LDRS 38 Club Project

LDRS is an annual gathering for high power rocketeers from all over the country and a few from foreign countries as well.  This year was LDRS 38 hosted by the Kloudbusters of Wichita Kansas.  They are one of the best clubs in the country for large launches.  They have hosted several LDRS launches and have it down to a fine art.  Which is good because this was the largest LDRS ever.

At the last LDRS held at the Rocket Pasture, LDRS 30, the club built a two stage scale version of the Nike Asp sounding rocket.  It flew well until time to ignite the second stage.  It didn’t ignite!  The recovery system worked properly and we got all the pieces back.  We vowed that the next time LDRS was here we’d try again.

That time came last week at LDRS 38.  Members pitched in and prepared the motors loaded them into the Nike booster and the Asp second stage.  Electronics were prepared and all recovery devices were packed and loaded into their respective stages.

Then we departed for the away pads and to get approval of the Range Safety Officer to fly.  One small problem getting RSO approval, he didn’t like our electronics set up to assure that the second stage would light only if the rocket was still within a few degrees of vertical.  We worked that one out.  Bob Brown the LDRS leader took one of our members back to our camp site to get the laptop so we could reprogram the electronics.  After a few minutes all was well and we headed out to the pad to get the rocket loaded for launch.  Time was ticking down as our FAA waiver only had about 20 minutes left.  We finally got it loaded with just a few minutes left.

The countdown proceeded well and then with a loud roar off she went.  Staging looked beautiful just like last time.  Then the Asp second stage lit and off we go.  Looking good…for a few seconds.  Then the smoke trail changed a bit.  That didn’t look quite right.  But she is still going up.  Wait, the second stage parachute should be out.  Oh, there it is.  That definitely is not right.  There is nothing under the chute.  Plus it should be a lot higher.  We definitely had a problem.  Then we noticed a large section coming down with no chute just trailing some cords to the east.  No sign of the rest of the rocket.  The Nike booster came down just fine.  No problems there.  Now we need to find the as many parts as we can.  The radio trackers came out and then the nose cone was found, but still no sign of the rest of the rocket.

From studying the pictures, we definitely had an anomaly shortly after staging.  Our theory is that as the rocket went transonic or just supersonic we lost a fin.  That caused a deviation from the flight path that increased the angle of attack.  This over stressed the airframe and it broke up.

At least we got the booster back.  I’m sure at some point in the future we will try another club project, but for now we’ll take a break.

Still it was a great LDRS 38, mostly good weather and lots of great flights.

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Voskhod Build Complete

The Voskhod build that I started back in January is finally finished.  I got the main engine bells painted.  Then I drilled small holes at the base of the core and boosters to accept the tab that is on the engine bells.  They were then glued into place with thick CA.  The vernier motors were painted and installed on the core and boosters.  For the core, the full length of the Airfix vernier motors fit within the cavities that were on the sides of the core body.  For the boosters, I had to trim all the part away except for the nozzles.  These then fit into the small recesses at the edge of each booster.  They were also glued on with thick CA.

Then I carefully glued the boosters to the core stage.  I again used thick CA.  I added a small drop at four points for each booster.  One at the tip where the top of the booster is attached to the core body and then at two points for the braces.  I also added a drop of CA at the middle of the crossbar where there is a pin that goes into a hole that had been drilled in each booster body.  The Apex kit did not have that pin on the crossbar that came in the kit.  The actual vehicle did not have that attach point either.  The Airfix part that I was using instead did.  I like that idea as it helps hold the boosters on a bit more securely, and at this scale you cannot see where they meet so it does not distract from model.

Next came a fiddly part of the build where I had to attach the second stage to the truss work on the core stage.  Here I put a small amount of JB Weld epoxy at each pin that I had previously added to the second stage.  I then carefully placed the second stage on the truss.  It took a bit of wiggling here and adjusting there to get it into the proper position.  Each of the four pins had to be behind the top of the inverted ‘V’ on the truss so that the JB Weld could have something else to grab onto.  After letting it cure for 24 hours, it is not securely attached.  But I still want to be careful in handling, since the pins holding it together are tiny.

It now sits on its base.  The steel rod fits nicely into the tube that I built into the core stage.  It is very stable on its base.  It now takes its place in my 1/144 scale rocket garden of manned launch vehicles.  I now only need two more to finish the garden, a Russian Soyuz and a Chinese CZ-2F.  That is until Spacex and Boeing start flying crews to the ISS.

Thanks for reading.

Voskhod Update 2

Now that I have finished the Saturn V and the Lego LM I need to get back to the Voskhod 2 model.  When I last posted about this project, I had assembled the stages and put the photo etched brass truss on the first stage.  Since then all parts have had primer applied and also painted in gray.  Then the bases of the stages were painted with chrome silver.  I then glued the 20 engine bells from the Airfix kit to a piece of scrap wood with white glue.  This will hold them in place while painting yet be easily removable after the paint is dry.

Then I noticed that I needed to move a couple of external pipes on the second stage.  From my reference material they were in the wrong position.  After I did that I then drilled some 1/32 inch holes to mount the antennas on the second stage.  I had done a similar thing with the two antennas on the core booster.  To keep the antennas in the proper position until the CA cured I used a scrap piece of .060 strip stock taped to the side of the model.  The antennas were made with .4 mm rod bent to the proper shape.

Next I started thinking about how I was going to attach the second stage to the truss at the top of the core stage.  The second stage/spacecraft section is solid resin and heavier that the entire rest of the model.  If I was doing it again I think I would try to hollow out some of the second stage and spacecraft to lighten it up a bit.  After considerable trial fitting, cussing and thinking, I came up with a solution that I think will work.  I drilled four 1/32 inch holes in the base of the second stage at four points around the stage where a peak of the ‘V’ from the brass interstage touches the stage.  I then used CA to glue in four short stubs of sytrene rod.  This should help me align the second stage on the truss and also provide a bit of extra surface area to glue the two together.  I’ll glue the second stage to the core stage after I attach the strap-on boosters.

It is getting close to final assembly.  Just needs a bit more paint and adding the engine bells to the core and strap-ons.  I also need to get the base finished.  I have it drilled for the steel rod and the rod is cut to length.  I just need to sand and paint the base.

More to come…

LEGO Apollo 11 Lunar Lander

I’m bored to death waiting for the bubble to dissolve in my eye after my surgery.  My vision in that eye is such that I have a hard time with small items, so that rules out getting back to the Voskhod right now.  However, I did get the LEGO Lunar Module for my birthday.  My eye has cleared to the point where I can see the LEGO parts well enough.

So here is quick build of the LEGO Apollo 11 Lunar Lander.  I love the engineering that goes into these models to make it both a decent representation and structurally sound.

The build begins by making the display base.  Lego Neil showed up to help display the build.  The base is quite strong as usual.  You can see from the build gallery below that the sub structure really helps hold it together.  The craters are a nice touch.  They put in four circular pads for the placement of the LM landing pads.  Look near the flag and you can see Lego Neil’s footprints.

Part 2 of the build is the Descent stage frame.  Here is where they really nail the octagonal shape of the LM Descent stage.  They include representations of the fuel tanks.  They also include the MESA compartment with the opening door and camera.  There is a bay that houses the retroreflector that was placed on the moon.  The connection to the Ascent stage is firmly attached with a clever bracket assembly that firmly connects it to the Descent stage frame.  This allows the Ascent stage to be removed from the Descent stage without fear of tearing everything apart.

The equipment bays are attached at an angle in keeping with the octagonal shape.  They used ball joints and bricks to join them to the frame at an angle.  It is very effective and sturdy.  Lego Neil helps point out some of the cool things in Part 2.

Part 3 of the assembly will complete the Descent stage.  Stickers are provided to add additional gold foil detail.  Lots of gold bricks cover the sides and some of the top.  The legs are attached with struts and ball joints.  That keeps the spindly look of the real LM and makes it easier to connect them to the Descent stage frame.  The representations of the plume deflectors is a bit small but I’d have a hard time doing it better.  The look and feel is similar to the real thing.  Once the attachment of the legs is complete you can place the Descent stage on the base.

Part 4 of the assembly will construct the Ascent stage.  Lego Buzz volunteered to help show off the steps of this part of the build.  It starts off with the center section of the Ascent stage.  More stickers here represent some of the control panels in the real LM.  Next is the front section.  Here is where some of the bigger compromises had to be made.  There just aren’t any LEGO parts that will work exactly for the triangular windows of the LM.  So instead they use a normal windshield and then surround that with a lot of brickwork to give the impression of triangular windows.  Also the LM hatch is a two piece door rather than a single piece.  But, hey, the doors open and close.

Another compromise was in the attitude control thruster quads.  These are placed on rather thin stalks instead of slightly bulkier extensions.  It isn’t horrible, just not quite as representative.  The rear section has some more stickers for control panels and the other two thruster quads.  Notice that the front and rear sections are cleverly designed to be removable so that you can place Lego Neil and/or Buzz inside the LM.  The major antennas are represented and are somewhat positional.

The Ascent stage snaps onto the Descent stage as mentioned above.  It is a nice solid connection, but yet also removable.  Here is a walk-around of the assembled model.  Lego Buzz and Neil have taken their places in the final picture.

This was a fun build, even with one squirrelly eye.  LEGO has done it again with a nice representation of a real space subject.  This one went together much quicker than the Saturn V from a couple of years ago, but is also much smaller.

Thanks for looking and hopefully I’ll be back on the Voskhod soon.

50th Anniversary Saturn V Build Complete

Clear coating is done.  The stand is complete.  The project is done. Here is the final update.

I sanded the wooden base block and sprayed it with gray primer.  Then after that had cured, I drew three chord lines on it.  Then I drew a perpendicular bisector for each of those chords.  Where the bisectors intersect is the center of the circle. You can see that my bisectors were just a bit off, but since I drew three, I could average the difference and come out with a hole that was pretty close to the center.

I then painted on two coats of flat black paint, then when that had cured I put on a coat of Pledge Clear Floor Finish. Then I put the custom Apollo 15 decal that I had printed on my Alps printer.  When the decal had dried I then put on a final coat of Pledge Clear Floor Finish.  Above is a close up of the custom decal I made.  The colors look better in person than the picture shows.  The blue chevron is actually navy blue even though the picture makes it look black.

Now SA-510 Apollo 15, is all assembled and on her stand.  She’s ready to take her place in my 1/144 US Manned Launchers rocket garden.  Below are a few photos of the details on the finished model.

She now takes her place in my now complete 1/144 rocket garden of all US manned launchers.  Below are a couple of pics.  That is 1/144 scale IMR ISS model in the background.  The members of the garden are Apollo 7 Saturn IB, STS-31 Discovery, Apollo 15 Saturn V, Gemini 5 Titian II, Freedom 7 Mercury Redstone, and Friendship 7 Mercury Atlas.  Those models were built over the course of about 6 years.  It took me a lot longer to build a project when I was working.  Now that I’m retired I have a bit more time to build.

This has really been a fun project.  Next up is to finish my 1/144 Voskhod, that is about 90% done.  After that I think I’ll do a 1/144 2001 Discovery or 1/72 Millennium Falcon for a change of pace before I do my next real space subject.  I have decided that the next Saturn V I do will have the stages separated and I think it will be displayed horizontally to show all the cool engine details.

I’ll be offline for a while since I’m having surgery for a detached retina.  But after that, I’ll be back at the bench working on the next project.

50th Anniversary Saturn V Build Update 12

I got the silver painted on the bottom of the S-IC.  It turned out pretty well. I’ve now started applying the decals to the S-IC.  Once again, some very tiny detailed decals.  The first photo below is a close up of applying one of the forward skirt vent decals over the vent warning decal.  You can get a feel for how small some of these decals are here.  I’m zoomed in pretty tight, even the toothpick looks rough at this level of zoom.  I’ve completed the S-IC decals. Here is a look at some of the details.

I’ll be putting on a clear coat to protect the decals, then dull coat to take the shine off.  Once that is finished I’ll attach the F-1’s and final assembly will be complete.  All that will remain is to put it on the stand I’ve made.

50th Anniversary Saturn V Build Update 11

Time for another update. It is getting closer to the end for this project. I have to keep my excitement level in check so I don’t make any stupid mistakes in a rush to finish.

First here is a look at the S-IC and S-II with the black paint applied. Turned out well, just a few minor touch ups to be made. The very busy area near the systems tunnel was where I was apprehensive about the masking, but I like the way it turned out.

The engine fairings were hard to get into a proper curve. I was surprised that I didn’t have any seepage on the holddowns that are at the boundary between the black and white.  The busy area of the interstage was tough to mask but it looks like it did its job.

Here is the bottom of the S-IC where I have started masking for the sliver that will cover the bottoms of the engine fairings. The flexible Tamiya tape is at the bottom of the masking area. It makes masking curved areas a little easier. It is harder to get it to conform to the details but if I’m careful it should work fine. The base has been masked. The inside of the fairings needs to be silver as well.

Now all I have to do is wait for the weather to cooperate. The rain this week has been crazy. Waking up at 5:30 am to the sound of the tornado sirens going off is not the way I like to start the day. At least we are not about to be flooded like some of the folks to the north of us.

I applied the decals to the S-II stage. Not many to apply but they sure add to the the visual of the stage.

After studying a bunch of S-IVB photos I picked a color for some of the antennas on the IU. I went with Testors Model Master Jet Exhaust.  Now it is done and ready for a clear coat to protect the decals from the dullcoat.

I applied Bare Metal Foil to the SM.  It is not a perfect application but I think I’ll keep it.  I also started applying more of the tiny decals.  I didn’t apply all that were provided.  If I had gone microscopic and added more detail to the SM then I would have applied all the decals.  The CM-SM umbilical cover is not foiled.  That was brush painted with Testors Model Master Chrome Enamel, which turned out to be a good match for the Bare Metal Foil.  I don’t know exactly what shade the foil is.  It is from a sheet I bought about 15 years ago and it was not labeled as to a specific shade.  It does appear to be a close match to what they now call Matte Aluminum.  The Q-Ball area at the top of the rocket is painted with Testors Model Master Steel enamel.

Now the spacecraft section, S-IVB and S-II are ready for clearcoat to protect the decals.

More to come…