Monday, April 23, 2018

Hangin' Out With 'Mr. Cineroc' Part 1

Back in 1976, I received a letter in the mail from Silver Spring, MD, dated October 16th  and signed by a gentleman by the name of Herb Desind.
In the letter Mr. Desind stated that he was a member of the Starlords International Association of Rocketry (This was a correspondence-based club run by Dennis Bishop out of Hawaii),  and had found my name on the membership roster, noting that I lived in Colorado, the perceived heart of model rocket country.
Herb stated that he was an avid flier of the Cineroc movie camera, and that he sought contact with model rocketeers all over the U.S. and the world.  He went on to say that he often sent Cinerocs and booster rockets to folks at many locations with the idea that they could take some interesting Cineroc film sequences for him at various scenic locales.
This letter was the beginning of a correspondence friendship that lasted well over two years.  I never had the opportunity to meet Herb in person, but we had several phone conversations, not to mention the dozens of letter communications that passed between us.
During this time period, Herb sent me a booster rocket - an Estes Omega upper stage which he re-named 'Mountaineer', along with one of his own specially modified Cineroc cameras.  I flew the camera for him several times, after which I would send him the film cartridges.  He would process them and always sent me back a copy.
Also, at Herb's request, I scoured the local hobby shop scene to find new Cinerocs for him. He was definitely a voracious buyer and user of the product! All told, I remember locating and purchasing a total of seven in the Colorado Springs area, which I sent to him, and for which he always re-imbursed me.  A short time later, Herb sold me two of the cameras, equipped with his own special modifications.
Unfortunately, I lost touch with Herb in the early 80s.
A short time later, in 1985, I exited the model rocket hobby.  Establishing a home, career, and family took precedence over model rocketry.
Sometime in the mid-1990s, I toyed with the idea of picking the hobby back up (BAR-ing in today's parlance). I began perusing the internet to see what the state of model rocketry was, since I hadn't kept up with it in over a decade.  It was then that I learned that Herb had passed away.  I was greatly saddened by that.
What made me even sadder was the fact that, when I had sold off all of my model rocketry stuff in 1985, one of my Herb-modified Cinerocs was in the lot.
I still kick myself in the butt for that one. 
If I could only get my hands on a time machine....
Anyway, that's all water under the bridge.  Spilled milk.  Etc., etc.
I still posses a notebook containing all of the correspondence and photographs that Herb sent along.
I still have the memories of my friendship with that remarkable individual.
I will now share all of that with the modern model rocketry community through this new blog series.
I hope some of you readers who knew Herb will enjoy this latest offering.
Stay tuned.

Back In The Day #12 - The Space Shuttle Enterprise

I finally located the photographs I had taken of the Space Shuttle Enterprise strapped to the back of a 747.
The tandem made a two day stop at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs on May 16-17, 1983.  This was the shuttle's first stop after departing from Edwards Air Force Base on its way to the Paris Air Show.  The 747 and shuttle were on public display during their visit.  I was there to witness the departure takeoff.  Awesome. 
But enough are some pics.....


Friday, April 20, 2018

A Super-Cool Dumpster-Diving Find

Every so often, an unexpected object will drop right out of the blue and into our laps.
This happened to me yesterday at my workplace.
I was performing the mundane task of hauling some packing boxes out to throw in the trash dumpster. On my way, I noticed some black objects lying behind the dumpster enclosure alongside a stack of discarded wood pallets.
A closer look revealed them to be a pair of used, heavy duty audio monitor stands!

  Someone from one of the neighboring businesses had apparently tossed them out there, likely with the intention of someone - like me - finding them and making good use of them.
Of course, being a rocket geek, I immediately recognized them as a splendid pair of wide-footprint MPR-worthy launch pad tripods!
I couldn't believe my luck in stumbling across these items.
And I didn't even have to actually dig them out of the dumpster!
Everything seems to be in working order with them, and they only need a little cleaning and paint touch up here and there.
Here's a pic of one of the units set up in my basement shop, all ready to be converted into a launch pad.

At the moment, I am not into MPR, but perhaps this beastie could be the catalyst that would change all that. 
We shall see.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Back In The Day, Part 11A

That title kind of rhymes....

After writing yesterday's post, I seemed to recall something about the ROMAR section having those scopes stolen from us.
A quick check of my old back issues of the club news letter, The Cosmic Steppingstone, confirmed this.
In the March-April, 1974 issue, there appeared a write-up about the section's first NAR sanctioned Open Meet held on April 21, 1974.  Here is an excerpt:

"It was soon after we broke for lunch that we found a two-legged snake had ripped off our East tracking station.  The entire station was gone!  Although a small search party went out looking for the snake, it was not found.  A meeting of contestants was called, and due to the lack of an East station, the Peewee Payload event was dropped."

So, that explains the where-abouts of one of the scopes.   Apparently, our club had not seen fit to keep anyone on the flying field during lunch break to watch over things.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Back In The Day, Part 11 - A Tracking Scope Revelation

Last night I happened to be perusing through my collection of Model Rocketry Magazine issues, looking for some rocket plans I had recalled seeing.
I happened upon the October 1969 issue which contained the results write-up about NARAM-11 held at the U.S. Air Force Academy in August of that same year.  It diverted my attention away from the plans search for awhile.
The article described some difficulties surrounding the tracking scopes used on the first day of competition, citing that the scopes were magnified 6x with a 90 degree elbow in the optics path.  Folks manning these scopes found them very difficult to use in following models in flight, and, as a result, no tracks closed.
These scopes had been provided by the Colorado Springs Peak City Section, who were co-hosting the NARAM, with Bill Roe serving as the CD of the contest.  Luckily, the article went on to say, the next day's tracking events were saved by the Annapolis section, who had brought along their through-sight tracking scopes, which were much easier to use.
Fast forward to 1973.
Shortly after my rocket buddy, Marc K., and I had joined a newly formed local Colorado Springs rocket club - Skywatchers / ROMAR NAR section, we were paid a visit by Mr. Roe himself. 
Bill generously donated to our fledgling club all of the model rocket range equipment that had belonged to the former Peak City Section.  This included multi-pad launch racks, P.A. system, communications system, and....a pair of tracking theodolites.
Subsequently, at one of our sport launches, the scopes were brought out, set up, and made available to anyone who wished to learn and practice the fine art of tracking model rockets.  Of course, I was eager to try my eye at it.
I seem to remember that the scope I attempted to use was magnified...and it did have a 90 degree elbow in the optics.  And it was impossible to keep even the largest and slowest of model rockets in the field of view!
I am fully convinced that these are the exact same scopes that were used on that first day of flying at NARAM four years earlier.
If so, I can fully understand the frustration of the trackers, contestants, and meet officials as they experienced such a dismal rate of track closures.
Sometime in the late 1970's, the size of the Skywatchers/Romar club diminished to only four or five regular members, so we started flying from a single launch pad that was equipped with a 1/8"rod, a 3/16" rod and an adjustable tower.  Others would bring their own personal launch pads.  The old multi-pad racks were still brought out and used at public demo launches on occasion.
The rest of the Peak City equipment went into storage in someone's garage, and I never saw those tracking theodolites again.
It would be interesting to know whatever became of those historic beasties.....

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Productive...and Frustrating Weekend

This past weekend was a good one in the BlastFromThePast rocket lab.  
I managed to make significant progress on  a build of an Orbital Transport.  I think that this model is hands down my favorite of all Estes kit offerings, past and present.
Progress on the model included getting the engine mount assembled and installed, marking the main booster tube, assembling the ram-air tubes, and cutting out the million-and-a-half required balsa parts. 
I am one piece short - one of the forward booster wing fairings.  I simply ran out of available 3/32 balsa stock of sufficient length to fit in this final long component.  Need to get to Home Depot to pick up another sheet.  Why Home Depot?  Because I have consistently been finding nice pieces of C-grain in their stock.  Perfect for me, since there are some upcoming glider projects on my schedule, and I prefer using C-grain for glider wings.
Another model that saw some work was my new Canopus-2 (not the Argentine sounding rocket) cluster bird.  This one is my own design from 1975.  More details on it later.
Anyway, I finished attaching and filleting the fins, so the model is now ready for grain filling.
So, how have I managed to find the time to get all this accomplished with my hectic weekly schedule?
I built a nifty little lap work bench surface that I can bring up to the living room and work on rockets in the evening, rather than burying myself in solitude in the basement workshop.  In this way I can hang out with Mrs. BlastFromThePast, watch some movies, or listen to music, and still build rockets. Naturally, processes like sanding, sealing, and painting are 'verboten' in the living room and still need to be confined to the main shop, but all of the parts measuring, cutting, assembly gluing, and decaling is fair game.
One other project I managed to fit in was getting a start on building a half dozen more rocket display stands.  These are made in the woodshop using vintage woodworking hand tools.  I completed sawing the bases to length, planing the 45 degree bevel, and center marking the pieces for boring the holes.  I have a previous post on this whole process, if you should care to look.
Now for the 'Frustration' part....
There's an old adage about Colorado:  
"There is no wind in Colorado - Kansas just sucks!"  (My apologies to any Kansas readers)
It seems that the wind has been blowing non-stop here in Castle Rock since the beginning of February. 
All during the weekend, I wistfully made periodic checks to assess wind conditions.  From my upper bedroom window I can see a U.S. flag on a pole a couple of blocks away.  All weekend, this flag was proudly standing horizontally.  Sigh.....
I am anxious to get some models out to be painted, but to no avail.  Currently in the painting queue are the three parts of the Lunar Patrol all ready for color coats, an Astron Alpha awaiting primer, and a Satellite Interceptor also awaiting primer.  It will only be a short matter of time until the Canopus-2 and Orbital Transport will also be on the 'Awaiting Paint' shelf.  Sigh.....
Also, I have been itching to get out and do some rocket flying.  Wind's blowing.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

BAR Fleet #112 Star Seeker

Estes Industries
Kit # 0866
One of three models in the
Type:  Futuristic / Sci-Fi

 Stages: 1
Engine Type: 13mm
Recovery: Featherweight /
Length: 188mm (7.4”)
Diameter:  13.74mm (.541”)
Weight Empty:  7.7g  (.27oz.)
Nose Cone: Tangent Ogive
Fin Type:  Compound
Number of Fins: 2 compound assemblies
Color Scheme: White with dark blue and
red trim.
Date Completed:  11  April, 2018

 The Star Seeker is a small futuristic model rocket by Estes Industries, one of the three models in the ‘Mini Tri-Pak’( kit # 0866), produced between 1983 -1990. The other models in the kit were the S.C.R.A.M. and Sting Ray rockets.  The Star Seeker is designed to fly with the 13mm T-series mini engines, and employs featherweight recovery.

For such a small model rocket, the Star Seeker is loaded with details and a very well-designed decal scheme.  It has the appearance of a near-space ‘commuter’ transport, complete with crew cockpit and passenger doors/windows.  A nice little addition is the ‘Boeing’ logo included in the decal set.

 The 22 Month Model Rocket Project

 The Star Seeker project is the longest I’ve ever spent on a single model rocket build. Not that the actual work took that long, but in the fact that the model sat around in the la-BOR-a-tory for a long, long time awaiting decals.  Construction was begun in July of 2016, right after I became a BAR.  It was part of a three rocket simul-build alongside the Mosquito and Star Trooper.  Both those rockets have long since been finished and logged several flights each, but the Star Seeker languished in a corner of the shop, relegated to a back shelf while other projects were being pursued. The delay and subsequent disinterest in finishing the model stemmed from the lack of proper decals. That was a show-stopper.

At one point, the constructed, painted model was victim of a large notebook titled ‘The Big Book of Rocket Science’, which toppled over and proceeded to break off one of the complete fin assemblies.  Had to re-glue and re-paint….but the Star Seeker went back to its perennial space on the shelf.

In mid-2017, I grew weary of looking at that unfinished bird, so down it came to see if there was some way to fashion the markings without resorting to springing substantial dollars to have them made commercially.

As for how to go about applying the model markings, I had toyed with the idea of cutting each detail component out of either existing stripe waterslide decal material or adhesive trim Monokote.  This never came to pass. 

I also attempted to attach templates of the markings to the model and carefully draw them on with fine tipped Sharpie markers.  This would have worked reasonably well, but I didn’t get the cockpit windows and passenger doors lined up very well.  It might have passed OK, but I was not satisfied with it, being somewhat of a grumpy ol’ perfectionist. Out came the sandpaper and spray paint to render a do-over on the nose cone! 

Next, I tried using a Dymo label printer to fashion a close facsimile of the ’Boeing’ logo.  This didn’t work well either as the labels were too stiff to adhere properly to the small diameter detail tube.

At this point, I once more gave up on the model and set it aside.

Things changed recently, however, when I upgraded my computer system to include a nice HP ink-jet printer.  I have now learned the fine art of producing home-print decals, and the Star Seeker is one of the first models in the fleet to benefit from the same.

Once the downloaded decal sheet for the Estes Mini Tri-Pak was sized and printed out on blank decal stock, the fun began.  Star Seeker was suddenly finished in the space of a single evening, after having sat idle for almost two years!

The bird is now an attractive and welcome addition to the fleet.  I am looking forward to seeing if it flies as good as it looks.

One other small deviation from the original is the recovery system.  I have read on some of the forums that Star Seeker fins are highly likely to break using only featherweight recovery.  I opted to install a small streamer in my model. 

 11 April, 2018