on the group.
 

BEC

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I love the BMS School Rocket. It is a reliable flyer in marginal conditions as well as having all the attributes @afadeev ascribes to it.

Alpha iII can be built with no plastic cement as @mikec notes. Make-it Take-it/Scout Spirit require you to glue the base of the nose cone to the nose cone itself—this is a plastic cement job. This can be done in advance (and is what I've done when doing group builds at the Museum of Flight with the Make-it Take-it. Otherwise it assembles like an Alpha III and can be done with wood glue or Allene's Tacky Glue.

But for fin cans that need assembling, such as Firehawk/Scout Voyager, plastic cement is a bigger need and it needs to be managed in groups of young first-time builders.
 

smstachwick

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My idea was that instead of me supervising 30 kids or whatever it happens to be, I would suggest to the unit leader that I lead a smaller training sessions for 4-8 older Scouts and their parents/guardians (about 1 patrol or den’s worth), and then have the new trainees lead the big build day. I feel like that way it would open up greater opportunities for youth and supporting adult leadership. I’d still be present and active at the big build but taking on a more secondary role, helping to fix mistakes, answering questions, and acting as an additional instructor.

I’d also suggest to them that we take a similar approach at the range. We’re fortunate enough to have a smaller site farther north of our main launch site that I could use for ignition and recovery system training (i.e. first flights for the first round of trainees). We also have provisions for Thursday launches at our main site upon request.

I will look into your suggestions, however. Ease and safety of assembly will likely be critical for those units that wish to forgo this plan and depend solely on my expertise on build and launch day. What I end up recommending will likely depend on a given unit’s age and needs.

Years ago I led a bunch of my fellow Boy Scouts in building about 50 Baby Bertha kits, which effectively demonstrated to me that balsa fin kits can work so long as the age group is appropriate (> or = 10 years old), the build process is modified to focus on subassemblies, and the unit ensures that the rockets are complete before scheduling a flight day.
 

K'Tesh

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Whenever kids are involved, I'd suggest that instructors read this little essay I wrote up about my first launch experience...

 

smstachwick

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Whenever kids are involved, I'd suggest that instructors read this little essay I wrote up about my first launch experience...

I’m familiar with this. Thank you for sharing it, I’ll be sure to have somebody on preflight inspection duty.
 

Grant_Edwards

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These are all E2X Estes kits with either pre-fab plastic fin cans, or glue-them-up plastic fin cans. I find that to be a liability for working with the scouts troops, especially the younger Cub Scouts. Plastic glues are way messier, a bit toxic, and require a bit too much supervision if plan to hold build sessions.
The Estes E2X generic uses a pre-fab plastic fin can, but uses only white/wood glue. IIRC there are several other E2X kits with plastic fin cans that use only white/wood glue.
 

dhbarr

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The Estes E2X generic uses a pre-fab plastic fin can, but uses only white/wood glue. IIRC there are several other E2X kits with plastic fin cans that use only white/wood glue.
Yup. We just did a build a week ago Monday, and flew Saturday. I put one grownup at each table, not more than three students per grownup.

1hr start to finish for E2X generics w/streamers instead of chutes.
 

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I love the BMS School Rocket. It is a reliable flyer in marginal conditions as well as having all the attributes @afadeev ascribes to it.
I second the recommendation for the BMS school rocket. It even has slotted fins - very hard to get them on wrong. You only need white or yellow glue to build this rocket. Flies great on A8-3 motors and is very reasonably priced.
 

Grant_Edwards

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I love the BMS School Rocket. It is a reliable flyer in marginal conditions as well as having all the attributes @afadeev ascribes to it.
I did a group build of E2X Generics with my niece's girl scout troop last fall. If they want to do another group build this summer, I think it will be the BMS School Rocket. I'd like to "move up" to gluing on balsa fins, and the slotted body tube should make that managable.
 

Stewman

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I read this thread with interest as I also have worked with Scouts on various occasions. Although I am a fan of the Generic E2X in some applications, my go-to rocket for future build sessions for students above 4th grade would be the BMS school rocket. East to build, reliable and able to use various motors.

Also, having read K'Tesh's essay, was blown away by that experience as the exact same thing happened to me several years ago. The local community college had several sessions of "Kids Kollege" where they introduced elementary and primary school students to college level classes. They asked me to do model rocketry which I did for five years. My first session with the students involved primarily rocketry basics with an emphasis on safety. I was rather stern when talking about it and got their attention. I also had a couple of aides that assisted me during the construction and launching of the rockets. Unfortunately, one young man decided he wanted to glue his nose in so he wouldn't lose his rocket, and one of my aides did not catch the issue. No incident, as we were launching away from the spectators, but he and I had a little talk after the crash. I took responsibility for the snafu, but I am always reminded of that incident when I launch with young people who are not familiar with the hobby.
 
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