T3 Solar Flare (Tail of what's Too Heavy)

The Rocketry Forum

Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Micro Craftman/ClusterNut
TRF Supporter
Jan 18, 2009
Reaction score
Washington DC
The First time I say Estes New Solar Flare I knew I had to downscale it! it's just too cool looking!

After fooling around with several different sizes I decided to go with what I thought would be a good mix of size and mass....Sorry folks I was mistaken:(

I kicked around actually making this first micro version a 2-staged downscale then decided better to make this first model single staged. As it turned out I'm very glad I went this way.

Started off doing the normal one page plan for the MicroMaxRockets Yahoo group, showing both single and 2-stage options. As the drawing and gathering material want, everything looked like it was going to be OK. A quick "dry" set-up showed the parts including a newly found .375" OD .063" wall clear Polycarbonate payload section should keep the model in the raw under 10 grams class.

The only really tricky part was getting some of the tiny detail decal wording, which I ended up changing anyway. I also decided to add some color to the model name decal just for fun.

Heres the vary condensed plan that has been uploaded to the group, I'll be changing this with a smaller version as soon as the plan and model have been tested.

MM 361b-sm_Solar Flare (T3) BT-55 ring_12-02-08.JPG
I decided to use Fliskit Balsa Nosecone and nose blocks instead of turning special cones as the T3 AD cone was close enough, just a bit of shoulder trimming to fit in payload section ID, and wola we have a payload section.

Being a little lazy I subed .020" white styrene for the intended 1/32" basswood. Just to remove a bit of sealer for them mix...turns out it really didn't make all that much difference either way.

BT-55 fin/ring made a perfect fit in this scale. Since we're not splitting the ring for staging I decided to deeply score the ring anyway to give a deep shadow line once painted.
I noticed the side seam was pretty wide and very noticable, I wasn't sure if you'd be able to see it from the outside once attached so I decided to fill it in and sand it out before attaching the ring to the fins. I won't do this again! it wouldn't have shown as it turns out and did add an extra bit of weight to the ring fin. Live and learn;)

Motor mount is a standard 1" long T2+ body tube with a T2 - 3/16" long motor block and 2 of Fliskits Beautiful T2+/T3 centering rings.
Heres another place I added something that more than likely wasn't a help. Instead of just using 90lb kevlar shocklines as I've normally done on this type motor mount I decided to add a 49strand Stainless steel beading wire shockcord anchor to this model. I'll likely not do this on the next smaller version. I've found the 90lb Kevlar generally lasts about 20 or more launches when exposed to the nasty little micro maxx ejection charge heat.

After installing the motor mount and attaching all eight fin pieces we're looking like the Flare:)

MM 361p01c-sm_T3 Solar Flare const_12-02-08.JPG


  • MM 361p01a-sm_T3 Solar Flare const_12-02-08.JPG
    MM 361p01a-sm_T3 Solar Flare const_12-02-08.JPG
    72.3 KB · Views: 7
  • MM 361p01b-sm_Solar Flare Const. BT-55 ring_12-02-08.JPG
    MM 361p01b-sm_Solar Flare Const. BT-55 ring_12-02-08.JPG
    81.7 KB · Views: 10
Now begins the finishing.

in a couple of the previous pics you'll have seen I magic marker blacked out the balsa nosecone and shoulder, just to see how it would look in the payload tube. Well this was also a bit of a mistake! apparently I didn't let the marker dry completely before inserting and it acted like a glue seating those shoulders Permanently in the Polycarbonate tube... so tightly I snapped off the entire shoulders trying to remove them:( Add a little more unnecessary mass for the reinforcing toothpick and epoxy required to fix those mistakes.

Frog tape was then applied to the Payload section to remain clear, a light sanding or all surfaces on both the payload and main body sections, than a single grey "cheap-O" primer coat on the body and 2 coats on the payload section. then sand almost all of it off. Sorry I forgot to take a pic at this point... I think it was during my depressed period....with NO TRF outlet...or maybe the election aftermath;) makes ya forget about stuff.

Anyway after sanding out grain and seams. a base coat of gloss white and Gloss black was appled to check for imperfections. found a couple, fixed with a little med. CA, resanded and a second white basecoat.


  • MM 361p01d-sm_Basecoat Blk & White_01-10-09.jpg
    MM 361p01d-sm_Basecoat Blk & White_01-10-09.jpg
    50.8 KB · Views: 8
Yellow is by far the funnest color to paint with. Doesn't matter whos paint or what brand.
because yellows are so transparent it is impossible to get good soild coverage with a single coat. through training it's been driven home not to trust your eyes when applying yellow. Don't even try to get an even coat, if you do your going to have runs, drips and many errors LOL!
instead apply a series of very light passing coats. that is to say. using a constain passing speed with the gun or can. apply a single pass the turn the model (about 1/4 turn) and repeat, same speed, single pass. Keep this up around the entire model. then let it rest, flash off for at least a couple minutes. Apply a second coat using the same method. and sometimes a third is required. usually by the third coat you should have an even solid yellow finish. I was lucky on this model, it only took two misting coats to get a pretty nice solid yellow, on a larger model I've have used another coat but I was really getting a little worried about the added weight.
Remember I mentioned the dry weight of this model was Under 10grams. actually 9.3grams to be exact. My guestimate was looking for a finished model coming in around 12-13grams.

MM 361p01e2-sm_Yellow & Black ColorCoats_01-11-09.JPG


  • MM 361p01e1-sm_Yellow ColorCoat body Close_01-11-09.JPG
    MM 361p01e1-sm_Yellow ColorCoat body Close_01-11-09.JPG
    84.9 KB · Views: 9
I decided I didn't like the look of the model with the little canard fins painted black preferring to leave them yellow.

On to decaling and a couple coats of Nu-finish. she's done!

On the scale with 3/4"x 18" orange teflon tape streamer recovery system the little beasty is 14.1grams! Oh man, thats almost 5grams of repairs, paint and primer:(
Roc-sims says 18 feet...my foot! I'm expection more like 10-12. and I still have to swing test the model... OH man I sure hope it doesn't need extra noseweight. Nope she swing test just fine! Even with a slightly nose UP from horizontal hang. Liftoff weight with a MMX-II motor is 15.2g uggh!

But I think she's a pretty little Piggy LOL!!!!


  • MM 361p01f2-sm_T-3 Micro Solar Flare Complete_01-12-09.JPG
    MM 361p01f2-sm_T-3 Micro Solar Flare Complete_01-12-09.JPG
    92.9 KB · Views: 8
Sundays Sport Launch confirms my worst fears! Shes just Toooooo darn heavy!
In the light 8-10 mph wind, the model rose to about 10feet and flipped in the breeze at burnout. landing just as the ejection charge went off. No damage but a very disappointing flight.
We'll be back to the drawing board very soon, more then likely going with a T2++ body (.316") OD that should shed those unwanted 5grams of mass:)


  • MM 361Lp01a-sm_T3 SolarFlare on Pad_01-18-09.JPG
    MM 361Lp01a-sm_T3 SolarFlare on Pad_01-18-09.JPG
    93.6 KB · Views: 9
  • MM 361Lp01b-sm_T3 SolarFlare mid bad flight_01-18-09.JPG
    MM 361Lp01b-sm_T3 SolarFlare mid bad flight_01-18-09.JPG
    75.1 KB · Views: 9