March – April 2004
Editor’s Message …
Author: Ian MacDonald
This is the second issue of the resurrected C.R.A.S.H. newsletter. We have settled on a name. It was pointed out to me that C.R.A.S.H. Landings was the name used in the past. In the interest of tradition we not only adopted the past name, but the volume and number progression as well.
The intent is to have an issue every two months. There’s only so much new news in a year from the contests and regular launches, so feel free to submit some articles. There is a great deal of knowledge among C.R.A.S.H. members. Here’s a chance to share some of your expertise with others. Another suggestion is to write of your experiences when you travel to contests and launches elsewhere. Special thanks to James Russell for his article about traveling to SpringFest ’04 and to Mary Twombly for her report on the Evergreen High School rocketry team going to the TARC Finals!
As a relative rookie to model rocketry I intend to write some articles telling of my learning experiences while modifying rocket kits to make them more reliable or to enhance the “wow” factor. I’m just about to start a new scratch built rocket called Thistle III. Thistle III will be similar in appearance to Thistle II pictured on the right but with some design modifications. I will take some pictures of the progress and tell of my building strategies. C.R.A.S.H. members will then get to see me launch it, and maybe tell me what they might have done differently. This month I’m contributing an article based on an unplanned event – recovering my Public Missiles Callisto from a cottonwood tree.
Special thanks are in order for Bruce Markielewski. This newsletter wouldn’t have been possible without his hard work and dedication. Bruce constructed the editor which we use to build this newsletter and is an integral part of the publishing effort.
By Steve Clapp
T-Shirt Orders – We are finally finalizing the t-shirt order. Let Steve or Bruce know if you do not receive an order confirmation. If you haven’t placed an order, there may still be time to get an order placed. Send it in today.
Fire Danger – We may be heading into another dry summer. This could result in a limitation on “heads-up” flights, two-stage rockets and the infamous wacky wigglers. Take advantage of the recent precipitation and fly those rockets now.
Launch Equipment – We are looking for volunteers to transport the launch equipment. If you can help, see Bruce or Steve at the next launch. We desperately need help with the transportation of launch equipment
Pioneer 2004 – Mark your calendars; May 15th Utah Rocket Club (UROC) #523 is having their Regional Contest for 2004. The event takes place at the Pony Express Test Range and the events are:
Open Spot Landing
C Streamer Duration
D SuperRoc Altitude
G Dual Eggloft Duration
Remember, anyone can participate in this NAR sanctioned competition. For more info visit the UROC web site at
Newsletter articles and photos – If you have any ideas for newsletter articles, comments, photos or something you would like to share with other CRASH members, contact Ian MacDonald or Steven Clapp.
EHS Team Advances To TARC Finals!
April 6th, 2004
By Mary Twombly
What a journey it has been! It began last summer with 15-year-old freshman Chris Twombly (now aka “Fearless Leader”) coming across an article announcing the TARC (Team America Rocketry Challenge) competition and putting together an Evergreen High School model rocket club with Mr. Kim Herfurt as faculty sponsor. At the first parent-teacher conference, Chuck Luciano stopped at Chris’s fund raising table and flashed his NAR card. Twenty minutes later (with Chuck’s 2 year old son saying “go now”), they were excitedly conversing about the potential and fun of rockets, and EHS had successfully snared a mentor.
The team worked hard and has made such progress! (thanks Greg Twombly, Chuck, Mr. Herfurt) It went from “what makes it go?” to last night’s late discussion on Newton-seconds vs. flight time and how to maximize thrust out of the tower. It evolved from hot glue and glue sticks to thin CA, 5-minute epoxy, micro balloons, and other magic stuff including masking tape (thank you all, C.R.A.S.H. Members). It has gone from crooked fins falling off, rockets falling apart, parachutes detaching or burning or not opening, eggs smashing, motors exploding, 8+ rockets and over 26 launches (landing all over Bear Creek Lake Park) to a beautiful vacuum bagged, carbon-fiber rocket nicknamed “The Scrambler” making a beautiful final flight to exactly 1250 feet (thanks to Bruce for making the last flight possible and for staying hours late on multiple days just to let them fly).
From a Mom’s viewpoint, this journey has had invaluable non-technical benefits. We are all extremely grateful to the C.R.A.S.H. members who lent a helping hand, piece of tape, epoxy, motor, or a bit of well-timed advice after the variations of failure. From this the kids have experienced and learned the benefits of generosity and a welcoming spirit, as well as what it takes to be prepared for a flight (they’re still working on that check list thing). We are grateful that the numerous failures (including the first Fat Boy diving straight into the parking lot) were met with deadpan faces and encouragement, rather than head shaking or negativity. From this the team learned that in the “real world” it’s okay to make mistakes and move on. Chuck spent many e-mail hours bolstering spirits, teaching the team how to analyze failure and how engineers approach problems. The team has learned that they have the power to make things happen! I’d say that going to the TARC finals is “icing on the cake”!
The journey continues! Now the EHS TARC team is wrestling with the trials and tribulations of fund raising and travel arrangements. Chris is managing new rocket construction (not an adult hand in sight) and planning a launch schedule so that the team can arrive with two rockets with improved reliability and predictable altitudes. The final competition is the weekend before final exams, which adds to the anxiety. But are they excited!!! And I think it is safe to say that the team will travel to Virginia with a wonderful feeling of support from C.R.A.S.H.
CARCIS XII Results…
By Bruce Markielewski
The Twelfth Annual Colorado Aerial Rocket Circus was scheduled for March 6th and 7th, 2004, but didn’t get off to a good start this year. We didn’t get to fly at all on Saturday due to high winds, but we got some flights in on Sunday. It was a pretty busy day with all of the sport flights and Team America Challenge activities. Luke Short had the best shred of the day on his “B” Rocket glider flight, resulting in more pieces than what he used to build the model! Most of the Parachute Spot Landing and “1/2A” Boost Glider Duration flights were flown, along with a number of “A” Parachute Duration and “B” Super-roc Duration, and “B” Eggloft Duration attempts. The Park graciously allowed us to reschedule the first day that we lost, and we decided to continue the contest a month later, on April 3rd and 4th.
Saturday, April 3rd, was quite a bit different than a month earlier. We actually had a fairly nice day at the launch site – overcast and cool, but no wind throughout the day, other than a light breeze late in the day. It had snowed throughout the state the day before, and this contributed to a low turnout. Competing were Russ Anthony, Ryan Anthony-Ceres, Steve Clapp, and Bruce Markielewski. The Evergreen TARC team was there, and attempted a qualification flight. One egg broke when the parachute tangled, but they had one more attempt to make on Sunday.
The final day of the contest was once again a very busy day, as the weather was perfect and there were a lot of sport flights and three TARC teams attempting qualification flights. Lakewood High School made one qualification flight, reaching just over 1000 feet, but their three stage model performed surprisingly well. Arvada High School’s three stager didn’t fare as well, landing hard on a couple of practice flights. Evergreen High School saved the best flight for last, earning an amazing score of exactly 1250 feet (the target altitude), and no broken eggs.
Remaining contest flights were completed by several participants, although some competitors couldn’t attend due to other commitments. Had they been able to continue, the results might have been much different. Parachute Spot Landing was more challenging than expected, although a few competitors managed to get close. In the combined A and B Division, Ryan Anthony-Ceres took first place with a fine 5 meter score. Evan Sauls was second at 10 meters, and Luke Short and Ariana Williams were distant third and fourth places. In C Division, the top three were very close, with Ian MacDonald winning by just a meter over Carl Truszynski. Russ Anthony was 2 meters further for third, followed by Steve Clapp. Paranoid Androids took the Team Division with a flight that normally wouldn’t win, but the Dave and Dave team had an unfortunate disqualification, preventing them from placing in the event.
“1/2A” Boost Glider Duration was very competitive, particularly the A Division, where Ryan edged Ariana for first place by only five seconds. Russ Anthony won C Division with a nice 57 second time on his second flight. Carl had two consistent flights for second place, and Steve rebounded on his second flight to capture third. Jim Hinton had a pair of nice flights for fourth place. Paranoid Androids won the Team Division, with Dave and Dave, unable to attempt a second flight, finishing second.
In “A” Parachute Duration, all A/B Division competitors attempted only one flight each. Ariana Williams won with a 72 second flight. Kara Boyer edged Ryan for second place, with Luke a close fourth. C Division was a bit more interesting, as Russ led Bruce and Steve by a small margin after their first flights. Steve’s second flight was over three and one half minutes, and appeared to have won the event, but Bruce’s flight of just over four minutes secured the victory. Russ held onto third with a disappointing second flight, and Carl took fourth on a single 74 second flight. Dave and Dave’s single flight of 95 seconds was enough for the Team Division win, as Paranoid Androids attempted only one qualifying flight for second place.
“B” Rocket Glider, being perhaps the hardest event of the contest to prepare for, had only a few participants. Luke’s single flight DQ allowed Ariana the win in A/B Division with her single successful flight. Since Dave and Dave didn’t attempt a flight in this event, Paranoid Androids had to compete with C Division. Bruce and Russ had very close first flights, but a flap problem on Russ’ second attempt resulted in a low time, allowing Bruce to take over first place. Paranoid Androids could have moved up from third, but chose not to make a second attempt. Steve had structural problems on both flights, but managed a qualified flight for fourth place.
“B” Super-roc Duration was a popular event, with most participants entering. A/B Division was won by Ryan, who had two nice flights and set a NAR national record with his first flight. Daniel Anthony-Ceres and Ariana each had a single flight, with Daniel’s just slightly better to take second place. C Division was hotly contested between Steve and Bruce, with Bruce’s second flight determining the winner. Russ had an early DQ, but bounced back on the second flight to take third place. Jim Hinton’s single flight qualified him for fourth place. Each team flew only once, but Dave and Dave’s flight far outpaced Paranoid Androids’ attempt to win in Team Division.
“B” Eggloft Duration is usually a pretty messy event, but the group appears to be getting better, as only one egg out of fifteen attempts was broken. Ryan had the best A/B Division flight, followed by Ariana, Daniel and Luke for second through fourth places. Bruce only needed one attempt to secure the C Division win, with Steve holding on to second place with a nice second flight. Russ tried to move up from third, but was thwarted by a deployment problem on his second attempt. Once again the teams each only flew once, with Dave and Dave having the best flight in Team Division for first place.
Overall, the A/B Division surprisingly ending in a tie for first between Ariana and Ryan, where a non-flown event and a non-NAR competitor helped keep Ryan from winning first outright. Daniel was a distant third, flying only three events, followed by Luke in fourth. In C Division, the top three competitors has successful flights in all events, but Bruce’s four firsts were enough to capture the contest championship. Russ had a fine contest, winning one event and placing second or third in the rest, resulting in a second place finish ahead of Steve. Carl flew only four events, but secured fourth place just ahead of Ian, who won one of the two events entered. The Team Division championship was very close with Paranoid Androids winning the battle.
The complete points listing for
http://www.crashonline.org/crash-cgi-bin/contst?carcis-12 [Fix Link]
can be viewed on our
http://www.crashonline.org/competition.html [Fix Link]
. Only one NAR records was set during the contest, by Ryan in “B” Super-roc Duration, although nine
http://www.crashonline.org/crash-cgi-bin/contst?clbrcd [Fix Link]
were set. In spite of weather and scheduling problems, CARCIS XII was well contested, and served as a learning experience for both the new and seasoned competitors, who are already looking forward to the next chance to test their model rocketry skills!
NAR RCP Voting…
Author: Bruce Markielewski
The latest issue of the NAR’s Model Rocketeer (Vol. 46, No. 2) has the Rule Change Proposal voting information, including a ballot form. If you’re a NAR member, please consider voting even if you’re not active in competition. This is one of the few opportinities we have to improve the way things are done in the NAR competition world.
A reletively small number of people vote on these proposals, so your vote counts a lot! The ballots must be postmarked by May 15th, so please get your ballots in the mail soon! If you have questions, you can e-mail me at
or post them to our CRASH-Talk forum.
Author: James Russell
SpringFest has been an annual launch Dave Hanson and I have gone to for the last few years. SpringFest is held on a dry lake bed 25 miles south of Las Vegas every March. It is a TRA launch hosted by ROC with help from Tripoli Vegas. This launch brings a lot of people from California, Utah, Arizona and other surrounding states. It starts on Friday with an EX launch and then Saturday and Sunday are the commercial days of the launch. The three of us had several flights planned, several EX and several commercial.
Dave, Jim Amos and I left my house at 6:00 am Thursday and with good weather forecasted we were able to make good time. We only needed to stop for gas and lunch and made it to Las Vegas in a little less than 12 hours. Jim and I were able to meet up with Neil and Nadine form Colorado Springs and Bruce Kelly from Utah for the seafood buffet at the Rio (it is a must when in Vegas) and a little “chit chat” with friends before the launch.
Friday we were on our way to the launch site by 7:00 thinking things were going to be getting started early in the day. When we arrived at the site we were able to see a line of vehicles, campers and tents already forming what will be the flight light for the weekend. When getting to the flight line we met up with our other friends from Utah and California. After spending a couple of hours talking and prepping rockets the first flight of the day was around 10:00.
Jim Amos and I had to wait for the high altitude windows, both were going over the 7,500 ft standing waiver. The FAA delayed the first window for over an hour, Jim was able to get his “Widow Maker” up on an Ammonium Nitrate M-1000 to over 16,000 ft. for the second flight of the day. I think Jim should get the Spot Landing record of the year for going 16k and having his rocket land less than 15 ft from the pad. A great flight and landing
After Jim’s flight, Woody from Utah put his “Peer Pressure” up on a 4″ N motor. It was an awesome flight to almost 10K. Woody also had flown several of his “Sky Ripper” hybrid motors on Saturday, once certified they will be a great alternative to AP. He did have one mishap with the J motor; there was a failure at the nozzle O-ring and a burn through the case. Still a great 38 mm motor design, it only took a few minutes to assemble and was very similar to the AMW snap ring type closures. I will get the smaller H motor when available. It will be a good starting point to learn about Hybrid motors and it looks like the price will be reasonable; all of Woody’s products are.
With a lot of air traffic in the area we had problems getting the high altitude windows. My rocket sat on the pad for 2 hours waiting for word from the range head that the window would be opened. Once we got the OK from the FAA, several people that have been waiting armed altimeters and connected ignitors. My “BigEZ” was first, it was the third time I have put an EX motor to the test in this bird and it was a great flight to 11,511 ft on an L-1500. It was the third time that rocket has been over 2 miles and now has about 10 miles in total vertical altitude, WOW!
Dave Hanson and I were also able to fly his 3″ fiberglass rocket on a K-700 motor that worked great, it took his rocket to just under 6,800 ft. The recovery was also great up until it hit the ground and the wind dragged his rocket across the lake bed. The paint was scratched and the tip was broken off his nose cone, all will be fixed before the next launch at NCR.
Dave and I were also going to fly a few commercial motors on Saturday and Sunday but things did not work out. We did get to see several really great flights and some not so great flights but it was a great trip and get-together with friends. If you ever find yourself needing something to do over spring break, this is a great way to spend the weekend — maybe we will see you next year.
C.R.A.S.H. Business Meeting…
Sunday, March 14, 2004
Author: Dave Hanson
The meeting started off with Chuck Watts informing the club that he has motors for Level 1 cert attempts. Anyone wishing to attempt a high-power certification can contact Chuck about getting a motor.
Ian MacDonald is looking for contributions for the club newsletter. He also pointed out that anyone can submit articles. There was some discussion about whether the flight logs from each launch should be included in the newsletter, but it was decided that we may want to just include highlights of some of the more interesting flights.
Bruce Markielewski stated that the Member Info pages are now available on the club website. This section is accessed by clicking on the “Member Pages” link in the left-hand menu. Each member’s info page includes a line for any additional info which the member may wish to include. The Member Info pages are password-protected, so anyone wishing to view their own info must first contact Bruce for their user ID and a temporary password. Bruce is also working on website code to allow members to upload photos directly to the website. He also wants to make it possible for members to print their own membership cards.
Scott Sala from Denver Public Schools made a presentation about the video project he is doing for the schools. This included showing the video that he had put together.
Steve Clapp proposed switching the launch time on Sundays to 10 AM. It was determined that there are two main issues involved with making this switch: 1. The club will need to get the park’s permission, so we can ensure that our launches will not conflict with other park activities; 2. The club needs to have the launch equipment available. We also discussed the possibility of having the equipment stored nearby the park for easy accessibility.
Dave Tjarks suggested that the club should purchase a stool for kids to stand on so they can reach the pads when loading their rockets. James Russell said he will look for a stool.
James Russell stated that he plans to place an order for launch rail material from Tracey Wood.
Todd Williams informed the club that there were not quite enough t-shirt orders to make the minimum number of shirts needed to place an order. Todd suggested placing an order with Cafe Press as an alternative. It was pointed out that the t-shirt ordering deadline as listed on the club website needed to be removed or changed. During this discussion, there were enough t-shirt orders added to make the minimum order.
Bruce Markielewski discussed his proposed NAR Pink Book changes. These changes are listed in the latest issue of the NAR’s “Model Rocketeer” magazine.
Rescuing Callisto from Cottonwood…
Author: Ian MacDonald
Saturday March 20th was a nice day at Bear Creak Lake Park. The temperature was around 70 degrees under a clear blue sky. The winds were persistent, but not too strong, and generally from the east. I was anxious about the wind because I planned to fly my Callisto that day on an H180. According to the charts, that would put it up to around 3500′. My Callisto is built a little heavy, but it still promised to be a spectacular flight. Bob Ellis was kind enough to let me use his launch pad.
When I’m anxious about a flight it seems to take forever between the time the rocket is ready on the pad and it gets launched. This time was no exception. I took my usual spot to the south side of the pad with the sun to my back. The rocket blasted off with the expected amount of intensity. It angled a bit to the east right off the pad. With how quickly it gained altitude I knew which way to start moving. It wasn’t hard to track with the clear sky, and after deployment it seemed to come pretty much straight down. The breeze may have moved it a little farther east.
As I was heading towards the rocket I had a pretty good bead on it. I had to glance away for a moment to cross the footbridge that crosses the creek to the west of our launch site. I could see the rocket drop below the edge of a small hill. I started to run out of concern that it may have landed on the road. After cresting the hill I expected to find the rocket fairly easily. After all, it’s not a small rocket. With a feeling all too familiar to most people reading this, I methodically marched back and forth, scouring beyond where I knew it should be. A few others eventually joined me. We fanned out even further. Had the rocket been on the ground we would have spotted it in this expanded search. I was walking next to Bob Ellis heading back towards what should be the most likely area when he said, “we have a problem.”
There was the Callisto, about 50′ up in an old cottonwood tree. The rocket was too high in the tree to get with anything we had with us. The club has an 18′ telescoping painting pole with a hook at the end but this was way above that. Climbing the tree was totally out of the question. The main trunk was missing bark, had several woodpecker holes and was basically dead. It also went fairly straight up for a cottonwood. The lowest branches were about 20′ above the ground. We had no choice but to walk back to the launch site discussing options.
I went to Wal-Mart and returned with some rope, Duck Tape, a quick link, and I thought – also a hook. Religious quotations followed my discovery that the friendly clerk didn’t put the hook in the bag. I looked in my range boxes for an idea. My eyes keyed in on the cheap open-end wrenches that live there. After tying the link on the end of the clothesline cord, I then used the Duck Tape to attach the wrench so it angled back making a hook. My idea was to fling the rope upwards and snag the rocket, its shock cord, or the branch it’s on and pull. ‘Sounded simple. If the rocket were only 20 or 30′ up it probably would have been. The rocket was too far up to directly throw the hook. To get more velocity I held the rope about 15″ from the hook and swung it upwards underhand.
It only took a few tries to realize this was going to take a lucky shot. I wasn’t going to give up easily however. After about three dozen tosses, the hook wrapped itself around the branch the rocket was on and stayed. It didn’t release with a tug, or several tugs. It was below the rocket on a part of the branch too thick to break with the rope. I started to get aggressive with the rope and got the branch shaking like it was in a windstorm. The rocket banged around and I hoped it might shake loose. After a few minutes of tugging the motor casing fell out of the rocket. As other reload flyers are well aware the casing is often worth as much as the rocket, so this was a victory. I continued shaking the tree and could see that the rocket was trapped as firmly as at first but the motor adapter was working its way out. I was encouraged to keep tugging but after the adapter made it about half way it didn’t seem to advance any further. Finally, I reluctantly called it a day
The next day my wife Dorthe and I stopped by the park again. On my first toss I got the rope snagged in an adjoining tree. After some tugging the rope snapped away from the hook. I attached another hook and it only took a few more tosses before I had it snagged on the branch with the rocket. I now had another rope firmly attached to the tree. My only move at this point was to try shaking the tree again. I did this with much enthusiasm but it was quite apparent I wasn’t going to get anywhere. All I was doing was banging around the rocket. I needed a new strategy.
On Monday I left work early and went to Home Depot. I bought six 10′ lengths of 1″ PVC conduit. I picked up a couple of actual hooks this time and made sure they made it into the bag. My plan was to attach a rope with a hook to the end of this improvised pole, feed it up to the rocket and pull the rocket down with the hook. I envisioned pulling the hook away from the pole as I ripped the rocket away from the branches. When I got to the site I could see right away that flexibility was going to be an issue. I fed the PVC up the tree. The PVC curved as it snaked up the lower branches. I tried whipping it around to get it to swing toward the rocket. Any swinging however served to exaggerate the bow in the pole instead of getting it to swing upwards. The problem was the pole had to feed up between some branches to get to the rocket. This required coming up from below. The PVC was just too flexible to achieve this. I had to call it a day.
I went back to Home Depot again. I bought some 10′ lengths of half inch metal conduit just below the PVC like what I had purchased previously. A quick test in the store showed it to be significantly stiffer than the PVC while similar in weight. I also bought a 24″ piece of 3/4″ PVC. I cut this into 5 pieces to connect the lengths of conduit. During work on Tuesday I watched the clouds with some unease. The weather report wasn’t saying we would get rain, but clouds that dark sometimes mean lightning. Not a time to be holding a 50′ high metal pole! We’ve also had some strong winds in recent weeks and any wind would be a problem.
After work I headed to the park again. Although the clouds were still heavy, the weather was holding. I got there around 4:30 and carried the stuff into place and got to work. For a snug fit I put a single wrap of masking tape around the conduit before sliding the PVC over the joints, just like friction fitting a motor. I then secured the joint with a generous amount of Duck Tape. I had envisioned walking it upright like a ladder but weight became an issue. What was an easy bundle to carry became really heavy when supported at one end.
I attached a hook to the end of a length of braided nylon rope. I Duck Taped the hook to the end of the pole. The flexibility the pole had turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I fed it up the side of the tree by the same method as the PVC the day before. I used the branches of the tree to guide the conduit pole into position. This took several tries. The reality was I needed to thread it between the right sets of branches or it wouldn’t end up next to the rocket. On a few occasions I used the pole to ram and break branches that were inconveniently placed. I moved the pole up and down several times but I could only get to within a foot or so of the rocket.
I was able to shake the tree and the rocket with the pole. This got the rocket moving around and the nose cone bounced off the pole several times but never in a way that snagged on the hook. I didn’t want to get too aggressive with this for fear of breaking the pole. I still had the 2 lines snagged on the tree from my previous attempts. I grabbed one of those ropes with my left hand and started to rock the tree while holding the pole and its rope with my right hand. I started getting the rocket and its shock cord to swing towards the pole and its hook. As I did this I moved the pole up and down and twisted it to reposition the hook. One moment I’m in this mode and the next the piston swung into the hook. Just like fishing I quickly pulled at the nibble. I saw the piston and the lower part of the rocket drop several feet immediately. My eyes were fixed on the piston to keep the hook on it and with another pull the rocket dropped again. I was actually pulling down on the rope and the pole together because once hooked the rocket broke away quite easily – much more easily than the force needed to pull the hook away from the pole. I had to lift the pole and start to rapidly run backwards as the rocket then dropped to a much lower branch.
I now knew I had it. It was now on a branch that was almost in reach. Another quick pull on the pole and the whole arrangement rotated quickly to the ground! There were a few branches tangled in with the rocket, its shock cord and the rope. The motor adapter had fallen out separately. The rocket came through the experience with no apparent damage to the construction. Even the parachute remained intact. The paint does have several abrasions from all the banging against the tree during my first couple attempts to recover it. The only loss directly on the rocket is the motor retainer – a couple of Allen bolts holding a piece of metal across the aft end of the motor casing. After the past few days, I’m thrilled to have my rocket back!
C.R.A.S.H. Landings is published by:
Colorado Rocketry Association of Space Hobbyists (NAR section #482)
No responsibility is assumed for unsolicited material. All submissions become the property of C.R.A.S.H. Landings. Submissions should be delivered in electronic format by e-mail or diskette. For other formats, please contact the editor:
Ian MacDonald – [removed email]