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Subject: rec.models.rockets FAQ Part 09 - Competition and Records

This article was archived around: 07 May 2002 12:02:27 GMT

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Archive-name: model-rockets/competition Rec-models-rockets-archive-name: rockets-faq/part09 Posting-Frequency: monthly Last-modified: 1999 December 3 URL: http://dtm-corp.com/~sven/rockets/rmrfaq.toc.html
Rec.Models.Rockets FAQ : PART 09 of 14 COMPETITION AND RECORDS ----------------------------------------------------------- 9.1 Are there any manufacturers making kits specifically designed for competition? There are several sources of kits designed primarily for competition. Some of the manufacturers are: Apogee Components rocket motors 1/4A - F 630 Elkton Drive Micro Motors (10.5mm) 1/4A - B Colorado Springs, CO 80907-3414 Composite 13mm B motors tvm@apogeerockets.com Long burn D, E, and F motors (Timothy Van Milligan) Kits and supplies (719) 535-9335 Educational materials and books http://www.ApogeeRockets.com Catalog - $2.00, or see website Eclipse Components Competition model rocket parts 570 Buckeye Dr. Blackshaft (phenolic) tubing Colorado Springs, CO 80919-1212 inexpensive (719) 598-6105 Catalog - $1.00 eclipsecom@worldnet.att.net (Todd Schneider) Pratt Hobbies CMR-style nose cones and 2513 Iron Forge Road egg capsules Herndon, VA 20171 Catalog: FREE (703) 689-3541 (voice/fax) 76703.3041@compuserve.com http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/pratthobbies Qualified Competition Rockets Offers a wide variety kits for c/o Kenneth Brown competition rocketry 7021 Forest View Drive piston launchers, tubing, and Springfield, VA 22150 misc. supplies Catalog: SASE ----------------------------------------------------------- 9.2 What are the major categories of competition model rocketry? The NAR sanctions model rocketry contests throughout the USA, and throughout the year. The contest year runs from July 1 - June 30. The final contest for a given contest year is NARAM, usually held in August, after the end of the contest year. The complete list of event and rules for model rocketry may be found in the NAR "United States Model Rocket Sporting Code," also known as the 'Pink Book.' It is available free to NAR members, and may be ordered from NARTS. Some of the event types are: - Altitude (1/4A - G) The purpose is to get the maximum altitude from a model using a specified class of engine. - Streamer Duration (1/4A - G) The purpose is to get the maximum flight duration from a model with a specified engine type using streamer recovery. - Parachute Duration (1/4A - C) The purpose is to get the maximum flight duration from a model using a specified motor type. - Eggloft Altitude/Duration (B - G) In this event the competitor must launch either one to two large raw hen's eggs, depending on engine type and specific event, and recover it/them, intact, crack-free. The goal is either to reach the highest altitude or have the longest duration flight, depending on the event. - Rocket Glider and Boost Glider Duration (1/4A - G) In these events the competitor launches a glider using a rocket engine and tries to achieve the longest flight duration of the glider. In boost glider the pod containing the motor may be ejected and recovered separately. In rocket glider all parts, including the expended engine, must stay with the model. Rocket glider is considered to be the more difficult event because the model must be both a rocket and a glider without loosing any parts. The CG and CP requirements for the two phases of flight are very different. See Part 08 of this FAQ. - Helicopter Duration (1/4A - G) In these events the model ascends as a rocket. Rotor arms then extend by some mechanism and the rocket slowly descends like a helicopter which has lost power. - Payload Altitude (A - G) In these events the competitor must launch one or more standard NAR pay- loads (1 ounce each of fine sand) and recover the model. The number of payloads increases with larger engine sizes. - SuperRoc Altitude/Duration (1/4A - G) These events are for rockets that have a minimum and maximum length requirement based on engine class (0.25 - 4.5 meters). There are both altitude and duration variations. The trick to these events is that the model may not bend or crimp during flight. - Scale Events These are craftsmanship events where competitors build scale models of real military or commercial rockets. Fine craftsmanship is emphasized. * Scale: exact replicas of rockets, with major scale dimensions verified by judges. * Sport Scale: adherence to scale is judged from a distance of 1 meter. * Peanut Scale: Sport Scale for small models (<30cm long or <2cm dia.) * Giant Scale: Sport Scale for large models (>100cm long or >10cm dia.) * Super Scale: must include a scale launcher as well as model of rocket; judged same as scale * Space Systems: Sport Scale model and optional launch complex. Model must complete a predetermined mission with the purpose of duplicating in miniature the full-scale operation of the prototype. - Plastic Model Conversion (PMC) This event is either loved or hated. Competitors enter plastic models of rockets or other aero-vehicles that have been converted to fly as model rockets. - Precision Events These include spot landing, random duration, predicted duration, precision duration, and predicted altitude. - Drag Race Multi-round, elimination tournament where contestants gets points for: * FIRST lift off * LOWEST altitude * LAST to land - Research and Development A non-flying event where contestants enter results of research projects. Entries are judged for completeness, contribution to rocketry knowledge, degree of difficulty, etc. The Tripoli "Member's Handbook" currently lists one competitive event for high power models: - Altitude Records The purpose is to get your rocket to the highest possible altitude with a given motor power range. Verify the altitude achieved. In 1995, Tripoli added official altitude records for F through O powered consumer rockets. Some Tripoli records are listed later in this section. ----------------------------------------------------------- 9.3 What are some good events to try when first getting into competition? Any 'sage' advice? From bmcdermo@ix.netcom.com (Buzz McDermott): I just started competition this year. I must have asked 30 experienced competitors where to start. I got 30 COMPLETELY DIFFERENT ANSWERS!! They ranged from 'keep it REAL simple' to 'try everything'. Here is a summary of the most prevalent advice. It seems to have worked for me. - Competition requires a large stable of rockets, given all the possible events and engine categories; start with some of the simpler ones where a single model might be competitive in more than one event (for example, the same model might be used for 1/2A-A streamer or parachute duration, another model might be competitive in any of A - C streamer or chute duration) - Try single eggloft (B-C, duration or altitude) before trying the multi-egg categories (such as D or E dual egg). - Go for a good, qualified flight first; then decide if 'going for broke' is appropriate on your second flight (this is for multi- flight events). - Get a teammate and enter as a team. There are too many models you need to compete to be able to build all of them your first year. Entering as a team let's you pool time, talent, experience, and models. - Don't get discouraged if you aren't immediately competitive. Remember, the main goal is to enjoy yourself and HAVE SOME FUN. If you are new at this, you're going to learn A LOT about rocketry by doing it the fun way. - KEEP A LOG OF ALL FLIGHTS. RECORD WHAT WORKS AND WHAT DOESN'T. NOTE YOUR FLIGHT TIMES, ALTITUDES, ETC. Your biggest weapon in many events is in being able to predict how your models will perform. - Make a model preparation checklist for each event (i.e., a detailed, step-by-step list of everything necessary to prep the model). Use this list for your first few competitions. Comp models are often prepared a little differently from sport models. The difference between winning and losing is often just attention to detail, or lack of it, in the heat of competition. From mark@jupiter.fnbc.com (Mark Bundick) Note: This is a condensed version of some competition strategies for individual and team competitors, written by Mark 'Bunny' Bundick and posted to r.m.r. Check the r.m.r archive server for the complete posting. The full posting points out that there are many ways to win, and the following is just what has worked for some individuals. Some Individual Competition Strategies: (a) Read the Pink Book. If you don't know the rules for the event, you can't know how to win and how to improve. Figure out the scoring for each event, how many flights are allowed, required number of returned flights, the reasons for disqualification, etc. Reading the rules will also give you some insights into how the contest will be run. Start with the general rules then review the event-specific rules. (b) Practice for all events where your experience is low. If you already know how to fly parachute duration (PD), don't waste time practicing that at your club's sport launch. Instead, suppose you don't do well in streamer duration (SD). Build a couple different SD models with different streamers, and fly each of them at least a couple of times BEFORE the contest. Take a notebook to the field and write down what happened, or at least write it down after you get back home. Such notebooks can be the lifeblood of your competition model and strategy development. (c) Improve one event a year. At the start of the season, it helps if you pick one of your weak events for special attention during the year. Review the existing models and strategies for the event, look over the competition carefully during the contest year, and practice this key event each and every sport launch or test flying session you attend. (d) Strive for consistent flights. Rob Justis, my old teammate from the 70's, always reviewed our DQ's after the meet and separated them into "DQ's for the right reason" i.e no return, and "DQ's for the wrong reason", i.e. separation. We strove to avoid the latter obviously. This made us terribly consistent, and with today's "two flights count" rule, this is even more important. (e) Fly all the events. Sounds simple, but many people don't do this. You don't have to win the event, but if you don't fly it, you're sure to get behind because you're conceding flight points right off the bat to your competition. Over the course of a contest year, you can concede 10% of your yearly total this way. (f) Concentrate on events with high individual event weighing factors (WF). If you have to choose events to fly, or are short of preparation time for some of the scheduled events, prepare for and fly the highest WF events first. Simple again right? But how many people go to a contest and fly PD first thing in the AM cause the wind is calm, and ignore BG which has a WF two to three times that of PD? (g) Refine, don't abandon, your models and strategies. Rarely do you get super performance improvements from forgetting all you know to adopt a totally different strategy. I've seen so many people hop onto a design when it didn't fit their flying style and then get burned. They switch because some guy had a super performance at a contest, so he must have the "Holy Grail" of models. Right after Tom Beach placed highly at a NARAM with a flexie RG, I saw lots of folks try them, and crash. Tom had lots of flexie experience that helped, and when regular BG flyers tried to adopt his style without the background, BOOM! If you're serious about switching to a completely different model, say from swing wings to slide wing rocket gliders, then take the time to practice, practice, practice and build up the background in the new method. There are no quick fixes to the winner's circle. (h) Pick your contests carefully. If you can't fly helicopter duration (HD) all that well, and the next regional you plan to attend has two HD events, find another contest! Sometimes, this isn't possible. But if two contests compete for your participation at the same time, take the one that has more of your "strong" events. (i) Casting Your Bread: Share what you've learned with others. A three time national champion who shall remain nameless positively stomped every challenger in his sight. But his desire for keeping secrets and his unwillingness to share left him with few friends, and after a brief time, he left our hobby, poorer himself and leaving our hobby poorer for failing to let us learn from him. The benefits of making new friends and sharing far outweigh any short term competitive advantage you might think you have from being secretive. As a quotation I once read went "We have all drunk from wells we did not dig and been warmed by fires we did not build." So go ahead. Cast your bread on the waters. You won't be sorry. Hope this provides you competition types some food for thought. I'd love to hear from anyone with comments, questions, brickbats, etc. at mark@fnbc.com. ----------------------------------------------------------- 9.4 What is a 'piston' launcher? Does it really help? From: Roger.Wilfong@umich.edu (Roger Wilfong) Pistons offer several advantages and a couple of hassles. +1) They eliminate the need for launch lugs and therefore reduce drag. +2) They keep ignition leads from fouling in glider wings. +3) They can increase lift off velocity (see below). +4) They recover an otherwise lost portion of the whoosh generator's impulse. -1) They require additional maintenance. -2) Ignition can be a hassle. A launch piston is usually made of cylinder of 12-18" of BT-5 or PT-13 and a fixed piston made of an old 13mm motor casing or brass tubing. In practice, the support shaft is attached to a tripod or other launcher, an igniter is inserted into the tubing on the top of the piston. The bottom 1/4" of the motor in the model is friction fitted to the top of the piston tube and lowered onto the igniter (I use 2-3 short pieces of thin 1/4" masking tape across the joint of the piston/body tube to reinforce the friction fit - actually I've found it easier to use a looser fit and the masking tape than to get just the right friction fit). The micro clips of a launch controller are attached to the bare ends of the zip cord. When the motor ignites, exhaust gas pressurizes the cylinder and pushes the piston down. Since the piston is fixed, the effect is that the cylinder is pushed up. When the stop ring at the bottom of the cylinder hits the bottom of the head, the cylinder stops and the model pops off the cylinder. In effect the piston has acted as the launch lug for the fist 12-18" of motion. Roger's Piston Theory (developed through observation and tinkering, it is not based on a mathematical analysis): For performance events, pistons offer an advantage over launch lugs or towers primarily because they convert an otherwise unusable portion of motors total impulse into motion. There is a startup time at the beginning of the burn where the motor is not producing enough thrust to lift the rocket - it is this portion of the burn that the piston is making use of. Since the piston gets the model moving before the motor generates enough thrust to lift the model, it is possible that at the instant of separation, the motor may no be developing sufficient thrust to keep accelerating the model and the model may decelerate for the next few feet after leaving the launcher. This is not a problem for PD/SD models and most gliders - they are typically light enough that the piston has accelerated them to a high enough speed for the fins to work properly; however, it can be a real problem for payloaders and egglofters (I have seen egglofters almost come to a stand still after leaving a short piston). So for heavier models, a piston/tower combination provides additional guidance and helps prevent tip off. The tower is of only small advantage with SD/PD models; however, it can help if there are other disturbing forces at separation that could cause the model to tip. Because they affect the gas flow during the ignition of the motor, pistons don't work well with composite motors. My experience has been that composites either cato or chuff when used with a piston. (If someone has worked out using a composite on a piston, how did you get it to work?) Pistons are a real advantage in any performance event. For eggloft and payload, they typically allow you to use the next longest delay. For instance, a B6-2 is needed for a conventional eggloft model. On an 18" piston, a B6-4 ejects at apogee. Earlier I referred to using a piston on a Big Bertha - an A8-3 gives a marginal flight without the piston; with the piston, ejection is at apogee. There are a couple of variations and modifications to conventional pistons that can further enhance their performance. The diameter of the head (6, 13, 18 and 24mm) is one parameter to play with. Jeff Vincent and Chuck Weiss presented a floating head piston as an R&D project at NARAM- 28 that further increased performance. ----------------------------------------------------------- 9.5 Aside from hanging around 'old timers', how can I learn more about competition strategies and techniques without re-inventing the wheel many times over? The best place to start looking would be the NAR Technical Services (NARTS) catalog. NARTS has several documents of particular interest to competitors. The NARTS catalog can be browsed at the NAR web site - http://www.nar.org/ Look for the NARTS catalog, and when browsing through it, look for these titles: US Record Setting Designs CMASS Plan Book MIT Competition Notebook Journals of the MIT Rocket Society... Proceedings of the MIT Model Rocket Conventions... NAR Technical Reviews, Volumes 1 - 7 Boost Glider Analysis-"A Free Flight Method For Boost Glider Analysis." Streamer Duration Optimization Basic Design Rules for Boost and Rocket Gliders ----------------------------------------------------------- 9.6 Tripoli Altitude Records The following is a list of altitude records based on motor class. These are all official Tripoli Altitude Records as determined by the Tripoli Contest and Records Committee. Further information on Tripoli Altitude Records and specific requirements can be found in the Altitude Competition portion of the Tripoli Handbook. Motor Class Altitude Name Date ------------------------------------------------------------ F 1387 meters Mark Clark 3/10/96 G 1483 meters Mark Sims 11/02/96 H 2221 meters Dave "Fritz" Katz 11/05/95 I 3997 meters Pius Morozumi 9/09/95 J 3006 meters Chet Geyer 5/18/96 K (unclaimed) L (unclaimed) M (unclaimed) N 9431 meters Walter Blanca 8/14/95 O (unclaimed) The above list of official Tripoli Altitude Records is current as of January 20, 1997. Robert Gormley, Chairman Tripoli Contest and Records Committee ----------------------------------------------------------- 9.7 NAR Competition Records NAR competition records can be viewed using your web browser at: http://www.nar.org/ ----------------------------------------------------------- 9.8 Some Unofficial High Power Altitude Attempts Some of the high power records come by way of a posting from Chip Wuerz (dlw@engr.ucf.edu). Chip is part of the University of Central Florida's high altitude rocketry project. Additional information has been taken from several issues of _Tripolitan_/_High Power Rocketry_ magazine. * * Some current records for NON-METALLIC NON-PROFESSIONAL Rockets: * * ---Top altitude holders: Altitude: 27,576 (altitude by Adept altimeter) Set by: Pius Morozumi Event: Black Rock V, Black Rock Dry Lakebed Date: July 16-18, 1993 Altitude: 24,771 feet (11.7% tracking error) Set by: Chuck Rogers and Corey Kline Event: Lucerne Dry Lake Bed, Lucerne, Ca. Date: June 1989, USXRL-89 Altitude: 24,662 (tracking error unknown) Set by: Tom Binford Event: LDRS XI, Black Rock Dry Lake Bed, Nevada Date: August 16, 1992 Altitude: 22,211 feet (5.3% tracking error) Set by: University of Central Florida Event: LDRS X, Black Rock Dry Lake Bed, Gerlach, NV. Date: August 1991 Highest tracked flight at LDRS-X / BALLS 1. Second all-time highest track of a non-metallic high power rocket. University of Central Florida's research project and altitude attempt to break the current high-power rocketry altitude record of 24,771 feet set by the KLINE/ROGERS team in 1989. Altitude attempt had been based on 3850 NS L-engine, new Vulcan L-750 engines deliver 3,000 (now known to be less from motor testing results) newton seconds. In an attempt to make up power loss and to provide margin on the goal altitude of 25,000 feet, the upper stage was delay-staged by several seconds. Altitude predictions computer simulation program predicted 28,500 feet. Upper stage flew substantial trajectory, reaching apogee nearly 2 miles downrange. Rocket used microprocessors / timer-controlled staging and ejection, on-board flight data measurement package, and a radio beacon system to locate upper stage. Track was accomplished using red carpenters chalk. Both stages were recovered. ----------------------------------------------------------- 9.9 Biggest Non-metallic Rocket Flights 1) Rocket: Down Right Ignorant Weight: 800 pounds + Set by: Dennis Lamonthe, Chuck Sackett, and Mike Ward BlackRock Dry Lake Bed, Gerlach, NV. August 17, 1992, FireBALLS experimental launch Description: Super scale based on Esoteric rocket designed by Ron Schultz Height: 34' 7" Diameter: 24" Power: 1 O-class custom motor 5 Energon L1100 motors 8 ISP K1100 motors (around 76,000 NS total impulse) Materials: 24" fiberglass tubes for main body tube 1/8" aluminum plates for coupler bases and fin mounting boxes 1/2" aluminum plate for motor thrust plate 2x5" oak boards for tube coupler assemblies 2x5" pine boards for body tube strengthening plywood centering rings 3/4" birch fins 14" paper tubing for upper body tube hard resin/fiberglass nose cone (originally a sounding rocket nose cone shroud) Note: The definition of 'non-metallic' traditionally has meant 'no substantial metal components' as well as no structural components being metal. DRI appears to push that definition to its absolute limit, or a little beyond. ----------------------------------------------------------- 9.10 Other Non-professional Flights of Note 1) Rocket: Frank Kosdon metal rocket Date: LDRS XII Argonia, Kansas 15 August 1993 Power: Kosdon non-certified O10000 (that's O-10,000) Materials: All metal rocket with custom manufactured motor Altitude: 35,407 feet AGL; closed optical track Notes: This is a special-case flight. The rocket does not follow the rules for high power because metallic rockets are expressly prohibited by both the NAR and Tripoli. It also uses a custom made motor. The motor was made by a manufacturer with other high power motors certified by Tripoli. It was pre-manufactured and solid propellant, within the total NS limits of high power consumer rockets. Tripoli does not recognize this flight, or any other flight, for altitude record purposes unless a successful deployment of the recovery system is observed or the rocket can be recovered to show successful recovery system deployment. ----------------------------------------------------------- 9.11 Some other highest verified altitudes Robert (Bobby) Gormley has gathered the following F through Open (i.e., unlimited) altitudes. These are not official records, but the highest verified altitudes of CONSUMER ROCKETS for each motor class. From: rgormley@phoenix.Princeton.EDU (Robert Gormley) Class By Motor(s) Altitude Launch ----------------------------------------------------------------- O Frank Kosdon O10,000 37,978 feet Fireballs 005 M Univ. Cen. FL L750/L750 22,211 feet LDRS-X L Pius Morozumi K550/K250 27,576 feet Black Rock V K *Deb Schultz K250 21,659 feet LDRS-XI J Mike Keller J125 15,062 feet LDRS-X I Mark Clark I132 11,873 feet LDRS-X H Mike Vaughn H125 8,435 feet Fireballs 005 * The K250 has been tested to be in the L range and I am looking for another entry to replace it. --------------------------------------- Copyright (c) 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 Wolfram von Kiparski, editor. Refer to Part 00 for the full copyright notice.