[F-FT] Thoughts on certification

Please note that this is intended to be a flame-free thread, I'd greatly appreciate if it could be kept that way.
I've had some random thoughts now and then about the certification
process, and about the operation of electronic deployment in HPR. As it currently stands, the point of certification is to certify that the user can safely handle larger motors (as part of the purchase requirements), and to correctly deploy a 'nominal' recovery system (generally considered to be a parachute for purposes of certification, but this is by custom, not rule). There is NO requirement to certify that a person knows what they're doing in relation to electronic deployment.
In other words, one can 'properly' certify level 1 or 2 without knowing a whit about electronic deployment. I plead guilty to having achieved level 2 without having ever done electronic deployment, AND I AGREE WITH THAT PROCESS. However, as I step up to adding electronic deployment to some of my rockets, and realize how many additional variables that can add, I'm somewhat troubled by the fact that I can do this without absolutely any oversight whatsoever.
No, I don't really LIKE oversight, and I'm not suggesting that more bureaucracy is good, but I'm also trying to look out for the future of the hobby as a self-regulated entity. For myself, I'm an electronics engineer, so the electronics portion is not a concern to me. But, for example, the inability to get certain electronic igniters, the problems with properly doing things such as dual deployment, give me pause, and I'm making sure that I talk with folks, read plenty of articles, and watch how others do their deployment before I attempt my own.
When I do my first electronics-aided project, I intend to ask the RSO to go over it with a fine-tooth comb -- I don't want any mistakes that might be dangerous, or lose my rocket. But I'm not sure that everyone would do this -- there are an awful lot of shoot-from-the-hip folks out there.
So, here's my thought -- what about adding an 'E' certification letter to the existing certifications? In other words, if you are certified L2E, you have proven that you know how to use electronic deployment properly, and your rocket does not need the fine-tooth comb review before launch. On the other hand, if you DON'T have the 'E', you can still launch the rocket, but it must be reviewed THOROUGHLY (all electronic aspects) in addition to the 'normal' review at the RSO table. This would ensure that what is a pretty big 'paradigm shift' in rocket launching does not create additional outside scrutiny, at a time when we don't really need it.
I understand that this might be a bad idea. I understand that it might be a horrible idea. I understand that others may have discussed this to death before (though I'm unaware of such discussions). I'm simply interested in discussion of the pros and cons of such a concept.
Respectfully to all,
David Erbas-White
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David a similar thing happened years ago in the Amateur Radio community. At first you had to have 5 words per minute morse code for novice and tech then 13 wpm for general and advance and 20 wpm for the highest level. This was done away with with the advent of no code to entice more into the ranks. This is now the prevailing no code required just a written test and no copetancy required . This as in HPR has had good points and bad. As for HPR the "E" certification I do not feel is necessary as even those that do have the knowledge and experience etc STILL forget to arm the electronics on occasion and ballistic recovery is wonderful (unless you under it at the time) for destroying a few hundred to a couple of k's in cash quick. And even if you arm and do it all properly (you think) feces still occurs, I refer to the Udder Madness I believe it was called on the "Rocket Challenge" program. Things happen even to an experianced and knowing crew, we can only do our best and see that accidents are minimized. I have not yet, and I hope I never do, seen anyone hurt. I know this has happened and some recent near hits scare me to be that extra bit of cautious.

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At
then
An intriguing comparison. None of the AR requirements require you to build a radio? An antenna? Are these lower levels simply tests or must you demonstrate an ability to assemble radio components and make a 'successful' transmission?
Consider rocketeers needing bands to track rockets. They can take a (not so simple) test to show detail understanding of radio stuff and use radio equipment in a limited way.
Consider a ham who only wishes to fly radio payloads. Can they take a test and buy an assembled rocket, fit their payload and fly it?
Speaking of radios, there's a huge 4 engine rc plane hanging from the ceiling of the hobby store. Surely that must have some certification to fly.

No competency? I don't believe just anyone can pass the written.
I can hear the arguments against no-code. "it cheapens the prestige", "it creates a CB atmosphere".
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wrote:

Flying AR does not require certification, although permits can still be burdensome. No AR flyer would say that this "cheapens the prestige of AR, creating a model rocketry atmosphere."
Alan
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David Erbas-White wrote:

IMHO it would be a waste of time and effort. Here's why:
1. Certs are supposed to show that you have the minimum necessary to buy and use a certain size motor. Motors are not electronics, and electronics are not even required until you get to Level 3. So knowledge of electronics is not a part of the "minimum" level of skill and knowledge required for L1 or L2 motors.
2. I really don't believe that use of electronics is that difficult.
3. I don't think adding extra restrictions or requirement for use of electronics would make much difference from a safety standpoint. A lot of very smart, very experienced people make dumb mistakes like forgetting to arm the altimeter or forgetting to connect the charges, etc. In fact, it seems to me that people who are new to using electronics are usually less likely to make a mistake than the "old pros", because they are paying more attention to details and trying harder to avoid mistakes.
n
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Well, the first two responses essentially say the same thing -- "even the pros make mistakes on electronics".
I'm reminded of a statistic that I heard back when I was into skydiving -- there are two 'points' where there are a large number of deaths. Right around 20 jumps, and right around 100 jumps. At 20 jumps you actually start doing 'dangerous' things, so if you make a mistake, you die. Around 100 jumps, you've learned enough to think you know it all, so you get cocky/overconfident, and you die. Sounds like much the same thing is going on here (without the dying part).
David Erbas-White
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news:i0rYe.261478> I'm reminded of a statistic that I heard back when I was into skydiving

Out of curiosity, how many hours must one practice packing their own chute prior to their first jump?
How many rocketeers or observers have been killed (heck, injured) when a rocket's chute didn't deploy?
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To hot to bother wrote:

Dunno. That's because parachutes may ONLY be packed by a certified chute-packer, and one would assume (perhaps 'hope' is a better word) that they've done many, many chute packings under supervision before being certified.
Bear in mind that things may have changed -- my skydiving days were over twenty years ago...

Dunno that either (as far as injuries, anyway). However, I've seen pictures of some REAL close calls (like a rocket coming in ballistic through an SUV with passengers in it) that give me reason for at least some level of concern.
BTW, it gives me the same level of concern as when I see other possible unsafe practices, such as newbies on a target range. All the rules in the world won't keep things absolutely safe, it's far more a matter of those participating having some common sense...
David Erbas-White
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What about Aerotech certs ('A'), Cesseroni ('C'), Single use (SU), reloadable (RL), Hypertek ('H'), Streamer ('S'), Gliders ('G'), RC ('L'), Single deploy ('SD'), Dual deploy ('SDD'), Dual deploy no droge chute (DDndC), black powder ('BP'), 777 (7^3), PyrodexP ('PP'), Clusters ('A1', 'A2',..'An', 'C1', 'C2'...)
The cert process is to show that you can reasonably follow directions and recover a rocket (there is no 'parachute' provision in 1127). If the RSO isn't asking the questions ("DD? have you flown this configuration before? Did you use bp or pyrodex? Have you assembled a rmr load before? Did you attach a parachute") then they're not doing their job.

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To hot to bother wrote:

There are marginal differences in any of the above when scaled up from low- or mid-power rocketry. There is very little done with electronic deployment in the low- or mid-power regions, hence why I referred to it as a paradigm shift. In other words, you're being facetious.

Well, playing devil's advocate, I have to say I don't 'quite' understand the need for both the L1 and L2 certifications as they currently exist. Frankly, I see many folks building L1 rockets that they can (and do!) use for their L2 certification. There isn't a HUGE level of difference in ability needed to launch a J as compared to an H. The only real difference is the written test -- I'd bet that eliminating the 'flight' requirement of the level 2 certification wouldn't have any (real OR perceived) impact on the qualifications of those who certify.
David Erbas-White

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Fair enough, and I would agree with you in general, but a building an rms is nothing like a single use motor (which could be used for L1). My level 1 nozzle was plugged, I'd never seen that before.

This is a flame-free thread is it not? RC is completely different and it would be a challenge to find an RSO who had experiance with them. Pyrodex does not behave like BP and likely an RSO hasn't delt with that either.
Imagine a Hypertek flier showing up at a launch that's never seen a hybrid. "Just moved here from CA, here's my cert card: level 1H". RSO doesn't need to debate the GSE issues, he's certified.

before?
you
Certification is required by 1127. It should give fliers the understanding and hands on of a hpr motor and flight. That's it. If the clubs want to make it something more, make it something meaningful.
Someone wanting to take high altitude pictures or radio transmissions doesn't necessarily need to know how to build a rocket, but should know the rules regarding airspace. Someone who builds and flies RC rockets and wants to fly a bigger plane used to be able to cert on a saucer. Now they have to spend more on a throw away rocket.
Flying rockets is different things to different folks. I would hope the club certification processes stop losing sight of that.

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David Erbas-White wrote:

Hi Dave and all,
You have what sounds like a good point in that regard. The major difference between L1 and L2 is the knowledge base required (rightly so) with L2. I suspect the prepping the ships is not much different and I agree I bet that eliminating the flight requirement wouldn't make much difference. I'm not going to bicker nor whine about the current requirement as I don't think it is that much of an encumbrance. I just wished that we could do away with the FAA notification of ships between 1 - 3, fly a 635gm ship on an F21-6 that only goes 900' that is a nuisance requirement. (Asbestos suit being put on now.)
Kurt Savegnago
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David Erbas-White wrote:

What would be the pros of such a addition to the current three tier cert method used now? I can't think of single one. If your L3 certed you already flew successfully electronics so why have a L3E?
The RSO has the final say. Keep it simple, keep it fun.
Ted Novak TRA#5512 IEAS#75
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On Wed, 21 Sep 2005 19:30:55 -0700, David Erbas-White

First, someone in the position you've described 'should' seek out a mentor to oversee what they are doing until they are comfortable that they can do it right. This doesn't have to be some long term mentorship thing. It might take 15 minutes or it might take more. There is always someone around willing to help.
Second, an astute RSO will notice an unblemished rocket and deduce that it hasn't flown before. Once that is established, the RSO 'should' dig a little deeper. Once that is done, I'd expect the discussion to raise any questions the flyer may have about the electronics. At that point, the RSO can help the flyer or refer them to someone else that will help them.
Phil Stein
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Phil Stein wrote:

Phil,
You're spot on. There's no need for a "program" when a fellow rocketeer can help you out just by asking. In general the instructions supplied with flight electronics are adequate to guide a first time user, but a second opinion from a flier experienced with the same electronics is a nice bit of insurance on your first flight. There is also the option of flying with both electronics and motor ejection for a couple of flights. The only change needed would be for the main chute to come out at apogee, just in case the electronic deployment doesn't perform as planned.
John Lyngdal NAR 69264 L3 NAR Trustee NAR Sport Services Liason
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Wouldn't that mean that the main would always be out at apogee? If the electronics worked you'd have deployed main and drogue at apogee and that would be a long walk.
My personal preference over here with the restricted recovery areas we have is to go with a separetion but drogueless from apogee and then deploy main at 1000'
I've been reading this thread with great interest and though i believe that there should be a mandatory dual deployemt at somewhere in the cert system i wouldn't want to force that on anyone. Though L3 is probably a good point to have it. Again from personal experience i would prefer that flyers going over say 6k should have to use some from of dual deployment and indeed a lot of the clubs here insist on that, mainly because of the smaller recovery areas we tend to have over here.
At the end of the day as an RSO if i'm not happy with a rocket, recovery method or other aspects whether its a cert flight on not i won't let it fly, someone else can take the responsibility for the flight.
But then again all UKRA RSO's are Range Nazi's
Quote - "bully boys wearing the RSO vests " apparently!!
Damian
Damian Burrin UKRA 1159 Level 2 RSO EARS 1115 http://www.ukrocketry.com http://www.larf-rocketry.co.uk
LARF - Putting the amateur back in rocketry!!

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Hi,
At the risk of being flamed and I really enjoy and respect Daves' opinions now and in the future. I don't think an E certification is necessary. I agree with others that using the electronics is not that big of a deal. I think about everyone would agree with his contention to have someone go over his ship first time before flying it. I would certainly consider it a big plus if someone who has more experience take a look and make sure my ship is flyable. There is an awful lot of stuff published out there as far as HOWTO and if anyone adheres to it, they will likely have success. Why would I go through all the trouble to have an unsuccessful flight? As far as ejection charges go, my altimeter allows me to ground test it so I don't know what the issue is there. A person would be a fool to do no electronics flights up to L2 and then show up with an L3 ship to certify with no prior experience. Do we have rocketeers that stupid in our midst? Hope not. Well got to get back to building a lightweight L0 dual deploy ship for my local field using a Perfect Flite MAWD. I think it would look cool.
Best regards, Kurt Savegnago
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Kurt wrote:

I overheard someone at a recent launch (and I apologize, I've been to many different venues over the summer) who was talking about their L3 project, and mentioning that it would be the first time he'd used electronics. Didn't pay too much attention to it at the time, but it obviously got filed somewhere in my subconscious.
David Erbas-White
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David Erbas-White wrote:

Boy,
That guy is stupid Dave unless he is planning to test stuff in a smaller ship. I mean when I've witnessed L3 flights, they were at an appropriate site in the middle of nowhere. I still wouldn't want to risk possibly over a $1000.00 worth of hardware without trying it on a smaller scale. I guess if an experienced RSO and prefect inspect the ship and it looks airworthy, the guy has the right to take the risk of a launch.
Kurt Savegnago
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Kurt,
I may be interpreting this wrong - if I am tell me.
This is not as simple as just making sure the charge goes off. There are considerations like -
How much BP to use, To much you can blow it up. Too little and nothing happens. This is affected by:
Shear Pins - there has to be enough pressure to shear them off.
How tight the couplers to air frame is. Again - you have to make sure you have enough pressure to oversome the friction.
Vents allow some pressure to escape.
There are probably other things I haven't mentioned but I just wanted to make the point that it isn't as simple as lighting an ematch.
Phil Stein
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