A beginner's experiences

A beginner's experiences

Post by Jeff Cla » Wed, 09 May 1990 02:01:33



My son, age 7, (and to a lesser extent my daughter, age 5), and I have
recently taken up model rocketry as a fun, parent-child hobby.  I'm not real
sure how I got into this: one day I got home from work and my wife said "Don't
forget your rocketry class with Brandon, tonight".  Turns out they had signed
us up for a community-ed class in which we built and launched an Estes Alpha.

Brandon and I had such a ball with this that we went out shortly thereafter
and bought an Estes Sizzler Starter Kit.  (Shortly thereafter, I discovered
this news group.)  Since then we've built a half-dozen or so models and
launched them a few times.  Brandon has built a particularly simply model (the
Alpha III) essentially by himself (Dad just read the instructions and offered
some advice).  This experience led to the subject of this little note.

Since Brandon was able to build the Alpha III so easily, we thought it would
be fun to sponsor a meeting of his "Tiger Cubs" den in which we would build
rockets and then launch them.  (Tiger Cubs is "Cub Scouts" for first graders.)
Each parent-child team chipped in a few bucks and I trekked down to the local
hobby store and picked up a half-dozen Estes Alpha III's, some paint, brushes
and motors.  We met last Wednesday evening and assembled the kits.  (As an
aside, it's really interesting to watch parent-child teams tackle something
like this.  On some teams, the kid really did a major portion of the work; on
others the parent did it all.  In addition to having fun, I really learned
something about developing more patience with my kids, just by observing the
interactions of others.  Ahem .. well .. back to my story ...).  The assembly
went pretty smoothly.  The only real problem was the guy that connected up the
shroud lines to the parachute incorrectly, but we managed to recover.

Saturday afternoon was the big launch.  We met in the sports field behind a
nearby Jr. High.  I gave everybody the necessary supplies and showed them how
to pack the recovery wadding and parachute.  Then they each got an A8-3 and an
igniter.  It was a beautiful sunny day, with high puffy white clouds; there
was a light breeze from the NE.  We set up the launcher, tipped the rod
slightly into the wind and got down to business.  Six perfect launches, most
of which landed within a couple hundred feet of the launcher.

The kids loved it.  One of the parents said "I thought they'd go higher than
that."  In the second round I gave them B6-6's.  We loaded 'em up (one Mom got
confused and put the recovery wadding in the engine mount and stuffed it up
hard against the engine retaining clip; we managed to get it out) and set up
for the second round.  Six more perfect launches, although this time they
drifted somewhat farther.  Two of the rockets drifted out of the field and
landed in the front yards of some adjacent houses.  One of them narrowly
missed the center fielder of a little league team practicing at the far end of
the field.  It was a bit of a hike, but all rockets were safely recovered.
Everyone seemed impressed, including the parent that was hoping for more
altitude.

I had some C6-7's in my field box, and I was really tempted, but the wind was
picking up a bit so I decided against it.  As we were packing up, one of the
kids asked me about the cost of a launcher, etc.  I think I've started another
father/son team on the road to a model rocketry hobby.

... and a good time was had by all.

Jeff Clark      Honeywell Systems and Research Center   Minneapolis, MN


DISCLAIMER: If you think I speak for my employer, you need serious help ...

 
 
 

A beginner's experiences

Post by Joyce A Guz » Wed, 09 May 1990 15:05:54


Jeff,

Sounds like you're doing a good job in spreading model rocketry.  If you
are interested, there is an NAR section in the Twin Cities area that you
may want to contact:  CMAR (Central Minnesota Association of Rocketry).
I don't have the address of the president handy, but their newsletter
editors (Bruce Backus and Bruce McLeod) can be reached at 1849 Berkeley
Ave., St. Paul, MN  55105.  I'm sure they'd love to hear from you.

 
 
 

A beginner's experiences

Post by Ed Proch » Wed, 09 May 1990 21:41:08


I also thought the Alpha was a very good kit for second graders.
My son built his with just a little help from me. We fainlly
had the maiden flight last week. It was beautiful. The weather
was warm and clear with a slight breeze. Using an A8-3, the Alpha
went over 100feet (judgement call, I didn't measure). It went straight
up and nearly straight down. My son was happy.

In regard to parents not being impressed, my wife has never been impressed
by my rocket flights. But I have found kids usually are, especially if
they get a turn at launching. My son was happy with his flight even
though he has seen D-birds and larger go out of sight (not mine,
I prefer the smaller stuff).

One last comment about the Alpha III, you don't have to paint it!
The body tube is white and the fin section and nosecone are molded
plastic (ours were red, don't know if it comes in different colors)
The only thing that really maybe needed some paint was the fillet
around the launch lug. My son decided that it looked okay as it was.
The decals were applied and he was done.

Edward J. Prochak        (216)646-4663       I think.
{cwjcc,pyramid,decvax,uunet}!abvax!ejp       I think I am.
Allen-Bradley Industrial Computer Div.       Therefore, I AM!
Highland Heights,OH 44143                    I think?  --- Moody Blues

 
 
 

A beginner's experiences

Post by Jeff Cla » Thu, 10 May 1990 02:23:05


   I also thought the Alpha was a very good kit for second graders.

I'd make a distinction between the Alpha and the Alpha III.  They are very
similar in size and appearance, but the former has balsa fins and the latter
has a pre-formed plastic fin unit.  On the other hand, the Alpha is a good
first project for a parent-child team; its the one my son and I built in our
community-ed class that I mentioned in my original posting.

   One last comment about the Alpha III, you don't have to paint it!
   The body tube is white and the fin section and nosecone are molded
   plastic (ours were red, don't know if it comes in different colors)
   The only thing that really maybe needed some paint was the fillet
   around the launch lug. My son decided that it looked okay as it was.
   The decals were applied and he was done.

I wish I'd realized that sooner.  I choose the Liberty over the Alpha III for
our Tiger Cubs outing primarily because it was cheaper.  If I'd realized that
the A-III didn't have to be painted, we could have saved a few bucks on paint
and brushes.  Oh well; nobody complained about the cost and everybody had a
good time.

Jeff Clark      Honeywell Systems and Research Center   Minneapolis, MN


DISCLAIMER: If you think I speak for my employer, you need serious help ...