Saturday, December 20, 2014

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Dungeon's Top Ten of 2014

1. I started the year with two 29mm conversions, thanks to Estes and their great sale.

2. In March, Semroc officially announced that, after Carl's passing, they would be closing their doors. On a better note, they just announced that they are in talks about selling their business. Even better, they will only sell to a sport rocketeer(s) who understands our obsession.

3. ROCKETS Magazine became an e-magazine in March...and the publication schedule stabilized.

4. I started building water rockets. Got a new launcher; implemented timer based parachute deployment; built themed rockets to entertain the grand-rocketeers, a tail-sliding FTC rocket, and an AquaShuttle stack!

5. I went steampunk on a kitbash based on another cheap Estes kit. (photo by Bill Cook)


6. The Dungeon went through a cycle of purging and restoring posts for reasons I won't try to explain. The net result was a lot of posts remained purged. The change wasn't noticed by anyone but me.

7. Rather than posting tons of random photos (both on-and off-topic), I joined Tumblr. My entire stream of re-blogged photos can be found on alt.rocketdungeon.

8. Orion launched and recovered safely.

9. I won a "Rocket Babe" SS Cestris from Verna and Randy's Rockets and Sirius.

10. More dirt cheap rockets from Estes! I got the four original Pro Series II mid-power kits for $79.99. Free shipping...arrived in 6 days...and they threw in some ornaments to boot. Ho, ho, ho!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I love animated GIFs

See the entire article, including one of the many videos that have been posted of this cool (and successful) flight of an actual port-a-potty.

SS Cestris build, part 5

I had had a gloomy outlook about the prospects of painting this rocket...but then the weather warmed a bit.  I now am optimistic about getting it painted before the New Year. I will shoot one more coat of primer and then on to the gloss white overcoat.  The decals and final nose weight assessment can wait for the inevitable frigid days.

I had made a few insinuations that I was concerned about the toughness of the kit, specifically the wings and nose cone. Once assembled with the dowel stiffeners (not shown), the wings seem fine for a modroc. I also am not that worried about the plastic part of the cone, but my concern about the eye hook pulling out of the ply bulkhead remains. As I mentioned I doubled the length of the underwear shock cord, which mitigates that concern.

I'm thinking a D12-5 for the first flight, and E12 down the line. On a very still day.

Christmas Spirit, the MDRA way

Friday, December 12, 2014

Sirius SS Cestris, part 4

Well, the Cestris went together pretty easily. The glue is still drying and I still need to sort out the nose weight issue and add a fillet or two. More sanding and filling too. If I'm lucky, I might get the chance to apply coat of primer or two early next week.

Estes Bundles

I need another mid-powered rocket like I need a hole in the head but...Estes is offering bundles of rockets at prices that are lower than their already rock bottom pricing on individual kits. Check out the bundles at the end of their 'specials' page.  I got suckered into the Pro Series II bundle. Four mid powered rockets for $20 each and free shipping.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sirius SS Cestris build, part 3

This will be a photo-less post as there is not much to see today.

I cut out the 11 fin components from the two balsa sheets that were provided. The balsa was quite light compared to the many other sheets that I have recently used. This resulted in less than pristine edges in some cases, but that should be fixable with fill'n'finish and sanding. Note that I was guilty of not replacing my Exacto blade before these were cut out.

I opted to fill the parts before assembling them and the two main wings are currently drying under pressure. They were warping badly by the time I had a layer of filler on them. However, they should be OK.

Although I can always change my mind, I am currently thinking that I won't add the outboard 18mm mounts. I have three strikes against the idea so it's out. First, I can't find any 18mm tubing. I could have sworn I have some bagged mounts somewhere, However, after the flood-induced reorganization of the Dungeon, I can not find them. Second, I read a flight report somewhere that referenced fin problems when the kit was flown on an E9 and two C6's. I am a bit concerned as the wings are not as stiff as I would have expected. Finally, the extra motors may require more nose weight that I'm also not that anxious to add. It could be that it is stable enough that this isn't an issue, but I don't really feel like exploring the issue. If I feel bad about not flying it as a cluster, I'll load up one of my many other clusters.

I'm anxious to hear about Verna and Randy's cluster flight...which might yet sway my opinion.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sirius SS Cestris build, part 2

In the attached photo, you will see today's progress.  For the motor mount, I used an Estes screw-on retainer and piece of thick walled motor tube. The thicker walled tube mates snugly with the retainer and it was easy to strip a layer from the inside of the provided centering rings.  You can (barely) see the Kevlar leader provided with the kit. All these parts were assembled with 5-minute epoxy.

I mentioned in the first post about the need for extra nose weight. Since I am not 100% sure how sturdy the multi-part vacu-formed cone is, I am a tad concerned about having weight in its tip. I also have had issues with small screw eyes coming out of ply rings at ejection. To mitigate these issues, I put the stock 3' long elastic cord in my parts bin and cut a 6' long piece. I'll loop it so that there is plenty of underwear between the chute and both the cone and body.

The tube assembly was pretty straightforward. The kit provides a paper template to cut the leading edge of the outboard tubes. Inserting a spent case while cutting tubes really helps. Note there are several small wraps up and down these tubes. These are self adhesive label stock and appear largely to be for looks. However, they are also used to space the location of the wing components. Unlike many outboard tubes, these are not mounted 180 degrees apart. Instead, all three tubes are even on a flat surface.

No decision yet on adding 18mm outboards.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Sirius SS Cestris build, part 1

This series of posts will describe the build of the Sirius SS Cestris. I won this kit from Verna and Randy and it came complete with a custom decal set themed to Randy's Rocket Babe series of books. If you order one, be sure to also pick up the "Rocket Babe" decal option (assuming  you want to help save the solar system).

Initial Impressions

The Cestris a futuristic 'space plane' style rocket that flies on 24mm motors and features a unique, custom nose cone. Although the kit has been around for quite a while, I had never seen one up close and personal. I was surprised how much better the cone looks first hand.

The kit requires the cutting of balsa, which I don't have a problem with. The cone is multi-part styrene and comes bagged as a separate sub-assembly. I generally hate styrene so I was a tad apprehensive going in. More on this below.

Finally, the kit came with a lot of decals. The stock kit includes the decals to customize the build in many ways. Mine came with a separately bagged set of Rock Babe-themed decals, which I will of course opt for. There was also a small sheet of decals thrown into the shipment that can be used on other builds (a teaser for Sirius's line of decals).

Although winter is the building season for me, it is NOT the painting season. I may eventually have to decide whether this will fly naked or wait for paint (and decals).

Nose Cone Build

As I mentioned, I generally don't like working with styrene. This is mainly because I am impatient and clumsy.

The instructions specify both liquid and gel plastic cements. As it turns out, late night spillage depleted my stock of the former and I didn't find the latter until the next day. But, build fever dictated that I proceed anyway rather than waiting to procure the proper glues.

The basic cone comes in two parts with a central plastic sheet. I managed to get one half of the shell bonded to the plastic sheet with liquid cement but ran out before the second half was fully attached. The next day, I found my gel cement and finished up with that. To attach the inner guts, I opted for 5-minute epoxy rather than the elusive plastic cement.

Then clumsy part comes in.  The seams were far from perfect. I filled it them with Testors contour putty and then a thin layer of fill'n'finish to fill in the rough surface from the OLD putty. (This caused master modelers everywhere to detect a ripple in the Force.)

The assembly seems reasonably strong. I won't add the base of the cone's shoulder (a plywood bulkhead and screw eye) until I fully decide on what to do about nose weight. The kit comes with a big clump of clay which is to be tamped into the end of the cone. I will be using an Estes screw-on retainer for the 24mm mount and am kicking around adding 18mm mounts to the outer pods. Thus, I will need to add some weight. There is a RockSim file for the kit on I will probably evaluate the otherwise built kit to that file and will add enough weight to keep the CG as shown in the file. I'll likely replace the modeling clay with epoxy clay with lead shot mixed in.

I took a few photos from the warmth of the Rocket Dungeon. Navigate to the right to see other views of this great looking cone (just don't look at the full res versions).

Bloodhound SSC hybrid rocket static test