Saturday, May 30, 2009

Boyhood Hobby Revisited

When I was a kid I liked to shoot off model rockets. My favorite was always "Der Red Max".

I recently asked my children, both girls, if they would be interested in model rocketry. Of course, the question was loaded, since I was really the one that wanted to buy them, assemble them and shoot them off. The kids are merely for recovery purposes. Well, they thought it was a neat idea, so I mail ordered the kits and am all set up. They still make Der Red Max! Here it is below, ready for it's maiden voyage.
As I was putting this thing together, I was amazed at how much more patience I have now that I am an adult. I actually put three coats of paint on it so it looked top notch. And I even let the coats dry overnight each time. When I was little the object was to put the damned thing together as fast as possible to get it out to shoot it up. Frankly, at this point, I don't really care if the thing blows up midair as I have gotten several hours of enjoyment from putting together this $15 pile of cardboard and balsa. But we will see.

I remember when I used to shoot these things off when I was a boy, that the little rockets usually got shot into oblivion and were never seen again. For this reason, I got a bunch of rockets that have max altitudes of approx. 600 ft.

I am really interested in one particular rocket, that carries a motion camera aboard. It takes a 10 second video or photos that you can upload into your computer. Here is an example. I purchased one of those rockets as well, video to be uploaded here as soon as possible.


Carl from Chicago said...

That is a good video from the rocket. You will be able to get an overhead view of your farm, too.

Gerry from Valpo said...

This inspires me to go out and buy some fireworks today. I like ones that blowed up!

Dan from Madison said...

The 4th of July takes on a whole new meaning when you have your own farmland.

Mark said...

This brings back some memories! The climax of my rocket career involved the Comanche III ( It had 3 stages, of which the second was never recovered from the maiden flight.

I think my first rocket was the Alpha III (, but I don't know for sure; I never had the patience to put the decals on. That trusty first rocket probably saw 40 or 50 flights before I sent it out with a bang. For it's last flight my Dad and I taped about 10 bottle rockets and mini fire crackers to the tube. We each had lighters in both hands to get all the fuses lit and one of my buddies was running the main ignition switch. It was a glorious flight.

Did you guys ever make those CO2 powered drag racers in tech ed? Imagine one of those, but with a C6-5 engine instead of the CO2 cartridge. That was the end of that car. Parents never found out about that experiment.

When I was out of usable rockets, but still had some engines, a friend and I decided to stick one in the vice in my Dad's workshop. I'm surprised he never noticed the dark spot on the rafters. Thinking back to growing up on a farm, it's amazing I still have all my digits.

That video rocket looks neat, btw. I always wanted the one with a payload bay when I was a kid.

Jonathan said...

I made those when I was a kid. Good times. My last rocket was a home-made monster powered by three D engines, but I lost interest and never launched it. Too bad.

Google "high powered rocketry" and check out what comes up. There are some big rockets out there nowadays.

Building rockets is deeply satisfying in a primal way that is difficult to articulate but that most boys, and adult boys, understand.

Dan from Madison said...

Jonathan - holy cow, 3 d's? That must have been a behemoth.

Mark - good stuff, they still also make the ones with the payload - also altimeters. And they still make the commanche iirc.

If I have fun with this I will buy a product they have which is just a bunch of tubes, fins and other crap and design my own. Also, I want to get the "mean machine", a six footer that was the biggest rocket I ever shot.

Snakeye said...

Dude, like everyone else that brings me back a little too.

I always wanted that Astrovision one as a kid too, but back then it was the version that just took pictures (not full-motion video).

I think my pride and joy was a giant Saturn V. Though I had a space shuttle that came to a close second place: when the rockets were spent, the boosters (the main liquid and 2 solids) would come down as one unit under parachute, and the shuttle would separate off and glide down.

Dan from Madison said...

I think my new favorite will be the SR71 Blackbird replica that I bought, that is a skill level 3 to assemble, should be a hoot.

Eventually I need to get one of those giant ones, with a D engine or three.

Dan from Madison said...

By the way, they still make the rocket that does the stills with standard film - I saw it and said to myself "what's the point" since the computer one can do movies or stills and you can upload them directly to your laptop or PC.

Jonathan said...

Anything like the Saturn required patience and discipline that were impossible for me as a kid. I had trouble waiting for one coat of paint to dry before applying the next one.

Dan from Madison said...

I put a couple hours into the SR 71 Blackbird today, it is going to take forever to put that thing together and I am doing a pretty average job.