November 07, 2004

Launch Report - 11/6/2004

There's a bumper sticker I've seen that says:

A bad day fishing beats a good day at work every time

That's what happened to me yesterday. I had a wonderful day, despite all kinds of things going absolutely wrong.

The day started off very chilly. When I got up, I discovered that we were inexplicably childless. Rachael had left early (SAT's) and TJ had been called in to work. That meant I had to load the truck up myself. This is doable, but my "system" results in some rather large and heavy containers best handled by two people. So I switched to plan B, which is to empty the containers, load them into the truck, then refill them again with all of my equipment. Not a biggie, just unexpected.

When I got to the field, I was stunned at the number of cars already there. We've really been growing this club for the last few years, and I remember the days when there might be a half dozen cars and ten people launching rockets. When I arrived yesterday, there were probably close to fifty vehicles already there. Amazing and wonderful.

Lots of kids too. There were Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts and a local school Physics club and several Team America student teams working on next year's challenge.

Since I had her repaired and ready to go, I grabbed the Hot Jets and headed for check in. While waiting in line, I was asked to do a shift at the check-in table (safety inspections and pad assignments) and I said "sure". I had just enough time to load the Hot Jets onto a pad before my shift started.

She launched beautifully on an F24-7, but the 7 second delay is just too long. When the ejection charge fired, she was well on her way down and although the nose cone came off, the chute didn't make it out of the tube. She went down behind a small rise and I headed over the see the damage.

Coming up to her, it was obvious that the soft grass had saved her. The rocket had a tiny crumple along the rim where she hit the ground, and it looks like she bounced and deployed the chute then too. Impact deployment of the parachute is hard on your rocket - just a tip from someone who's been there and done that. Not this time though, I got lucky. The chute had been driven into the ground a little ways by the body tube hitting, but all in all she's undamaged and ready to fly again.

Time for my shift as part of the range crew. It was mostly kids and all kinds of fun. The physics students all had identical egglofters and were flying raw egg payloads. The rockets were also a bit underpowered for the windy conditions which made for some, uh, interesting flight profiles. And a few scrambled eggs.

Early on I put my hand down to write something on a flight card and came down on a yellow jacket that had been sitting on the table. He did the famous yellow jacket ninja half-roll maneuver and buried his stinger into the meaty part of my right hand below the pinky. I felt the fire, and it took a shake or two to dislodge him. Mindfull of the little ones around, I didn't let out the string of swear words that were running around inside my head (good thing they couldn't read thought balloons). I contented myself with an "Ouch, that smarts!" and wishing it had been a bee instead so at least I'd have the satisfaction of knowing he'd die from it.

I'm not allergic to bee stings, so other than the painful throbbing in my hand all day, the day went on.

After my shift was over, I took the ground support equipment I needed out to the pads. It was time to launch Watch the Birdie, my hybrid-powered rocket that refused to fly last weekend. After getting everything set up and ready to go, I tried three times to launch, and three times had no joy.

I have a couple of ideas about what the problem might be, and the rocket (the motor half) is set up on a test stand right now. In a little while I'll head out to the backyard and run some tests to see if I can't pinpoint the exact trouble. When ignition failed, I didn't get a clean dump of the nitrous tank, but the entire motor section of the rocket frosted up. That tells me that the nitrous was escaping there somehow, instead of through the vent or back through the fill hose to the dump valve. Yes, it all sounds very complicated, you should be impressed. Especially the ladies.

So that was my day. I didn't fly anything else, preferring to visit with friends and talk rockets. I did visit Performance Hobbies to buy some stuff. Ken had his huge trailer full of rocket goodies there, which doesn't happen often enough, so I try to take advantage when he's there. Unfortunately he was out of stock on almost everything I wanted. I still bought a couple of things anyway (support the people who support you).

My hand was still hurting, so I said my goodbyes, packed up and headed home. It was still a beautiful day and I had a great time. Next launch is December 11th. I'll be there, y'all are welcome to come on out and join us.

Posted by Ted at November 7, 2004 09:55 AM
Category: Rocketry

Hey Ted! I'm glad that you're still in such good spirits after yesterday.I know what it's like to have those sort of bad days but just not that many in a row.However,like I said before,it did take me several days at NARAAM to get that first reloadable going.
Anyways,make sure you post the results of that test.I'm very curious about that.After all I may be looking to nab on of those soon,myself.Somehow I get the feelin' that I'll wind up just going with the Hypertek setup if any at all.Well if nothing else I'll see ya next month although I get tha feelin' that you'll say something that'll make make wanna holler back atcha'!Oh and BTW here's the link to my Fotki site: Not much there because I'm a bit too cheap to pay for full service but maybe someday.

Posted by: Russ at November 7, 2004 01:06 PM


Posted by: vadergrrrl at November 8, 2004 12:05 AM

I am so looking forward to taking the kids up for one of these! Sorry it was a crappy day, BUT like you said...better than work.

Posted by: Catt at November 8, 2004 09:06 PM
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