Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mega-Review: Modified Art Applewhite Standard Flying Saucers (LONG)

Art's standard saucers fly great, but sometimes you just want to try something different. Details are hidden below the page break.

Convert a 38mm, 12" saucer to a 3x 24mm cluster.

Brief:
When he was Beta-testing his 12" saucer line, Art graciously provided sent me several sets of blank white shrouds for experimentation. I decided that three E9's would be cool, so I modified one stock ‘kit’ for a 3 x 24mm mount. Before reading this review, I suggest you first read my review on the stock 12" Flying Saucer.

Modifications:
Start with the following parts:

* One AAW 12" saucer kit
* 1/8" balsa fin stock
* Three 24mm motor tubes, 4" long
* One ¼" LOC launch lug, 3.5" long


This was a straightforward build. I started by building the body of an AAW 12" saucer using the stock instructions. [Told you you'd need the read the other review.]

I decided that I wanted a central launch lug, and decided a longer lug was required. Also, because there is not enough extra fin stock to make the larger fins required to extend to the ¼" lug, you will have to provide your own. I used 1/8" balsa, but you could use 3/32 or larger plywood also. I computed the distance between the inner core of the saucer and the lug, and extended the stock fin template accordingly.

When building the fin can, I found something interesting. Three 24mm tubes and the three 1/8" fins fully covered the circumference of the lug. I had been worried about getting the spacing right, but that worry dissolved. For this reason, I recommend 1/8" balsa over thinner plywood.

I filled the fins with Fil’n’Finish and painted the fin can flat white. The white shroud is not decorated, but was sealed with clear enamel.

Flight:
I have flown this twice, once on E9's and once on D12's.  The E9 flight was under fairly calm conditions and was a little wobbly.  The D12 flight was under windier conditions and the saucer weather cocked a bit.  Both were successful!

Convert a 38mm, 12" saucer to a 29mm aeroshell.

Brief:
This was constructed from a second set of shells that Art supplied for my experimentation. I had recently seen an article on the PEPP Aeroshell in an issue of Sport Rocketry, and decided to build something similar using the extra saucer components. As with the previous mod, I suggest you first read my review on the stock 12" Flying Saucer.

Modifications:
Start with the following parts:

* One Art Applewhite Rockets 12" saucer kit
* One sheet of poster paper
* 1/8" balsa fin stock
* One 29mm motor tube
* One conical nosecone, with a rounded tip

I began by attaching together the three sections of the stock saucer's top shroud. However, I did not form these into a cone or use them on the Aeroshell. Instead, I laid them out on a piece of poster paper, traced them, and extended the shroud so that the inner rim fit a 29mm tube. I proceeded to build the body of the saucer, per the instructions, replacing the top shroud with my elongated one.

I wanted to fly the Aeroshell on 29mm Gs, so I replaced the stock 38mm motor tube. Because there is not enough extra fin stock to make the larger fins required due to the smaller motor mount, you will have to provide your own. I used 1/8" balsa, but you could use 3/32 or larger plywood also. I computed the distance between the inner core of the saucer and the 29mm mount, and extended the stock fin template accordingly.

I cut a piece of 29mm tubing to fit so that the lower edge is at the same position as the mount on the stock saucer, but extended it up so it would just reach the top of the new shroud.

I really kludged the nose cone so I won't go into the details here. It suffices to say that I ended up with a conical nose cone with a rounded tip (resembles the cone on a Shuttle SRB). Ideally you'd find the angle on the shroud and get BMS to make one. I proceeded to attach the nose cone, build the fin can, and install it in the saucer. I then mounted the launch lug so that it touched the top shroud.

The fit of the nose cone through the top shroud wasn't good enough (my error), so I generated a smaller shroud using VCP and overlaid it on top. This filled the gap and I figured the extra strength wouldn't hurt. Finally, I cut a hole in the top shroud over the launch lug.

Initially, there was no finishing besides I painted the nose cone silver. I did seal the shroud with clear enamel.  Later, I applied some odd vinyl decals and over sprayed the saucer purple.


Flight:
On its first outing, the Aeroshell flew great on a G80 (ejection charge was removed). Since there was no airflow through this "saucer", a ball of smoke was caught in the vacuum behind it. This looked very cool and generated several comments from the crowd. The Aeroshell fell bottom first all the way down, for a nice soft landing. The recovery resulted in even more comments as most saucers fall nose first.  On its third flight, it didn't fare so well...CATO!  In the photo below, the arrows point to some of the parts after the saucer re-kitted itself.



Supercharge your 24mm,7.5" saucer with a 29mm mount!

This is kinda a "cheap shot" as reviews go. An upgrade to 29mm would be obvious on a new kit. In fact it's pretty obvious on a built one too.

Modifications:
I replaced the motor tube, which included trimming the internal fins and adding new lugs.

Components required:

* One Art Applewhite Rockets Flying Saucer 24mm (7.25")
* One chunk of 29mm tube
* Replacement 3/16" lug
* First Fire igniter tube

The only thing that stood out was that the fins were replaced in-situ:

1. Reinforce fin attachments to the body with 5-minute epoxy.
2. Measure and mark the fins for the larger tube.
3. The fins are thin basswood so I cut them off with kitchen scissors (in situ).
4. Adjust to fit with a Dremel.
5. Attach fins and lugs with more epoxy.
6. Done!

I added both 3/16" and 1/4" lugs to give options on what pads I can use.

Flight:
I flew the saucer at MDRA's Red Glare IV using it as a testbed for a motor experiment. The details of which are another story. Let me just say it was an F38-5 Redline. It flew nicely and as it tipped away the tip of the motor was still a glowing red dot.