The Estes Oracle Video Camera Rocket takes captures digital videos that can be
downloaded into your Windows computer. It is a pre-built kit that only requires
attaching one body tube and installing the shock cord and parachute.
The kit is an E2X style rocket, meaning that everything is already constructed
and the decals are attached. There is no painting necessary. The only thing you
need to do is install the parachute and attach the rubber shock cord.
What makes this rocket unique is the digital video camera built into the
nose cone of the model. It is the modern version of the Cineroc, which is what
attracted me to buy the model.
The rocket uses plastic fins, plastic nose, and paper tubes. The styling is
nice, particularly since it doesn't require anything from the user. The engine
is held in place by a plastic retainer, which is used in a lot of the Estes E2X
style kits. It worked fine for my first three flights.
- The rocket comes with a nice 18 inch fabric parachute. It isn't rip-stop
construction, but it is more than adequate for the model.
- The video camera is molded into the rocket. This is the coolest feature of
the rocket. Like the Cineroc, the camera portion looks out through a mirror, so
it looks down as the rocket takes off. If you build according to the
instructions, the rocket will take great pictures of the sky while it is coming
down. I modified mine to look down by attaching a separate parachute to the
eyelet built into the tip of the nose.
- The decor on the rocket and the graphics of the vehicle are top notch. Cool
- The instructions were straightforward. Since there isn't much building to
do, the bulk of the instructions cover the installation of the software on your
- You get over 30 seconds of video from each flight. If you do it right, that
is an entire flight from liftoff to landing.
- The rocket worked as advertised. You push the button on the camera to start
the process, and after a built-in delay of about 15 seconds so you can get back
away for launch, the rocket starts recording the video images.
- There is a eyelet on the top of the nose cone for attaching the parachute.
But the instructions don't say how to use it. However, if you attach the chute
to the top of the nose cone, you get great look down video as the rocket
descends via the parachute. The designers at Estes had some forethought in
creating this rocket, otherwise they would have left off the eyelet. Great work
- The software for the video camera only works on Windows computers. Mac
users are going to be disappointed. The software seems a bit rustic and could
use some tweaking. The Windows plug-and-play (or plug-and-pray) seems to work,
but downloading the video off the unit was a bit quirky and slow.
- The image size of the video is only 320x240 pixels. So the quality of the
image isn't the greatest. You can't make out much detail in the video.
- You have to leave the unit turned on until you download the video.
Otherwise it gets wiped off the memory. So you either must take a computer with
to the launch range or you have to leave it on while you make the trip home.
- The frame rate of the camera is 9 frames per second. Compared to the
Cineroc which has a frame rate of 30 frames per second, the digital video looks
a little jumpy when you play it back on your computer.
- The file size of the video (.AVI format) is huge! My videos all were about
58MB. I used Apple Computers QuickTime to change them to MPEG-4 format and the
file sized was reduced to about 4MB without any noticeable loss of quality.
- The image is reversed. It looks out the side of the rocket via a mirror.
- There is an attachment point inside the tube for a shock cord. It is molded
into the plastic coupler where the tubes are attached, however, the
instructions call for a regular paper shock cord mount on the inside of the
tube. The extra attachment point on the inside of the tube did cause a problem
on my first flight. Since it takes up room, the parachute got snagged on it,
and didn't deploy properly. When prepping this rocket, you have to make sure
that nothing is inserted below the plastic coupler or you can expect to have
Nothing is required for finishing the rocket.
out of 5
I flew it three times on the recommended D12-5 motor. The wind was very light,
so the flights were straight. Deployment was near apogee every time.
I didn't attach the parachute that came with the kit. I wanted a look down
video, so I attached my chutes to the top eyelet with some 100 lb Kevlar®
cord. The bottom section came down by itself with a 18 inch diameter plastic
parachute. So the rocket came down in two pieces. I switched to plastic chutes
to assure myself that they would come out easily since they take up less space
inside the rocket.
On the first launch, the parachute for the tube section got snagged inside.
Fortunately, the rocket came down sideways and didn't land too hard. One of the
plastic fins popped cleanly out of the plastic fin unit. It was hard to find on
the ground. I wished they molded the fins in red instead of black color. After
finding it, I simply glued it back on with some thin CyA glue. You couldn't
even tell it had come apart.
On the next two launches, I was more careful in prepping the bottom portion
so the chutes didn't get snagged inside. The result was worth it.
I flew it three times and got good video back on all three attempts. Three
- Easy to prep and fly.
- Video camera portion worked as advertised.
- Plastic fin unit means the rocket flies nice and straight.
- Plastic fins unit can break if the rocket lands on hard objects. But this
can be expected of any rocket. Plastic just makes it slightly more difficult to
fix or replace if the damage is too great.
- The rocket did spin a bit going up. This normally wouldn't be a problem, as
it would mean a straighter flight. But it makes the video appear jumpy. The
fins didn't look warped, so I'm thinking it is some weird airflow coming off
the camera mirror hood that causes it to spin.
- The rocket is heavy at liftoff. The Estes E9 can't be used for this model
unless you want it to go horizontal rather than vertical. But the Aerotech E15
and the E30 should be ideal replacements.
out of 5
The video camera is worth getting. The cons with the camera aren't all that bad
and hopefully Estes will upgrade the electronics as technology advances over
time. With just a little better video camera and more memory, this will be an
The nose cone fits into a BT-60 size tube. It isn't a perfect fit but close
enough. That means if the bottom part of the rocket is ever damaged, you can
replace it with a home-brew design. A two-stage version is my definitely on my
"to do" list.
This rocket is well engineered and I would heartily recommend this rocket
to my friends. It is way cool.
out of 5