Showing posts from March, 2020

My Maple Seed disaster

The Thrifty Rocketeer continues... (in the Spring of the virus)

So, many of us Rocketeers rejoiced at the requirement to Stay at Home and out-last the ravages of the Covid-19 virus.    We could start in on our build pile, and very few objections would be filed.

So each of us chose the most appealing build.  I chose the "Maple Seed" by Semroc, marketed by
I must admit, the package was smaller than I had expected.  And I assumed the design for maple seed fins that are shed at apogee was simpler than I expected.

I was wrong.

First, there are a fair number of stamped parts that get sandwiched together to make up those fins. Second, the fins need to be tuned, or balanced.  Third, a great deal of design has gone into this.  It's not surprising that it's been judged a Skill Level Three kit.

And I thought I might knock it out in a night.  Wrong again.
And by rushing, I made a critical error.  Not once, but three times, as I tried to get ahead on the timeline.

 I should …

The Thrifty Rocketeer-- in the Year of the Virus

Well, it's another red-letter day.... er, month.... in the life.

I hesitate to use that expression, because many younger or non-Catholic readers may not understand the significance.

(Many Catholic families have a church calendar on the wall, where some High Holy Days are accented in red printing.  The idea is that you can't miss them or overlook a date.)

Hence, the expression, " A red-letter date". 

The way I use it, is to state the day is a very important day, and one that will be remembered.  Except in this case, it's not 9-11... or 11/23/63... but an on-going week upon week evolution of a fight against a rampant viral... er, virus.

I cannot tell you when I first heard about the outbreak in Wutan, China...but I recall concerns in the national news as it worsened.  About the second week of March, there were restrictions being announced and it was apparent that we were in for a wild ride.

Now, some say the US had indications or reports of this virus back in January...a…

Launch Leads or whatever

The Thrifty Rocketeer continues...

As we approach Spring launch season in the mid-west, many of us are finishing up our winter build projects.  Some are painting, and others are beginning to refurbish their launch equipment.  Usually, this refurbishing includes replacing wooden clothes pins, replacing charred alligator clips, burned up blast leads, and occasionally, launch controller repairs

The typical rocketry club has an equipment manager who looks over these things and assures that they are replaced by the first launch of the season.  For winter launch clubs, this might occur in the fall as the fields are winterized by the farmer/landlord.

The rest of us either have an old Estes launch controller, or have our own launch set.

But it occurs to me that as club membership changes and shifts, there's a need for many club members to be familiar with the equipment or at least how to set up and break down launch equipment.  The temptation to launch alone might also prompt a rocketeer to s…

The Long Delay

The Thrifty Rocketeer continues....

after a delay of almost two months.

You see, Life got in the way.

First, my car blew up.  That is, the engine overheated on one of the coldest nights in January, and I had to get home, so I continued to drive in it, all the while keeping an eye on the temp gauge. Big mistake.

The head gasket had failed and the head might have warped.

So, I either had to scrap the car, replace the head gasket and mill the head flat...or totally replace the engine, to start with a used engine in a vehicle that had 229,000 miles on it.

I had the engine replaced.

Then my kids each announced that they wanted to buy a car.  One could afford it. The other cannot.
So, we went car shopping.

One kid found a good value.  One did not.
But I found an acceptable car with manual transmission that I could drive comfortably, even though no one else in the family could drive it.

So my old car has fallen into the hands of one kid.

Plus, property taxes have come due... and medical bills from last …