Aerotech - Mirage {Kit} (89019) [1992-]

Contributed by Douglas Gardei

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Manufacturer: Aerotech
Style: Sport

The Mirage was the second medium-power rocket and the first Aerotech kit that I built. In addition, this kit is the largest rocket that I have ever built, towering 87" (that's 7'- 3"!).It is 2.6" in diameter and weighs 31 ounces.It flies with 29mm motors. In a nutshell, it's a whole lot of rocket!

The kit comes with three body tubes with couplers, plastic nose cone, and launch lugs. Due to mid-separation, it comes with the hardware necessary to attach two 8 foot shock cords and two nylon parachutes (one 22" and one 30"). The motor mount hardware includes a LABYRINTH cooling mesh and ejection baffle, which eliminates the need for wadding, as well as a motor retention hook. There are three large plastic fins with tabs for mounting in Aerotech's FIN-LOK system through a pre-slotted body tube. Lastly, there is a large Mirage decal.

The Aerotech web site indicates that this kit comes with a 24mm adapter. My kit did not and quite frankly due to size and weight the only 24mm motors I would use would be F24 and F39 and then flights would be less than 400 feet. I think its a misprint on the web site because the catalog does not indicate a 24mm adapter.

There are six pages of clear, illustrated instructions. There are a couple of breakouts which provide a location guide for the motor mount and a detail of the fin. The remaining illustrations provide adequate information for assembly. The instructions also provide clear warnings on use of glue, such as, not putting it on the shock cord since it will weaken it and to avoid getting glue into the FIN-LOK ring's. The instructions are in logical order and can ensure a successful assembly if followed. [Picture]

The instructions suggest using medium viscosity CA, however, I used 5 and 30-minute epoxy. In doing so, I had to wait a few extra minutes between steps, however, I still built the entire kit in about one and a half hours.

The assembly of this large rocket was very easy and there were no problems. All of the parts fit and went together as described. The most difficult part of this rocket is dealing with it's height. If you're not extra careful, you will certainly hit the ceiling a few times. Also dealing with it's size adds a challenge to finishing.

During the finishing stage I decided to not fill the body tube grooves with anything and just build it up using Plasti-Kote primer. This was not the best decision. This was not the best decision. It took about 5 coats, sanding inbetween each one, before the grooves were filled. The nose cone was one of the biggest problems due to the molding grooves left on each side.

Once fully primed, I chose to paint the rocket with a deep maroon metallic automotive lacquer. I painted the entire rocket this color. Then I took a can of chrome paint and sprayed the nose cone and the upper section of the rocket, not protecting anything from over spray. I think this gave a nice "fade-in" look.

The kit comes with one decal with the name Mirageon it, however I did not choose to use it at first. I have since gone back and used it. I followed the directions completely and cut out the decal, peeled the back off, dipped it into some soapy water then applied it to the body. I adhered nicely.

Overall, for CONSTRUCTION I would rate this kit 5 points. I didn't find a single problem.

The Mirage has a mid-separation design which releases the upper five foot section to descend on it's own 22" parachute. The second 30" parachute carries the bottom, fin and motor, section down.

The kit uses two launch lugs. One is on the upper section and the other is on the bottom section. These two need to be aligned to allow for a smooth launch off of the guide rod. The last page in the instructions are the "Operation Instructions" and they indicate that "a 1/4" diameter metal launch rod at least 36" long (as measured from the top of the blast deflector)" should be used. This can not be correct and must be a blanket operation instruction for other Aerotech kits since the top launch lug is about 38" from the bottom of the rocket. I used a five foot rod and even that seemed a tad bit short.

[Picture]The maiden voyage was on an Aerotech Single-Use F25-6. Excellent slow and loud lift off. Excellent slow and loud lift off. The F25 powered the Mirage to a fully observable apogee (wRASP says about 675 feet), then about 2 seconds after apogee the ejection charge pushed the upper section away and both parachutes deployed. The upper section came down faster than the lower section. The lower section drifted more than the upper section, so it would be good to have a flying partner to help in retrieval.

The second flight was supposed to be on a G80-7, however, after 4 puffs this motor was not going to ignite. So the second flight was on an Aerotech EconoJet G35-7. This flight was also great to watch with separation at apogee.

The LABYRINTH ejection gas cooling system did exactly what it claims to; "The ignition of the ejection charge creates a burst of hot expanding gas which is cooled by the permanent metal mesh . . . The cooled gas flows around the baffle, pressurizes the parachute bay and ejects the nose cone (or payload bay) and parachute." I had no damage to my shock cords or parachutes.  

One other interesting fact about the Mirage is how well suited it is for many different motors. According to wRASP, the Mirage will have excellent flights (with ejection very near or at apogee) on Single-Use motors, F20-4, F25-4, F50-6, G80-7 and RMS motors, F52-5, G33-5 and G64-7. I'm sure the North Coast Rocketry Darkstar F62-6 would also give a nice flight. I look forward to using some of these other motors!

For FLIGHT/RECOVERY, I would rate this kit 5 points.

Overall, for the price and ease of build, the Mirage is a great kit for someone looking for a very large, mid-powered rocket with little experience. I give the kit an OVERALL rating of 5 points.


[NAR][Sport Rocketry]

The following excerpt is from "Sport Rocketry". The intention is to allow guests to get a basic feeling about a kit. We strongly suggest that you get a copy of the referenced Sport Rocketry and read the entire article. Inside you will find many helpful hints in construction as well as other useful information. For more information, use the two links above.



Aerotech - Mirage
(Sport Rocketry - Sep/Oct 1996 - page 42 - by Douglas Gardei) 

[Picture]"The Mirage is a tall, attractive model standing 87" tall and 2. 6" in diameter. " 
"Her features are the Labyrinth ejection charge cooling system, molded plastic fins, through-the-wall fin mounting, dual parachute recovery, large decal sheet, and complete instructions. " 
"Flights with the F40 were very interesting. Liftoff was slow, but then the Mirage picked up speed. " 
"The Aerotech Mirage is a very nice kit to get started in higher power rockets. " 
"She is a large, good looking kit that is very easy to build and fly. " 
"On a scale of one to ten, this model deserves a ten. " 

The entire article gives the impression is that this is an excellent kit for a beginner/intermediate modeler.

Flights

Comments:

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J.B. (January 1, 2001)
I agree with everything that the reviewer said, but I found one problem in construction, which was that the tube couplers where almost impossible to get into the body tube sections because they where so tight. To get them in, I had to use a hobby knife to make a tapered edge on them, then push like heck on the thing. In fact, I couldn't get the rocket apart at the place that it splits. I had to get my dad to pull on the nose cone while I pulled on the fin end to get the thing to come apart. I have since sanded that coupler down. Over all, it really didn't cause me that much pain. The review was very accurate, and I agree about using epoxy over CA. I have had bad experiences with CA.
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N.P. (January 27, 2002)
I love this rocket. I got it for 68 dollars and it was well worth it. it goes really high on a g64-4W engine and works like a charm. buy this. the only problem was the couplers. They were hard to get apart (well to hard for the ejection charge to get apart. it took tons of sanding before I got it to slide in nicely.
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J.S (December 19, 2005)
I love this rocket! This was my first Areotech rocket as well as my first G powered rocket. It's only like this because I'm 14 years old. Anyway, this is one nice rocket. I flew it on a G38-4fj at the local high school. It flew nice but the delay could of been longer. Also the instructions were weird about the two-peice recovery. I just made it one piece and used the 2nd shockcord on my Estes Executioner. Apart from the recovery system, I recommend this rocket.
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S. A. (June 7, 2008)
I did not like what I perceived as reliability of the rear ejection with dual parachutes. I extended the motor tube to accommodate the length of the I200. Primarily will fly on G75's and H97's. Extending the motor tube took up all of one body tube so I used a forward ejection. I did use one body tube as a payload section. Also I did foam the empty fin areas for added strength. This rocket flew beautifully on G75 even though the delay was long. My son was excited about flying this rocket since it is his anyway.

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