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You have to love a rocket that assembles quickly
and that can be flown in your front yard (and not that big of a front yard either)! That's what you have with the 18mm
Art Applewhite's Dragonfly.
I brought this kit, a hobby knife, a ruler, a pencil and some Elmer's Glue with me
on a short business trip. I was successful in building the kit while in the hotel one night and finished it in the AM
the next day. It was that easy.
The Dragonfly comes with a 3/32" basswood wing, a 1/4" Balance Beam
dowel, two 3/16" support dowels, a motor tube, some fiberglass tape and a piece of 3/32" basswood that is
used to create the support pieces. That's it.
The instructions are printed on three pages of 8½ x 11" paper. The last
page focuses on flight and the building of a monocopter launch pad. There are B&W pictures and illustrations to
ensure an easy build.
There is very little cutting that takes place. The Center, Center Support and Motor
Support are all cut out of the small piece of 3/32" basswood. Then later in the build, the fiberglass tape needs
to be cut to fit around the motor mount.
Building is logical and easy to follow. You do have to pay attention to the
pictures to ensure you are gluing the supports, dowels and balance beam on the right sides of the center.
My only slight tweak to the instructions would be in
step 4 where it simply says, "Glue the Balance Beam to the Center". There should be some indication
that this should be centered and equally spaced on both sides of the Center.
One interesting step is placing the fiberglass tape around the motor tube and
securing it to the support. This requires the tape to be cut out to clear the support dowels and then to be cut to the
length needed to fit. Once the cutting is done, it is glued in place. Then the weave is filled in with Elmer's Glue
making a nice secure motor mount.
Now, I did say that I built the rocket at the hotel, which is true, but I completed
the final step at home. That was the drilling of the 1/4" hole in the center for the launch rod.
I made my launch pad using the basic idea outlined in the instructions. Amazing
that you only want a 1/4" long launch rod!
I didn't paint or finish the rocket in any way.
Overall, for CONSTRUCTION I would rate this kit
points. Fast, easy, and quality materials. Instructions were easy to follow. Also, I believe that some may
avoid trying to make their own monocopter and Art Applewhite has now made it as easy as 3, 2, 1.
The Dragonfly is simple to prepare for flight. All
that needs to be done is that you wrap a 3/8" band of masking tape around the motor to make a thrust ring. Then
install the motor.
First flight was on an Estes C6-3. After ignition that rocket whirled quickly and
took off. My guess is to about 70 feet. It then stopped, seemingly pausing, and then it fell to the earth. On the way
down the ejection charge fired. The fall was rapid with the motor tube leading the way. I'm guessing that is another
reason to use the fiberglass.
The next flight was a repeat flight using the C6-3. Again, nice performance. After
this flight I noticed a small burn hole starting on the outside top of the motor tube. (Flight Video Below)
For the third flight I tried something special. I had an old
Apogee B2-4 motor. I drilled out the center of the C6 thrust nozzle until the B2-5 slide into it. I then applied tape
to the forward end of the B2-5 so that it stayed centered in the old C6 case. I then loaded it into the
The flight was cool. It didn't come off the pad as quick and it almost seemed like
a slow motion flight, but the thrust was adequate and with a 3 second burn, it was neat to watch. I miss those old
Apogee Motors! (Bottom Video Below)
For FLIGHT/RECOVERY, I would rate this rocket
½ points. Exciting low altitude launches that look and sound different. Nice appeal. The only detractor
would be the burn hole that appeared after the second flight.
I give the rocket an OVERALL rating of
points. This is one of the relatively lower priced rockets that you just "have to have".
Favorite Rockets: Pemberton Tech "Space ark" and Extes "X-Wing"
I have ben doing the "BAR" thing since about April 2008. I was fortunate enough to get the picture of my Estes Maxi Brute X-Wing on the home page of Rocketry planet in 2009. Too bad that Rocketry Planet is no longer out there.
I have been having a lot of fun building and flying rockets. This is a great resource.
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