Today's Featured Review
Contributed by Kirk Greenfield
This is a Skill Level One rocket with balsa wood fins, a single body tube, and a plastic nose cone.
The parachute is a 12-inch plastic ‘chute with an elastic shock cord. The fins are die-cut and were almost ready to fall out, cleanly cut and clear. There is also a double-sided sheet of instructions. The "anchor" for the shock cord must be cut from the instructions, ruining any future use. There is also one "parts change" - a set of six white adhesive dot stickers are included which serve to reinforce the shroud lines tie-down points on the ‘chute. It is very clear how to use them and why. [Appears to be serious problem with mylar chute deployment...shroud lines foul alot!]
Construction went smoothly for a non-kit building newbie. Occasionally, it wasn't quite clear how to do something, like how to hold the tube when attempting to glue on the fins, but this was overcome with some effort.
Pro: Very clear instructions to insert the engine mount using one smooth motion when gluing. It is VERY HELPFUL to be alerted to this need! Diagrams are VERY clear. Instructions well written.
The new white adhesive dots came with instructions to pierce the applied dots with a sharp pencil and then "tie a knot.” ..not clear how or what kind of knot one should tie or WHERE. Common sense suggested tying the shroud line through the hole and then to itself instead of relying on just a knot to keep the string from pulling back through hole. (This may seem simple to experienced builders, knowing what's needed, but a beginner may have NO idea of the forces involved yet.)
Con: Not enough information on how to fold the ‘chute and how to test it before packing it away into the tube. What type of wadding should be inserted before the ‘chute? Is it best to use "dog barf" or wadding sheets? A line or two about powdering the ‘chute to keep it from sticking to itself, and how to dress the shroud lines would be a great help.
I believe some stressing of proper white glue for construction (Elmer's White Glue) should be made. This may be the root of my loosing the same fin over and over again.
As the first kit I ever built and painted, I had no idea how much or little sanding might be needed before painting. The instructions clearly identify that paint (as well as engines, launch pad, etc.) would be needed, but not a lot of information is provided on where to find the paint, how much to use, or what kind. More info about finishing would be helpful. Obviously paint is not included in the kit, but what kind and how much paint should be purchased? How much time should you allow between coats? How many coats should you use? Etc.
I have since learned the height of the flight is directly proportional to the amount of tapering or feathering on the leading edge of the fins. I would like this noted in the instructions an option for preparation of the fins before painting.
I have not applied any decals yet. I am awaiting the first successful flight before attempting to decorate the rocket for the shelf.
Construction Score: 3
The first flight did liftoff on the second try, however the ‘chute did not open. The rocket had a cracked fin that did not fall off when it landed. That killed the day.
I used an A8-3 engine which fit well and was clearly correct for this first rocket. However, I still need more info on how to guage the ejection charge and how to protect the ‘chute from it. Our ‘chute simply failed to open from being folded up in the package too long (years?), not relaxed, and, maybe, not packed the best way.
The rocket is relatively easy to prep for flight. Not many steps, but experience in packing the ‘chute correctly is needed and knowledge of how much recovery wadding is needed.
The instructions could have used a line or two about use of a streamer as an alternative to the parachute.
No recovery materials are included in the kit and no information on what they were or how to get them is given. In a rural area, we are left to improvise.
The rocket was not recovered safely. A fin broke off on first attempt and third when the ‘chute failed to open. That's a real bummer for a first-time flyer.
Flight Rating: 1
For a first kit, this works acceptably. However, there are a few common-sense holes in the instruction process. The instructions especially need to address the recovery wadding, ‘chute packing and ‘chute preparation aspects. [Some other kits (our second kit "ISIS") have superior instructions, I have noted. I especially like their three-ring notebook holes for instruction storage!]
Though there is a learning curve to building a rocket, this kit left a few gaps to be bridged. Unfortunately, judging wadding and gauging the ‘chute packing are critical.
Overall Rating: 4
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