Those Rocket Eating Weeds

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brockrwood

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My buddy’s Estes Hi-Flier got lost in the tall grass. We looked and looked and could not find it. It had a pink streamer. It kind of surprised me.
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waltr

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What I found is have a sight line to a distance landmark, a Tree, hill or something. Then one person stays near the launch site and directs the searchers to stay on the sight line. We use our cell phones to communicate. The searches then keep walking and looking until they find the rocket.

Distance is very hard to judge but staying on the sight line will get you to the rocket.
 

Banzai88

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What I found is have a sight line to a distance landmark, a Tree, hill or something. Then one person stays near the launch site and directs the searchers to stay on the sight line. We use our cell phones to communicate. The searches then keep walking and looking until they find the rocket.
Distance is very hard to judge but staying on the sight line will get you to the rocket.
My wife and I used this method yesterday at Bayboro. Worked perfectly for several mile long walks through the beans. Her spotting and keeping me on course walked me to within 20 feet of my rockets 3 times in a row.
 

BABAR

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What I found is have a sight line to a distance landmark, a Tree, hill or something. Then one person stays near the launch site and directs the searchers to stay on the sight line. We use our cell phones to communicate. The searches then keep walking and looking until they find the rocket.

Distance is very hard to judge but staying on the sight line will get you to the rocket.
This works great with two people.

If you are by yourself, stand still and sight the rocket to the ground.

Pick a landmark which you know is past the rocket that will give you a bead on it. Memorize it. In fact, if you have a phone or other camera, take a PICTURE with the landmark in the middle. Lots of trees look alike once you look away and look back.

Now turn around 180 degreees (you may want to drop a straight stick on the ground pointing toward your rocket) and pick a SECOND landmark 180 degrees opposite the direction of your rocket.

Why? First, when you are by yourself, it is easy to get off track a bit, if you do, you can just line yourself back up between the two markers and you are back on the beam.

Second, there may be obstacles which prevent you from walking a straight beam, like a ditch or a pond. You can walk around it and use the two landmarks to get you back on the beam again.
 

samb

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.... It kind of surprised me.
On the contrary, that looks like a very challenging recovery area that never saw a lawn mover. I'll second Babar's advice about fixing two landmarks and also it IS always further than you think.
 

Back_at_it

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Those types of tall weeds is exactly why I hate flying up at BONG. This time of year the weeds can easily be chest high.

If we have two people we pick at stationary spot to start from. Generally the launch pad is our point of reference. We then watch the rocket all the way to the ground. Don't take your eyes off it until it lands. Then pick a point on the horizon where it landed. Pick anything that will stick in your mind. Tall tree, funny red bush etc. The walk the line to the rocket.

If it is only me I follow the same process but I generally pick a larger starting point that I can see from the field. I'll typically stand at my car and watch it land. Pick my point on the horizon and start walking.

One other piece of advise. If you think you have walked far enough, keep walking. It's further away than you think. I launched a Big Daddy and watched it come down. I walk the field for a hour and couldn't find it. Before I left I walked the field one more time and found it about 10 ft further out than where I stopped the previous search.
 
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fyrwrxz

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I drilled one up and searched 3 quadrants before giving up. A German off road racing support team found it the next day lying in an arroyo where I never looked. It had a Pratt micro beacon in it with a dubious battery I threw in at the last minute. The 12 year old son (keen ears) had met me the day before and knew it was mine. I went back out to the test range the next day and met them just as they were leaving. Thrilled to get my bird back! The micro beacon is small and not very loud, but it saved the day. You can gut/carve up personal safety screamers with pull pins for extremely loud beepers if you have the room.
 

smstachwick

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That's odd. For the one's I lost and eventually found...
They were always closer than I had thought.
I had exactly this happen when my Estes Gnome bent under thrust and yeeted itself away from the range head. I didn't see it until I'd given up and headed back to my table.
 
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manixFan

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Another way to look for rockets is to emulate the Sight-N-Go feature of Garmin GPS units with mapping software on your phone. With those units you basically pointed the GPS at some landmark or distant heading, and added a waypoint that you could project at whatever distance made sense. I would do a drift calculation and use that whenever I could. Then you simply navigated to that waypoint. Your path would be plotted so you could see where you had been. If I got to the waypoint without finding my rocket, I could do a grid search, or sometimes a spiral search until I found it. It was also easy to mark any rockets I came across. The really nice thing was I found that unless winds changed during the day, most of the rockets going to a particular altitude would land along roughly the same line, so prior paths helped inform the next search.

On my iPhone, I now use software named GAIA GPS. Learning how to add a waypoint to emulate Sight-N-Go was a bit tricky, but very easy once I got the hang of it. I even asked their tech support if they would add an actual Sight-N-Go feature but they said since I was the first person to ever ask them about it, they did not sound hopeful. You can also just use Google or Apple Maps by just long-pressing to add a waypoint on screen and then navigating to the point.

It works well even if you have a GPS tracker - you can manually enter the GPS coordinates and the you'll have a variety of maps you can use to plot your recovery if the terrain does not allow a simple 'as the crow flies' recovery.


Tony
 
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afadeev

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Get a decent drone, fly it over line of sight, and then some.
This will add another fun hobby, and greatly simplify the recovery efforts for yourself, and all of your friends.

Exhibit A:
View from line of sight (with a drone, no less, still useless), followed by view from a drone flying a search pattern over the corn field:
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BTW, even with the drone picture of the chute, and careful count of corn rows and distances, actually finding the rocket inside that corn field was a hack of a challenge. With corn stocks 8+ feet high, it's very challenging to keep track of distances and relative position. The rocket airframe was hanging right in-between the stalks and inline with them, and I could only spot it from 1-2 feet away!


Exhibit B:
Line of site view in the direction of the search area (from edge of the field, back towards the launch site), followed by view from a low-overlying drone
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Bowman

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My wife and I used this method yesterday at Bayboro. Worked perfectly for several mile long walks through the beans. Her spotting and keeping me on course walked me to within 20 feet of my rockets 3 times in a row.
Beans don't initially seem daunting but I have found them to be masters at hiding a rocket!
I have walked right past a rocket only to find it when I happened to look behind me by pure chance.
 

Bowman

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... We then watch the rocket all the way to the ground. Don't take your eyes off it until it lands. Then pick a point on the horizon where it landed. Pick anything that will stick in your mind. Tall tree, funny red bush etc. The walk the line to the rocket.

If it is only me I follow the same process but I generally pick a larger starting point that I can see from the field. I'll typically stand at my car and watch it land. Pick my point on the horizon and start walking.
I use a similar approach.
I've found that watching the entire flight to landing with a pair of Binoculars gives me a very good recovery rate.
The binocs allow me to sight the line as well as identify other surface features that I can look for when I walk deep into the field.
In fact the only one I have lost recently was one that I didn't watch to landing with the binocs.
 

bjphoenix

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Our local club sometimes uses a site with tall weeds, up to chest high. I had a rocket land not too far out, I headed right to that spot and walked slowly, didn't find it. I stepped a couple of feet to the right and walked back towards the launch pad, still didn't find it. I stepped about 4' the other way and walked back out, spotted the rocket right as I passed it. I had to have walked within a few feet of it twice before. One of the club members said he frequently uses a long streamer at that field because it can drape over the tops of the weeds and you can see it better than you can the rocket itself.

Long ago I had bought one of those personal emergency beacons but I never used it because I didn't want the thing to come down on a chute making noise in front of a crowd. Now that we have those bluetooth devices for your keys like the Tile, I wondered if it would be worthwhile to have one of those to attach inside of a rocket. If you could get within 20' of it in high grass maybe you could activate it and find it.
 

tomd

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As a recent BAR, I built a HiFlier a month or two ago, and launched it a couple weekends ago and lost it on the first flight... Flew great, but lost visual halfway down and had no luck finding it... Oh well, building a clone of sorts now, kind of a cross between a HiFlier and Xtreme.
 

brockrwood

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I agree with David Schwartz, look further out than you think it went. Set up a grid search as well and systematically search the area. I HATE losing rockets! I would rather crash one than not find it.
I write my name, telephone number, and "reward for return" on the parachute or streamer. I am not sure if that is effective, but I figure that, without some sort of contact information written on the rocket, there is *zero* chance of a good Samaritan finding and returning my rocket.
 

brockrwood

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As a recent BAR, I built a HiFlier a month or two ago, and launched it a couple weekends ago and lost it on the first flight... Flew great, but lost visual halfway down and had no luck finding it... Oh well, building a clone of sorts now, kind of a cross between a HiFlier and Xtreme.
I ordered three of these things as "audible" rocket finding devices. They won't fit into a Hi-Flier, but they will fit into bigger rockets, I hope. We shall see. I will see if I can take the "guts" out of one of these and use it without the case to make it fit into smaller diameter rockets. The idea would be to attach it to the bottom of the nose cone (where the shock cord attaches), "pull the pin" and let the thing start screaming, then put nose cone onto rocket and launch. Hopefully the sound will help me find the rocket before the batteries die.

 

brockrwood

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Our local club sometimes uses a site with tall weeds, up to chest high. I had a rocket land not too far out, I headed right to that spot and walked slowly, didn't find it. I stepped a couple of feet to the right and walked back towards the launch pad, still didn't find it. I stepped about 4' the other way and walked back out, spotted the rocket right as I passed it. I had to have walked within a few feet of it twice before. One of the club members said he frequently uses a long streamer at that field because it can drape over the tops of the weeds and you can see it better than you can the rocket itself.

Long ago I had bought one of those personal emergency beacons but I never used it because I didn't want the thing to come down on a chute making noise in front of a crowd. Now that we have those bluetooth devices for your keys like the Tile, I wondered if it would be worthwhile to have one of those to attach inside of a rocket. If you could get within 20' of it in high grass maybe you could activate it and find it.
I bought this FM transmitter kit for model rockets many years ago. Still haven't built it. I think it is time to get out the soldering iron!

 

waltr

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I have been using
I bought this FM transmitter kit for model rockets many years ago. Still haven't built it. I think it is time to get out the soldering iron!

I have been using his 2 meter (147MHz) TX in some of my rockets. It does work and have found my rockets in the 8 foot tall corn a few times. Range is only about 500 feet but normally can get close enough to pick up the signal. Then use the 'body' shield method to get a bearing and walk directly to the rocket.
 

BABAR

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my understanding is the AERODYNAMIC effectiveness of streamers peaks at a 10/1 ration of length to width. On the other hand, the VISUAL effectiveness (how easy it is is to see) has no limits that I am aware of, and since streamers are much easier to pack than chutes, unless you are an altitude hound and the extra weight matters, like in competition, extra long streamers are your friend, particularly in places like soybean fields where the rocket will likely penetrate to ground level but a long enough streamer will likely trail up and over the tops of the bushes.

I haven't done it yet, as I don't fly with Mid South Rocketry anymore as I don't live there and it was a long drive (great bunch of guys and at least one gal, though, while I was there), but the flying field was variously planted with soybeans, corn, maybe cotton, anyhooo, I thought even on parachute rockets that adding a long thin shiny streamer to the apex of the parachute might make rocket recovery a bit easier in soybean season, probably cotton too. Flying in corn? just hope it lands in an unplanted section. I've seen mixed reviews on this forum on noise maker effectiveness.
 

Alan15578

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Ooo! I didn't think about corn fields! I will avoid those. Even a huge rocket will get lost in a corn field!
Recovery from a corn field is feasible at an early June regional meet, but is heroically epic at a NARAM.
In any event, always respect the farmers corn and other crops.
 

Bowman

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I write my name, telephone number, and "reward for return" on the parachute or streamer. I am not sure if that is effective, but I figure that, without some sort of contact information written on the rocket, there is *zero* chance of a good Samaritan finding and returning my rocket.
I write my TRA number and phone number with a sharpie right on the BT between the fins.
 

Bowman

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Ooo! I didn't think about corn fields! I will avoid those. Even a huge rocket will get lost in a corn field!
I've told this story before;
I had one land in the eight foot corn and spent about an hour walking through the corn forest.
Just by chance I thought I smelled burnt BP. I looked up and saw the shock-cord draped over my head for about six or eight rows .
Found it by smell :)
 

Funkworks

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Has anyone with a dog ever tried attaching a piece of meat to a shock cord?
dog-holding-food-in-mouth-148543989.jpg

Actually, maybe I should go back a bit ... Has any ever brought a dog to a launch?
Random thoughts.
 
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