State of the hobby?

cwbullet

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An implication may be that they were jumping through this hoop as a way to develop their resumes and jumpstart careers, rather than because they find rockets intrinsically interesting.
No, this group appears to want jobs in Aerospace. They also plan to build for Spaceport.
 

MikeT

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Hobbico was a major hobby shop distribution system, they owned or controlled a large number of hobby brands, they went into bankruptcy a few years back (which is when Estes got acquired by the current owneers).
Tower /Great Planes /Hobbico died due to piss poor management. Acquired by Horizon.
 

Rob Campbell

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Tower /Great Planes /Hobbico died due to piss poor management. Acquired by Horizon.
At least Horizon was smart enough to keep Tower Hobbies operating. Tower has, and always had, great customer service.

I was an avid supporter of my LHSs for many years. Sadly, the last one closed in 2018 when the owner passed away. Now, I depend on Tower and other on-line suppliers for my RC and rocketry supplies.
 

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Weird, all of the best hobby shops HAVE online inventory.

I shunned nearly every shop that had no track, field, or online inventory. (Pick 1.) It's not just this hobby. All hobbies and sports have faced this. Put your inventory online, or die. Survival of the fittest. Besides, picking up a box, putting it on a shelf, and shipping it out later........is the easiest job on the face of the earth. The hobby shops that figured this out, make every hobby better.
 

astronwolf

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No, this group appears to want jobs in Aerospace. They also plan to build for Spaceport.

SolarYellow suggested that the students' participation in a rocketry activity may be motivated by career interests rather than "just because" they happen to like rocketry. You replied, "No," they are motivated by career interests. Edited to add: I suspect that you had a good comment to add to the discussion, but it was lost on me.

From what I have witnessed - TARC, SLI, all that - the participants are not hobbyists. IMHO a few might make rocketry a hobby, but generally, they are not hobbyists.
 
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Steve Shannon

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SolarYellow suggested that the students' participation in a rocketry activity may be motivated by career interests rather than "just because" they happen to like rocketry. You replied, "No," they are motivated by career interests. Edited to add: I suspect that you had a good comment to add to the discussion, but it was lost on me.

From what I have witnessed - TARC, SLI, all that - the participants are not hobbyists. IMHO a few might make rocketry a hobby, but generally, they are not hobbyists.
You’re right, but as far as I know, none of those contests were created primarily to attract people to the hobby. They were created to promote STEM. But we do end up with at least a few hobbyists as a side effect anyway and I suspect that some of the others, who are career motivated, will someday have kids and hopefully will come back as hobbyists.
 

lakeroadster

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Why would you say that, when shipping regulations are by international agreement? And, for good reasons, too. Do you really want aircraft falling out of the sky, because of lithium batteries, for example?
Rocket motors I believe was the topic. But to your point... Rocket Motors made here in the good ole USA... less stringent requirements if they are ground shipped.

You know, common sense stuff.
 

bjphoenix

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The engineering/STEM school I went to was somewhere between 3:1 and 4:1 overall male:female with the women concentrating more in in chemistry and biology than engineering and the other stuff. That was true from the '50s until the 2000s, when a new female college president emphasized recruiting women. Eventually, they started graduating more female engineers than male.
My company hires a lot of female engineers, almost all of them are very smart. But still we're probably about 3:1.
 

cls

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Rocket motors I believe was the topic. But to your point... Rocket Motors made here in the good ole USA... less stringent requirements if they are ground shipped.

You know, common sense stuff.

Your superficial assessment is not at all common sense... Go get the training about hazmat shipping and learn why things are done the way they are.
 

Initiator001

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Tower /Great Planes /Hobbico died due to piss poor management. Acquired by Horizon.
After Hobbico went out of business I was discussing this with a friend of mine.

He is an R/C flier (gliders, planes (electric and glow engine), drones, helicopters). He drives R/C cars and we would fly rockets together.
He also had worked in a hobby shop.

He broke down Hobbico's fall to three issues:

1) Changes in R/C equipment. Hobbico had locked up an exclusive sales program with Futaba R/C radios. Futaba made excellent R/C equipment but rested on it laurels and was slow to get into digital spread spectrum systems. Other R/C equipment suppliers had embarced the new technology and were getting sold through Horizon and other hobby distributors. Hobbico was locked into selling Futaba and was at their mercy.

2) Drones. Hobbico was slow to recognize this category and it's staggering growth. Not only did Horizon get involved with drones earlier, they were able to have their own drones made that could be sold for higher profit than reselling another manufacturer's drones.

3) Electric. Electric powered R/C airplanes became a growing category in the 2000s. Horizon saw the trend and invested in electric powered R/C airplanes and even had their own line of kits made. Hobbico had an exclusive deal it OS Engines and continued to promote glow engine powered R/C aircraft when the electric 'Park Fliers' became a major category and Hobbico was forced to play catch up.

Hobbico had $200 million in yearly sales in the 1990s. I visited Hobbico/Great Planes in 1992 and was given the backstage tour by none other than Rick Piester (Lee Piester's son). It was a huge enterprise and a very impressive operation. Their shipping area featured 18 loading docks each able to support a full size UPS tractor trailer.

It still boggles my mind that such a huge hobby player could seemingly fail after being so successful for over forty years.
 

lakeroadster

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Your superficial assessment is not at all common sense... Go get the training about hazmat shipping and learn why things are done the way they are.
I'll pass. In the realm of things to learn at this point in my life, a deep dive into the bowels of government over regulation isn't high on my to do list.
 

shockie

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When Hobbico/Great Planes went bankrupt that left only one nationwide hobby distributor: Horizon Hobbies. Horizon is a 'one-stop' hobby distributor carrying products in all hobby categories. Horizon, however, does not carry products from all hobby manufacturers. Many hobby chain stores (HobbyTown) and independent hobby shops order only from Horizon. Estes established a 'exclusive' deal with Horizon so that Horizon would only carry Estes products and no other hobby rocketry manufacturers.

Other hobby rocket companies have tried to get their product into Horizon Hobbies but have been turned away.

Your best bet to get non-Estes products is to order them online.
Sounds like restraint of trade to me. Good old fashioned monopoly power on display.
 

shockie

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After Hobbico went out of business I was discussing this with a friend of mine.

He is an R/C flier (gliders, planes (electric and glow engine), drones, helicopters). He drives R/C cars and we would fly rockets together.
He also had worked in a hobby shop.

He broke down Hobbico's fall to three issues:

1) Changes in R/C equipment. Hobbico had locked up an exclusive sales program with Futaba R/C radios. Futaba made excellent R/C equipment but rested on it laurels and was slow to get into digital spread spectrum systems. Other R/C equipment suppliers had embarced the new technology and were getting sold through Horizon and other hobby distributors. Hobbico was locked into selling Futaba and was at their mercy.

2) Drones. Hobbico was slow to recognize this category and it's staggering growth. Not only did Horizon get involved with drones earlier, they were able to have their own drones made that could be sold for higher profit than reselling another manufacturer's drones.

3) Electric. Electric powered R/C airplanes became a growing category in the 2000s. Horizon saw the trend and invested in electric powered R/C airplanes and even had their own line of kits made. Hobbico had an exclusive deal it OS Engines and continued to promote glow engine powered R/C aircraft when the electric 'Park Fliers' became a major category and Hobbico was forced to play catch up.

Hobbico had $200 million in yearly sales in the 1990s. I visited Hobbico/Great Planes in 1992 and was given the backstage tour by none other than Rick Piester (Lee Piester's son). It was a huge enterprise and a very impressive operation. Their shipping area featured 18 loading docks each able to support a full size UPS tractor trailer.

It still boggles my mind that such a huge hobby player could seemingly fail after being so successful for over forty years.
Hmmm...seems they died because of "exclusive" deals.
 

Rob Campbell

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Sounds like restraint of trade to me. Good old fashioned monopoly power on display.
Actually, Horizon fell into a default near monopoly when they bought parts of Hobbico. At nearly the same time, Global Hobby, and their retail/web store, Hobby People closed. I herd the owner decided to retire and there wasn't a buyer.

By big beef with Horizon now is they are systematically dropping a lot of the old Hobbico product line, specifically Monokote in favor of Ultra Cote. I heard once the manufacturer runs out of the raw materials, Monokote is done. I've used both and Monokote is more durable.
 

Bobfly

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Hi All,

I’m a member of two rocketry clubs URRG and METRA. Both clubs have university student groups participate in launches. We even get a bunch of young children, both boys and girls that often come down to the field with their parents. The young ones have creatively decorated their Estes rockets.

A few dedicated teachers bring high school students down. I’m also in an RC airplane club. We haven’t been able to entice young people to join the club in years. It seems that the rocketry sport has a much easier time recruiting young people than the radio control airplane sport does.

We can all help to bring in new young people. My grandson’s Boy Scout troop are making model rockets. I’ll offer to carpool a group of the ones that are most interested to a high power launch.

The decline in the number of local hobby stores is bad for model rocketry and radio control model aircraft. A bigger problem is a lack of local flying fields. Fifty years ago, when I was young, you could fly rockets and airplanes at local school yards and town parks. Not so much anymore.

All the best,
Bob
 

Tom Flint

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Regarding hazmat shipping, I think USPS' decision to arbitrarily and capriciously limit model rocket motors to 30 grams of propellant vs 62.5 is where the problem lies.
 

bad_idea

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Estes stopped selling Fs or any composites.
I don't know if Estes will bring the composite motors back (nor do I care, since Aerotech made them for Estes and still covers the segment very well), but Estes still do make black powder F motors. You won't often see them in local shops because of the HAZMAT requirements in shipping black powder motors of their size.

That said, Estes are currently out of stock of nearly all 29mm motors, including all the F motors. According to an exchange I had with Estes CS last week, Estes are suffering a supply chain problem with the casings for the 29mm motors. They do hope to have the motors "back in stock by mid-December or sooner."
I tried to order a single pack of C5 to try out and ACSupply didn't want to ship them.
I have a number of packs of C5-3s on hand that I bought from a project that's no longer likely to consume nearly as many of them as I had thought. I'll try to remember to bring you a pack (or more if you need) to the next Gunter launch. You might remind me before the launch because I have a terrible memory.
 

smstachwick

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I don't know if Estes will bring the composite motors back (nor do I care, since Aerotech made them for Estes and still covers the segment very well), but Estes still do make black powder F motors. You won't often see them in local shops because of the HAZMAT requirements in shipping black powder motors of their size.

That said, Estes are currently out of stock of nearly all 29mm motors, including all the F motors. According to an exchange I had with Estes CS last week, Estes are suffering a supply chain problem with the casings for the 29mm motors. They do hope to have the motors "back in stock by mid-December or sooner."

I have a number of packs of C5-3s on hand that I bought from a project that's no longer likely to consume nearly as many of them as I had thought. I'll try to remember to bring you a pack (or more if you need) to the next Gunter launch. You might remind me before the launch because I have a terrible memory.
I always thought that Estes wound the casings. I’m guessing then that the Mabel machines just pack the innards? Maybe print the label?
 

Initiator001

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Regarding hazmat shipping, I think USPS' decision to arbitrarily and capriciously limit model rocket motors to 30 grams of propellant vs 62.5 is where the problem lies.
The 30 gram limit is USPS.
The 62.5 gram limit is DOT.

The 30 gram limit came about around 1978 (I think).
The NAR was trying to come up with a way to make hobby rocket motor shipping less expensive/difficult and (Possibly with the NFPA) held a series of tests showing the safety of model rocket motors (Black powder).
At the time USPS wanted a maximum propellant amount for this easier shipping method.
Since there was no HPR flying or composite motors being made at that time the parties agreed to 30 grams.
It was an agreed on limit between the parties.
This was/is the DOT-E 7887 exemption.
 

Initiator001

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I always thought that Estes wound the casings. I’m guessing then that the Mabel machines just pack the innards? Maybe print the label?
Estes has all their paper motor casings made by another company.

There is a machine at the Estes facility that does the printing on the casings. I saw it in action during the NARAM-60 Estes tour. It's a huge machine and reminded me of a circus calliope.

The Mabel machines just load and pack the black powder. Amazing machines.
 

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Like most people have said a lot of physical stores are being beat by online stores. My local hobby store closed down not too long ago.
 

Zeta

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Quoted from the NAR newsletter :

"The NAR made history last month. Our total membership at the end of October was 9,042. We grew over 1,000 members since June 2021 when we hit 8,000 members. It was in April of 2018 when we hit 7,000 members. So, we grew pretty fast over the past 16 months." November 2022

Does anyone have a Tripoli report ?
 

cwbullet

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Quoted from the NAR newsletter :

"The NAR made history last month. Our total membership at the end of October was 9,042. We grew over 1,000 members since June 2021 when we hit 8,000 members. It was in April of 2018 when we hit 7,000 members. So, we grew pretty fast over the past 16 months." November 2022

Does anyone have a Tripoli report ?
I, too, would be interested in TRAs member numbers. Based on the member list, I would say that there are over 7080 members to TRA.
 

PhilC

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The UK is about the same size as Oregon with a population of about 67 milliion. Over the last two decades the number of clubs with launch sites has dropped from 9 to 4. The number of people attending clubs has remained largely constant, so its been a period of consolidation rather than growth.
UKRoC, a partner competition to TARC, has grown from about 8 registered schools in its first year to around 100. UKRoC has tended to grow in isolation from the clubs. There are many reasons for this, but a key factor is that few schools seem prepared to travel to clubs for weekend launches. It also appears that few rocketeers are actively engaged in mentoring schools. The result is that many of the UKRoC students drift out of rocketry after their 18th birthday.
The university sector has started to expand. University societies often turn up at club meetings during the academic year. This helps to swell numbers, but few students remain with the hobby after they complete their courses.
One key issue with rocketry in the UK is that we're at the end of a very long supply line for motors. Estes rockets and kits are generally available in small quantities in most hobby shops. AP motors from Aerotech and Cesaroni are not available through hobby shops and can only be obtained directly from the two importers. The small size of the community and cost of transatlantic shipping means that motors are more expensive than the USA and tend to arrive as part of a bulk order. Importer margins are small and its not cost-effective for them to place small, frequent orders.
 

MidOH

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Hi All,

I’m a member of two rocketry clubs URRG and METRA. Both clubs have university student groups participate in launches. We even get a bunch of young children, both boys and girls that often come down to the field with their parents. The young ones have creatively decorated their Estes rockets.

A few dedicated teachers bring high school students down. I’m also in an RC airplane club. We haven’t been able to entice young people to join the club in years. It seems that the rocketry sport has a much easier time recruiting young people than the radio control airplane sport does.

We can all help to bring in new young people. My grandson’s Boy Scout troop are making model rockets. I’ll offer to carpool a group of the ones that are most interested to a high power launch.

The decline in the number of local hobby stores is bad for model rocketry and radio control model aircraft. A bigger problem is a lack of local flying fields. Fifty years ago, when I was young, you could fly rockets and airplanes at local school yards and town parks. Not so much anymore.

All the best,
Bob

Gatekeeper stuff, is a major killer of any hobby.

Airplane fields are almost always private. This hurts them hard. Although I do have a state park airplane field now. But that's because people have been flying by the lakes dam for 40+ years.

Rocketry has a better setup by far. Anyone can just show up and fly for a fee. (free for minors)

But with wireless pads, we need to have a low power, medium power rack separate from high power. Low power rocketeers can govern themselves and pop off like popcorn while the HP guys prep.

I'd suggest relaxing, like most clubs have, on the level 1 stuff. If the rocket is obviously well built, and obviously stable, send it. My nicest club has extremely strict rules. Nearly level 2 knowledge, for any high power flight. But they're on private farm land, so they have to be extra careful. You can see a reluctance from the mid power guys to commit to HP from that though.

I'm not sure hobby shops matter at all anymore. But I do support any shop with a field, with a trailered shop at the field. etc. etc.
 

astronwolf

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Gatekeeper stuff, is a major killer of any hobby.

Unfortunately, the gatekeeper stuff is necessary. I wish it wasn't so, but it is. I consider finding, maintaining, and keeping a launch site or an existing launch site is the #1 chore that I must contend with as the president of a NAR Section. Without even the little field that my section has access to, there wouldn't be a NAR Section. One screw up. One mishap. One errant rocket that prangs into someone's yard/house/car and we are done. No field. And no field = no hobby.

I am very much a gatekeeper.
 

Banzai88

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Unfortunately, the gatekeeper stuff is necessary. I wish it wasn't so, but it is. I consider finding, maintaining, and keeping a launch site or an existing launch site is the #1 chore that I must contend with as the president of a NAR Section. Without even the little field that my section has access to, there wouldn't be a NAR Section. One screw up. One mishap. One errant rocket that prangs into someone's yard/house/car and we are done. No field. And no field = no hobby.

I am very much a gatekeeper.
Speaking as a guy who had just BAR'd the launch day before our club lost it's primary field to a cowboy go-fever launch mishap, I understand this perspective. Took us YEARS to find a new field that was acceptable, and even then we went though 3-4 of them before we found one properly suited to at least limited HP!
 

astronwolf

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Speaking as a guy who had just BAR'd the launch day before our club lost it's primary field to a cowboy go-fever launch mishap, I understand this perspective. Took us YEARS to find a new field that was acceptable, and even then we went though 3-4 of them before we found one properly suited to at least limited HP!
Yes. Someone screwed the pooch twenty years ago and my section has never completely recovered from loss of one particular field. We did get another high power field, sort of, but it didn't work out. But loosing a field because of some mishap is one thing. How about loosing a field by attrition?

I mean, the difficulty in finding fields is one thing. But maintaining and keeping them is another. The current arrangement is not sustainable. At least in my NAR Section we have a handful of active members (the ones who show up for nearly every launch) in their 60s and 70s, of which one guy is traditionally assigned the task of doing all the heavy lifting, organizing, logistics, hauling gear, etc. There is no new blood coming in willing to make a commitment to maintain a club, and through the club, field access.

Most inquiries and expressions of interest that I get from the public are just for field access. We're just a resource to many. I accommodate some requests like from youth groups. It's what we do, right? But some we just can't. No, you can't get exclusive access to our field to fly sugar rockets. No you can't do whatever you want on our field. No we don't support high power just because we are "against" the activity. Etc. Etc. Unfortunately, I think that when we eventually age out, we are done. No section. No field.
 
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