||From Derek Davis:
Received the Deuces right on schedule Friday. Spent a good while refurbishing
the shipping box it was starting to get a bit ratty and I thought maybe some
internal supports might help prevent bump, rattle, and roll damage during
shipping. After all, theyve got a lot more miles to travel before New Hampshire. I
also wanted to be able to ship the moment we were done with the launch. I did all the DW
prepping I could while at home: a bit of wadding in the top of each engine, loosely taped
in place; taped and installed the engines (C6-5s); ejection wadding installed; parachutes
installed. Charged up my gel cell to 13Volts.
After a bit of discussion with my wife about the
importance of this launch relative to that of sleeping in Saturday morning, I won out. I
got up at 6:30 and loaded the car. Mareike and Severin (the kids) got ejected at 7:00
while my wife Heike (in a concession to her objections expressed the night before) was
allowed to sleep in til 7:15. Out the door at 7:25, 10 minutes to our field (an
as-yet-undeveloped city-owned quad baseball diamond). Weather was perfect (often the case
here): clear blue sky, no clouds, and no appreciable wind. Just a tad warm, about 80F.
We got set up by around 7:45. I admit to being pretty nervous
given that this was my first-ever cluster launch I could just imagine having to
report back that one of the DWs was history after plowing into the desert floor on one
engine. I had modified an Estes controller to drive a battery-and-relay-by-the-pad type
controller, set up with individual continuity LEDs. Installed Magnelite-dipped solar
igniters and hooked up the controller. Every looked ready to go.
My wife took the obligatory pre-launch photos and then it was
time to Rock and Roll. I had the video cam, Severin was on the button. Count down: 5, 4,
3, 2, 1
nothing. Hmmm, then I remembered that the batteries in the Estes controller
werent fresh maybe they couldnt drive the relay. Quick battery swap.
Count down: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
whooooosssshhhh! Absolutely beautiful. Perfect flight,
perfect deployment, perfect landing. One down, one to go.
We set up #2. This time I set up the video cam next to the
pad, pointed straight up, with a somewhat wide-angle lens, and started it recording.
Mareike was on the button. Count down: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
picture-perfect flight. This time, not looking through the viewfinder, I had a much better
view. Beautiful engine flames.
We spent another 45 minutes or so launching other rockets:
- Sprite clone - went unstable for some reason and cracked a fin
- Mosquito incredibly, we got it back, though it lost 2
fins on impact
- Scratch built fins slightly canted, spins really nice
- Big Bertha
- Phoenix - not yet painted, but Severin couldnt wait
- Super Big Bertha
I could have stayed to launch the rest of my inventory, but
being Easter weekend, our schedule was just too full with other commitments. The only
downside was the video: my great experiment trying to catch the rocket from next to the
pad didnt pan out. One just sees a blast of exhaust crossing the field of view and
then nothing camera wasnt aligned sufficiently with the flight path.
All-in-all, it was a really excellent launch. Hope you all enjoy the photos and good luck
on the next 39 (I think) launches!!
Derek, Heike, Mareike, Severin the Arizona TdD