Friday, August 24, 2007

Vehicle progress.

The vehicle is coming along nicely. We were planning to test this weekend and we could probably be ready with p=.8, but things would be rushed and unchecked. We will test next weekend and we will be really ready. Current progress:

  • The top side pressurization, regulator and blow off vent valves are all done.
  • The igniter plumbing is all done.
  • 3 of the four motors are plumbed.
  • The structural framing is all complete.
  • The first cut of the landing gear is done and 3 of 4 are on the vehicle.
  • (Were going to change the Landing gear slightly so we don't melt it.)
  • The new control board electronics have finished initial testing and seem to work.

Propane igniter:
We did some testing with using a normal camp stove propane cylinder as the fuel source for the igniter, and it looks like the tank orifice is too small and it won't feed 4 motors. We will be switching to a paint ball tank for the propane source tank.

I've been working on the hardware and have neglected the FAA paperwork side. They are going to put my 120 day clock on hold until I finish up some details I owe them.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Getting the vehicle ready.

While I probably don't mention them enough there are a number of people that are helping this project significantly.

  • Charles Pooley has been an invaluable resource to discuss rocket ideas and to bounce ideas off of.
  • The guys at flowmetrics have their shop about 1/2 mile from my house. They have been very helpful with knowledge, know how and ideas.
  • My sons friend Jason. Jason is home from college for the summer and spends considerable time in our garage helping with the electronics, software and the much appreciated shop entropy control.
  • Mark, Kevin and Ted at Friends of amateur rocketry.
  • Bob Nortman has been doing all of our aluminum welding.

For the past six months I've been working on this project three days a week, Friday, Saturday and Sunday all day, as well as evenings the rest of this week.

This week we are trying to get the whole vehicle ready for a single engine test firing next weekend. To have any chance of doing this I'm taking a week and half off of work and doing nothing but unreasonable Rocket.

Fridays Progress:
I worked on the ground equipment case that holds the data recorder, telemetry radios, video receivers etc.... (This is now Jasons project)

I fabricated and tested a small dual 1/8" ball valve actuator to replace our unreliable igniter solenoids.

I finished the servo mountings on the safety vent valves.

My Son Plumbed the pressurization system and with Carl's help at Flowmetrics got the regulator working.

My son continued to plumb the vehicle.

I put together another "hardware tour" video of the vent and igniter valves.

Today we are going to combine a trip to the Los Angles McMaster Carr will call with a trip to see my Father who is recovering from Knee replacement surgery in Long Beach..

Monday, August 13, 2007

Disapointing weekend.

We spent a long 16 hour day out at the test site and never got the igniter to light. We had some kind of sludge form in the ethanol tanks and it kept clogging the igniter solenoid and filter. It was a very discouraging day.

We test again in two weeks. We have a long list of things to try.

1)Change to isopropyl alcohol for less residue.

2)change to propane for the igniter fuel.

3)Possibly change to a pyro igniter based on a small solid rocket motor.
(This is a major logistics hassle, but simplifies and lightens the vehicle.)

If we do not get reliable ignition and throttling working by the end of that weekend, we are realistically done for this year.

The one bright spot was that we were sharing the test facilities with Garvey space and they had a successful test. Seeing a 5K motor running is a beautiful thing. I have some awesome video, and I will post it as soon as I get permission from Garvey.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

72 Days left...

There are 72 days until the contest.
Its going to be really busy!

I went to the team summit last week and it looks like we did not scare the Airforce too bad ;-).

The Local paper put us on the front page. (Web version)

I'm testing again this weekend, I realize that I've been lax in updating the blog, but hardware comes first. I just finished making my first set of safety relief valves, they hold to 1100 PSI
and open instantaneously, when I deliberately added a bit of air before pumping up the hydro tester it sounds like a gun shot when it opens. As I have to prepare pictures and test docs for these valves for the FAA I'll post them here as well.