|Manufacturer:||Art Applewhite Rockets|
I was fortunate enough to win this kit as a prize for entering my Barbsari B-Prize design into Descon 15. I asked for and received the Spaceship Earth version. I was amazed at how quickly the shipment arrived after I'd specified what version I'd like. Mondo kudos to Art Applewhite for fantastic service.
The kit includes a sheet of printed cardstock for the top and bottom cones, a dark blue sheet of foam-backed board, a 2.75" length of motor mount tube, and instruction sheets. The cardstock and foam board are marked with labels, cutting lines, and tab alignment lines. The cardstock graphics for the top and bottom cones include beautifully detailed natural-coloured images of planet earth stretched to accommodate the cone shapes. The bottom cone has a large image of Antarctica. The top cone shows the other continents and the northern ice cap in gorgeous detail. Super cool!
The instructions are clear and concise, with large, crisp, clear photographs to add that extra amount of clarity. Critical notes are boldfaced and underlined to draw the builder's attention. The assembly order was sensible and straightforward.
The instructions recommend using a brand new, extremely sharp blade for cutting the foam board for good reason. The foam tends to tear easily, leaving small voids. As long as the voids are small, this is not too much of a problem since the foam edges are not covered by the top cone.
When forming the cones, I noticed that the exposed white edges of the cardstock were very noticeable against the dark blue graphics. I remedied this by using a dark blue felt-tipped marker to darken the edges. I feel that this greatly improved the look of the finished model.
Another issue is that I had to be very careful when applying glue and making fillets to avoid messing up the gorgeous graphics. The cardstock graphics are very durable, though. They stand up to much handling without any sign of bleeding or distortion.
All of the parts are printed, so no further finishing is needed. The instructions recommend a coat of clear enamel or varnish, but I haven't done this yet. I will do, though, before the snow flies.
I had some trouble smoothing the edge of the saucer where the top cone meets the edge of the foamboard. Though the foamboard edge is just cardstock, it just doesn't want to smooth down the way I'd like, even after careful sanding.
Construction Rating: 4 out of 5
Flight preparation is dead easy, since there are no recovery mechanisms to set up or care for. The instructions recommend wrapping three layers of masking tape around the base of the motor as a thrust ring. I think this is good practice, as the motors I've tried slide pretty easily into the motor tube.
If you don't want the motor to pop out at ejection time, you'll probably want to add some tape to the middle of the motor, but be careful not to make it so tight that its tough to get the motor out again after flight.
The saucer's first flight was at a model rocketry demo at an event at a city park. The flight field was pretty small, surrounded by trees, so low drift was very important. The wind was around 10 mph. I took a B6-0, wrapped some tape around the motor's base, and a little in the middle, inserted an ignitor, slipped the motor into the saucer, and popped the saucer onto the pad. I used an alligator clip on the launch rod to support the saucer 6" from the pad, as recommended in the instructions, then clipped on the ignitor wires. All prepped!
The saucer boosted straight up with no wobble, flipped over at end of boost, and floated softly down to earth with no wobble and little drift. Perfect flight for the demo.
The second flight was in a wide open field with 10 mph winds, again with a B6-0. Again the flight was straight up with no wobble and little drift. The model flipped over after boost and float safely to earth, again with no wobble and little drift.
Flight recovery was very easy after both flights. The saucer hadn't drifted far from the pad after either flight. The saucer's decent was slow and gentle both times without damage.
Flight Rating: 5 out of 5
The Art Applewhite 18mm Delta Saucer is a simple high-quality kit that assembles quickly with no nasty gotchas. It performs well on the field and is great for demos in smaller flight areas. The Spaceship Earth version looks spectacular. It is a solid, rugged design and the printed graphics stand up to handling... a great rocket for handing around in classrooms. Flight and recovery are smooth, stable, and entertaining.
The only con I can suggest regarding my own model is that the joint between the top cone and the foam board is kinda rough resisted attempts at smoothing.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5