DHMN Work Session: Equinox Model Rocket

The Equinox model rocket from Estes is my DHMN project for tomorrow's 12 December 2010 work session at Mike's House of Hackery.

A model rocket seemed like a good DHMN hardware project to do in light of my last-minute decision to participate in tomorrow's DHMN work session. Parts and equipment needed to be available locally on a Saturday. Of the realistic hardware projects that came to mind, building a model rocket was the one of most interest to me. I built several model rockets before from kits, but it's been quite a few years since I've enjoyed the thrill (or disappointment...) of launching a rocket that I built myself.

After shoveling some of last night's snow off the driveway and cleaning off the car, I set off on a parts hunt for my DHMN rocket project. Got lucky. The first stop was Galaxy Hobby in Appleton, Wisconsin, USA. They had a wide variety of rocket kits and were open on Saturday.

Some time was spent looking over the available rocket kits, then the choice was narrowed down to a rocket that:
  1. Has a parachute recovery system rather than just a streamer.
  2. Has a projected maximum altitude of 1000+ feet.
  3. Costs less than $15 for the kit (without motors or launch system or supplies).

There were 30+ model rocket kits to choose from hanging on the wall at Galaxy Hobby. Once I was standing in front of them I wanted to take a whole bunch rather than just one. Several of the kits that looked interesting were not chosen because they had a streamer recovery system. The streamer is a simpler design, but it's more fun to watch the rocket descend as it hangs below the parachute (assuming all parts work correctly after launch). It was tempting to get the rocket that would go the highest of any of the ones available at Galaxy Hobby, but I'll be satisfied with a lower to mid-range altitude rocket for my first DHMN project. Some of the kits had a projected max altitude of only 300 feet, but the Equinox lists an projected altitude of 1575 feet. A rocket that can go a quarter mile high doesn't sound too bad! The third criteria was budget. Don't have a lot of spare money to spend on DHMN projects at this point, so $15 was set as the limit for the cost of the kit. I'll have to spend more on the total project, including motor rockets and igniters, as well as possibly needing to allocate a few $$ for the launch system and additional flame-resistant recovery wadding to protect the parachute.

After the Galaxy Hobby employee showed me where the rockets were located, I asked him if he knew of any Fox Valley or northeast Wisconsin rocketry groups or organized activities. He didn't know of any. Asked him if he knew what hackerspaces, makerspaces or Make magazine were, and he didn't know anything about those topics either. Kind of disappointing, but at the same time, it points out an opportunity for DHMN to meet a potential market need!

Next step is to open the kit and figure out what supplies and tools I'll need to round up to take to Mike's tomorrow, like white glue, plastic cement and a sharp cutting tool or knife.

Later today I'll get the Waldron Rocketry Toolbox down from above the garage and see what's in there from our rocketry adventures and mis-adventures in the 20th century.

Maybe someone else in DHMN can build an Arduino-controlled rocket launch system!

As Elon Musk likes to say at SpaceX..."T minus 10 and counting..."



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