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Estes Photon Probe Build, Background
The original Estes Photon Probe was only around for two years, from 1991-1993. I have two kits, one original from the 1990s and the second from 2009 when Estes started their "Classic Series. The older kit was #2043, the reissue kit is #3026. Both kits will be built at the same time, I'll be ...
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Estes Photon Probe #3026 Build, Part 1, Parts
Here's the parts from the reissue kit from 2009. When the Classic Series started most of the kits had balsa nose cones. The older kit had a blow molded plastic cone. All the parts were of great quality. You can see the balsa sheet was made up from two different pieces of wood. Here's a ...
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Estes Photon Probe #3026 Build, Part 2, Fin Prepping
In a grumpy old man voice: "You kids don't know how good you've got it! In my day we had to cut out our own fins! Then things got easier when they started die-cutting the balsa." To be honest, die-cut balsa was never that great. We used to call it "die-crushing". If the shop blades were old you'd ...
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Estes Photon Probe #3026 Build, Part 3, Engine Mount
The older kit had thicker centering rings. To the right is the thinner rings from the reissue kit. I did my standard relief punches so the rings would slide easier over the engine hook. The inset picture shows the slight curved punch over the hook. The instructions would have you glue the upper ...
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Estes Photon Probe #3026 Build, Part 4, Nose Cone Prep
The older plastic nose cone had a small nib at the shoulder. This prevented the nose cone from seating all the way into the tube. The second picture shows the fit after shaving off the nib. I never liked this small round shock cord attachment. It always seemed weak. It was cut off and a hole was ...
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Estes Photon Probe #3026 Build, Part 5, Wood Strips
I won't be using the balsa strips from the older kit. they'd be a little hard to fill. New strips were cut from basswood. The ends of the strips are cut to a 45 degree angle. TIP: To make sure all the cuts were consistent, I drew up an angle guide on my cutting board. A single edge razor blade was ...
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Estes Photon Probe #3026 Build, Part 7, Fin Placement Differences
I don't understand why there are inconsistencies in a reissue kit. It's not a big deal, it's just curious. The older kit has squared fin edges, shown in the upper part of the picture. The reissue kit has rounded leading edges. The forward "dorsal" fin positions aren't consistent. In the original ...
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Estes Photon Probe #3026 Build, Part 6, Engine Mount Gluing
The 150 lb. Kevlar line rolled up and inside the engine mount for gluing into the BT-55 main air frame tube. On the replaceable Kevlar style mount the Kevlar is looped and tied under the lower centering ring. The orange Q-tip tube allows you to check the condition of the line after a few flights ...
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Estes Photon Probe #3026 Build, Part 8, Tube Prepping
The launch lug was glued on in line with the engine hook side. A painting wand is slipped in the back. Rolled up paper towel is pressed into the engine mount recess to keep paint out of the inside. Primer coats followed. There is a light difference in the nose cone shapes. The original plastic ...
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Estes Photon Probe #3026 Build, Part 9, Dorsal Fin Gluing
The strange thing is - The Dorsal Fins are centered on the strips. The strips aren't much wider than the 3/32" thick fins. these will be a chore to fillet and get a smooth joint during finishing. The dorsal strip fins are set directly above the main low fins, 2 3/4" from the end of the main tube. ...
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Estes Photon Probe #3026 Build, Part 10, Paint and Masking
Mentioned earlier, the fins are centered on the strips. The strip isn't much wider than the small fins. A very small fillet was applied to the upper fin sides. It took quite a bit of fine sanding to get the fillet areas smooth. This one required two base coats of gloss white and sanding in between ...
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Estes Photon Probe #3026 Build, Part 12, Decals
The older kit decals were actually in pretty good shape. They did require a long soak to release from the backing paper. After the first fin decal was set down I sighted over the outside edge of the fin to line up the next decal placement. The body wrap decal centers over the color mask with the ...
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Estes Photon Probe #3026 Build, Part 11, Paint Choices
The older kit face card had the middle section painted pink. I do have pink spray paint but it's not a dark enough shade for me. I decided to go with orange like the Photon Disruptor. Here's the paint mask Scotch tape being pulled. The line was very clean. While the older Photon Probe was shown ...
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Estes Photon Probe #3026 Build, Finished
I do like the orange instead of the original pink center section. Getting the smaller fin fillet areas smooth was a chore. A clean looking model with a different, clever decal treatment.
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