My First LDRS -- First 2 Launch Days

I've had two awesome days at LDRS!!!

It is simply heaven on earth here. There are so many AMAZING projects here. N's and O's are commonplace, and M's are practically ubiquitous. At Tripoli MN, when a level 3 rocket goes up it's the highlight of the whole day. Here at LDRS there have been some level 3's that go up and you look up and say, "hup, there goes another one..."

These first two launch days have been research days, which means that you have to be 18+ and L2 to fly. Experimental home-built motors are permitted (some of which result in spectacular failures). The two guys in the parking spot next to mine (Bill and Bill, a father and son team) put up an experimental N motor, which experienced some major "turbulence" on the way up, and core-sampled on the way down. I don't think they even found it. It probably dug its very own grave and then died in it.

I have flown two rockets now. Neither flight was really successful, but I learned from both experiences. The first day I flew "Exporter 3000," which formerly flew as the longer rocket, "Exporter 2000," on a 2xG80 cluster. Only one motor ignited and the rocket flew off at an angle. I think Blue Thunder propellant is difficult to do with clusters. The plastic parachute ripped off after apogee and the rocket broke a fin on landing. Main  lessons learned: Don't cluster with Blue Thunder and Firstfire Jr. igniters, and a shorter rocket will be affected more by asymmetric thrust than a longer rocket. Just for kicks and grins and giggles I think I'll work out the physics for asymmetric thrust later and write about the results.

I spent the rest of the day spectating, prepping my big project, and meeting other rocketeers. Back at the campground I met some new neighbors, a guy named Marlin and his wife. Fun people. They drove all the way from Texas! Farther than me. Now they look like they're gone. They only stayed one night having driven all the way from Texas? Perhaps they had other business to attend to. The people on the other side of my site are some of the coordinators of the event, and I've been hanging out with them a little. A guy named Larry, a woman named Mary-Beth, and some others. (Lots of little girls).

Today I spent most of the day getting my two-stager ready for flight. It wasn't until about 3pm before it was ready. I had to check and recheck everything just to make absolutely sure that everything was going to work correctly, specifically with the electronics.

Discovery Channel is here doing a special on LDRS. I'll probably appear on TV here an there. Look for the camo hat. I'm constantly wearing it.

When my rocket was finally ready, I started to get the butterflies. The last time I did a two-stager, it was a G to a G, not a K to an I. Last minute I got the idea to hunt down a Discovery person and ask them to put one of their onboard cams on the side of my rocket. I made a persuasive argument. All I had to say was something like "two stages... nine feet tall... 6000 ft..."

The Flight, in Onomatopoeia:

Flutter flutter flutter flutter flutter.

I recovered most of the pieces, which were spread over a half-mile radius. The only piece I couldn't find was the upper stage booster section, along with the staging electronics. Both casings, the altimeter, and most of the debris were recovered. Good news is that the staging worked! Sort of. It's hard to explain with words, so you'll have to wait until I upload a video. Main lessons learned: Double-check burn duration on booster motor. I don't think the booster was done burning before the sustainer fired. Also, USE GOBS AND GOBS of epoxy. Just GOBS isn't good enough.

Full analysis later.

I'm sure you want to see pictures.... Only a few so far! Also there are SO many other cools stories that I'm not remembering at the moment.

Steve Eve's giant Saturn Ib. Unfortunately it's just show and tell, and it won't fly for another month.
Inside: Fancy actuators and a lot of electronics.
Body tube folds out to form fins for the upper stage (in order to keep accurate scale).
Tim Lehr shenanigans. Nuff said.
Anybody else find this picture a little comical? I don't know many rocket scientist Mennonites.

K700BB reload. My selection was limited because AMW reloads are made differently now (More like Cesaroni).

Assembled motor.

Staging electronics.

Blue Thunder propellant added to ematch for extra punch.
Motor retention for I285.

PML Copilot V2.0 for parachute deployment. I have yet to get the data off of it.
Attached some thread to the booster parachute. In theory, when the booster drag separates the thread pulls the parachute out.

Longshot Starkiller on the pad ready to go.

The Discovery camera was found on the ground all by itself.  Incredibly lucky we found it.  I walked with the Discovery people back to their tent and we tried to pull the files off it. It was blank. I honestly wasn't too surprised. It's just a running gag in my life that onboard video never works for me. Ohhhh well.

The motor mount might have been the perpetrator in the accident. I built this rocket a whole year ago, and  might not have used enough epoxy... The current theory for likely mode of failure is that the motor mount dislodged and went through the body tube.
Collecting pieces one by one.
Looking for that last piece reminded me of October Skies. Never found it though, and I don't think Trigonometry is going to help me much.
That's it for now! Soon I'll put together one or more YouTube videos summarizing highlights of the event, my activities, and more!

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