Totally new and UK based - help please

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Tyrone Shoelaces

New Member
Sep 27, 2009
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Hi fellow rocketeers! :cheers:

First off, I'm new to the hobby / sport and I'm trying to gather as much info as poss. Are there many UK based rockteers on here? I've purchased an Estes Alpha iii rocket (after much research).....I've read some guys cut spill holes in the parachute.....what do you guys recommend?

Any help is much appreciated!

I'm uk too, and fairly new as well. Don't know much about parachutes, but there must be someone here who does =). In terms of rockets, I recommend the comanche 3 and estes wiggler (is that OOP now?). Both are cheap but fligh high!
Hi Rocketman, I've heard the Estes Blue Ninja is also a good 'un. I've just (literally tonight) finished putting together my first rocket (Estes Alpha iii). Didn't bother with the spill hole as the shop I bought the rocket from 'upgraded' the 'chute which was standard with the kit (didn't have the heart to 'ruin' it. I'm planning on taking it out for a launch next weekend :jaw: , my local club is SERF's (Southern England Rocket Flyers) and they're meeting in Hampshire for a launch (can't launch near where I live as there are too many airfields (civilian and military) :bangbang:
Hi, TS,

Your Alpha is an excellent starter choice! It flies quite nicely on small (1/2A and A) motors and still gets right up there with C motors! (I strongly recommend that you start with the small motors, and get your rocket back!)

The spill-hole thing is supposed to be a way to reduce the amount of swinging and swaying that occurs during descent. It also reduces the area of the parachute and slightly increases descent rate. This might not make any difference if your launch field has lots of grass, but if it drifts over a paved parking lot the increased sink rates could cause a little more landing damage. I am not sure that I recommend you try chopping up your parachute until you launch a few times and decide for yourself if you want to try it.

You also have the option of replacing the parachute with a streamer. You could use a length anywhere from 25 to 50 cm (works fine, gives a fast-but-safe rate of descent) upwards to a meter or two (your rocket will come down much more slowly, and you could be back to the same drifting-in-the-wind problem that you can have with a parachute). You can use plastic surveyor's markng "tape" (2-3-4-5 cm wide), or cut a strip of material from a outdoors emergency survival space blanke (a thin sheet of aluminized mylar plastic), or even use a length of crepe party-streamer paper (use white, because the colored ones stain your hands). Basically, you can use about anything to make a streamer.

You can leave off the parachute (and streamer) completely, and just connect the nose cone to the rocket. The two pieces will tumble down safely just fine. This is called "nose blow" recovery and no, I did not make that up. If it is a windy day, this system might be best.

One more thing: Estes rocket kits are kind of famous for not giving enough length for the recovery shock cord, and the nose cone sometimes snaps back and crumples the front end of the body tube. You can add a length of cord between the end of the shock cord and the nose cone---50 cm would be plenty. You can use kevlar cord (f you have it), or nylon cord (check it between flights for scorching damage), or other kinds of cord (just be sure they are strong enough).

Let us know how your launches go!
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Hey PB,

I think you have just solve a 'head scratcher' for me! :cheers: The shop I bought the rocket from hoyed in all kinds of 'upgrades' they called them.

Once I followed the instructions and put the thing together, I was left with a length of yellow cord about 500mm in length, and something which can be best described as two metal hoops fixed in a swivel type arrangment to a smaller connector piece....not big at all, about the size of 3 grains of rice. It obvious now what it is................they are for making the shock cord longer!!...............I thank you!............... :clap:

Thanks for the stellar advice. With regards to motors, the shop included four B6-4 motors as part of the upgrade package so i'll run with them next week.

Lots of people like swivels at the bottom of the parachute shrouds to clip to the rest of the rocket. That way, if the 'chute spins (like they all seem to LOVE to do) the rest of the tether system doesn't end up twisted into a ball of knots.

Swivels come in handy even for low-power rockets. Run the shroud lines through the eye of the swivel as you build the chute, or make a secondary loop connecting the bottom end of the shroud lines with the eye. If you have a really nice 'chute, the clip on the other end of the swivel lets you attach the 'chute to whichever rocket you are launching at the moment. Of course, the vendors here on TRF would also appreciate it if you purchased 17 different parachutes for each of your 17 rockets....
Welcome to rocketry and to TRF, you're going to love both :)

The Alpha is a great kit to start with and if you got the starter set then you have your launch pad and controller and are all set to really explore this hobby!

The B6-4 motor is a good motor to start with just take note that the Alpha is a small, light rocket and will go quite high on B motors. Just be sure you have enough field space for such a flight. A spill hole in the parachute is a great idea for that very reason :)

We have many UK rocketeers here on TRF and you (the UK) also have vendors that are represented here and on other forums. Be sure to check the vendor list in the vendor forum here to find them. Many carry large lines of several different rocket companies, including FlisKits.

You will find more fun and exciting kits than you could ever fly... ...but you will have the time of your life TRYING! :)

Must say, I'm totally blown away by the willingness of fellow rocketeers to provide help and advice. Everything I've read regarding model rocketry is constant in saying the community is a friendly place.

I'm off for my first launch on Sunday and have joined my local club (SERFs) whom are BMFA hoping all goes smoothly.


Thanks for the swivel information, like totally makes sense now! :blush:
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Best wishes on your first flight.
Another tip about Estes parachutes - pre-assembled Estes parachutes anyway - I'm assuming it was pre-assembled in a sealed bag - these things last no more than three or four deployments before the weight of the rocket bearing on the shroud lines tears the plastic so that you get full separation up there at a thousand feet. We should always inspect the rocket for damage after each flight, I know, but sometimes the damage is easy to miss. Your Alpha will survive impacting a grassy field but thin mil plastic tends to stay aloft longer. Can you get fined in England for littering at 1,000ft.? Something tells me 'yes.' :rolleyes::)
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Hi fellow rocketeers! :cheers:

First off, I'm new to the hobby / sport and I'm trying to gather as much info as poss. Are there many UK based rockteers on here? I've purchased an Estes Alpha iii rocket (after much research).....I've read
Welcome to UK rocketry!

Others have already given good advice on the Alpha III, so I'll deal with the other part of your question. ;)

Yes, there are plenty of UK based rocketeers here. You should also check out the website of the United Kingdom Rocketry Associaction:
Here you will find a list of clubs, one of which should be somewhere near you. Also there is a list of vendors with good reputations throughout the UK rocketry community - if you see an on-line vendor which is not on that list, there's probably a reason... I've personally dealt with all but one on the list, and that's only because that one specialises in high power rockets and I don't. :)
Hi welcome to rocketry and TRF from a fellow UK rocketeer. there is a social group of 17 uk rocketeers on TRF that WiK started, fel free to join.
hope you have fun flying