How to upset your insurers

Thank you. Hi all,
Apologies for the length of this post, but I know some of you enjoy a little bed time reading!
A lament and a promise of good things to come.
by Paul Lavin, Deepsky Rocket Shop Dave Edmonds, Edmonds Aerospace
Been down to the "model shop" lately? Radio control (R/C), a hobby virus, is endemic. It infects hobbies and hobbyists and is rampant throughout the infrastructure of the UK hobby distribution and publication chain. In any of the few remaining real model hobby (i.e. not toy or craft) shops, you have to push your way past R/C boats, R/C cars, R/C helicopters and R/C airplanes to get to the puny rocket section in the back, if there is one at all. Stroll along the hobby section shelves at WH Smiths. What do you see on the rack? A nice selection of R/C magazines. Nowhere a copy of Extreme Rocketry or TRA's HPR...
How come rocketeers aren't at the top of the heap? After all, we are the future of model aviation, aren't we? The UK model flying hobby is mostly "organised" by the British Model Flyers Association (BMFA). BMFA could also stand for the British Model Fogey's Association - there's a lot of grey hair in BMFA meetings and the club newsletter is graced with obituaries for lifetime modellers who are now buzzing around heaven with their lovingly scaled Spads and Spitfires. Some of those members flew the same models for 50 years before they were interred. Bless 'em.
While the BMFA rank and file's depth of experience and knowledge is considerable, along with hardening arteries come hardening of the ways. There has been little support (and NO enthusiasm) in the BMFA for rocketry, even rocket gliders/boost gliders that are kin to the association's usual flying machines.
Out of BMFA's notional 35,000 membership about one per cent are rocketeers belonging to one BMFA-affiliated club or another. What do the other 34,650-odd do? Fly model airplanes! Some are free flight gliders pilots (tho' rather few of them still survive indifferent leadership and flying area challenges). Some fly helicopters or little jets (not many of them either due to danger, expense and technical challenges). Most fly buzzy R/C model airplanes. And for every flyer that has paid their dues to the Fogey's ***'n. there are many more that just go down to the park or common or a local farm to make holes in the air with their propellor driven R/C planes.
If you compare model aviation in 1955 with model aviation in 1975, 1995 and then 2005, and you'll understand the blinding speed with which the R/C epidemic has spread. Model cars and boats succumbed just as quickly. Today, it's virtually impossible to imagine any of these hobbies as they were before R/C transmitters, receivers, servo, autopilots, and so on. Tomorrow, the same may be true of model rocketry. The day will come when it will be hard to recall a time when rocketeers cast their labors of love (and expensive instrumentation and motor cases and ...) free to drift as they might on parachutes... into the pond, tall trees, beyond the far hills, etc.
What awesome immune system has protected model rocketry this long from infection? For a long time it was the size, weight and cost of radio systems. Pioneers flew radio-controlled rocket- and boost gliders as long ago as the sixties and seventies, but were forced either to lash together delicate custom receivers and actuators or to pay a premium for specialized "micro" equipment. No mass market there!
Those days have passed, thanks in part to the loss of R/C flying fields across the country and the resulting rise of the backyard flier with ultra light weight electric craft. Anyone can now purchase micro (and pico) equipment for half the cost of the "standard" equipment of a few years ago. Deepsky has a R/C receiver with a gyro that weighs less than an Estes 13mm mini motor. The remaining obstacles to the R/Cification of rocketry is mostly psychology... and leadership.
Even those psychological barriers may be coming down. Britain gained its first world champion at the most recent World Space Modelling Championship in Poland and our first medal finish since 1972. Mike Francies, a CDT teacher from Ormskirk, beat the world's best in FAI class S8E/P... a competiton for precision flown E impulse R/C rocket gliders.
Surprisingly, Mike isn't much into rockets. It's just that an E motor is the best way to get his carbon fibre confections waaaaay up in the air. He's a pretty darn good pilot, too, and can fly with the best under pressure.
Deepsky is now the exclusive resale agent for copies of that gold medal-winning rocket glider. It looks expensive but it really doesn't cost any more than a Level 2 HPR rocket with electronics and single use motor for one (uncontrolled) flight. Besides, there is no better rocket glider in the world!
What radio control that does exist in British rocketry today is mainly, like Mike's, found in international competition and, again thanks to Mike's talent and determination, Britain is on the map. No thanks to the BMFA though who were dead set against sending a British team to the World Championships last year. This year they politically manouvered their poodles to squash the efforts of a junior team to attend the European Championships in 2005. Way to go, Fogeys! Teach those kids a lesson!
Thankfully, competition is NOT the only way a model rocketeer can enjoy radio control. Even though designing and building and flying world-beating models is highly specialised, there's plenty of scope for amateurs. And that's how we will raise up a generation of British champions who may someday follow Mike's footsteps to the podium, with BMFA's benediction or not.
Should a rocketeer take up propeller-driven model airplanes or tow-launched gliders before even attempting radio control in model rocketry? It's not surprising that few even make the attempt, let alone successfully run, this gauntlet. Who gives a toss about buzzy propellers when you can have Newton Seconds roaring out the back!
Those flying buzz saws are dangerous, too! They should be banned on safety grounds! Every year or so some luckless person gets hit by one of those flying death machines and the insurance company ups their premiums. Rockets, statistically and practically, are far far safer!
So where do you start? Within model rocketry, radio control has remained the province of the small dedicated cadre of master international competitors and the few guys that cross over from the model airplane world. If model airplanes are dangerous and a bit frumpy, and competition flying is a closed shop, there must be some way in.
Sport rocketry can not, however, fend off the R/C epidemic forever even if there are roadblocks. The R/C light will come out from under that bushel pretty darn soon now. As with any other class of model, radio controlled vehicles that aren't intended to compete with the best in the world do not have to be complex, challenging, sensitive and intimidating.
The "weight penalty" associated with today's radio technology is so small that basic designs and ordinary materials like wood and paper can provide more than adequate performance for enjoyable flying. In the next few years simple models like this will begin gain popularity. Maybe R/C Rogalo recovery devices so that you can fly your bird back to the launch site? Walks in the country are nice but missing the all the trees, ponds, roadways and fences could be a very good R/C rocket recovery trick! Any rocketeer that has seen Mike return his glider to his hand after a six minute flight is just jaw-droppingly envious.
Radio control technology is such that equipment could be added to many basic models without a noticeable weight penalty. Such models could use ordinary materials like wood and paper and could be easily lifted by black powder rocket motors. These models can be designed to reduce the requirements for pilot skill if they, like all other rocket-launched models, do not require guidance during the rocket boost.
Wanna buy a rocket with wings? Not many do! Deepsky has been amazed at the relative sales volume for 3FNC rockets versus winged things. The rocketing community have not exactly been helped along by some of Estes earlier R/C and boost glider rocket offerings. Expense, marginal performance and a tendency to crash in the hands of the novice flier has put many people off. If you want to get started there is no better place to begin than an Edmonds Deltie B - simple, fast to build, easy to trim and flies like it was born in the air.
Big boost gliders like VMX-2 and VMX-12 (and soon the VMX-3), other assorted Edmonds Aerospace balsa confections, the new Estes ScissorWing re-release and the new Eagle boost glider give hope that rocket motors and wings won't always be quite as separate as they are now... and once you have wings, R/C becomes a natural progression.
R/C rockets are not confined to the Estes Black Powder motor end of the scale. There are several projects underway by Tripoli HPR flyers that use glide return for their vehicles. A UK HPR flier has been doodling away on a steerable parachute system. Long walks in the country won't impinge on prepping for the next blast off.
Edmonds Aerospace Arcie II is a prototype for a new generation of R/C model rocket. Arcie II is cheap, easy to build and easy to fly and will be successful if it is followed by other similar commercial products and hobbyists' personal designs in the coming years... step forward Orbital Engineering's VMX-3 Valiant. I'm quite sure that, as in every other hobby that has been touched by radio control, hobbyists that sample radio control will find themselves unable to give it up.
The delayed arrival of the R/C VMX-3 Valiant was occasioned by the need to refine the model to the point where it is both easy to build and to fly considering its performance potential. The wait has been frustrating. But the improvements have been worth it... the perfected VMX-3 R/C is nearly with us. Capable of single or dual channel control, the VMX-3 will be out in the spring.
R/C gear is finding its way into other rocket developments. Deepsky has a R/C managed ejection module that can rescue your plummeting rocket if the flight computer has ignored the obvious. Paul is working on a L3 project that will incorporate an autopilot borrowed from R/C planes to help maintain stability/orientation of the Mother Of All Tetrahedrons (MOAT) at low airspeeds at the start and end of its flight. Other experimentalists have pinched the gyros from R/C helicopters for their work with active stabilisation concepts like James MacFarlane's famous Gyroc.
Rocket folk will continue flying everything the hobby has to offer, but in the future some won't quite be able to remember what it was like before they were capable of controlling the models sailing above their heads. No pill's gonna cure their ills... the answer is a joystick.
If you want to get started, Deepsky has Edmonds Aerospace Arcie IIs right now and will have the Orbital Engineering VMX-3 shortly. There is a very limited edition of the World Championship Rocket Glider available, too, for connoisseurs or collectors. Deepsky will be adding other R/C gear and vehicles as they arrive and the demand customers warrants.
Fly 'em high!
The team at Deepsky http://www.deepskyrocketshop.co.uk
Fly 'em high!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hmmmm...... has anyone built an amateur-liquid-rocket glider yet? (An H2O2 monoprop might actually work real well for that sort o' thing!...)
-dave w
me_meme wrote:

- snip long post on rocket gliders -
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
BIG snip.....
I had no idea, great post! As you might say in the U.K. "I rather enjoyed that!" Definitely the best post in some time.
Randy
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Me snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.co.uk (me_meme) wrote:

They were the preeminent section in the hobby shop when access was NOT intentionally restricted by TRA, NAR, Aerotech, Quest.
Note I did not list Estes? They have general access products.

"Aerotech should change it's ads from 'the future of HPR is solidifying...' to 'the future of HPR is vaporizing...' " - Bob Kaplow

They are also "lone rangers".
Most of rocketry has been concentrated into clubs during the past 10 years.
BAD.

Rocketeers are MORE MOTIVATED than R/C people. If a vendor can get a customer, they keep that customer.
Witness BAR's.

In the USA where clubs and vendors welcome ATF into the hobby unnecessarily, probably yes.
In the "rest of the world", probably not.
HPR is "easier access" anywhere but the "united" states.
Jerry

--
Jerry Irvine, Box 1242, Claremont, California 91711 USA
Opinion, the whole thing. <mail to: snipped-for-privacy@gte.net>
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
A long winded way of saying try rocket powered r/c controlled gliders!!
Nothing new, ASTRA and STAAR have been developing cutting edge technology using them for years. Look at the Waverider project. As for sticking r/c in a rocket, well I'm interested in the materials he proposes to use for the controlable nozzle or is he proposing to use stearable fins? Either of which will probably be of interest to our friends in the military or local constabulary.
The VMX gliders are superb pieces of kit. and I for one will be looking for the VMX -3 in due course. As it will be available from a number of sources, check out the best price.
See you at the start of the new season
Rod Stevenson UKRA 1185 L1 EARS
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

D00d, the season *has* started!
Chris
--
Chris Eilbeck mailto: snipped-for-privacy@yordas.demon.co.uk
MARS Flight Crew http://www.mars.org.uk /
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I'm sitting here with a force 8 gale blowing through the gaps in the little hovel I inhabit in the wilds of East Anglia. The season ain't starting until the temperature gets above 0C!! Also a little thing about not finishing my rockets yet.
All the best
Rod Stevenson
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Bah! Can't get the staff!
Chris
--
Chris Eilbeck mailto: snipped-for-privacy@yordas.demon.co.uk
MARS Flight Crew http://www.mars.org.uk /
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

If you read the latest issue of 10..9..8.. you'll see that UKRA has 230 members. Virtually everyone flying HPR in the UK is a UKRA member, so even if everyone in UKRA was to buy the magazines each month, your market would be very limited!

Please remember that the BMFA provides the UKRA insurance cover we all fly under at club meetings.

Isn't that what UKRA is for - to support rocketry in the UK?
--
Niall Oswald
================================
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Me snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.co.uk (me_meme) writes:

Isn't it Rob, not Dave?
    Bob Kaplow    NAR # 18L    TRA # "Impeach the TRA BoD"         >>> To reply, remove the TRABoD! <<< Kaplow Klips & Baffle:    http://nira-rocketry.org/LeadingEdge/Phantom4000.pdf www.encompasserve.org/~kaplow_r/ www.nira-rocketry.org www.nar.org
It had become an universal and almost uncontroverted position in the several States, that the purposes of society do not require a surrender of all our rights to our ordinary governors; that there are certain portions of right not necessary to enable them to carry on an effective government, and which experience has nevertheless proved they will be constantly encroaching on, if submitted to them; that there are also certain fences which experience has proved peculiarly efficacious against wrong, and rarely obstructive of right, which yet the governing powers have ever shown a disposition to weaken and remove. Of the first kind, for instance, is freedom of religion; of the second, trial by jury, habeas corpus laws, free presses. -- Thomas Jefferson
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
When you have flown a 10 foot RC sailplane for 30 minutes off a single winch launching, you will understand why planes are preferred by some. I like both. Neat thing about the sailplanes is that you pay for them once then just keep recharging. Rockets you build/buy then keep feeding them money. I wonder where the cost per minute/flight crosses on something G powered versus something completely rechargeable?
I've been pondering rocket gliders but would rather just hand launch it to 50 feet a dozen times until I hit a thermal and ride for 15 minutes.
Having said all that. I just finished an Aerotech Airspike and have the two F20 Econojets waiting for spring. < big grin >
Now I have to go and put some fiberglass on my new 2 meter wingspan saiplane wing.
--
Tom Koszuta
Western New York Sailplane and Electic Flyers
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Yes, but let's see a sailplane do 600Mph on a vertical climb. 8{)>
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Sailplanes have broken the speed records for powered modle airplanes, including the new turbojet powered planes. When the Europeans started (I think it was Austrians who first shattered the records) the FAI bounced the claim. Then an Aero professor from the US analysed their procedure and said not only was it possilbe, but they could go much faster, upwards of 300 mph. They did.
BTW, that professor was Dr. Gregorek of Ohio State.
And they do 300+MPH vertical. Straight down, pulling out into level flight at the last minute.
    Bob Kaplow    NAR # 18L    TRA # "Impeach the TRA BoD"         >>> To reply, remove the TRABoD! <<< Kaplow Klips & Baffle:    http://nira-rocketry.org/LeadingEdge/Phantom4000.pdf www.encompasserve.org/~kaplow_r/ www.nira-rocketry.org www.nar.org
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, except to encourage attendance in Christian churches; or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, except to require prayer in schools; or abridging the freedom of speech, except for those questioning the Bush administration; or of the press, except that not owned by Rupert Murdoch; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, except those protesting pre-emptive wars; and to petition the government for a redress of grievance, except those we don't like." -former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

<snip>
Might have been interesting if it did not read like a QVC infomercial for Deepsky.

I can tell you for sure that Gyroc does not use R/C helo gyros. They where considered and rejected as the drift on them is far to much under the conditions found on an average rocket flight to be of any use.
Stephen.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Stephen wrote:

I thought that too :-)

Yes, you are right Stephen. As the current maintainer of the GyRoc web page (http://www.ukrocketman.com/rocketry/gimbal.shtml ) I know the gyros used on GyRoc 2 (and the upcoming GyRoc 3) are considerably more expensive than R/C helicopter gyros. As you say, they were certainly considered, but even on a short rocket flight, the drift was enough of an issue that it was not easy for the software to be able to null out the drift as I understand it. Hence the choice of using more upmarket gyros. The first GyRoc used a home made gyro, which amazingly did work, and worked quite well for the flights, so it would certainly be possible to use R/C helicopter gyros, but if anyone ever saw the difference in stability between GyRoc 1 and GyRoc 2, then they'd understand just how much difference the better gyros made.
Also, as Rod said, ASTRA and STAAR Research have been flying rocket powered, radio controlled waveriders in the UK since the 1980's. When I was in AspireSpace, we also had a few large R/C waverider test vehicles too, the flight characteristics made them rather difficult to control however. Additionally, there are several steerable parachute projects on rockets that have come to fruition in the UK using R/C gear.
Also, the whole notion of using R/C equipment for rocketry is well established, it is just that some people may not be aware of it, or may think they have "discovered" some new unthought of idea, when in fact, people have been doing this for a while :-) Anyone who has been to launches that myself and a few others from MARS attend for instance, will see that we borrowed heavily from the R/C aircraft world with the battery technology, and the micro gyros. Hence the fact I have 4 of the miniature things sat in my range box at the moment :-)
The R/C autopilot one ? Yeah, been there, seen it, got the bits to prove it :-)
Basically, a lot of this is not new, but to someone unfamiliar with it, it will seem like it is.
I don't think it is fair to disparage the BMFA or the R/C aircraft fraternity however. Everyone has different interests, and if it wasn't for the R/C aircraft fraternity, then we would not have some of the stuff we now use in rocketry.
Obviously, from some of the other comments in the parent post, Customer Relationship Management isn't as established yet, as I thought it might be ;-)
All the best,
Richard MARS Flight Crew, http://www.mars.org.uk
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Polytechforum.com is a website by engineers for engineers. It is not affiliated with any of manufacturers or vendors discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.