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Red Spike - 2010 Design This Spaceship Contest Entry

By Dale Marshall

Scratch - Red Spike {Scratch}

2010 Design t' Spaceship Contest Entry

When lookin' over t' design possibilities for this contest, I was intrigued by all o' them, but t' only one I felt comfortable buildin' at me current skill level was t' red & white one with t' huge nosecone.  My first attempt at this build (Mini Red Spike) failed miserably when t' rocket arced off o' t' pad and into t' ground where it smashed itself t' bits before t' ejection charge finished t' job.

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Parts List (2011-05-04 00:00:00)

T' parts list for this rocket is quite extensive.

1 - PNC-66A
3 - NC-5 (Conical shape from t' Estes nosecone pack)
1 - BT-80 (4 5/8”)
1 - BT-60 (9”)
3 - BT-20 (4”)
3 - BT-5 (5 ½”)
1 - 24mm EngineMountKit
1 - Engine Hook
8 - BT-6080 Centerin' Ring
6 - BT-0520 Centerin' Ring
6 - Balsa fins
1 – 3/16” Launch Lug (2” long)
1 - 18” Parachute
1 – Sheet o' bubble wrap (you’ll see…)

Red Spike Parts

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T' Build (2011-05-04 00:00:00)


After buildin' t' Red Spike in RockSim, ya bilge rat, I took t' original images provided on t' website and sized them t' fit t' BT-80 nosecone.  I printed out several copies t' use as templates and guides.  T' first thin' in t' build was t' cut t' base o' t' nosecone off leavin' a 1” shoulder.  Then, I cut t' BT-80 and BT-60 t' size and build t' engine mount.  Next, I installed t' six centerin' rings evenly spaced on t' last 4” o' t' BT-60 and glued t' BT-80 over them (see t' RockSim file).  I then constructed and installed t' BT-60 baffle in t' top o' t' main body tube (should have done that first!) and t' engine mount into t' other end.


 Red Spike Main Tube with Baffle


Next I worked on t' win' pods.  I cut t' BT-5s and BT-20s t' size and glued t' nosecones into t' BT-5s.  I installed t' centerin' rings around t' BT-5s and inserted them into t' BT-20s leavin' 4” hangin' out one end, givin' t' other end a sort o' “ramjet” look.  In hindsight, I should have planned t' location o' t' centerin' rings a little better as you will see later.


Red Spike Wing Pods


Finally it was time t' work on t' fins.  In t' image, t' fins are strangely shaped and t' aft fins are very thin at t' top.  I printed a copy o' t' image full-size, and cut out t' fin parts and used them as a template and cut t' fins out o' 1/8” balsa.  I wasn’t comfortable with just gluin' t' fins t' t' body tubes and pods, arrr, so added extra length t' t' top and bottom t' make them through-the-wall.  At least t' aft fins are, and also where they connect into t' pods.  I had t' notch t' upper parts o' t' fins because o' where I placed t' centerin' rings in t' pods.  I don’t believe it will impact stability, me hearties, but those pods are just askin' t' break off on landin' anyway.  I carefully measured for t' fin slots and cut them in t' main body tube and t' pods.  Turns out t' aft fins are longer than t' body tube, too, so I had t' cut a notch for t' interior centerin' rin' as well!  A longer engine mount tube would have avoided this problem.


Red Spike Rear Fins


After installin' t' aft fins, I realized I had forgotten t' install t' pair o' centerin' rings t' support t' transitions!  Oops.  So I cut t' rings in half and glued them onto t' body tube right up next t' t' lower fins (offset t' t' cut edges weren’t lined up).


Next I re-measured t' space available and used t' Template Wizard (from EMRR) t' print out t' two transitions (one 3” long and t' other ¾” long).  I cut them out and dry-fit them t' ensure they were t' right size.  With t' aft fins installed I had another problem – I couldn’t properly install t' aft transition!  I traced t' two transition patterns onto poster board.  T' aft transition was broken up into three oversized pieces so thar would be some overlap for strength.  T' front transition went on smoothly and then t' aft transition pieces (slotted t' fit over t' fins).


To complete t' main body I glued t' front fins (through-the-wall into t' pod but nay into t' main body tube) and pods on and lined everythin' up.  I chose t' place a strip o' 1/8” balsa under t' launch lug t' offset it from t' aft transition just in case.


I glued a piece o' shock cord into t' nosecone usin' a standard tri-fold mount and tied that t' t' Keelhaul®©™ cord in t' baffle.  Finally, I attached t' 18” parachute t' t' shock cord.


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Finishing (2011-05-04 00:00:00)

To finish t' Red Spike, I filled all o' t' seams and made fillets out o' wood filler and smoothed and sanded it all.  I sprayed a coat o' white primer and sanded it down.  I masked off t' white areas and sprayed on Testor’s “Revvin' Red” model car paint.  I really like t' look o' this glittery paint!  As a final touch I added some Monokote Chrome trim t' t' tail t' simulate t' engine nozzle as on t' original image.


Red Spike Finished

Here is a comparison t' t' original image t' Red Spike be built from.

Red Spike Comparison

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Flight! (2011-05-04 00:00:00)

This rocket is sized for 24mm engines and simmed t' fly t' 230’ on a C-11 engine and t' 655’ on a D-12.  I decided t' try out t' stability on t' C-11 first.  On launch, matey, t' Red Spike arced over a little (maybe a little nose-heavy) but stayed stable and t' parachute ejected as planned.  On t' second flight, also on a C-11, it again arced over but this time t' parachute didn’t deploy because it got stuck in t' nosecone.  Fortunately I be flyin' in a field o' tall grass so t' Spike landed softly and nothin' broke.  I added a wad o' bubble wrap in t' nose t' keep t' parachute from gettin' stuck up there.  T' next day I took t' Red Spike t' a nearby soccer/football field and launched again.  This time I had a video camera with me.  T' third launch was a repeat o' t' first one, shiver me timbers, on a C-11, and this time t' parachute came out as planned and landed it fairly softly.  T' fourth launch was on a D12-3 and it soared!  T' parachute deployed and t' whole thin' came down fine.  It did crack a couple o' fins on landin' but that was expected.  See t' video for details.

Red Spike Liftoff! 

Final tally – Four successful launches on two different engines, ya bilge rat, three successful deployments, and two cracked fins.  Already repaired and with a larger parachute ready t' fly again!

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Overall Impressions (2011-05-04 00:00:00)


This was a very fun rocket t' build, and it wasn't too hard despite t' complex curves and tight fit o' some o' t' parts.  T' aft paper transition was t' hard part, makin' sure it fit properly around t' fins.  But overall it was a great experience.  This one sure draws deadlights on t' flight line, and its performance off t' pad is great!


I'd give it a skill level o' 2, maybe 3.  I've attached t' RockSim file so others can build it.  I wouldn't count on t' file for t' fins, though, shiver me timbers, since they were roughly drawn there.  Take a copy o' t' original image, size it t' t' nosecone, and print that out for t' fin templates.  Remember t' add a bit for TTW mounting!

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Red Spike Original Contest Images

Red Spike RockSim File

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