Scratch Sweat-Stained Clifton Tracking Station Hat of Death Original Design / Scratch Built

Scratch - Sweat-Stained Clifton Tracking Station Hat of Death {Scratch}

Contributed by Dick Stafford

Manufacturer: Scratch
Style: Odd-Roc

This is a 29mm UFO-type rocket made from an old hat. The hat is removable in case I forget a ball cap - wouldn't want to sunburn the top of my head, ya' know.

This is really a minimalist rocket. I decided to make the core out of a solid piece of 2" pink foam. I started by tracing the outline of the hat and roughing out a chunk with a sharp knife. I did just a tad of trimming to make sure it was oval, and then found the center point. Next, I drew a circle and slowly bored a hole for the motor mount. I also cut a slot on one side to accommodate a 1/4" lug. The motor mount includes a 3.25" section of phenolic tubing, a similar length of 1/4" launch lug, and a 29mm-76mm centering ring. The centering ring was mounted so that the motor tube was flush with the top of the foam. It serves to distribute the thrust to the foam core, and helps ensure that the motor tube is perpendicular to the foam's surface. This assembly was then epoxied into the foam block. I added a circle of scrap plywood to plug the front of the tube, making sure that all openings were sealed with epoxy. The final step was to find the point where the rod would pass through the hat itself, and cut a small 'X' with an X-acto knife. Like I said, not much to it. Slip the hat over the finished core and I was ready to fly.

I flew the hat on a G35 with the ejection charge removed. After the unsuccessful flight of another odd-roc, the RSO must have pretty much given up, and my flight card got stamped. Since I did not treat the foam surface to protect it from the motor exhaust, I made sure it was about 12" from the deflector. The hat flew great, seeming to fly faster and higher than my similarly sized 29mm saucers. It fell slowly to the ground without even getting dirty(er).

I find myself liking UFO style rockets more and more and couldn't resist trying this odd-roc. This was my first wearable rocket - I wore the hat to the RSO table, to the pad, and back again after recovery. If anyone else has flown a hat (and someone probably has), I didn't find anyone who had heard of it.

The Story Behind the Name In the late '90's, I was the project manager for a telemetry, command, and antenna control system. My team and I traveled to Clifton, Texas to run some preliminary tests with the antennas. Unfortunately, they weren't quite ready and since springtime in Texas is a tad warmer than in Maryland, we weren't happy campers. With the prospects of spending a fair amount of time walking between the building and the antenna pads in the hot sun, one of my guys ran to Wal-Mart for hats. This hat became our team's unofficial uniform, and mine came back fairly stained. I was finally about to chunk it when I got an idea!

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