Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Flight Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Manufacturer: Art Applewhite Rockets
Art Applewhite 13mm Helix

The Helix is an innovative and simple monocopter design from Art Applewhite. It is extremely simple to build and goes together quickly. It's also a hoot to fly.

I was lucky enough to get to watch the flights of the prototypes as Art was developing this line and now it seems like he is the source of a monocopter renaissance. It's a lot of fun.

The components for this kit consist of a pre-marked body tube, a motor tube, a 1/4" launch lug, a balance beam, and a basswood wing. Also included are thorough instructions on building the rocket and instructions for a simple launching pad. This rocket is not meant for an Estes setup.

Art Applewhite 13mm HelixArt Applewhite 13mm Helix

The body tube, such as it is, is marked by the simple expedient of being wrapped by a sheet with all of the relevant locations indicated by polygons of the appropriate size.

The first step in construction is to cut out the polygons on the body tube. This is done with an #11 X-Acto knife and the blade needs to be a new one. The method recommended in the instructions and, which worked quite well, is to push the blade in perpendicular along one line of a polygon, slowly push it in until the blade completely covers one line segment, remove the blade and repeat as needed until all sides are cut out.

Once the holes are cut, the three piercing elements are test fit. These include the launch lug, the balance beam, and the motor tube. The motor tube goes in a lot easier when its stiffened by a spent casing.

When the pieces are in, they need to be adjusted for symmetry; all of the pieces need to be centered. With that done, a fillet of white glue is applied inside the BT to the visible parts of the intersections with the motor tube. With that done, all of the protrusions can be filleted with white glue on the outside.

The last item to be installed is the wing. It is made from a pre-cut piece of basswood. You can round the edges if you like but I did not. I slipped it in the marked end of the BT. It will slightly deform the tube, but that is expected and explained in the directions.

Alignment is not a problem. A filled triangle marks the point on the BT which should be aligned with the center of each side of the wing. Then it is just a matter of making sure it is sitting perpendicular, something aided by having its end sit flush on the balance beam. The wing is then glued into place with white glue.

Art Applewhite 13mm HelixArt Applewhite 13mm Helix

The instructions recommend a couple of light coats of sealer or a light coat of paint. I elected to go the paint route and chose yellow. I gave it just one good coat. The instructions warn against using too much and throwing off the balance.

I am happy with the result. The text from the BT can still be read under the paint but, then again, it's nice to have little reminders such as which side is the top.

Construction Rating: 5 out of 5

I built 3 variants of Art's Helices at the same time for an event at the local museum. This one was the first to be built and the first to be launched. I used an A3-4T and it did exactly what it was supposed to do.

It spun around. It screwed its way into the air. It elicited lots of gasps from enthusiastic kids. What more could you ask for.

I will definitely be flying this one again.

The Helix tumbled gently to the grass, ready to fly again.

Flight Rating: 5 out of 5

This one is easy, inexpensive, interesting, and different. It's easily worth the 20 minutes to build one.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5



J.A.L. (February 14, 2009)
Anyone wishing to follow the exploits of this rocket in photos or videos is invited to do so here.

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