I’ve moved: 3FNC.com

I’ve moved my rocketry blog to the newly launched www.3FNC.com. Please change your bookmarks and RSS feeds (the new feed is at http://www.3fnc.com/?feed=rss2).

Expanding my motor suite

So many casings, so little time. Or rather, so little money. I bought a used (why would you ever buy new?) 38/600 casing from Ken at Performance Hobbies at Red Glare, so now I have the collection above: 24/40 and 29/40-120 mid power casings, 29/180-240 casings, and 38/240-720 casings.

I’m excited to fly a lot of 29 and 38mm loads this spring and summer, and maybe start moving into 54mm territory. Lunch Money can (I hope) handle a K185, and the 3″ rocket I’m building from the parts that survived the crash of my second USLI rocket should be able to fly on full K’s. Fun! However, I’m not sure I’ll stick with Aerotech when moving up to 54’s – the price differences get more substantial, and I’d like to be able to fly both sparky and long-burn loads with the same harware.

Any suggestions for what 54mm system to upgrade to?


Red Glare VII

Last weekend’s Red Glare VII was pretty great, if not as great as Red Glare VI back in April. While Friday and Saturday at MDRA’s biannual regional launch were washouts (I didn’t go), Sunday was absolutely gorgeous. While I had planned to fly my 2.6″ Sandhawk on an I and Lunch Money on a J, I didn’t get the needed repairs done in time, so I decided to just enjoy the launch.

There were a number of large flights (M’s and N’s), of course. Ben Ullman’s N motor experimental flight lost its upper section and chutes on the way up while the motor and fin can kept going up and up, and then it came down. It whistled coming back in and lawn-darted about 50 yards out from the right side of the flight line. Ouch.

The much-touted Paul Robinson memorial sparky motor drag race was pretty cool, with a rack full of H-K flights going off simultaneously. Two M flights on the away cell should have gone at the same time but didn’t due to operator error (oops). But no worries – two M flights drag racing are pretty sweet without the distraction of pesky little K flights.

Pictures below include a remote control plane with an onboard HD video camera (they were hoping to catch the sparky drag race from the air but had problems getting it pointed in the right direction), the sparky drag race itself, a nice flight from the away cells on an M or N (possibly a Redline?), Alex helping repair a broken fence on my friend Erin’s first rocket, and Erin with Oh Frabcious Day, which flew successfully on a C6-5! And the final photo is of the lovely sunset that closed the day.


When trying to describe the subculture of high power rocketry to my non-rocket flying friends (ie, most of the people I know), I often include this vignette. Rocket people like acronyms – maybe because of NASA? And a lot of our launches are named with acronyms: LDRS (Large and Dangerous Rocket Ships), NSL (National Sport Launch), etc. And then some of the launches are spelled in all-caps to sound like acronyms, but are really just about testicles. Case in point: BALLS.

Check out this compilation of video from this year’s BALLS (the 18th annual) in Nevada’s Black Rock desert. Highlights are the keg of beer launched at 1:10, the 3-stage flight to ~60,000 feet at 4:00, and the various crashes and explosions throughout:

99,000 feet?

Rocketry Planet has an article up about the new FAA procedures for securing waivers for super larger, super high-flying rockets. The first project to go through the process was slated to fly today at XPRS: it’s called the 99K Project and it’s a two stage rocket (P in the booster, N motor in the sustainer). Wowser–I’ll update here when I hear how the flight went.

Perfect weather, perfect flight

I went out to the eastern shore of Maryland today for the Maryland Delaware Rocketry Association’s monthly launch, and what a day! The weather was absolutely gorgeous – sunny and up to the mid 70s, not a cloud in the sky, and hardly a whisper of wind the whole day.

After two flights on I motors this summer, my Lunch Money was ready for its first J. I built a J350 last night and thought I had everything ready to go. Unfortunately at the launch I discovered the threaded inserts for my motor retention had both pushed through the rear centering ring. I needed a motor retention solution – not feeling too comfortable with friction-fit only flying a J motor with an adapter – but luckily Ken of Performance Hobbies was on hand to provide some retention hardware. After some drilling, screwing, friction-fitting, and other tomfoolery, I was finally ready to fly:


This was my friend Erin’s first rocket launch – she enthusiastically helped get Lunch Money on the launch pad and later flew her own rocket. Maybe she’ll get hooked on rocketry too!?


Liftoff on a J350 – fast and straight:



My housemate Liz came out to the launch along with our friends Alisha and Kristina – first time at a rocket launch for all. They bravely delved into MDRA’s handy rocket bucket to find rockets to fly. Participation makes rocketry so much more fun!



Erin and friends flew bucket rockets too:



And yeah – I think everyone had fun:


Tomorrow = J350

I’m getting ready for tomorrow’s MDRA launch and just finished assembling an Aerotech J350 to fly in my Lunch Money (a 4″ PML Endeavor):



So far Lunch Money has flown on an I218 Redline and an I211 White Lightning – this will be its first flight on a J motor, and what I now realize is only my 4th flight in Level 2 territory (Level 2 cert flight with a J350 in Cheaper than a Girlfriend and two K-powered flights for the University Student Launch Initiative).

Sunday at LDRS

One word: Wow. The winds went away. The clouds went away. And the rocketeers brought the big stuff, loading up all the large projects they’d been saving for better weather. Here are some pictures I took (you might have already seen these on Rocketry Planet too), starting off with the Wildman drag race – seven rockets on one L and six M’s.







Best. Raffle Prize. Ever.


$10 worth of raffle tickets. Three prizes (so far) including a $225 retail value altimeter/accelerometer/timer from Over the Top Rocketry. I’m really excited – more coming soon.

Live from LDRS

I’m fielding some photos and stories for Rocketry Planet during LDRS 28 – check out the first (and slightly disappointing) report here.

You can also follow LDRS Twitter updates from me and other rocketeers through this search: http://search.twitter.com/search?q=+%22LDRS+28%22+OR+%22LDRS+2009%22+OR+%23ldrs28