Estes - The Dude {Kit} (2199) [2001-2003]

Contributed by Les Bradshaw

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Flight Rating: starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstar_borderstar_border
Length: 88.00 inches
Manufacturer: Estes
Skill Level: 2
Style: Sport

Brief:
This rocket goes back to the time when the body of a rocket was so thin it could not support its own weight. The rockets relied on the pressurization of the fuel to keep them from collapsing. The Dude has a fin/motor mount cage and then a chrome covered nylon "balloon" that is inflated for the body and nose.

Construction:
There are no body tubes. A simple plastic cage consisting of 2 rings and 3 supports get glued together with plastic cement. The Dude comes with a pre-assembled motor mount. This motor mount slides onto the fins and is glued in place. This motor mount/fin assembly is then glued to the cage.

The instructions were simple to follow. All you need for supplies is plastic cement. There actually is very little construction required. I did need to do a bit of trimming where the cage and motor mount/fin assembly joined. Being a balloon, the unit is not very sturdy. The balloon attaches to the cage with tape. The launch lugs (2) are taped to the side of the balloon. There is a top ring that is weighted to ensure the stability. This ring is just taped to the balloon. A line runs from this ring down to the motor mount. There is a 12" parachute that ties to this string. It is ejected out the side from the motor mount.

Finishing:
No finishing is required. The chromed balloon looks cool as is.

Construction Rating: 5 out of 5

Flight:
The only recommended motor is the D12-3. The motor easily slides into the mount. There is a twist ring to hold the motor in place. Wadding is required to protect the parachute. I feel there is a problem with launching this rocket. First, it comes with a "launch pad" that is a stake you are supposed to push into the ground. Good luck if you have hard or rocky soil. Also, the instructions do state launch with little or no wind. Since the balloon is so wide and tall, yet light weight, it catches the wind very easily. I tried flying in 5 mph winds with 10 mph gusts. During one gust the rocket leaned over and the top of the stake that holds the rod broke off. I ended up just putting the rod directly into the ground. The rocket stayed upright during the flight. In fact, instead of weather cocking, it sort of went side-ways with the wind. It is a very sloooww flying rocket.

Recovery:
As I indicated earlier, the parachute is located at the bottom in the motor mount. It is ejected sideways, then moves to the top by the string attached to the top ring. The parachute causes the rocket to drift down horizontally instead of making a nose-down ballistic flight. Again, due to how light the rocket is compared to its size, it will drift far in the wind.

Flight Rating: 3 out of 5

Summary:
This is a cool looking rocket and does impress the people watching. However, there are several problems. Don't try flying if there is any wind. The launch pad is useless. Unfortunately, the rocket uses a 1/4" rod so a standard Estes launch pad can't handle it. I would try to find another way to hold the rod instead of the stake (unless you are launching at a beach). I've flown the rocket twice, and I two places where the seam of the balloon let go. A little cleapacking tape fixed that problem.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

Flights

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