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A Kid's Perspective
If you read my last article, you might think I do not like using big rocket motors. BUT I DO!!! I recently built a rocket to launch at NARAM 61. The field at the event was much larger than the field my club uses. This was a perfect opportunity to design a rocket powered by a G motor.
The idea to build a G-powered rocket started at one of my club launches. Ed, the club director, committed to supply the parts to build any rocket I designed using the open source rocket simulator OpenRocket. I quickly decided to take Ed up on the offer by designing a rocket for NARAM. First, I downloaded OpenRocket, which required help from my dad. After several unsuccessful installation attempts, we found help on rocketryforum.com. We learned it is best to download the program with a bundled Java Runtime Environment (JRE) when using a Mac.
Over the next 3 months, I learned the ins and outs of OpenRocket. At times, I was frustrated when I could not get what was on the screen to match what was in my head, but I eventually found myself liking the program a lot. OpenRocket is a great no-cost alternative to the famous RockSim simulator. If your budget permits, Apogee sells a version of RockSim for about $100 or the pro version for around $1,000.
Upon finishing my design, I sent it to Ed for review because the only requirement he had was that he must approve the design. Soon after, my dad and I went to a rocket club meeting. When we arrived at the meeting, all of the rocket club members had my design pulled up on their laptops. For the next 30-45 minutes, I received great feedback and advice on how to move forward from the group. This is probably my favorite rocket club memory.
Soon after, I revised my design, received approval to move forward, and later received the parts. Over the next 3 months, I put together a rocket that I called Big Boy G. After painting the rocket silver, I changed the name to The Silver Bullet, which was my main rocket at NARAM.
The day finally came to go to NARAM. It was actually kind of hard to find the launch area, but after several minutes we did. After we went to the contest field to get registered, we went to the sport range to launch rockets. When we started walking up there were several rockets being launched. We watched those, and then I loaded up my Top Shot with an E motor and launched it. It was a great launch! Then, we went to Merlin Missiles to buy a G motor. When we went over to their tent, they said that my rocket would go 3,500 feet with a G motor. The people at the Merlin Missiles tent discussed with us different motors we could use. Finally, they stopped talking, when I told them, “This rocket was built for a G, and it will fly on a G.” I then bought a G motor. To test The Silver Bullet I borrowed a motor adapter and launched with an E motor.
After that launch, we went to my uncle’s house since he lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, and we stayed there for the night. On day 2, my first launch was the Top Shot on an E motor again. It went up nicely but shredded the parachute. I had to walk way out in a soybean field to recover it and ended up finding my club’s assistant director’s rocket. This was a pleasant surprise and made his day. My rocket’s fin was damaged. When we got back to the launch area, we bought a ripstop nylon parachute from Merlin Missiles. I then successfully launched the Silver bullet on an E motor. I was finally ready to launch the Silver bullet on a G80-10 motor. I went over to Merlin Missiles and had them adjust the delay on the motor. I put the rocket on the launch pad and fired it off. It was the fastest rocket off the rail that day. It was the most epic rocket launch I had ever seen. At about 2,000 feet, it exploded! I still thought it was awesome! Later, we realized the people who helped us had used 4 times the recommended ejection charge, which probably contributed to the rocket’s demise. All in all, NARAM was an awesome experience!
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