Friday, June 14, 2019

Precisely What I Need - Another Project....

I seem to suffer from a lot of the 'too-many-irons-in-the-fire' scenario.

That being said, I received this in the mail yesterday.  

Well, I didn't just receive it out of the blue - I did order it from Amazon after all.

This is the cheapy little Chinese-made 808 key chain cam.  Just the thing to try out a little video rocketry.

Featuring video, sound, and the ability to shoot single photos, the compact little unit comes with a USB adapter...... and a set of incredibly cryptic instructions.

After donning my magnifier headset to read them, and attempting to decipher the bad translation to English, I discovered very little useful information on how this thing worked, so I turned to the Wonderful World Wide Web.

To my surprise and delight, I found a PDF of a comprehensive user's guide on this very model of cam from none other than Apogee in Colorado Springs!

Tim, if you are reading this, thanks a million.

Now it's time to 'git busy'.....

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Back In The Day, Part 27 - ROMAR Resurrected!

Following the resounding success of the HOTROC-1 Open Meet in Colorado Springs, the Mountain Region virtually took off.

ROMAR was able to renew its NAR charter, since the number of members by then had increased beyond the five required to constitute a section.

Also, two thriving new sections were formed in the Mountain Region:  WARP in Utah, and COSMIC in Denver.  Over the next few years, these three organizations grew into a force to be reckoned with as far as NAR competition points went.  In the 1982 contest year, all three sections made the NAR top ten list in contest points totals.  In, 1983, two of the sections (ROMAR and WARP) were still in the top ten.

As for ROMAR itself, we saw a substantial increase in activity:  Several high-visibility public demonstration launches helped to bring in a much needed local exposure to the club, as well as bringing in several new members. 

And, of course, our sport launches and workshops continued to be held on a regular basis, with outstanding attendance.

After a hiatus of several years, the club news letter, The Cosmic Steppingstone, went back into production with a brand new, slicker format and variety of content. News letter trade with several other NAR sections around the country was facilitated, and we printed lots of extras to place in all of the local hobby shops.

At one point in 1982, we were honored by the presence of NAR President J. Pat Miller at one of our club meetings.  Mr. Miller happened to be in Colorado Springs for business purposes, and was able to find the time to stop in and chat.  One of the serious discussions concerned the possibility of ROMAR hosting an upcoming NARAM, perhaps at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

As for me, I had renewed my position as Mountain States Region Manager, and continued the work of keeping lines of communication open and working with members and sections.  Steve Sande of COSMIC in Denver was appointed Colorado State Department head, and Gary Price of WARP in Utah, served in the same capacity for that state.  These two sections also began conducting their own smaller contests, with WARP starting up the 'Pioneer' series of Regional meets.

Next post:  HOTROC-2 !!!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Back In The Day, Part 26 - A Little More HOTROC-1 Stuff

Much to my chagrin, I have found I do not have any photographs to present here from HOTROC-1.
Nor do I have any recorded contest results. 
The reason for this is, somewhere back in time, probably during a house move, I lost my notebook binders containing flight logs and other information for the years 1979 through 1980. 
So, this post about that long ago contest is very sparse.
I did manage, by poring through old letters from people who attended, and post-contest questionnaires, to get a good idea of who most of the participants were. 
I also believe that a short write-up about the contest was submitted to The Model Rocketeer Magazine, and may have been published sometime in late 1980 or early 1981.
(If any of you readers out there happen to have a copy of whichever issue that was, I would greatly appreciate a scan of the article.)
HOTROC-1 was attended by perhaps a dozen folks:   Randall Redd and Gary Price from Utah; Steve Sande, Ken Tanaka, and Bill Penberthy from Denver, Paul Heward from Wyoming, and several others from around the Region whose names I don't recall.  Skywatchers was represented by Glade Gordon and myself.
Anyway, I did manage to dig up a couple of items from the contest to scan:

This was a small blurb that appeared in the Colorado Springs Gazzette Telegraph newspaper
An official HOTROC-1 embroidered jacket patch.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Launch Date: 2 June, 2019

This launch session was one of which I like to call “Shoe Box” launches.  This is where I have a short span of time – anywhere from half an hour to forty five minutes – when I can get over to a nearby small park and put up one or two quick flights.  Aside from the launcher and rod, a regular old shoe box packed with only the essential supplies for the launch is taken along.  The models are pre-prepped and ready to go.

Today, the models of choice were the Hornet and an Estes Bandit-3 for its maiden flight.  The launch location was Founders Park in Castle Rock, Colorado.   Weather conditions were clear with a steady 7 mph breeze present.

First up was the Hornet on an A3-4T motor.  The boost was fine, and the parachute ejected at apogee, but failed to open.  The model was recovered with no damage.

The second flight went to the E2X Bandit 3 on a 1/2A3-4T motor.  Nice boost, ejection, and streamer deployment.  The model landed very nearby after a short flight.  Upon recovery it was found that the end of the body tube had sustained a little nose snap-back damage.  Easy repair.
From launcher set-up to packing back to the car, the whole affair took less than half an hour.  Perfect for a quick rocket flying ‘fix’!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Launch Date: 27 May, 2019

Over the past week, Jim Gazur and I have been closely monitoring weather forecast models for the Front Range of Colorado.  The weather has been a bit unsettled lately, featuring a lot of wind and thunderstorm activity.  Memorial Day presented a brief window of opportunity around the noon hour, when winds would lull to 5 mph, so we decided to take advantage of the opportunity.

                Arriving at Founders Park in Castle Rock, I set up a wind indicator streamer and found the best location to set up that would afford optimal downfield recovery.  Sustained breezes were hovering at an estimated 7 mph with brief times of relative calm.  The sky was overcast with high cloud cover, making it difficult to follow smoke trails.

Wouldn’t you know it, as soon as launchers were set up the wind direction shifted nearly 180 degrees!  We moved to the other end of the field to compensate.

I launched my old Hornet at this location. 


Sure enough, by the time of launch, the wind had shifted again, this time blowing toward the short edge of the field.  The Hornet suffered from a non-ejecting parachute, and was blown over the parking lot for a nice hard meeting with the asphalt.  Broken fin…

For a second time, we packed up our gear and moved to the center of the field, resolving to fly low today.

The next bird up was my ‘old fleet’ Estes Delta II Astrocam booster on a B4-2 motor.  This was a much more successful flight with a nearby recovery.

By this time Jim had his first model of the day ready to go.  This was a down-scaled Enerjet 2250 clone powered by a cluster of three A8-3 motors.  Equipped with a Perfectflite Pnut altimeter, the bird reached an altitude of 162 feet with ejection just a couple feet below apogee!


With the prevailing wind, I wasn’t willing to risk flying any of my better models, so I stuck with some small 3FNC birds I had in the box.


Next up was my Generic E2X on a B6-4.  Nice high flight with a good recovery on dual crepe streamers.


Jim launched a small two stage bird on an A10-0T and ½A3-4T motor combination.  The model flew exceptionally well, and both sections were recovered successfully.


The final flight of the day went to my newly acquired Estes Viking.  I had modified it to retain the motor casing, and I stuck a streamer in for recovery. The model flew respectably high on an A8 motor, and recovered nicely.  As I had predicted, one of the fiber fins was bent from the landing. 


By this time, wind was picking up, the temperature was dropping, and we began getting some rain sprinkles. 

Opting not to push our luck, we ended the session.
Despite the less than ideal weather, it was definitely nice to get out for a good rocket-flying fix.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Back In The Day, Part 25 - Planning A Grand Model Rocket Contest

Once contact had been established with all of the NAR members in the Mountain Region in 1978, the next step in my duties as Regional Manager was to put together some kind of large event to pull everyone together and inspire a higher level of activity and possibly the formation of some NAR sections.

I determined the best way to do that was to hold a NAR sanctioned regional contest.

At the outset of this project, I was pretty much working on my own,  Let me tell you, organizing a large model rocket contest meet on a solo basis can be a daunting task.  It wasn't until well after six months of initial planning and preliminary work that the remaining members of Skywatchers Rocket Club got on board to help out.

One thing that really was of immense assistance was an article published a few years earlier in American Spacemodeling Magazine.  This was Bill Stine's wonderful write-up about NARWIN-1
held in Arizona in 1977. 
The article described in detail the planning and operation of this excellent, well-run contest.

 I virtually used it as the blueprint for the upcoming event, dubbed HOTROC-1 (Heart Of The ROCkies) Regional.

The initial work I tackled (and funded) was setting a contest date, establishing a roster of events, applying for sanction with the NAR, printing up entry forms and mailing them out, arranging hotel accommodations, reserving a club-house for evening activities, procuring trophies and ribbons, contacting model rocket manufactures to ask for prize kit donations, designing HOTROC-1 jacket patches, arranging for the manufacture of those patches, designing the range set-up, printing up materials for the contestant packets, sending out press releases to the local newspapers, and all the other myriad details.

In the process of applying for the contest sanction, I learned from the Contest Board that a Regional Meet could only be hosted by a NAR section, rather than an individual member, so HOTROC-1 was established as an Open Meet instead.

The range set-up I designed was a unique form of the Misfire Alley system.  Rather than having a separate battery for each launch alley, the range would be set up to run off of two 12v car batteries with eight launch alleys. The alleys were arranged in two semi-circles of four pad sites.  Each semi-circle would share one of the batteries.  This set-up was quite adequate for the contest's requirements, and proved to be very efficient.

This is a scan of part of the contestant's packet material explaining the range setup at HOTROC-1.

The date set for HOTROC-1 was August 23-24, 1980. The events scheduled to be flown at the contest were Class A Parachute Duration, Class B Boost/Glide, Class C Streamer duration, Class D Super-Roc Altitude, Class D Eggloft Altitude, and Plastic Model Conversion.
Once the remainder of the Skywatchers club was 'all in', the rest of the puzzle pieces were put into place: getting the club PA system and tracking equipment in ship-shape working order, providing for porta-potties, building pad number signs, preparing posts and ropes to mark off range perimeters and launch alleys, lining up a local hobby vendor to operate a range store, and many other field /operational accommodations.

This was bound to be big!!

This is a scan of an original HOTROC-1 announcement sent to all Mountain States Region NAR members.
Artwork by me!

Next post:  More on HOTROC-1

Friday, May 17, 2019

Ya Never Know Where You'll Find A Model Rocket Part.

Last night I was out doing some yard work at the BlastFromThePast home.  I have a very large ceramic planter on the front porch that is in need of repair, so I was removing the soil. 

In one trowel full of dirt from deep inside the planter I found this:

This interesting plastic object has a sticker on it that says: "Sharp edge. Be careful." 
In English, Spanish, and French, no less.

Doubtless, it is a safety cover for some sharp-edged gardening tool purchased long ago.

This artifact has been buried in the planter since at least 2007.

After scraping the dirt out from inside and giving the piece a good cleaning with a cotton swab and a little IPA, I pulled out my digital calipers.

.502" in diameter.

Fairly close to BT-5 size.

I smell a little side project coming up for the workbench....