This is a single stage, 4 finned payload rocket by Vaughn Brothers Rocketry. This rocket can achieve some pretty extreme altitude on a G42 or G55 motor. Fin attachment is through the wall.
This kit contains:
There are two and a half pages of directions, with a single illustration on the back for reference. They are easy enough to follow. Like most kits, just take one step and a time and it's fairly straight forward. Illustrations are lacking when compared to an Estes kit, but I felt they more than adequate.
Construction begins with assembling the motor mount. This was my first kit that recommended epoxy, and the recommendations were either 5 or 30 minute epoxy. I assembled this kit with 5 minute epoxy.
The top centering ring has a steel leader already attached. This steel leader extends out the top of the body tube, where the very adequate length of elastic shock cord provided is then attached. After epoxying all parts in place and allowing to dry, the motor mount is then placed into the body tube, and epoxied into place.
The hardest part comes next. The body tube is placed onto the top of an alignment guide provided on the back of the directions. Fin locations are then marked. Directions are a little light here but if you have some building experience, it's easy enough to figure out how to do this. I then used a door frame to mark the tube for the fins based on the previous marks.
The tough part is cutting in the slots into the body tube for the fins. Directions advise to cut a 1/32" slot from the top centering ring to the bottom ring. I did this, and was a little sloppy. However the epoxy fillets cover the area nicely.
The fins were epoxied in place, and the epoxy fillets were added. Directions advise to lightly sand the fins and tube so that the adhesive can get a better bite.
The launch lug was added next without any problem.
The coupler and bulkhead assembly was last, and fairly straight forward with the directions. A screw eye is inserted into the bulkhead for attachment of the shock cord.
There are no decals with this kit, nor any directions for paint scheme. Directions do call for light sanding of the fins and body tube. Knowing that the manufacturer's colors are primarily black and yellow, I attempted to stay with those colors. I'm not all that happy with my end results, but I'm just original when it comes to paint schemes. Nothing to do with the kit itself.
The manufacturer lists a finished weight of 4.2 ounces, and mine came in just under at 4.0 ounces.
Construction Rating: 4 out of 5
Our first flight was on 2-19-03. We had light winds and were ready to launch.
I used an Estes D12-5. It was retained in the motor tube via tape and friction fitting.
The rocket was loaded up with some Estes wadding and the recovery system was loaded. I had a nice 16" nylon parachute that matched the color of the rocket well. I elected to use it instead of the 18", as the rocket really is fairly light.
Having everything loaded up and the rocket on the pad we were ready to go. At the end of the countdown I pressed the button on the controller, and nothing happened.
Upon inspection, the ignitor lit, but I didn't have it up into the motor enough/correctly. We corrected that with a new ignitor and were once again ready to go. However believing in the rocketry version of Murphy's law I began to wonder about launching, thinking the first attempt may have been a sign.
I was talked into proceeding by my wife. We counted down again, pressed the button and had ignition. The rocket took off from the pad very quickly and straight. It was a beautiful straight flight, and just at apogee the chute deployed. Perfect flight on this D12 motor.
Upon deploying the chute we had our first problem. The kit started to come down in two pieces. The chute deployed fine and was still attached to the payload section. The body tube was free falling. Luckily it was unstable enough not to nose dive. It came tumbling down and knocked a fin loose on landing.
Both pieces were recovered and I found my problem. The steel leader suppled with the kit was looped and then crimped at both ends. The leader looped around the upper centering ring. However the crimp apparently wasn't strong enough as the leader pulled right through it at deployment. This let the two pieces separate. The leader came already in place around the centering ring. I've contacted Vaughn Brothers about the recovery problem and am waiting for a return email.
Damage was minor however and I really believe this was a fluke, I'd still consider the steel leader assembly to be the strongest, not the weakest link in the recovery system.
The fin was easily repaired, but now I'm stuck with an Estes style paper shock cord mount on the inside of the body tube. I don't know if I'll have confidence in it for the bigger G motors though.
Flight Rating: 4 out of 5
PROS:The kit is fairly simple in design and goes together well. All parts fit nicely and were of good quality.
CONS:The directions are a little light. They are more than adequate if you have some experience, but I wouldn't recommend this for a first or early build for a new modeler. If you need the detail of Estes type directions then this may be a little tough for you.
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5