The obligatory introduction

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Active Member
Sep 17, 2023
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Florida's Spacecoast
As one might surmise from my username, I am Bill.

I started in rocketry somewhere around 5th grade in the '70s with an aeronautics lab kit from Radio Shack. It included a launch controller that was housed in molded EPS foam with a molded plastic faceplate and switch that I assembled from parts - button, brass contacts and spring. I built the included rocket - with carfully aero-form sanded balsa fins. It used a separate parachute for the nosecone which disappeared in a fallow cotton field on the second or third launch.

I built Estes kits and a few scratch builds after that (after a couple of pages in the Aerolab manual about the importance of aerodynamic fins I was shocked by square sanded edges). By junior high I was launching on a 2 channel launch controller I built from a county schools surplus headphone source selector box. In high school I and my friends were launching with a 3 channel box with proper tumbler keyswitch safety, that I'd built for effects triggering in a school play (not yet aware until later apprenticing, what California's pyro laws were).

College.. no rockets.

A decade or so later my wife and I were on a business trip that somehow diverted to a trip with the business' engineers to an HPR launch. I was inspired, and just getting into microcontrollers, had some grand ideas about steerable parachutes. I built a new launch controller and a couple of rockets, flew once and after not getting where I wanted with parachute design, promptly forgot about it.

Fast forward a couple of decades and a coworker is into LPR rockets. When doing a background check on a new hire I find a picture of him with a model rocket in major magazine and figure he'd fit in our team well, and he did. The two of them recently went to a local club launch (large local club on the Spacecoast - excellent launch area) and have been coaxing me to join them for a future launch....

Which means I need rocket(s). LPR, HPR is a commitment beyond what I'm interested in.

Last look I had Centauri was gone and Estes seemed more about pre-built plastic than rolling embossed paper onto tubes. I've come to realize, like with model planes and quadrotors, I get more out of building than flying.

I was pleased to see Estes recently released a proper kit of the Saturn 1B, but it wasn't long before I convinced myself that given the skills and tools I've built up since I was building rockets as a kid, I'd get more out of scratch building than kit building.

I sat about research, and started plotting and planning a scratch Saturn 1B in 1:100, with my eye on other scale projects as well.

I decided to hone my skills and develop workflows by starting with a replica of one of my favorite Estes rockets from when I was in high school - the Attack Craft Orion. The fins went on today and it's taking shape. The only premanufactured part it will have is one that I added as a functional "upgrade" to my original Estes model back in '83 - a snap swivel.

I"ve been lurking through the forum for a while while researching, and finally got around to creating an account to view attachments fullsize.


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The wonders of Google - found my first rocket at - the kit had two rockets. One launched by slingshot with a rear deploy parachute, and the other on an A engine, with the two parachutes. The book did teach about estimating CP by balancing a cardboard profile, and using the swing test to confirm a good CP to CG relationship.

That vacuum molded frame looks like a slightly different version of mine, that was all styrofoam, the launch controller enclosure (upper right) was just cut out from the box's foam.
Welcome, glad you are here.

You might like to check out some of the smaller independent rocket companies.

There is some really cool stuff out there now.

I like your rocket. Please keep posting photos as you build. Everyone does things differently, and I have learned something from almost everyone here.

That aeronautics kit, or one like it, was also my start in rocketry. The box doesn't look familiar, but the plane and the launch controller do. And I remember having a can of helium in it, too.

Estes today still offer a number of serious kits, it's not all premade plastic models. And there are other companies making some cool kits that require real building, too.

I like your rocket. Please keep posting photos as you build. Everyone does things differently, and I have learned something from almost everyone here.
Thank you,
I have posted my progress so far in a Scratch forum thread, though I think the learning is going the other way. I'm really just applying things I've learned here.