Skybusters, NAR #535

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Chip Jenkins Year 2001/2002 Project Page

Special thanks for this project goes to Mark Hanna for a little bit of his wisdom...

I have finally determined a level 2 project and I just ordered the main components.

I have always like the style and stability of the Aerobee 300. I've constructed an 18mm version some time ago and liked both the appearence and the performance. Soon to be at my door, (2) 3.9" and (1) 2.1" PML phonolic airframe tubes, (1) 2.1" nosecone. (1) 38mm motor tube, and a few centering rings & couplers. I plan on making my own transition from the 3.9" to the 2.1" since I didn't really see that anyone makes those things (for a reasonable $). The fins will be cut from plywood and glassed to prevent breakage. Also to be glassed will be the home made-transition (I have a plan).

The finished rocket will be 82" tall, plus or minus. I'm guessing that the weight will be a little light for a Level 2 cert flight at just under 8 pounds.

I still need to get the rrc2 altimeter, the 'chutes, and some miscellaneous parts (and they can wait for a little while).

I will submit pictures for all to see when the parts start arriving, and I'm sure that I'll look to a few of the 'more experienced' level 2 club members for some advice along the way.

It begins. Here's a picture of most of the parts. This picture was taken just after I cut the fins from 3/16" aircraft plywood. Next, I need to make the bulkheads and the transition. I considered having the fins made from G-10 but I remember Andy Schecter talking about the benefits of plywood over G-10 for large fins. The fins in the picture have a root edge measuring about 9" and the span is just over 6 1/8".

When I ordered couplers, I did not order the bulkheads. I planned on making them. I used 1/4" plywood for stock and used a bandsaw to cut the rough circles.

After the blanks were cut, I put each one in the drill press and used a grinder to make them perfectly circular and more importantly, the correct size to fit into the couplers. One piece, which is actually flooring laminate, I ground the O.D. to match one of the couplers for the avionics bay. For the anti-zipper coupler, I installed a 7/8" diameter forstner bit into the drill press and cut 3 holes in each bulkhead.

Here is some of the finished bulkheads and the small section of 3.9" tube for the avionics bay. I was able to use a mitre saw (one of Dad's really nice onces) to cut the 1" wide piece - a very clean, straight cut. While I was at the saw, I also cut the motor tube and the lower section of airframe to size.

The anti-zipper coupler is shown here while the system3 epoxy is still curing. You can see just what kind of quality holes you get with a forstner bit.

Today, I cut the fin slots on Dad's real nice mitre saw. It worked very well. The picture shows a test-fit with an Estes Saturn V nearby for size reference.

Over the past several days, I completed a few different things. I had to go in to work on Saturday so I took the lower section and the fins with me. I was able to get one fin glued and cured there, Then I took it home and glued the rest of them on. OK, so all of the fins are on, Now I need to fillet and glass them. I imagine that I can get that done this week. I also cut the remaining 3.9" tube for the drogue and main chute compartments. I do believe that it will end up being about 18" longer than I expected. I'll get another picture once the fillets are done.

Today, I also started working on the recovery. I made a pattern for a 24" chute and my wonderful mother cut them out and sewed them together. I'm attempting to make a skyangle type chute so we're experimenting. I tied a large wrench to it and threw it into the air. It worked but I couldn't get enough altitude that way. Tomorrow, Mom is going to buy some rip-stop nylon and she's going to refine the design a little (based on the results of the experiment) and try it again. I need to put it in a rocket to give it a real test. I guess I will test it in one of my rockets at the next launch.

Okey Dokey, The altimiter arrived today. As if I didn't have enough to do with the task of glassing the fins at hand, now I need to make the avionics bay. I'll get to that later. I did draw a parachute gore (in Autocad) and I printed it out for a pattern. A 52" 'chute will be HUGE! AND... I ordered 10 yards of rip-stop nylon from so I guess mom is going to have some parachutes for sale once I get the design correct (and I think I'm REAL close) I did order some centering rings to make the transition but, they have not arrived. I'm not even sure if the e-mail order went through. No matter, I made some. I took a two of the left over bulkheads that I made and used a fly-cutter to cut the center out of them. One more thing today, if you remember the first time that you glassed something, it's kind of a pain in the butt! Takes lots of epoxy and time. Looks good, but takes a while... Maybe the next couple of fins that I do will not take so long.

Here is the avionics bay, almost complete. Obviously, it's still missing a few key elements. The missing elemets are minor so they will be added after the rest of the major construction. (either that or while the fiberglass and epoxy cures on the other two fins)

It's been a little while but I finally FINALLY finished the fiberglassing/fillets on the fins. It's a good thing that I do not get paid by the hour to fiberglass things. After glassing, filling, sanding, and primer, it looks pretty darn good. The only major construction related item left would be the transition and it appears that I'll have just enough epoxy left to finish it.

Here it is all primed and ready to paint.

I also finished the avionics bay.
The only thing left to do is paint (and make the 'chute). I'll probably take it to the paint shop in the next couple of days. stay tuned.

Days became weeks and weeks became months but, I finally have it painted. I added the pin striping and vinyl lettering for the final cosmetic touch. It's 92 1/2" tall and it weighs about 9 lbs. loaded.

It's getting closer to time to launch this baby. I did some checking and elected to make a 44" skyangle chute for the main. Mom already has it done.

I calculated size of the static ports for the avionics bay and drilled them with the drill press I purchased from Quality Farm & Fleet that recently went out of business. Oh yea, I also put the screws in to secure the lower airframe to the bottom of the avionics bay.

All I need is a nice day, a 38mm casing, and a J350 or J570. (I made the motor tube long enough for either one),

NYPower 2002 has finally arrived. I bought a J330 Pro-38 for the occasion. I spent quite a bit of time preparing it for launch. I recieved some help from my brother Randy, Mark Sadowski, Pete, Les, Bill, Pat, and my father and son certification team - Mark and Josh Hanna. The liftoff was flawless. Fast and straight as an arrow to about 3300 feet. At apogee, or there about, all of the laundry came out and the homemade chute carried it safely to the ground. It was a great flight. Thanks to all that helped me get there!

Design and programming by Jamie Wylie. Maintained by Dan Vento, Pat Easter and Gerry Freed for Skybusters Rocketry Club. Please send your comments/corrections/additions to the webmaster.