bigbumble: (Egglofter)
NARAM as it is usually known as. I am going to be Contest Director (CD) next year. I have finished talking to the National Contest Chair and we have worked out a final list of ten contest events. It will run from July 29 to August 5 next year 2017. The hotel is in Grand Rapids, Michigan with the flying field just east of Muskegon, Michigan. Even if you don't fly rockets, you are welcome to come watch.
bigbumble: (Egglofter)
The International model rocket contest (Internats) live coverage is starting now. Just in case you haven't had enough Olympics.
bigbumble: (Egglofter)
Well, my plastic model of a lunar lander survived its flight. In fact it had a most excellent flight and I moved up to second place. So my overall results at NARAM were two second places, in plastic model conversion and 1/2A-superroc altitude, and a first place in C-parachute duration multi-round. Combined they gave me a 3rd place overall in C division.

bigbumble: (Egglofter)
Yesterday I placed second in 1/2A superroc altitude. Today I took first place in C parachute duration multiround. 1/2A superroc is a skinny little 1 meter tall rocket that I managed to get 103 meters into the sky. In C parachute duration multiround I managed to get 36 inch diameter parachutes into 3/4 inch diameter tubes. I had two flights of over 5 minutes and 1 flight that was timed until 8 seconds short of 5 minutes.

Tomorrow is "Plastic Death". We will see if my plastic model survives.
bigbumble: (Egglofter)
I've made it safely to the 100 degree heat of Springfield, MO for NARAM. I've learned that I won't be giving a talk for my R&D project. Oh well, at least I get valuable flight points. Tomorrow I have to rebuild a model for E-Scale Altitude. Any good hobby is spiced with a certain amount of masochism.
bigbumble: (Egglofter)
On March 6, I went to Pittcon in Chicago's McCormick Place. Pittcon (originally the Pittsburg Conference) is a roving trade show for instrumentation. They also have seminars at exorbitant prices. However, Thursday was their free admission day, so that is when I went.

At one point, I visited the AirGas booth. They supply both industrial and laboratory gasses. We discussed the declining availability of helium from US supplies and the company's contract for future helium production in the Middle East. While on the topic of Noble Gasses, we touched on Argon being readily available at 1% of the atmosphere. We skipped Krypton (Sorry, Superman) and I learned that there will be a 2 year shortage of Xenon, the heaviest of the non-radioactive noble gasses.

It turns out that with the replacement of classic incandescent light bulbs, quartz-halogen, along with compact fluorescent and LED bulbs are an acceptable high efficiency replacement. The xenon is used as a carrier gas for the iodine used in quartz-halogen bulbs to redeposit tungsten to the filament in the high temperature and therefore more efficient bulbs. The AirGas guy told me that a requested order of xenon from one light bulb manufacturer was the entire world supply of xenon. There are no plans to expand production of xenon due to the high capital costs and expected limited duration of the shortfall.

Meanwhile, on the way to the asteroids Ceres and Vesta, the Dawn Spacecraft is powered by an ion drive that has been fueled with several hundred pounds of xenon.
bigbumble: (Egglofter)
A rocket friend of mine, Jack Haggerty, along with a member of my local rocket club among others, are putting out a book on the N-1 booster. If you want to help out, the kick starter is here:

It looks to be a massive tome. If nothing else, the Kickstarter video is fun to watch.
bigbumble: (Egglofter)
My rocket club SMASH held a model rocket contest last week end. The contest is called MAD Cow because we used to fly off a field called the Cowatorium. Now we fly just outside of Muskegon, Michigan at a wastewater treatment area of several square miles.

One of the events we flew was 1/8A-Parachute Duration multi-round. The idea is that a modeler gets two models and three flights. If you loose both models on the first two flights, you are out of luck. On top of that, you are only allowed to count the first forty seconds of any flight towards your total time.

1/8A engines are the smallest available, so exceeding 40 seconds for a flight time seemed improbable. Here is my model:

To my amazement it stayed up for 38 seconds. The competing team, The Spanish Inquisition, flew a similar, but more lightly constructed model with a slightly larger parachute and got 43 seconds on their first flight. That counted for a max time of 40 seconds. Their second flight using the same model caught a thermal and started drifting upward. We lost track sometime after 3 minutes as the model drifted skyward in the general direction of the Mackinac Bridge. It still only counted for 40 seconds. As Gimli commented after Legolas took down an oliphant, "That still only counts as one!"
bigbumble: (Egglofter)
Here is a video of a Pinata Rocket with a payload of plastic Easter eggs full of goodies.

Just in case you needed to be amused. Each little parachute carries a plastic Easter egg.
bigbumble: (Egglofter)
As I mentioned last week, I have been working on helicopter model rockets for teeny 1/4A3-3T model rocket engines. I test flew my first model last week. The blades deployed before landing, but just barely. I'm now working on a shorter model that I hope to test before the contest this weekend. Here is the model I tested with blades folded before launch.

Helicopter with folded long blades

More pictuces and stuff beyond the cut )
bigbumble: (Egglofter)
Week before last I went to a regular Dr. Appointment. I'm probably not going to die this year. I got my tetanus/whooping cough vaccination. The vaccination really knocked me over for a couple of days, that seems to be the nature of tetanus shots. Last week, I donated a pint of O+ blood. I'm officially at 18 pints now.

Saturday, I had my birthday party with friends and family over. Sunday I did Easter with my next younger brother, Dan, and my sister, Martha. Monday, I had an eye doctor appointment. I probably not going to go blind this year.

But for the really important news, I finished a model rocket helicopter model for 1/4A model rocket engines(teeny tiny engines)! Yay! I hope to test fly it in the next day or two.
bigbumble: (Octopus and Traffic Cone)
I've learned that it is very soothing to have my DVD of the original Fantasia playing while I do my taxes. My most favorite sequence is "The Nutcracker Suite". In Fantasia 2000 my favorite sequence is "Rhapsodie in Blue". What are your favorite Fantasia sequences?

I went for a regular doctor appointment yesterday. I'm probably not going to die this year. I did get the latest tetanus shot/whooping cough shot and I'm feeling that today.

I'm working on a small helicopter recovery model rocket for teeny tiny engines. It is a very complex model. We will see how it goes.
bigbumble: (Egglofter)
I went to my rocket club's last launch of the year yesterday. A large and amusing Halloween rocket was launched. Yes, the skeleton was full sized.

bigbumble: (Egglofter)
Launched rockets today at a Regional Contest in Aurora, Ohio. One of the events was D-Dual Eggloft Altitude using altimeters to measure the altitude. I launched my cobbled together egglofter on a composite D10-5 engine (Oooohh! High performance Shiny!). The parachute partly shredded and the model came down at a fairly high speed. "Let the eggs decide!" is the comment generally made at such times. If either eggs break it is disqualified. When I recovered the model the front section of the egg capsule was split open and stuff was visible inside. Definitely not a good sign. On closer inspection I realized the "stuff" was actually the pads I used to cushion the eggs inside the capsule. Hope! It turned out both eggs survived, so I qualified with an altitude of 853 feet (260 Meters).

By the end of the day I had qualified in all five events, so I rewarded myself with the Oriental Chicken Salad at Applebee's. Apparently this was homecoming weekend for a lot of high schools in the area. There were a number of students at the restaurant all gussied up in a veritable cacophony of clothing.
bigbumble: (Egglofter)
For complex reasons of valuable contest points I needed to fly one of Peter's models in my latest contest. Some time back he conveniently left with me a beaten up scale model of a Saturn I block 2, SA-5. It was the first Saturn rocket to orbit the earth. He asked me to take a picture of it before launch:

Peter's SA5 on pad SMASH Bash 2012

And here is the launch:

Since I attached a most excellent streamer (The event was Streamer Duration) with a little help from tall grass, the model was recovered with minimal additional damage.

I did get to have the fun of attaching a new shock cord inside the model with black glue.
bigbumble: (Egglofter)
I was in Lilley park in Ann Arbor helping Sarah Zettel's cub scouts launch rockets. (Her husband Tim, son and cub scout Alex, and father were there.) Venus was transitting the son at the time so I set up a spotting scope I bought last fall for just such an emergency.

There was great excitement during the rocket launch as the cub scouts launched their Baby Berthas, a cub scout little sister launched her School Rocket, and launched a few demo rockets including my fluorescent Anti-Carrot Missle. People had a swell time watching the projected image of Venus against the sun.

Later in the evening I got to see some real live ion drives!

Life is good.
bigbumble: (Egglofter)
I emerged Friday from the Basement Laboratory of Bumbling Brothers Flying Circus with a new G engine powered egglofter. Here it is next to the previous experiment:

G Eggloft Altitude May 2012

I, of course, have on my best "Steelie Eyed Missle Man" look.

The upper longer model is the new one. Its largest diameter is slightly smaller than the older model's largest diameter. Combine that with the single composite G40-7W engine having more total impulse than the cluster of 3 black powder E9-8 engines in the older model meant that it went to an altitude of 957 Meters compared to the 652 Meters of the shorter model. This was good for first place in the weekend regional contest.

The only problem was that the ejection charge, designed for larger diameter models, was powerful enough to burn through the shock cord. Fortunatly (through my Super Genius Design) the bright yellow egg and altimeter capsule was fluffy enough to tumble safely to the ground, egg unbroken.

Even with the first place, I feel it is possible to achieve higher altitudes. So it is back to the laboratory!
bigbumble: (Egglofter)
This weekend I went to another contest. This time flying as myself rather than the Bumbling Brothers Flying Circus. This gave me a chance to test out a rebuild of last week's egglofter without affecting the team point score for the year. With no lake nearby and using a smaller parachute, my model made a beautiful straight boost (Oooh! Pretty smoke trail!) and returned an unbroken egg AND unbroken altimeter with a maximum altitude of 652 Meters. This was good for third place at the event and would have been good for 3rd place the week before.

This means this model will be relegated to back-up status and I will fly a model that I hope will have better performance at the next Bumbling Brothers Flying Circus meet.

To infinity and beyond!
bigbumble: (Egglofter)
A couple of weeks ago my model rocket club held a regional contest. One of the events was G Eggloft Altitude with altimeters. Now, usually we measure the altitude of a rocket using trackers or theodilites and reduce the angles measured with trigonometry (Science!) to get the altitude. This time we were using little electronic altimeters that record the maximum altitude and read it out in flashes, beeps, or LCD displays.

This works fine as long as your rocket doesn't land in the lake.

G Altimeter Egglofter

My rocket eventually floated close enough to the shore to be rescued. Unfortunatly water got to the altimeters and wrecked them. At least the egg survived so Bumbling Brothers Flying Circus got flight points.

Back to the laboratory!
bigbumble: (Default)
Friday my garage door opener died. Not exactly life threatening, but still a pain. So I spent much of the weekend wondering about the best course of action, replace or attempt repair?

Sunday evening I got an unexpected call from The Spanish Inquisition. Not the real Spanish Inquisition, but rather Fran and Gary of the arch rival model rocket team to the Bumbling Brothers Flying Circus. It seems they were visiting their niece at Western Michigan University and would be taking her home for Thanksgiving and could they stop by my house for a visit?

On Monday they stopped by my house and among our gossip about life, the universe, and everything I mentioned my garage door opener. Gary, a retired surgeon, diagnosed my garage door opener as unrepairable and volunteered to stop by today to help install a new one. Apparently he had done this before. This morning both Fran and Gary arrived. While Fran attacked the mess in my living room, Gary and I went to the local building supply to pick up a replacement door opener. Four hours later the opener was installed and my living room was picked up. I took them to Zooroona middle eastern restaurant in Kalamazoo ( for their reward. We had an excellent meal, then went back to my house where we had convivial conversation and watched my blue ray DVD of Fantasia 2000.

I really wasn't expecting the Spanish Inquisition.
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