Semroc Tau Zero

Semroc - Tau Zero {Kit} (KN-2)

Contributed by Howard Smart

Construction Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Flight Rating: starstarstar_borderstar_borderstar_border
Overall Rating: starstarstarstarstar_border
Diameter: 0.76 inches
Length: 16.00 inches
Manufacturer: Semroc
Skill Level: 2
Style: Futuristic/Exotic

This is a small Sci-Fi looking model with forward swept fins, a ring fin and a bulging nose cone.

The kit contains:

  • Balsa Nose Cone
  • Body tube (also serves as 18mm motor mount)
  • Ring fin (body tube material)
  • Sheet of laser cut 3/32 in. balsa fins - 6 all together, 3 inside and 3 outside ring fin
  • Empty motor casing (spacer)
  • Thrust ring
  • Engine hook
  • Retaining ring
  • Long launch lug
  • (3) Short launch lugs (for "lasers")
  • (3) Wood dowels (for "lasers")
  • Elastic cord 18 in.
  • Screw eye
  • Kevlar® thread 20 in.
  • Streamer (crepe paper) 1.75x24 in.
  • Tape disc
  • Glue applicator (cotton swab)
  • Tau Zero fin attachment template
  • Decal
I found the assembly of this model to be well thought out and well described in the instructions. The illustrations are accurate and helpful. I did use the template for the alignment of the inner fins. It worked well. I like the fact that the inner fins had a cutout to fit over the engine hook retaining ring. For the outer fins I used a fin alignment jig of my own. When finished, all three pairs of inner and outer fins aligned well.

semroc_tau-zero_ready4paintAfter attaching the three inner fins, the ring fin is fit over them and glued onto their outer edges. My inner fins were just not quite long enough for this to work well. I had not sanded them too much. In fact I really just deburred them and did not even sand off all of the laser burns. For this reason I used epoxy rather than carpenter's glue to attach the ring and held it in place manually while the epoxy set. Since carpenter's glue shrinks as it cures I thought it would shrink out of the gap and leave a weak joint.

It was a small joy that the kit came with its own Q-tip for applying the glue for the thrust ring. It meant I didn't have to go look for something to spread the glue. They get a brownie point for that.

The instructions point out what is probably the most important thing about finishing this rocket. You really need to paint under the ring before you glue it on. I did this and colored the inside of the ring itself as well. The paint scheme calls for flat black. Rather than paint this I colored it with a black magic marker and it came out great. It smelled for days, though. I chose the "Alternate Paint Scheme" from the instructions. I like the fact that they gave us two suggested paint schemes.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

I flew it on all three recommended motors. The flights were all stable and straight. The engine hook takes one headache out of prepping and it is nice to see that they gave us one even though this is a sort of minimum diameter kit.

On one flight it ejected to motor casing in spite of the hook being engaged. I have not figured this out yet.

The supplied streamer was totally inadequate for recovery of this rocket. It is a small rocket, but the large solid balsa nose cone, the huge screw eye and the large ring fin all add significant mass. My rocket lost one of its "laser guns" on the first landing and a whole fin on the third. I did not measure the descent rate, but it was faster than I like to see for safety.

It also suffered rebound damage from the elastic snapping the nose cone back at the body tube at ejection. This may be due to a batch of motors with overly energetic ejection charges that I have been seeing lately.

Flight Rating: 2 out of 5

This is a very good looking sporty Sci-Fi rocket. It was disappointing to see a nice rocket like this with small parts sticking off of it come screaming down to earth on an inadequate streamer. I really like this kit. Now that I am done evaluating it, mine will be packing a chute from now on.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Other Reviews
  • Semroc Tau Zero By Dick Stafford (March 28, 2010)

    ( Contributed - by Dick Stafford - 03/28/10) Brief: This is third and final kit that I received from the last 2009 Quarterly Rocket Give-Away so, once again, many thanks to Nick! The Tau Zero, as you all know, is a futuristic rocket from Semroc that flies on 18mm motors and recovers via a streamer. As of this writing, there are no less than seven great reviews on this kit. As a ...

  • Semroc Tau Zero By Peter Stanley (May 25, 2009)

    Brief: The Tau Zero is a Semroc original kit, which was designed by Jay Goemmer. It has an unusually shaped nosecone and forward swept fins that attach to a tube ring with additional fins underneath. It is designed for 18mm motors and uses streamer recovery. Construction: As with every Semroc kit I've built, the quality of components was excellent. The kit contained laser cut ...

  • Semroc Tau Zero By Tyler Jones (April 1, 2009)

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  • Semroc Tau Zero By Jamie Martin (March 23, 2009)

    Brief: This is a futuristic kit with an unusually-shaped nose cone, forward-swept outer fins, and a ring fin. Construction: The kit contains: -Balsa nose cone -body tube -ring fin -laser cut fins -empty casing -thrust ring -engine hook -retaining ring -1/8" launch lug -launch lugs for ion cannons -wooden dowels for ion cannons ...

  • Semroc Tau Zero By Robert Gustin (March 22, 2009)

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  • Semroc Tau Zero By Chan Stevens (February 22, 2009)

    Semroc has released a futuristic kit by guest designer Jay "Centuri Guy" Goemmer. The design was inspired by the Paul Anderson novel of the same name. It features both fin and ring stability, sharp-looking details, and a set of decals in alien language. Parts are the usual excellent Semroc quality: Balsa nose cone ST-7100 body tube (basically a thick-walled 18mm ID tube) ST-1622 ...

  • Semroc Tau Zero By Jewel B. Butler Jr. (January 11, 2009)

    Brief: This is a single stage combo ring fin and forward swept fin design. You don't get a lot of altitude, but you get style and stability. Construction: Semroc Parts-basically a BT-20 body tube and a BT-60 ring-fin and three forward swept fins with dowels on the ends of the wings.There is an engine hook that is attached out side the body tube but it is hidden by the ring ...


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