In order to celebrate 7 years since our very first launch we've put together a video of some of the valuable lessons we've learned over the years. Unfortunately hundreds of bottles were harmed in the making of this video.
We have updated our main website with the progress of what we have been up to over the last couple of months.
LaRF (Laser Rocket Finder)
We have successfully tested a simple laser device for helping to find lost rockets in tall grass. It is mostly designed to find small pyro rockets that typically don't carry other forms of trackers or GPS transmitters, but it is equally useful for finding water rockets. Full details of how the LaRF works are here: http://www.aircommandrockets.com/day133.htm
Shadow II Repairs The Shadow II has been repaired and is ready for flight again. We still need to do a pressure test to make sure everything is good. The Shadow II build log has been updated with the more photos: http://www.aircommandrockets.com/shadow_2.htm#_210413
We have upgraded our quick launcher to be completely tool-free now so it is easy to quickly change configuration depending on the types of rockets being launched. The update includes a video. http://www.aircommandrockets.com/day133.htm
Macquarie University Astronomy Open Night We again helped out with the NSWRA stand at the open night. It was a very busy night with lots of people to talk to.
Sydney Observatory NSWRA also had a stand at the Sydney observatory this year. There was also great turn out for this event.
This week we launched the Inverter rocket again a couple of times. This time though, we filled the middle 3 spliced-pairs with different coloured water to see if we could change the water stream colour mid flight. (As opposed to 3 simultaneous colours as we sometimes fly in boosters) The results turned out fairly well and we were able to get the colour to change from pink to blue to green.
We also attempted the Materials challenge again, but this time with fins that were attached better. We were happy with the results, and achieved a flight time of 8.8 seconds. More details are also available in the flight report above.
Almost two weeks ago we had a go at one of the 10 challenges we set a while back - the Materials Challenge. Basically you have to build a water rocket using only PET plastic bottles. You are not allowed to use any glue, tape or any other materials! It was a fun challenge and things didn't quite work out as we planned but we'd like to visit it again to improve a couple of things in order to get more performance.
The full report with details of how the rocket was made is here: (video included)
Because we couldn't use our regular nozzles for the challenge (they are not made of PET), we also built a Clark Cable-tie launcher to launch the rocket. We've also put together a tutorial on how to make the launcher. It fits a standard Gardena release head so it can be used it with our regular launchers.
We only had two launches on the day. The Shadow II had fun scattering itself around the launch pad, but it's unusual CATO was interesting to see and has given us some more insight into possible failure modes of high pressure water rockets. It also drives home how much energy is inside these rockets and why it's important to remain at safe distances at all times. The report goes into some detail about what we think happened.
The Inverter rocket behaved itself this time and had a great flight. The flight report contains lots more photos and two videos from the day.
Last weekend we had the opportunity to launch the Shadow II again. The Shadow had a couple of minor issues. One was a small launcher leak where the hose quick connector screws into the launcher, and the second was that the on-board camera didn't record. The flight went really well though and we ended up with a new altitude PB. We will have another go at the next launch.
We also flew the Inverter rocket for the first time. It also had some issues and ended up getting some damage when it hit hard. Overall though we were very happy with the flight as a lot of things did work.
We learned that the overall concept works especially with all the internal restrictions. It flew nice and stable and the rocket segments didn't twist around the rocket axis. We are already half way through the repairs and should be ready to fly again in a couple of weeks.
We've updated our main website with the state of some of the current projects as well as a couple of new projects. One of these is the Inverter rocket that we hope to fly this upcoming launch on the 26th. We have made up a separate build log for this rocket here: http://www.aircommandrockets.com/inverter.htm
The projects update is here: http://www.aircommandrockets.com/day128.htm In the update we also describe and show the damage done to a rocket that had been stuck in a tree for around 392 days. It had been exposed to rain, wind storms, cold and hot temperatures. It even survived a grass fire a few months ago.
We also talk about our recent visit to ANSTO with the NSWRA to do some demonstration flights.