Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Manufacturer: Art Applewhite Rockets

 

Diameter: 5.5 inches (14cm)

Height: 4.75 inches (12 cm)

Weight: 1.3 oz (35 gm)

Finish: I built the Mirror Gold version. Other patterns available include Stars and Stripes, Texas Special, Silver, Fluorescent Orange, Fluorescent Yellow, Fluorescent Green, Hot Pink, and plain White.

CONSTRUCTION:

Parts: All parts are packaged in a heat-sealed clear plastic bag with no shipping damage. Package contained:

1) Cardstock with design on one side and pattern printed on other. Contains the main body cone and two reinforcing strips.

2) Plain white cardstock printed with nose cone, shock cord anchor, and top seam

3) White foam core board printed for nose cone base and bottom.

The printing on the cardstock and foam board was crisp and easy to read, and the parts were clearly labeled.

4) 25mm nosecone tube

5) 24mm motor mount tube. This tube is shipped inside the 25mm. Be sure to take it out before starting construction so that they don’t accidentally get glued together.

6) 36” elastic shock cord. I don’t know if all the kits come this way, but mine had metallic gold shock cord to match the body.

Tools and Supplies Needed:

Scissors, #11 Exacto knife with a fresh blade, Elmer’s Glue-All, 5-minute epoxy, 150 grit sandpaper.

The instructions call for the entire nose to be filled with epoxy for proper weighting, so make sure you have enough before starting. About 1 ounce will be required.

Instructions: Four 8½ x 11 inch pages, laser-printed. 32 steps, 16 clear black-and-white photographs.

Art recommends reading the entire directions before beginning. Good idea. If you follow the directions exactly as written, you should have no problem assembling this kit. However, if you haven’t read the entire directions before-hand, it would be easy to jump ahead and glue the wrong parts together.

Unlike Estes kits, there is no exploded assembly drawing that shows an overview of how the pieces go together. Such an overview is rarely needed on a standard rocket with fins-body tube-nose cone, but would be welcome on a non-standard design like this.

Assembly: The first major step is assembling the nose cone from the white card stock. Unlike normal rockets, here the nose cone is inside the rocket, and provides support for the outer cone body. Next, the nose cone base is cut from the foam core board using a sharp blade. Let me repeat that… a sharp blade. The foam must be beveled cleanly and a sharp blade is very important.

The next step is to fill the nose with 5-minute epoxy and glue several parts together quickly before the epoxy sets. To make things more interesting, that big lump of epoxy in the nose gets very hot, so handling must be done with care. Here’s where I ran into a little trouble. In my scramble to get all the parts smeared with epoxy and seated together, I didn’t get the tip of the tube buried deeply in the epoxy blob and butted firmly into the cone. By the time I realized my mistake, the epoxy was nearly hardened, so I couldn’t move the tube and I couldn’t disassemble anything without shredding the cardboard.

Not seating the upper cone properly led me to two problems. First, the tube ended up tilted into the path of the launch rod, forcing me to re-cut the slot for the launch rod. Second, the top of the tube was not sealed. When the ejection charge fires, all the gas would vent out the launch rod hole and fail to separate the two halves of the saucer. To fix my mess, I inserted a small ring into the front of the tube, slobbered plenty of epoxy around it, and hoped for the best.

The last step in preparing the body is cutting and wrapping the colored cardboard skin into a cone and attaching it to the inner cone assembly. Take your time for good results.

The final step on the main body is to add two reinforcing rings to the bottom inside edge. These help to protect the edge of the cone, as well as looking pretty snazzy.

Construction of the bottom involved cutting another beveled foam-board disk and gluing it to the motor mount tube. Easy, as long as you have a fresh sharp blade (mine was already too dull from cutting the first foam circle, so I needed to replace it).

   

When the motor mount tube was inserted into the upper body tube, I found my second gotcha. The engine tube was binding in the upper tube when fully seated because of my second slobber of epoxy. To fix this I cut about 1 inch off the front of the motor mount tube. This turned out to be a good idea and I recommend everybody do this since it make motor launch preparation easier.

The final step is attaching the shock cord to the lower section using an Estes-style 3-fold shock cord mount.

Finishing: Art recommends a coat or two of clear to protect the colored skin. With the mirror gold, it is better to leave it bare. There are no decals, but none are needed since the outer skin is already printed.

The mirror gold finish is very shiny, and gives a unique-looking rocket with a simple elegant appearance.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

FLIGHT:

Recommended Motors: C11-3, D12-3, E9-4, or any Aerotech 24mm single-use with a short delay, or RMS 24/40 reload.

Preparation: Preparation is fairly simple, but somewhat different from many conventional rockets. The motor mount tube has no thrust ring in the front, and cannot be easily modified to have one since the tube is shorter than the motor. Instead, three layers of ½” masking tape around the base of the motor provide the thrust surface. I understand this is pretty common in bigger rockets, but it was the first time I have ever used this technique.

There is no engine hook in this kit. Motor retention is supposed to be provided by friction fit, wrapping tape around the engine until it is snug. I’ve heard scary stories about the tape adhesive getting soft from the engine heat and being difficult to remove without damaging the mount. So instead I wrapped two layers of masking tape around the front of the engine that stuck out the top of the motor mount tube, like the tape thrust ring on the bottom. It is important not to make this tape too thick, as it may jam in the upper tube.

The other slightly tricky step in launch preparation involve packing the shock cord. While there is plenty of room in the compartment, the cord must be placed somewhat carefully so that is does not interfere with the launch rod that passes through the compartment.

The cone rocket needs no wadding, streamer, or parachutes. The recovery drag is provided by separating the upper cone body from the lower engine mount plate.

Even though the cone rocket is not supposed to need a parachute, I put one on for the maiden flight. There is no place to put wadding, which limited the choice. I had just received a free 5” Flame-Resistant Parachute from Mile High Rockets and was eager to give it a try.

Flight: For my first flight, I used an Estes D12-3. We flew late in the day with a calm wind and the sun low in the sky. Boost was straight and noisy to about 300 feet. Unlike many saucer flight photos I have seen, the cone rocket did not trap a lot of smoke in its base vortex. After engine burnout, it slowed down fairly quickly, then ejected a little over one second after apogee.

 


The Mile High parachute deployed flawlessly and brought the cone down gently, landing 16 seconds after ejection. With the amber color of the parachute and the occasional flash off the mirror gold cone, The masking tape retainers did their job well -- the engine had only moved about 1/8 of an inch in the motor mount. The rocket suffered no damage. A quick swipe with a paper towel to clean off the fingerprints and wipe out the ejection debris and she’s as good as new.

The (non-rocketeer) spectators loved this flight since they could see it all the way up and all the way down. I got a lot of good comments.

Flight Rating: 5 out of 5

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Flies great, but could use a few tweaks in the construction. A unique-looking rocket that is a very good value for the money.

Flights

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