By Steve Lindeman


Diameter:0.5000 inches
Skill Level:2

So here it is, end of July and I started this project after the 4th of July Holidays. My original plan was to do a side by side build of the two rockets and not bother with a write-up but as often happens to me I started the clone on a whim (more like boredom) and had it finished and started on the upscale before I thought to grab the camera. The second one I had planned on building with a BT-60 in mind. That all changed after going over the numbers and looking at what tubes I had in stock.

I cloned the 1st from the plans on JimZ's web site ( and followed the instructions except for step 4. Here I deviated from the plans and installed a standard tri-fold paper mount with 1/8" elastic instead of the rubber that Estes uses. Two other changes that I made were to make my own balsa nose cone (again I should have taken pictures) in place of the plastic one that came with the original kit and to add a spare orange plastic streamer (which was not easy in so small a rocket). I added the streamer because I remember my original one breaking off a wing after hitting the ground hard from a high flight on an A10-3T. The painting was done in standard prime, sand, prime, sand, light prime then 2 coats of Krylon gloss white. Decals were then downloaded and run through Windows Paint  to clean up and size, then after printing them out on standard paper, I cut them out and stuck them on with a glue stick. Finally the finished rocket got sealed with 2 coats of Dupli-color Clear EFFEX spray paint to give it some sparkle. After completing this one I fear I may have made a mistake in the length of the wing-tip tubes. Seems to me I remember this rocket being able to stand up straight on its tail and this one doesn't. The wing tip tubes are a 1/4" short but all I had were 1" tubes and I figured they were close enough.

Star Seeker Clone


Now onto the up-scale.



As I stated from the start I was half way into this build session when I decided to go ahead and document this build. I have temperarly scraped the plans for a BT-60 up-scale because my budget wouldn't allow me to buy a Vagabond to use as a base as it's the only one with the right style nose cone. That and the fact that I found a 1" tube that came from some gift wrap paper that I had previsley started for another project and already had a 18mm mount glued in. After doing the numbers for a 2x upscale and looking at my stock I new this was going to work out better for now.



This was actually pretty simple and straight forward. Just double the size of everything. So after doubbling the size of the fin patterns in Windows Paint, I printed new ones and set about cutting four fins from left over 1/8" balsa scrap out of my sock pile. After the fins were cut out and laminated with paper they were glued togather and left to dry over night. At this point I cut four 3" lengths from my last BT-5 tube and super glued them together in pairs. I did this by mis-calculating the length of  the smaller clone wing tubes. I was thinking they should have been 1 1/2 " when it should have been 1 1/4".  So in doubling the length of the tubes I ended up with tubes that are to long.  They don't look bad but now I have to deside if I want to shorten them a 1/2" or not.

Wing Tip Pods Are To Long



Now the real fun begins. First I grabbed a 1/4" dowel rod from my stock pile and measure and cut a 5" piece. After sticking it in my drill to verify that it didn't wobble I then started digging through my discarded balsa looking for 5"x1 1/4" pieces of various thickness to glue together to make a block. The first 5 layers I cut a 1/4"x 3" channel in the middle to make sure it centers on the dowel. After drying in clamps for a while I glued the dowel rod in and set it aside to dry for a while.

NC build-up

Total of 15 layers

Center, top, and bottom are 1/16". The other twelve are 1/8"

NC build-up



This is actually one of my favorit parts of the build. I love molding and shaping wood into a nose cone as it gives me a sence of great accomplishment and this one is looking pretty good. I started with 150 grit paper to get the wood down to rough size and then switch to 220 and finally 400 to smooth it. From there I use a wood file to sand down the collar.  

Looking like a NC 

Note Custom NC Maker by Black & Decker

 At this point I had a sudden flash of the true potential for this build and knew I had to do a write-up. If you take a look at the body in the above photo yoiu will see what I saw in my vision. Those are A10-PT motors in the wing tips. I can put in four additional A motors along with a central C6-7 to give this bird an extrem litf-off and some serious altitude. I get all giddly feeling just thinking about it. If I were still compeating this would make a great A cluster rocket with an A8-3 in the middle tube.  Now I'm going to have to make some new whip clips.

Checking NC fit

Checking NC fit



Decided to shorten wing tip tubes 1/2". Also decided on a 3/16" launch lug instead of 1/8" due to weight with a five motor load. At this time I also installed the recovery system which consists of 3 ' of 1/4" elastic for the shock cord and a 16" yellow nylon Drag Queen parachute that I bought at a club launch a while back (a tight fit in the 1" BT). My regret here is that I had already installed the motor mount in this tube and did not attach a kevlar cord around the motor tube so I had to install shock cord via standard Estes style so I know it will need replacing. Here's a new shot of the business end of the rocket.

Business End

Business end of Star Seeker upscale


Still not straight

Still not straight but better.

Oops, forgot to remove wing tip motors before taking photo and checking angle. So after shortening wing tubes 1/2" I took one of the ends and cut it in 1/2 making four rings that I then cut a slice out of and then glued back together to make engine stop rings in each wing tube. Sorry about the fuzzy photo but I had most work done before I double checked the photos.

Motor Stops


 After rings dried they were guled into place in each of the tubes


Inside Wing Tips

 This was then followed by some white primmer.



Went over entire rocket with 600 grit paper and then applyed a final goat of Rust-O-lium 2x white primmer. After standard drying time this was followed by two coats of Krylon Gloss White and left outside to dry overnight.

Primed and Standing Straight

Standing straight in gray & white primers.

Gloss white applied

Gloss coat applied. NOTE how shadow resembles a goony version, Hmmmm....



Ok, time for more fun. I now re-ran the decals that I had for the clone through Windows Paint and doubled their size. After checking them against the upscale I had to go back into Windows Paint and do some addtional sizeing. Once cut out and a little more trimming and they fit perfectlly. At this point I grabbed the glue stick and started glueing them on. These don't look quite as good as they would if I had decal paper but this the best I can do on a low budget.

Detailed & ready for clear coat

Clear coat applyed


Waited an hour after applying decals then double checked them to make sure none were pealing off and applyed two coats of Krylon Clear to seal all detailing. Once this dried I applied one final coat of Dupli-Color Clear EFFEX paint to give it the rainbow prism effect. Dosen't show up real well on white but looks sharp on the red and blue trim.

Glamour Shot With Little Brother

Glamour Shot Star Seeker 2X Upscale with Star Seeker Clone



On 5-17-10 I finally got out to fly these two with a couple of the guys from H.U.V.A.R.S. at a club launch in New Hudson, MI. First up was the Star Seeker clone on an A10-3T. Temp. was in the upper 50's with winds between 5-10 MPH. Waited for a lull then gave the count down and hit the fire button. Rocket quickly tried to vanish from sight but was able to track it to apogee where ejection charge fired. The streamer I added did not unroll but rocket fell at a slow enough speed that it landed with no damage. Will have to decide now if I want to leave the streamer it in or not.

Star Seeker clone on pad 2

Star Seeker clone on pad 2 

Star Seeker clone recovery

 Star Seeker recovery (Note that streamer is still rolled up)


Next up was the 2x upscale. Due to the smaller size field than I was hoping for and the wind picking up a bit I decided to limit maiden flight to just the core motor with only a B6-4. Great boost with rocket almost vanishing in the sky just like its little brother. Herd the pop at apogee and saw the chute eject but it seemed to have a problem. Nylon 'chute would not open properly. Rocket came down hard and suffered heavy damage. Recovery showed why parachute malfunctioned. About 8" above the end of the BT the shock cord was melted to the parachute in one tiny spot. As for the rocket itself the right wing was ripped off but in one piece. The left wing however was ripped lose but not off but had the wood dowel on the wing tip broken off. Will require some work to repair but nothing that can't be fixed. Will be flown again. Hopefully with all five motors.

Star Seeker 2x upscale

2x Upscale in 5...4...3...

Star Seeker 2x upscale recovery

Star Seeker 2x upscale recovery Yell