(Contributed - by Shelly Hattan - 11/25/00)
Picture courtesy of Binder Design
A tall single-stager with a large payload section, a 38mm motor mount, and
a 36-inch .
The kit comes with two tubes, a main and a payload section. The
section is what differentiates the kit from the standard Excel. The
Excel Plus comes with 3 pre-cut fins, two centering rings, and two eyebolts
--one for the payload section and one for attaching the .
The biggest "pro" for this kit are the instructions. As opposed to
the one-pagers you get from LOC or PML, the Binder instructions are several
pages long and document every step of construction with pictures. The assembly
is logical and very easy to follow for a first-. This is a great kit for a
Fit was very good. The only "gotcha" is that you need to cut your
own fin-slots. It's a cardboard tube and the fin locations are already marked,
so it's really not much of a problem.
At first I was worried of the construction of the ACE "bleach
bottle" , but after over 30 flights, my worries have ceased. It's
been more than tough enough to handle any motor I've thrown at it.
Two parts that need to be added are a motor and a parachute
protector, but these seem to be left out of most kits. I'm a big fan of Giant
Leap Rocketry's MotorHolder . It only costs about $6, and it works as
well as anything I've seen out there. You can't add it later, so make sure you
install it during construction of your kit. As for chute protectors, the Pratt
protector works wonderfully. After dozens of flights, my pink chute hasn't even
gotten cooked once.
Nothing special to know about finishing. It's a standard cardboard tube with a
plastic cone and plywood fins, so it's really no different to finish from any
other kit. The only thing I would've changed about building mine would be to
have added a ring of sheet aluminum or two more layers of cardboard to the
inside of the aft-end of the rocket. I've gotten a couple of dents in the end,
and beefing up the end of the tube would've made it a bit tougher for landings.
The rocket comes with a large nice vinyl decal with "EXCEL PLUS" and
the Binder logo. I didn't use it, as I'd rather decorate 'em up the way I want.
I painted my rocket black and bright pink, which makes the guys at the launch
roll their eyes.
out of 5
Flying is the best part of this rocket. It's super-stable, and it's flown
beautifully on every motor I've used (and I've flown this thing over 30 times).
The fins aren't too big, so it flies straight even on windy days. My preferred
motors are blackjacks, because I love to see that plume of black smoke. My
current favorites are the Aerotech I154 and the Kosdon I255. It flies very
nicely on both motors (quite a bit higher on the Kosdon).
Motor retention is important, as this rocket doesn't have a . As
I mentioned before, I've got a Giant Leap MotorHolder on it, so motor retention
is quite simple. I just slide in the motor, tighten two bolts, and the motor is
as secure as can be. The Kosdon 38mm casing doesn't have an , so I
used a hose-clamp on the aft end. It's worked just fine for a half-dozen
flights, so I just leave the clamp in place.
For wadding, I use the Pratt protector. It's a large piece of Nomex (about
12" diameter), which works well for the 4" rocket. I just bundle up
my chute, place the protector over the tube, making a little "cup" to
hold the chute, and tuck the whole thing down into the tube. The diameter of
the rocket is big enough that things don't have to be packed tightly. I've
never had a problem with a cooked chute or a tangled chute using this method.
The shock-cord is about 12 feet of elastic. It's nice and long, so even if the
is late it doesn't hurt anything. The chute is a standard
octagon of pink with nylon shroud lines. It's fairly lightweight and
light-duty, but the rocket's not very heavy for its size, so the descent rate
is just fine.
½ out of 5
Main pro: Flying! This is the best flyer in my collection, and one that I never
fail to bring out at a launch. I've flown it dozens of times. It's stable as
all get-out, and it just makes the whole thing look easy. Other pros are the
instructions. Cons: You've gotta cut your own fin-slots. I wish they'd at least
give some tips on beefing up the aft end. Rockets do tend to get dinged when
they land, but there are plenty of ways to get around that.
out of 5