My son is 11 and has built a few Estes model rockets (level 1 and level 2) in his summer camp. He's flown them at camp- but now wants to fly them with me (his dad) on our own.
So we need to buy a launcher and controller (aside from engines, igniters, recovery wadding). Can anyone recommend a good economical starter kit? We were going to order the Alpha III starter kit (which apparently will not be in stock til mid August). Would the launcher and starter be usable on other rockets (he's built Meteor masher, Alpha, Lodestar, Wizard)? Or would it be better to order a different starter/launcher?
Steve, the Quest launcher (the hand-held electrical ignition unit) is widely regarded as far superior to the Estes unit. The Toys R Us in the Mid-Atlantic stopped carrying Quest within the last year. Discount Rocketry, a respected online dealer in California, carries several ready-to-fly Quest starter sets & one kit starter set. Take a look:
You'll be much happier with the Quest starter kit. -- Richard "Pratt Hobbies is expanding his line of Quest stuff" Hickok
Your answer is yes. Any Estes or Quest starter outfit is compatible with anything in either company's kit lines.
Richard has already taken care of the launch controller with his post. I'll add that neither company's launch pad in the RTF starter set is very good, and the rockets are a little heavy and decorated with a wrap of shelf paper in some cases. The pads are adequate for small to medium rockets, but anything needing a 3/16" rod is going to be marginal on these pads...you will have to weight down the legs.
Richard took care of Quest purchasing locations so I'll add that you can normally get Estes starter kits at WalMart, Hobby Lobby, Michael's, HobbyTownUSA or equivalent hobby chain, and some mom and pop hobby shops.
I've had good luck with the Quest controller and a HIGH CURRENT 9V NiCad. The GE/Sanyo 7.2V and the GP 8.4v both work if freshly charged. I've got a couple NiMH that I've yet to try.
I've standardized on this since the 70s, even when I don't use it with a camera tripod. My Chad Pad pivot is a surplus security camera mount. All you need to do is nail/epoxy a 1/4-20 blind nut into the bottom of your pad base. This is good for models up to about LMR sized. Beyond that 1/4-20 just isn't enough to bolt the thing down.
Of course my camera tripod was my grandfathers, form the 40s or 50s. It weighs a ton, and is solid as a rock. The flimsy aluminum ones they sell today are pale in comparison.
Bob Kaplow NAR # 18L TRA # "Impeach the TRA BoD" >>> To reply, remove the TRABoD!
I ordered the Quest starter kit from the place from the store in Calif. that was recommended on this thread last week - hasn't arrived yet. (With apologies to Mr. Pratt, I did look on his website but was unable to find the Quest kits listed).
Anyway, my 11 yr old son and I decided to get started, yesterday we went to Michaels, picked up 6 Estes engines (B4-4 and B6-4's) and wadding. Also a wooden 1/8" dowel for launcher (sanded the dowel for smoothness). Picked up a 12v lantern battery and wire and alligator clips from Radio Shack. For a launch base, I used a pie tin with some styrofoam stuck inside.
(I do not recommend launching this way! My son will have to wait for launcher- I handled these launches since no safety mechanism)
First launch: Wizard (B4-4) perfect. Straight up til just out of sight. Streamer recovery. Second launch: Alpha. (B4-4) good. Recovered, parachute ok, but lost nose cone. Third launch: Wizard again.(B4-4). good. Streamer failed to emerge. Body tube ripped, nose cone slightly flattened. Fourth and final launch: Wizard (B6-4). Good. Streamer failed to emerge. Recovered.
The pie tin launcher has four holes blown right through it, the dowel survived.
The flame that comes out of even 'regular' model rocket engines is like a cutting torch. It will cut through a thin steel plate and the aluminum pie tin would melt through in an instant - allowing the flame to hiot the ground/grass/brush. Serious fire hazard. You can also set the aluminum on fire.
You are alsom lucky that the wood dowel did not snap and allow the rocket to fly sideways into your eye (or your child's eye) ! You should use a metal launch rod. Steel is the stiffest and you can get a 4 foot long rod at Home Depot or any other good hardware store. Sand it as required and use WD-40 to keep it lubed and rust free.
You will dig the Quest system, but you may prefer a steel rod as described above since the 2 piece rod Quest uses is the only 'not-so-durable' part of their system.