What others want to know about our Wierd looking launchers and support equipment

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Micromeister

Micro Craftman/ClusterNut
TRF Supporter
This happens to me all the time! I take a photo of a model I'm really proud of.. and what happpens? folks want details on the launchers its sitting on

From way back when I was usually launching alone or with a friend or two, I've alway believed your launchers and support equipement should be at least as interesting as the models we fly, because while we're out retrieving those great looking models it's our equipment, standing there alone, representing our hobby to the passing or viewing spectators.

I've always built all my own equipment, so I tend to make things do as many operations as I can cram into whatever box i'm building That said this thread could go on forever I'm sure there are hundreds if not more folks out here with some really neat suppor stuff we'ed all like to see and hear more about.

This launcher is the instigating instrument for this thread. Scadaman, here some better pics and explaination of how it evolved.
Like many Micro-Maxxers I like to fly micros at club launches. the stock "silo" 9volt launcher just isnt' reliable in that setting. I wanted something that I could attach and detach quickly to any of my different launchers or the clubs Rack launcher systems. The Original intent was to build one of these flat plate type launcher that would fit inside one of the Racks bottom stroage compartments. I decided to make the base out of 3/16 and 1/4" alumunum with 1/2" acrylic rod holder, and launch controller lead contact points. That's were it started see photo.

Micromeister

Micro Craftman/ClusterNut
TRF Supporter
This pad worked great with one small exception, it has no alt/azimuth adjustment to allow changing the launch angle.. so whatever the lay of the land the rack sat on was the direction of launch... Humm NOPE this will never do! so a 1/4-20 hole was drilled and tapped into the bottom to allow attachment to a camera tripod. Great now we have all the adjustment needed. Some Hi performance Micros have no launch lugs. So I down sized some Pop lugs, but that ment drilling holes in the models. A standard Metal head piston was devised and a new aluminum angle mounting shoe was added to the flat base for attachment to several different "universal bases".
See photo

Micromeister

Micro Craftman/ClusterNut
TRF Supporter
further down the line I wanted to start flying Micro Scale models without launch lugs. in some larger body diameters .281", .375", .448" and .544" A tower of some kind would need to be designed. The original intent was to have a single add on disc with holes for 3 or 4 rods from .281" bodies out to .976" (BT-50s). individual .049" stainless steel or carbon fibre rods are held in place by 8/32" Nylon thumbscrews.
Several attempts in brass, aluminum and acrylic convinced me this Single disc approach would not work the tiny hole spacing even offset just would not allow that many holes that close togather in that TINY space. To handle all the body sizes the compromise was to add 3 additional 2"diameter discs. one for .281", one for .375", one for .448" and one for .544, 736 & 976". This added a storage problem, or more loose pieces... I hate loose pieces! So the Aluminum base was again drilled in several places and tapped to accept 8/32 studs fitted into the bottom of each clear acrylic tower disc. This give the Launcher the "PaddleBoat" appearance we now see Pic page

Now I've discovered that with a veriance in amount of paint, fincan wraps and other odd transitiions and addons some models stll will not fly well for the fixed rod towers.

Micromeister

Micro Craftman/ClusterNut
TRF Supporter
Finding that some Scale models just didn't fit into a fixed tower situation really got me! OH man I was just about fit. I have a really fine looking ARCAS in .448" body size that just will not fly from its TIGHT fitting 4 rod tower...RATS! So enter the .281" floating head piston. I can use the same angle base attachment as the standard metal head piston with a shorter 7" .281" slide tube and it will fit any model with a Micro-Maxx motor sticking out the back.

I haven't given up on an adjustable tower, design work is still under way..it's the 3 and 4 fin space problem is still making the overall size bigger that desired

So that's pretty much the story on the Micro-Maxx Multi use launcher.

Since the late 60 's I've kept a Flight log of just about ever single model I've flow. Keeping on site, fairly accurate weather data, flight conditions, models, motors, and observations of each flight gives me some perpective looking back of the months and years. It sometimes becomes a bother but I've also picked up tons of little things that have made future flights better, as well as a lot of very close set and rendom duration flights within a second of the posted time Data recording is something I think helps make my personal modeling better.

Micromeister

Micro Craftman/ClusterNut
TRF Supporter
This is my general all purpose, I can fly anything I want (NO HPR) from it Launcher.
Like most good systems it has evolved over the years since being created in 1986 and refitted in 1991.
The Story behind the recation of this "Self-Contained" system is a bit amusing so I'll take a few minutes to convey the saga....

LONG ago in a Masassas field...FAR FAR away. John set out early one morning from his Washington DC home to travel the then not so busy Route 66 out the a favorite flying field at Massassas Battlefield Park.
An hour and a half later I pulled happily into the parking lot to begin set-up for what looked like a wonderful morning of Mod-Roc flying...Models out, range box out... launcher base out... controller and small table.... got this stuff set up...Ah OH ! Wheres the battery? **** left it sitting on charge in basement.. OH well not prob. I'll just drag everything close enough to the parking lot to use the cars battery...20minutes later.. that done, We now have power.... continue set-up Where are the launch rods???? OH NO! left them home also... Well that finished the flying for this day... About noon on the way home after NOT fliying a single thing since leaving the house about 6:30am.. John is thinking.."What a waste!!! Man am I an idiot.. Not only have I forgotten the battery again but this time the rod tube also...#&$#**$#\$ man... There has got to be a better way.. all together, Nothing to leave behind kind of system.. solar...Yeah.. HOW!!!! expensive??... sorta.. maybe a solar panel charging BIG HONKIN Capacitor... YEAH now we're talking... Rods strapped to the legs or something.... wait... not on the legs.. IN the legs.. contorller also... Now can I do this???

Well a few months later, this was the result. A 12' x 12" x8" wooden cabinet base, top surface clad with 16 and 22gage 304 stainless steel, and a "Works in the Drawer" Package that contains a 56000mfd 16v power capacitor connected to a charging 12v 50ma plug in solar cell. contolled by a custom made hand controller and 30' of 16/2 copper lamp cord that fits into one of three 2" x2" x 42" long square alum tube legs. and lift out 36" rod holder for 1/8", 3/16" and 1/4" rods. To give the launcher redundancy Back-up power supplies include a 8- AA on board battery supply or 2 #4 stranded copper wire 40" battery drops for an external 12volt battery if needed. While i'm at it I added a 40amp/contact 12v coil DPDT power relay for cluster launching.. using the external battery source of coarse Alt/Azimuth adjustable at both leg angle, Large bronze plate base roatation and custom 40degree tilt head/ 1/8" to 3/8" mulit rod holder. All the wooden parts were stained cherry and 4 coats of polyurethane clear. a 1/4" lexan clear hinged lid is fitted with velco strips for solar panel attachment and other items. Over the years different solar panel attachments and sun tracking gizmos's have been developed and attached as well as a 6' rod holder for after set up use. the whole thing folds up and sitting up side down for access to the 3 hinged door leg compartments. but it is a bit hefty tipping the scales at just over 45lbs. I've launched very kind of model you can imagine for this launcher. Micro-Maxx to 5 D12 clusters, and a few APCP motor tho is normally will not allow there use on this launcher.

Micromeister

Micro Craftman/ClusterNut
TRF Supporter
Here's a composite pic of the various leg compartments and what the thing looks like up side down.

Catching up and tripping all over myself.
As I stated in a previous post on another thread, some of us out here (at least myself) look to you seasoned folks as somewhat of mentors (please don't get the bighead, some of you know you're good).

On to the subject at hand:
When I first saw one of Micromister's launch pads, I thought, this guys got something going on there that looks interesting and fun! It was that wooden box with a bunch of gadgets built into it. Since then I've noticed several different launchpads and when I saw his latest one, I couldn't hold back no more. I really thought he had built an RC mobile launchpad! I had a flash back to going to Cape Kennedy several years ago and seeing the roadbed that carried the SatV and others from the vehicle assembly building to the pad, They said the roadbed went 20ft(?) deep with concrete and rock and they moved the vehicles at 1 mph...

Anyways... I planning building a new pad soon and wanted to know some nifty stuff to do with one. Like timing from ignition to liftoff, maybe dual rod sensing so different items can be compared. Just looking for some neat stuff to do with a new launch pad.

I'm still using my original Estes stuff, but I'm starting to get interested in the "camera tripod" style. Most times the grass is over grown and makes it difficult to set up the old style pad. I have been known to temporarily lose my pad in the weeds on my return from a rocket hunt.

This should be an interesting and fun thread...

Thanks in Advance to Micromister, our other mentors and all the rest of y'all that really enjoy this hobby.

cls

Well-Known Member
Micromister - thanks for the extensive postings & pictures. very interesting!!! lots of great ideas, really enjoyable reading.

Micromeister

Micro Craftman/ClusterNut
TRF Supporter
Back a while I built this Relay system, I've never liked the leg arrangement but it fit what I had at the time
My 13.25 Scale Bomarc is a 3 D12 cluster with Fx smoke effects in the nacells for extra points. The trouble was I had to drag to or 3 sets of pad leads to whatever pad I was assigned to get the needed juice. So I built this heavy duty UGGLYY thing that will support up to 3 seperate effects or events. With the Bomarc the aux. 10amp relays start the smoke at about T-7 sec and the HD 40amp power relay gets the motors going at Start. It will handle just about anysize model and Rods up to 1/2" I'm thinking of reworking it into a system similar to the Solar launcher with the works slung under the 1/4" alum blast deflector and 2" x2" Sq tube legs. Its one of those Round tuit type jobs.

Micromeister

Micro Craftman/ClusterNut
TRF Supporter
Here's a lift-off sequence.

I'm thinking about flying this model Sunday August 1st, at Naram-46 sport range to celibrate my youngest daughters 24th birthday..She was 10 on its first flight in 1990.... Dang I'm feeling old!

eugenefl

Well-Known Member
Originally posted by Micromister
From way back when I was usually launching alone or with a friend or two, I've alway believed your launchers and support equipement should be at least as interesting as the models we fly, because while we're out retrieving those great looking models it's our equipment, standing there alone, representing our hobby to the passing or viewing spectators.

This is why I LOVE the looks of the Aerotech Mantis pad. The pad itself has rocketry written all over it. People see it at a launch and instantly know what's going on. That thing looks like missiles could be launched from it!

I'm ready to wrap that black and yellow stuff on my PVC pad that gives off that "WARNING" or "<a href="https://fliskits.com/products/rocketkits/kit_detail/caution_rocket.htm">CAUTION - ROCKET LAUNCH IN PROGRESS</a>" look.

JRThro

TRF Supporter
John,

If it makes you feel any better, when my youngest son is 24, I'll be 69 years old.

Heck, when my OLDest son is 24, I'll be 64!

(Where's my walker?)

-John T.-

Micromeister

Micro Craftman/ClusterNut
TRF Supporter
Originally posted by JRThro
John,

If it makes you feel any better, when my youngest son is 24, I'll be 69 years old.

Heck, when my OLDest son is 24, I'll be 64!

(Where's my walker?)

-John T.-
LOL OMG!!! I musta started early!!!

JRThro

TRF Supporter
Originally posted by Micromister
LOL OMG!!! I musta started early!!!
Well... I don't know when you started, but I know that I started late! <g>

I was almost 40 when I got married.

Catching up and tripping all over myself.
I have limited experience in rocketry, just me, our club and this forum, so I'm curious as to how y'all get your rods clamped in place.

On our club pads we took a 2"x2" phonelic (synthetic wood) block, drilled 1/8", 3/16" and 1/4" holes, all in a single line down the middle, then we sawed down that same line. Because the sawing took out a little wood, when the halves are put back together the holes are a little smaller and it becomes a clamp with grooves for the rods. Then we drilled a 1/4" hole sideways through both halves and with a bolt, washers and wingnut, we tightendown on the halves and clamp a rod in place. Works just like the Estes rod clamp. Great for changing out rods (if needed).

(Can't wait to get a digital camera.)

Micromeister

Micro Craftman/ClusterNut
TRF Supporter
That's is a pretty good way to get the job done Scadaman! the phenolic has a good friction holding power. Some of our older systems still use something very similar to what you have described.
Most of my systems use Aluminum or Stainless Steel blocks drilled to pass the rods 1/8" to 1/2" and are drilled and tapped with an 8/32 to 1/4-20 brass or staniless thumbscrew clamping retainer. Heres a little better look at this system used on the Solar launcher set-up. A stainless Blast deflector is installed over the rod keeping most of the exhaust debris out of the adjacent unused holes.

Catching up and tripping all over myself.
I've seen some info about contest such as "first off the rod" is this usually done by sight or with proximity/motion/LED/sensor.

I can almost imagine a setup like that of the drag strips, where they stage the cars at the starting tree.