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REV 2.4 - Wed Sep 8 00:01:13 2010

Binder Design
Excel Plus (38mm)
P.O. Box 13376
Salem, OR 97309
(503) 581-3180
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SPECS: 67" x 4" - 54 oz
ROCKSIM FILE: Right Click to Download
SpaceCAD FILE: MISSING - please submit here
REC'D MOTORS: 38mm G through I

Rating
(Contributed - by Shelly Hattan - 11/25/00)

Picture courtesy of Binder DesignRocket Pic

Brief:
A tall 3FNC single-stager with a large payload section, a 38mm motor mount, and a 36-inch parachute.

Construction:
The kit comes with two tubes, a main body tube and a payload section. The payload 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 recovery harness.

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-timer. This is a great kit for a first-time HPR flyer.

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" nose cone, 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 retainer 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 motor clip. 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.

Finishing:
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.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

Flight:
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 thrust ring. 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 aft closure, 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.

Recovery:
The shock-cord is about 12 feet of elastic. It's nice and long, so even if the ejection charge is late it doesn't hurt anything. The chute is a standard octagon of pink rip-stop 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.

Flight Rating: 4 ½ out of 5

Summary:
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.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

[Submit your Opinion]

GUEST's OPINION:
11/07 - "My Excel Plus has become the 38mm workhorse in my fleet - I fly it at every launch I attend. It's easy to prep, looks good, and flies great! I've found that it turns in the best flights on the red, white, and blue loads for the AT 38/480 case (the I300T is my favorite.) Built entirely using wood glue, this rocket is durable and sturdy. A great value and just plain fun." (S.C.)

GUEST's OPINION:
01/01 - "I have had a Excel Plus for my years. It was one of my first high powered rocket kits that I have owned. I used this rocket for my level one cert on an I-284. What a flight. A real head snapper. This rocket is capable of flying on anything from a G-125 short (about a thousand foot flight) to a J motor. I have used this kit for my level two flight last summer. The last that I put on the kit was on a J-570. Nice fast lift off too about five hundred feet until the nose cone A.C.E. Decided to cave in. It looked like snow up there in the sky! The info given here was very accurate. The only con this kit was that the motor tube was about one millimeter too small. The casing would not fit. Always pre-test tube before gluing into the rocket!" (E.S.)

[Enter Rocket Specific Tip]

SPECIFIC ROCKET TIP:
10/02 - "Strengthening Modification Good ideas. Here is another one: We now carry aluminum backplates sized for our tubing to prevent aft damage. You can also drill and tap them for motor retention. " ( M.F. from RMR )

SPECIFIC ROCKET TIP:
10/02 - "Excel Plus, Binder Design , Strengthening Modification I used a 38mm for my level 1. Buy a long 54mm motor tube and extra centering ring, then you'll be hybrid ready. Someone at a launch suggested using 1/2 coupler pieces in the aft so when it lands, it will hit the coupler instead of the body tube. Don't glue in the coupler, then you can pull it out and replace it. Mine has a nice kink back there despite some internal glassing. Need I mention T-nuts for buttons as well as motor retention? Always double check the fin marks on the tubes (keeps Mike honest). My coupler is kinda beat up, you might want to internal glass it, or get a thicker walled coupler (s if you're gonna make an alt bay out of 2). Actually, Mike sells alt bays now, you might check those out on his site. " (J.C. from RMR )

SPECIFIC ROCKET TIP:
03/02 - "1) Nose weight? How much, if any, is needed for J350 flights? - None. It's plenty stable. 2) What size parachute is right for this weight rocket? - With all the glass, the 36" chute should be fine. It'll drop faster than the stock Plus, but it should be okay. 3) For the initial shake down flight, what would be a good 38 mm motor for this rocket? - H242. I like to make sure that my first flights don't start off slow." (J.H. of RMR )

[Enter Flight Log]
Date Name Motor Ejection/
Altitude
Wind Notes
08-01-2010 Kevin Brady Ces RLD I255-Altim Apogee - NC Up
(2085 ft)
0-5 mph winds Event: NARAM-52
-
08-03-2010 Kevin Brady AT RMS J350-Altim Apogee - NC Up
(2751 ft)
5-10 mph winds Flight PictureEvent: NARAM-52
- Photo courtesy of Chris Taylor from NARAM Live Cert Flight: L2
05-28-2005 Jonathan+P. Carter Loki RLD J528-Altim Just Past (1-2sec)
(2845 ft)
5-10 mph winds Event: Whitakers Sport for May
- Main failed to fully deploy. Rocket suffered some damage.Had to shorten by 3.25. Ready to fly again. Cert Flight: L2
06-25-2005 Jonathan+P. Carter Loki RLD J528-Altim Apogee - Perfect
(2833 ft)
5-10 mph winds Event: Whitakers N.C.
- Great Level 2 Cert. Flight Cert Flight: L2
10-28-2006 Simon Crafts AT RMS I211-M Apogee - Perfect 5-10 mph winds Event: Midwest Power IV
- Kickin' flight to about 2200' AGL. Awesome boost on the big White Lightning flame. Great flight and recovery on 44 Top Flight chute. Great looking, great flying sport rocket!!!
06-16-2007 Simon Crafts AT RMS I285-M Apogee - Perfect 5-10 mph winds Event: June Club Launch
- Sweet! Fast, big boost above the big red flame. Flattened out at about 3000' and deployed perfectly. Long walk, no damage. Awesome!
11-03-2007 Simon Crafts AT RMS I300-M Apogee - Perfect 10+ mph winds Event: 3 Oaks
- This rocket continues to look and fly great. The I300 Blue Thunder is my favorite load for my Excel Plus so far. BEAUTIFUL boost and flame! Flattened out at a 3000' apogee, deployed perfect. Long walk in the breeze. Awesome!
11-04-2007 Simon Crafts AT RMS I195-M Just Past (1-2sec) 10+ mph winds Event: 3 Oaks
- Another great flight! This time on the big, dense blackjack smoke. Flight trajectory was suprisingly true to the rail angle in the stiff breeze. About 3000' AGL and a long walk.
06-26-2010 Chuck Fauser AT RMS H242-M Apogee - Perfect Calm Flight PictureEvent: Summer Skies
- Perfect first flight. Slight damage due to nose cone stabbing booster section. It will be fixed and it will fly again.
09-04-2010 Chuck Fauser AT RMS I161-10 Apogee - NC Down 5-10 mph winds Event: September Sage Xtreme
- Awesome flight. Love this rockethttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDPTeqkP7X0
10-06-2007 Cliff Oliver AT RMS H123-5 Apogee - NC Up 5-10 mph winds Event: October 2007 Launch
Brown Eyed Girl -
06-07-2008 Cliff Oliver AT RMS I285-Altim Apogee - Perfect
(2147 ft)
0-5 mph winds Event: June 08 Launch
-
   

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