|Launch Pad Kits Questions from R.M.R
Barndt, President, THE LAUNCH PAD)
Just a note from the source: I
would like to address some comments I've read about THE LAUNCH PAD's kits.
"The balsa is flimsy"
This sounds like the author didn't follow our recommendation to paint the balsa
with thin CA. This is a simple step and can be done by simply squirting a small
amount on the balsa and spreading it with a scrap piece of card stock. This
will not only GREATLY strengthen the fin material, but will also seal it for
future painting. Despite some comments to the contrary, this really isn't very
expensive if the CA is purchased in a 1 oz. or 2 oz. bottle. NEVER waste your
money on those tiny little squeeze tubes.
"Not for beginners"
I quite agree. This is Mid-Power rocketry and modelers should have some basic
model rocket building and flying skills before attempting our products. I've
steered prospective LP customers to Estes starter sets because they just
weren't ready for larger projects. I personally won't sell to people who aren't
"The fins are not pre-cut. "
Right. One goal of THE LAUNCH PAD has always been to put some SKILL back into
sport rocketry. Snap-together, no-glue, no-paint rockets are not models. . .
just toys. If you can't use a modeler's knife, there are other companies out
there who will cater just to you. It was years before I would even buy a kit
with a plastic nose cone, because I wanted the challenge of turning rough balsa
into a glass-smooth finish. There was a real sense of pride and accomplishment
involved. I'd like to see that sense of pride return.
"Drill a tiny vent hole?"
On some kits with the paper extensions, I've found that changes in temperature
or atmospheric pressure can sometimes cause the extension to deform,
particularly if it is extremely well sealed. The hole provides a vent to
equalize the pressure and prevent deformation. As an alternate method, leaving
the tiniest pinhole right at the tip of the paper extension will provide the
same pressure relief.
"Require extra nose weight. "
Not if the directions have been followed. Our test-flight models are all
deliberately built slightly LESS STABLE than the production kits. Unless a ton
of epoxy is being used to install the motor mount assembly, there is no reason
why any production kit should not be stable as supplied. Any kit requiring nose
weight already has the proper amount of weight INCLUDED in the kit.
(Incidentally, the step about using white glue to seal the clay weight into the
tip of the nose cone is not just a suggestion. The glue involved adds between 4
to 6 grams of weight to the nose, and has been figured into the stability of
the finished model. )
"Occasionally weathercocking or tipping to horizontal
The fix is twofold: First, don't overbuild these kits. They don't need it. The
recommended motors ("D" through "F") don't require High
Power techniques such as fiberglassing the body or solid lumps of epoxy holding
in the motor mounts.
Second, if you do suspect your rocket is overbuilt, some people, including RSOs
who should know better, have been saying to "add more nose weight."
DON'T DO THIS!!! Adding nose weight is a fix for an UNSTABLE rocket, which
these rockets are not. It doesn't apply here. Additional nose weight makes any
slow lift off and/or weathercocking problem WORSE! The second fix is to simply
use a LONGER LAUNCH ROD. I lengthened the rod on my test flights one foot (from
36" to 48"), and even the heavier overbuilt rockets go nearly
straight up. That's all, folks! Thank you all for your support.
"Position of the launch lug is not given in the directions.
Correct. Once again, persons building our kits are assumed to have model rocket
experience, and know where to put the launch lug. Also, I am aware that some of
our kits are built strictly for display purposes, in which case the lug is not
necessary. Still other modelers prefer split rail, C-rail, or tower launch
systems, which all have their own methods of initial guidance.
Please remember that most of our rockets are not simple sticks with fins. In
many cases, particularly with the air-to-air missiles, even the original
missile IS NOT STABLE. This is so they can change directions quickly to track
the intended target. The only thing keeping these real missiles going where
they're aimed is the on-board computerized guidance system. I have to do
the same thing just using aerodynamics.
The result is that, to keep these kits as close as possible to the original
design, I often have very little margin of stability to play with. I have
actually SCRAPPED several interesting possible kits (including a boosted,
ship-launched version of HARPOON) because I simply couldn't get them stable
enough to be SAFE in kit form. BUT the kits that I produce have all been
repeatedly tested, using all the recommended motors (and several others), under
as many different weather conditions as possible.
* Build the kits according to the directions.
* Follow the recommended procedures.
* Use the recommended motors.
THEN, if you still have any problems, PLEASE contact me and let me know. I
really am interested in your feedback, but I can only help you if you FOLLOW
President, THE LAUNCH PAD