Personal Launch Report... Balls 14 and XPRS

Arrived at the Balls site on Thursday, about 2 PM. Made camp, and met with some nice folks from Colorado and Utah. Rocket people are great!
Unfortunately, the weather went south Friday morning. Wind, wind, wind. No flights all day. But there were some seriously destroyed E-Z ups.
Got up Saturday morning, and it was beautiful! We gonna fly!
First up for Dave R. and I was my Concept 98 on a 3 grain, 98mm M1300 Wimpy Red. Perfect flight to 16K and change. Dual deploy worked textbook. Nothing extreme, but a nice flight.
Next up was Dave's Carbon Concept 54 on an L1200WR. 2900Ns in just over 2 seconds. Drogue charge was a taste too large, and we got the main at altitude, which was 17,600' plus. Winds were down though, so we didn't have to chase it too far. Very pleased with the data from the GWiz MC. Excellent motor.
Saw a lot of very cool projects all along the flight line. Workmanship on some of those projects was amazing. Wandered around and assisted other friends where we could, and assembled a K725 for a friend's wife's rocket. Betty Boop made 6301" on that motor (very heavy rocket), and I got a big ol' hug from April for my effort. Happy camper!
Sunday, we assembled the 75mm M1800WR for my Carbon Concept75, and took it to the tower. Expected a little over 22K at Mach 2.7. Unfortunately, the Performance Rocketry fincan wasn't up to the task. Might have been a tiny void in the leading edge of one of the fins. At about 500', the fins decided to abandon ship. My guess is right at the Mach transition (that pup was seriously moving out.) Complete and total rapid disassembly mode. The lower tube hit the playa so hard it bent the Purple Woody motor casing. I did get the accelerometer back, but it took quite a hit. Haven't tried to d/l the data yet, but I'll get to it.
Saw a lot of good friends, and met a lot more. Like I said, rocket people are great folks. All in all, Balls was a blast.
Spent the next two days partying in Reno, and had a ball there. Picked up a Big Jake on the way back Tuesday morning for XPRS. Helped out with a partial set up Tuesday evening.
A lot of folks arrived Wednesday morning, and we started the ARLISS launch. Too much fun! Free M1419's can't be beat with a stick! And those university students are absolute geniuses! My first Arliss flight was almost a disaster. The MC2 absolutely failed in every respect. But this wasn't my first trip to the playa, so I did have redundant back-up for the mains. Saved the rocket, and the sat project. Switched out the MC2 for a flight proven MC, and Thursday had two perfect Arliss flights to an average of 11600 feet. The university teams I flew for were very pleased, as were all of the students that took part in the Arliss launch.
Friday started out great. There were a lot of flights that morning, but the W came up a little past noon, and the dust storms and rain shut us down the rest of the day.
Saturday was again beautiful. Many many most excellent flights. Dave put up his Quantum Leap on a J800 staged to a K185. Perfection to almost 13K. Gotta love it when it works. He then flew his CC54 on a K695R. Another perfect flight. Did a couple of NAR certs for folks, and just generally hung out with great friends. Watched three good friends get their Level 3 certs! Congrats all around!
Monday morning was the first EX day for the XPRS launch. Built a 3 grain 54 for Cliff, and a 3 grain 38 for Aaron. They both like those Wimpy Red motors. Happy to do it for them. Great flights.
I assembled my 36" long 54mm L1635 for Dave's Carbon Concept while Dave prepped the bird. Took it to the tower, and got ready for a high flight. The motor performed flawlessly. But then came the bad news. The drogue fired, but it hit hard and knocked out the main. At 22K+, that's not good. Shear pins next time. Had a great signal from the Walston for quite a while, and we know which direction it went. But we searched for hours to no avail. Dave and Steve are flying up today to do an air search. I hope they find it, cuz I really want the data from that flight. Wouldn't mind having the motor case back, too. But I can make another one of those. The data on that chip is priceless.
Had a great two weeks in Nevada. Can't wait for next year!
--
James L. Marino
SAS, LUNAR,
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Sounds like a great time. Thanks for posting your report.
Randy www.vernarockets.com
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snipped-for-privacy@charter.net wrote:

Okay, okay... I gotta remember that reading these things is at times more fun than writing them, so here goes...
I rejoined Tripoli just in time for the BALLS launch. My son couldn't go this year so I teamed up with my buddy Don and his teenage kids Derrick and Jessica. What a road trip! We got a late start from Seattle as is the norm with Don but he made up time by using all 500 horse in his huge Dodge 3500 pickup. I took over driveing duties in Ashland Or. and immediately got into driving mode as we snaked our way over the mountains. We were (luckily) the only vehicle on the road as I made tangent lines through the curves. My navigator forgot to keep tabs on our 20 and sho-nuf, we ended up on a narrow farm road at the OR/CA border. How did I know we were at the border? The sign said, "welcome to Oregon". We were heading to California FROM OREGON!!
We pulled onto the Playa after midnight, greeted by a huge full moon. The playa always fasinates me and this night was no different. With lights off we headed out into the eerie expanse, our minds trying to make sense of the endless dark. I was also reminded of how cold it gets out there in the desert. DAMN! Forty degrees is cold when the body is used to the summer temps.
Saturday morning came after a mild rain and the rockets began to fly shortly after 0900. I helped Jim prep his big red rocket for an M flight and we got to witness the Blown Fuse launch from the minimum safe distance out on the range. WOW! P motors shake your guts, that was really cool.
Saturday night we really had fun. I've got an old Honda mini 70 mini bike and Don has a cute little Honda Elite scooter. We all had such a great time riding the minis during the day and especially at night. The sense of being so alone as you're riding across the playa, unable to see anything other than the faint glow of the dusty surface, and hearing only the un-waivering hum of the motor... I'm trying to describe it but it truly is indescribable. It's like you're on the moon.
Sunday dawned with a more pleasant outlook with temps that reached over 70. I strolled the flight line and met some old rocket pals and also did some shopping. I bought a calendar put together by Bruce and other contributers and had a great time browsing Bruce's motor collection.
I flew one rocket with predictable results. My buddy in Oklahoma, (remember Tom Allen, extreme rocketeer?) sent me his old Kosdon hardware. I tamped some 29mm grains and cloned some reloads for the 480 ns case. An I800 propelled an Allen/Bloom Skunkworks Black Brant II into the forth dimension. At max Q, the G10 fins let go from massive flutter. I had a feeling it would happen and wasn't supprised as the fins let out an audible strained "hummmm" before it came apart. It coasted up another 800 feet or so and safely deployed the chute on the way down.
Alex flew his P motor project to almost perfection, suffering only a minor landing mishap when the mil surplus chute tore open after a seemingly normal deployment. Kent flew an M to M two stager that went off without a hitch. Many other spectacular flights and of course, a few crashes. Two notables: A P motor that went up about 1000 feet and then blew up. I mean it, it really blew up! Nearly every cato I've seen up to this one has simply come apart, or blown a nozzle. This one became evident as a huge ball of fire, followed by a very loud KA-PA-POW!! The other notable crash was the ill fated upscale Goblin. Great boost with a trailing whistle as she ascended, then it turned over at the top. The whistle noise picked up again as she headed for the tarmack, seemingly bent on complete distruction. At impact, the nose cone stuffed itself back into the airframe which pressurized the body tube at the precise moment total airframe failure was taking place. It didn't stick. It didn't bounce. The entire rocket dissasembled and created a perfect symetrical chrisanthymum explosion of cardboard and plywood. It was beautiful, really. :)
Not wanting to end the trip, but fatigued from two days of desert living, we gladly accepted Don's suggestion of a brief stay in Reno at a Casino where we could shower, dine, and play until the wee hours.
A rambling report at best, don't blame me, Randy made me do it.
:) steve
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Great report. Seems everyone enjoyed the Goblin's flight. Everyone except Rob. It's owner. He was a bit upset by it. But I have some great news...
In less than one week, Rob built a new Goblin, and made his successful level 3 certification at the XPRS launch. Congrats Rob!!!!
James

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James L. Marino wrote:

That is great news! Buy 'em, build 'em, fly 'em, crash 'em, fix 'em, fly 'em... That used to be my sig line, and is still my practice.
steve
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I have always referred to it as the four F's of rocketry, Fabricate, Fly, Find, Fix. repeat as necessary.
default wrote:

--
Christopher Brian Deem NAR 12308 TRA 2256 level II

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