Saturday, January 29, 2011

Review: Powered FLICS

When I read that Hans "Chris" Michielssen had converted a Quest FLICS rubber band powered rocket to MicroMaxx power, I immediately gave it a try. I too have had a stash of these freebies with no plans for what to do with them. I have converted them for MicroMaxx and 13mm power.

MicroMaxx FLICS

This build requires a FLICS, a full length MicroMaxx motor tube, two spent Micromaxx motors, some Fill'n'Finish, a little lead shot, and a piece of a Bic pen's ink tube.

I first bent the FLICS body sections and glued them together as instructed. I then cut a MicroMaxx motor tube the length of the body and glued it into the 'V' formed by the two body sections. It sits below the body by about 1/8", which leaves a similar gap at the top. I cut a motor block from a spent casing and stuffed a second casing with lead shot and capped it with Fill'n'Finish. The latter was inserted in the top of the motor tube and was taped to the tube and body panels. A piece of Bic pen ink tube was used as the Micromaxx launch lug. The rocket used lawn dart recovery just like the stock version.

No finishing was required, and none was performed.

I inserted a Micromaxx motor, slid it onto the pad, and let her rip. On all three flights, it headed off at a steep angle due to thrust mis-alignment and rod whip. I estimate an altitude of about 30 feet based on the obstacles it cleared. It was lost twice, but eventually was found both times.

I agree with Chris that the performance of the MicroMaxx FLICS stinks. But after saucer-like objects, monocopters, heavy PMC's and largish paper conversions, this was at not that bad. The main down side is the 'boink' recovery. It won't do much damage, but you shouldn't fly it around unsuspecting passers by.

13mm FLICS

The Lucky 13 is a copycat of Hans "Chris" Michielssen’s Powered FLICS. Mine uses the FLICS body and the remnants of a damaged 13mm 4FNC rocket that was missing its nose.

* One FLICS kit
* One damaged 13mm rocket (8.25”)
* One Hartle Engineering resin cone
* Kevlar® twine
* Small lead fishing weight

I didn’t have any 13mm tubing so I dug through my box-o-dead rockets and found a suitable 13mm one. After I removed two of the fins, I held it up to the assembled FLICS body and liked what I saw. That is, I decided to leave the two remaining fins. The rocket was missing its shock cord so I mounted a piece of Kevlar® twine through the body wall opposite the remaining fins. I scuffed the paint off and then glued it into the ‘V’ of the FLICS body. I found an unused Hartle Engineering resin cone and attached it to the Kevlar® leader using the rubber band that came with the FLICS. I attached a small plastic streamer and was basically done.

I wasn’t very concerned with the stability of my MicroMaxx FLICS but decided to build a RockSIM 9 model of this one. The FLICS body was easily modeled as as set of custom fins mounted to a ‘pod’. As built, the model seems to be marginal so I attached a tiny clamp-on fishing weight to the wire hook that’s embedded in the Hartle cone’s base. I later noticed that I had the Barrowman stability method selected vs. the RockSim method. This is a common mistake for me because prior versions wouldn’t allow the Barrowman Method for designs that use things like single fin components (or, in this case, pods). Anyway, after selecting RockSim, the stability margin improved enough that I wouldn’t have needed the extra weight. However, I decided to leave it on since this rocket isn’t designed for performance anyway. The final specs for my version of the 13mm Powered FLICS are 9.625” long and 0.64 oz.

The only part that required finishing was the cone. I painted it red with blue trim to somewhat match the FLICS color scheme. I really wish that I had one of the Shuttle-themed FLICS but sometimes you just have to use what you have.

I added a square of wadding and repacked the plastic streamer. The A10-3 was friction fitted. The boost was fast and went cross-wind. This was likely due to the odd geometry of this model. There was no damage despite the landing on a gravel road.

I had no interest in the FLICS as a rubber band powered rocket but was happy to find a way to use them for powered flight. I must be easily amused because I really liked this build. It looks a bit funny...which is right up my alley. It seems to fly well enough and definitely garnered a few chuckles from the people around the RSO table.