Hi Everyone, I got my L1 cert at the October skies, TCC launch last weekend, and I am worried about the fate of amateur rocketry from current trends in overzealous regulation. I am at a point where I haven't yet invested in too much motor hardware and I am wondering if I should just make the switch to hybrid now to avoid this misguided overregulation by the ATF. I don't live in a place where an LEUP is possible and it seems that going hybrid is a reasonable alternative. I didn't have a lot of time to wander around at the launch, but I didn't hear of anyone using hybrid. Are any of you using hybrid? Why is it not more accepted by the HPR community as a whole?
All of my HP flights are hybrid flights, not so much because of the regulatory picture as the "quirky complexity" of hybrids in general. There is a steep cost and learning curve with hybrids, and I think this deters a lot of folks from becoming involved. Also, each flight requires electronic deployment, so added expense, prep time, and complexity.
There are also some realities working with hybrids: the motor case are LONG, and require rockets that can handle them (I scratch build everything, except a Flis Richter Recker that I'm bashing for 29mm hybrids). The mass fraction is not as favorable as APCP, nor is the ISP as high. They are, however, capable of some decent performance, especially the newer crop of monotube motors.
I posted a blurb in alt.binaries.models.rockets about the cost of GSE and the cost per flight. The conclusion I've come to is that if you are going to fly a lot, hybrids are not only cost effective but cheaper than AP motors, though it takes a while to 'break even' on the GSE. The cost, however, was not a prime issue for me... a couple years back when I BAR I was surfing the web when I came across a video of a hybrid rocket on the pad, filling and then venting before launch... I was hooked! It's only gotten worse since then, and both clustered and staged hybrids are on my slate for next summer.
Why are hybrids not more accepted? Cost, complexity, and a steep learning curve are factors. Very few dealers support hybrid products. A perception that hybrid motors are "wimpy". Few experienced gas-passers to mentor new hybrid flyers. I think it's the complexity that puts most people off; I frequently hear comments like "I could prep and fly four rockets in the time it takes you to prep one." Although more and more lately I'm hearing "THAT was a hybrid?!?!?" LOL-- I chalk that up to my increasing experience and the J642 motor I recently launched :)
After I wrote this, I set up an excel spreadsheet that broke down the costs per flight of the hybrid motors I've flown, the cost of a (generally) comparable AP reload, and the number of flights I made this year. To my surprise I appear to have saved $475 over 31 flights....
Reinforces what I thought was true, that enough flights makes owning the GSE (cost ~$600) worth it. "Enough" is fewer than I thought, however... I was thinking on the order of 100 flights.
For hybrids or a LEUP, I suggest that you check with your club to see what resources are available. By that I mean see if someone is willing to provide contingency storage and see if they have GSE. Once you've checked into it, go from there.
Our club has a full GSE but due to it's age, we've had a lot of failed launches which turned people off to the idea of Hybrids.. that seems to be the norm in the past if they've had them and things have gotten much easier nowadays.. Doug Pratt from Pratthobbies
seems to be the go-2-guy when it comes to the in's and out's of hybrids for any specific questions.. I'm currently picking up a RATT works setup to get everything working.. To have the casings for H/I be only $60-$90 and the reloads be $25 for a 3 pack is a very nice option.. Talk to your local club about getting a GSE to keep it's membership going because after this past week, we're going to have a very very slow 8+ months and nothing states that he's going to make a decision at that time anyways.. PS. Both Tripoli and NAR allow people to launch level 1 on the Rattworks H70.. 29mm x 18" long.. only downside is that you're basicly required to get some kind of electronics since hybrids don't have motor ejection..
While I agree that the BATFE thing is crazy and I can't wait to be able to not have an LEUP, comparing Hybrids with a Pink Pickup Truck is pretty bad.. saying that they don't have colored smoke and the fact that the "sound" is different is pretty bad on your part.. They do have sparky motors and depending on the fuel material, you can get either Black or White smoke.. ooohh.. so I don't have Red, Blue or Purple.. what a loss? Tell the guys that built the "Hybrid" Space Ship One that they won the X-Prize in a pink pickup truck and see the reaction you'll get..
The guys who built SS1 cared about ISP and didn't care about a macho sound or colored smoke. They weren't flying HPR, they were flying a commercial rocket. There _is_ a difference.
You can say it's "bad", but I call the shots as I see the attitudes on the launch field and on RMR.
I don't care what the color of your rocket's smoke is, or what color you painted it, or if your paint has runs in it. I'm a miniority in that aspect.
I see more people oogling about red flame or black smoke than about the impulse of a motor. Why does Aerotech offer a wide varieties of _color_ instead of thrust level / burn time, etc? I mean, what's great about a Readline motor other than the red colored flame? Why do people fly sparky motors, when all the sparking material does is rob the motor of performance?
I've also discovered that to most fliers the paint job of the rocket is more important than how it flies. Go to a launch with a bucket full of unpainted rockets and see how many people give you crap about it. I used to, and even though I now do a paint job of some sort on all my rockets, I still have a reputation of flying unpainted rockets.
Tanks and regulators are the same for everything. Pratthobbies.com has a modular system that can be modified and expanded to work with most hybrid systems. Doug Pratt is a great source of knowledge and products for hybrids.