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Tour de Deuce Arizona!
Hosted by Derek, Heike, Mareike, and Severin Davis!
April 10th, 2004
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transparent_25x10.gif (830 bytes) 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, they’ve 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 weren’t fresh – maybe they couldn’t 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… whoooshh! Another 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 on ascent
  • Wizard
  • Big Bertha
  • Phoenix - not yet painted, but Severin couldn’t 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 didn’t pan out. One just sees a blast of exhaust crossing the field of view and then nothing – camera wasn’t 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 crew

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