Model Rocketry catch-all

Haven't flown model rockets since you were a kid? Taking your own kids out to fly rockets? Are you inspired (or horrified) by what Mythbusters does with rocketry? This is the thread for you.

Kari Byron, hosting the science channel's coverage of LDRS 2012.

I used to build them as a kid! Can't wait for pictures and videos. My family started graduating from Estes into the more powerful stuff, but ended up dropping the hobby at some point.

I've brought it up elsewhere, but figured it was worth its own thread.

The family went out with the local club this weekend, and launched a few rockets. My son flew his Arreaux a bunch of times. It was windy (15mph) and there was a scout group there, so there were a lot of low power launches and not too many off the mid or high power pads.

I've got a Flsskits Nantucket Sound that I'll be building this summer, though I'm hoping to pull it off as a Dalek instead of a lighthouse. My husband is planning to test for his level 1 (high power) certification at one of the summer launches. My son has a multi-stage rocket kit he's started building, and my daughter is planning a pink flowers and ponies paint scheme for a Mega Der Red Max. So it promises to be a fun summer of flying.

Subbing in.

Cross posted from the "Silly Purchase" thread:

I took a STM-012 rocket with a C11-3 engine and inserted a 808 keychain camera in the side of the nose-cone. Unfortunately there wasn't much left in the end. The cone was on too tight (or there was too much wading) and the camera made it top-heavy. I could hear it whistling as it crashed nose-first into the ground. I think it was still accelerating as it nosed over. I did get to retrieve the SD card from the camera and some footage.

Here's the video (watch with the sound off, the incessant beeping is from a locator I installed):

I bought another STM-012 because I still have 5 big engines to fly and I know they'll work with that rocket. I just need to build it. I'm still toying with the idea of a camera but I may disasemble the 808 camera to reduce weight and for better integration.

I absolutely loved model rocketry as a kid and was fortunate to have belonged to a thriving NAR affiliated club. This of course was back in the 80s and, damn, how things have changed. Last time I built and flew anything in competition, the largest available engines were in the E and F class. I recall a handful of local hobby outlets sold SRS F engines and compost dynamite, er, Composite Dynamics engines were only available via mail order...assuming UPS or FedEx were willing to ship rocket engines that week.

Of course it's totally different now. If it keeps going, I'll love following this thread.

Always brings back memories of the rocketry portion of the high school aviation class. Watched a lovingly crafted, painted, highly detailed X-Wing that went up 4 feet, canted over 90 degrees and raced full power toward the parking lot. The burst of confetti when it hit the chainlink fence around the lot was just glorious. Thankfully not mine, my failures tends to be quiet and modest.

My husband and daughter set up a vinyl wrap for the Big Daddy they're building together:

(from StickerShock. The web site is a little bit of a throwback to Geocities-era design, but we hear he does a nice job with the wraps.)

The previous version of the rocket has had a rough year -- cato at the New Year's launch, a broken fin, and a fatal failure to eject followed by transformation into a nicely compressed lawn dart.

IMAGE( (Photo by a member of the rocket club.)


I might have to take this up as a hobby again; once I get moved.

Hi guys and gals,

Just adding my name to the list of crazy rocketeers. My boys and I had about as much luck as you on our 'maiden' voyage of our Big Daddy. The nose cone was too tight and we had the same lawn dart finish. Looked eerily similar to the photo above. Muddy nose cone and everything!

Oh well. Here's a pic of one of our more successful launches, Long Tom:


Keep on flyin!

Model rocketry was a huge part of my childhood. I won an Estes contest when I was just getting out of the hobby (around when I discovered girls... maybe 14 or 15 years old...), and so I have about $250 worth of unbuilt rocket kits sitting in my garage until my son is old enough to catch the bug.

I'm going to try to start playing Kerbal Space Program with him, and then tell him "you know you can actually build small versions of these and launch them yourself!"

We started taking the kids out to launch small (A and B engine) rockets in the park when they were about three or four. We were doing the building, but they still liked pushing the button to make things go zoom, and the trip to the playground afterwards.

Took a trip over to the fields behind the middle school to launch an old Estes Bull Pup. The main reason for the launch wasn't the launch itself, though, it was for the motor casing being left behind, which is getting used in another scratch-built rocket that we'll fly next weekend. (My son decided to work through getting the NARTrek Bronze certificate, and is scratch-building a rocket for the 30-second duration streamer model.)


Katy wrote:

My husband and daughter set up a vinyl wrap for the Big Daddy they're building together

Final paint job:

That's awesome. My rocket paint jobs always look like crap (using spray paint). But then I've lost 3/5ths the rockets that we've launched so spending a lot of time making it look good doesn't seem to be worth it.

Yeah, I always took great care during construction, carefully finishing balsa, plywood, fiber glass, and even carbon fiber parts in an attempt to achieve low drag while maintaining structural integrity of my rockets. However, the paint job? Heh! Without fail, the more time I put into paint and decals, the more likely I'd never see the darn thing ever again.

Nevin73 wrote:

That's awesome. My rocket paint jobs always look like crap (using spray paint).

The key seems to be several very very light coats, sanding as necessary. The fins were painted using an airbrush, but the nosecone was regular spray paint (glossy Rustoleum).

The Big Daddy probably won't fly so far that we lose it in the corn field, but I'm sure we'll lose at least one rocket this weekend.

We launch from the airport property. (The Geneseo Historic Air Group; it's a strip for small planes only.) Dark green in the picture is mowed grass, but the light green is pretty much all corn this year. Prevailing winds generally take rockets to the southeast.

I'll do my best to get some good pictures this weekend.

Car's all packed... we could probably fit a few more rockets in there.

Katy wrote:

Car's all packed... we could probably fit a few more rockets in there.

You're doing it wrong.
You need to be transporting those on a roof rack.

Wow, what a blast from the past. I loved putting together model rockets when I was in my teenage years.

I think my favorite, back in the day, was a two-stage Estes rocket. The fact that we were shooting stuff into the sky felt like we were getting away with something at the time. Putting up one of those rockets that took pictures up at their apex seemed like the ultimate prize, but I never got to that point. Maybe some day.

We just went out today to fire off an Estes, but got grounded due to high winds. Hopefully tomorrow.

Does anyone have an tips for aerial photography? We are thinking about moving in that direction.

Ghostship wrote:

You're doing it wrong.
You need to be transporting those on a roof rack.

Heh. The roof rack is full of chairs. If we had a hard-top roof carrier of some sort, we would probably put the rockets in there.

The inventory:
Aerotech Initiator
Wildman Jart
Estes Mega Der Red Max (in our case, Mega Der Grape Max)
Aerotech Arreaux
Rocketry Warehouse Formula 75 (for my husband's Level 1 certification)
FlisKits Corona
Estes Bull Pup
Quest Big Rage
Estes Big Daddy (Psycho Daddy, in our case).
Plus a scratch-built my son's calling Naked Rocket with a Haircut (he didn't paint the body tube).

The real question is, how many more kits are we going to come home with by the end of the day Sunday?

All our flights today went well, and I managed not to misdirect anyone when I had my turn as launch boss assigning rockets to pads. The club ran 15 low power pads, 17 mid power pads and two high power pads.

While not all of our flights went perfectly, my husband got his level 1 certification and can buy H and I motors. And all of our rockets made it home intact -- only thing we need to replace is one parachute. It started looking like rain around 3, and we left for home, and missed the most spectacular CATO of the day. Luckily (?), somebody managed to catch it on video:

This was an 8' upscaled Der Red Max.

Spectacular, and not what I was expecting. The big Der Red Max isn't two stage is it? I'm guessing a launch rail alignment failure?

It wasn't supposed to be a two-stage rocket, though I think it had an altimeter set to launch the parachute when it descended to a couple of hundred feet above ground, which is why the nosecone/parachute separated OK. Consensus is that the igniter wasn't seated correctly, and/or the motor wasn't built properly, leading to an uneven burn. I'm sure the builder will come up with a good followup rocket over the winter. (With larger motors, you almost always assemble your own motors, thus saving the cost of the reusable parts.)

My son's scratch-built had a good maiden flight, though it only lasted 20 seconds (he was hoping for 30 seconds as a step toward the NARTrek certificate.) One of the streamers needs replacing, but it will fly again.


(The pile of debris on the ground behind the trash can in the background is all that's left of the rocket in the video above.)

I'm just making a observation here, but I was kinda surprised to see that just about every city in my area now has some sort of restriction or ban on flying model rockets. This realization makes me very thankful for a couple of big rocketry clubs that have secured arrangements to fly.

I get why cities might be concerned about safety or a lack of adult supervision. It does, however, make me miss the old days when my dad and I could just walk to a nearby field and let 'em fly whenever we had some free time and good weather.

EDIT: Actually, it turns out that no city in my area actually bans flying model rockets. However, several cities have passed ordinances that require a permit before flying. Inconvenient for your average family but not a showstopper.

My husband bought the parts for a winter project. I need to figure out how to get a decent video of the launch... so if anyone has advice about cameras, please speak up.


The tall tube is in two parts with a coupler. The rocket will be 9'4" tall and 14 pounds, assembled. We expect a nice long walk to go find it.

Damn! I expect you'll need FAA clearance to launch that thing. That's awesome!

Well, given the size of the rocket, I imagine that you could easily work in a 808 keychain camera. They are small enough (and that rocket is big enough) that it shouldn't affect the CG that much.

Hell, that thing could probably carry a GoPro.

The local rocket club has an FAA waiver to 9000 feet.

As far as video, I was thinking more of the on-the-ground video. Most of my photography these days is the grab-the-smartphone variety, but it's nearly impossible to track something moving vertically and quickly on a sunny day using a smartphone. There's probably a thread over in Tech & Help if I look carefully enough.

A GoPro attached would do bad things to stability, and probably wouldn't pass the safety checks. We'll stick with a keychain camera for onboard video.

For video, I'm thinking that using a tripod would help out a bunch. You'll be moving the camera fast enough that much of any camera wobble will make it tough to see anything very well. Should be easier to use the tripod handle to pan up smoothly with the rocket as well.

How do you go about finding if there are ordinances like what ringsnort mentions above?

Launch rockets and see if you get arrested or fined.