Art Applewhite Rockets - Qubit 29mm

Contributed by Lance Alligood

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

Brief:

Another excellent and creative design from Art Applewhite that has similar flight characteristics to Art's saucers: high drag, low altitude, and aerobraking recovery. The Qubit resembles a partial cube or a tetrahedron with square (instead of triangular) sides.

Construction:

The kit has the following parts:

  • 1 x 29mm motor mount tube
  • 3 x 6" square pieces of foamboard
  • 1 x 8" equilateral triangle piece of foamboard
  • 1 piece of cardstock containing the body template and rocket tip
  • 3 page manual on 8.5" x 11" paper with detailed instructions and helpful photographs

OK, so this has only 6 pieces that make up the kit. How complicated can this be you ask? Things are not what they seem... This kit offers a unique challenge on many levels. It's has a satisfyingly complex build process yet you can still complete it in one evening. That is because Art has gone to considerable lengths to thoroughly document the build steps for this rocket. I think many of them are common sense steps but that's because I'd already built a couple of his free 13mm Qubits (available for download from his website) and knew what the final product should look like.

With the simplicity in parts also comes a simplicity in tools required to build it as well. White glue, a very sharp X-Acto knife, a toothpick, and DevCon 5-minute epoxy, which I might add is exactly $1.97 at Wal-Mart just like Art says in the instructions! It's also worth mentioning that cutting foamboard is a lot like cutting fin slots in tubing--don't rush it and make multiple passes to ensure a clean cut.

The build starts with trimming one corner off and mitering a beveled edge along two sides of each square piece of foamboard according to the cardstock template. Then you make the launch rod hole in one of those pieces before gluing all three pieces together with white glue into a cube-like shape. I used a launch rod in place of the toothpick, since I didn't have one lying around at the time, to create the launch rod hole. Next you cut out the cardstock tip and glue it onto the open nose of the rocket. Then the nose is filled with the DevCon 5-minute epoxy.

NOTE ABOUT THE EPOXY: In Art's 29mm Delta saucers, epoxy was only recommended if you had plans to use the saucer with particular motors. With the Qubit however, it is absolutely required because it is the main point of impact for the rocket...(can you say "blunt force trauma"?)

Coming down the home stretch, the hole for the motor mount tube is cut out of the triangular piece and then the triangle is glued into place on the underside. Lastly, the motor mount tube is inserted and filleted into place.

Finishing:

The Qubit comes in all white foamboard and paper. Finishing is not required but is recommended to protect the saucer from the elements. Heed Art's warning to make sure not to get any paint on any exposed foam because the solvents can dissolve the foam! In fact, one of the steps in the instructions is to smear white glue along the edges of the foam to seal them, which I feel is a good idea whether you choose to paint it or not. I didn't bother to prime the smooth surfaced rocket--I jumped straight in with the final glossy paints. Going for a different look in my fleet and seeing how a high performance finish is not really necessary for this design, I laid down Krylon blue gloss and then followed it up with Krylon gold glitter paint. The metal flakes are small but gives it a bit of a rough texture. It should produce some cool reflective effects during flight though.

Construction Rating: 5 out of 5

Flight:

Any 29mm single use or RMS motor is recommended but the important thing to remember regardless of what motor is used: REMOVE THE EJECTION CHARGE. Otherwise this will be a "single use" rocket... I readied an AeroTech SU F25-6W by dumping the ejection charge as best I could and used masking tape to friction fit the motor into place.
This was one launch that much of the launch crowd had been waiting for. I'm really glad to have the attention because it meant I would have several cameras focused on the flight too. Our club has very short launch pads so connecting the clips to the ignitor was difficult to do short of lying on the ground to get to the underside of the rocket. (If there's any downside to this rocket, that's it--which isn't much in my book!) The LCO gave the countdown and pressed the launch button. Fizzle...pop.......WHOOOOSH! It must have been an old motor but it finally lit. Dramatic ignition aside, the Qubit leapt off the pad with a fiercely straight trajectory with no noticeable spin. I have flown Art's 29mm Delta Saucer several times on a G35 but the Qubit with the F25 easily went higher than its sibling saucer. I just wish I would've had a G35 with me to try in the Qubit! It left a generously smoky trail in its wake allowing everyone to really enjoy the flight.

Flight Rating: 5 out of 5

Recovery:

Ahhh...just like the rest of Art's products, it recovers using the aerobrake method. Any rocket in my fleet that doesn't require any wadding--and especially one that doesn't need a recovery device to be packed either--is one that gets flown often. I would however avoid flying this rocket where there is a potential for hard surface landings. This rocket would certainly stand up to the occasional hard landing, but I wouldn't habitually subject it to such abuse.

The Qubit arched over beautifully and drifted gracefully to the ground, landing about 150ft from the pad. Post-flight inspection revealed no damage to the outside and only a slightly charred inner "nose cone" area, which I fully expected from what little bit of the ejection charge I was unable to clean out. The DevCon epoxy did a great job protecting it from burning through (another resounding reason to use it!)

Flight Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary:

Art's Qubit is unlike any other production kit out there. It relies on similar build techniques and flight/recovery characteristics to his lines of saucers, yet still has its own personality. I like slow, low, and draggy flights sometimes and the Qubit certainly fills that void and knows how to perform. This is a super rocket for flying on small fields because it provides a lot of excitement in flight as well as plenty of comments from people on the ground (along the lines of "That's a rocket?!" and "How does it fly?")

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Flights

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