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REV 2.4 - Thu Jul 5 00:37:30 2012

Custom Rockets
Elite
P.O. Box 1865
Lake Havasu City, AZ 86405
(800) 394-4114
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SPECS: 15.75" x 1.875" - 1.0 oz
ROCKSIM FILE: Right Click to Download
SpaceCAD FILE: MISSING - please submit here
REC'D MOTORS: B6-2, B6-4, C5-3, C6-3, C6-5

Rating
(Contributed - by Mark Fisher)

Rocket PicNow this is an egg lofter! Custom has trimmed the weight and size of its new Elite down to the bare essentials required to get an egg as high into the air as possible. The light-weight payload section with its power series nose cone (often mistakenly called "parabolic") is its most prominent feature and is reminiscent of the old Nova Egg Cone once found on Apogee's Hydra. The minimum diameter body tube and hard balsa fins further cut weight, and the sparing water slide decals keep surface finish smooth while adding just the right touch of class. The Elite could be painted just about any decent color (red springs to mind as a good choice), but the suggested basic gloss black touted on the bag art makes for a serious-looking bird. Performance is terrific for a kit egg lofter; on a C6 engine, the Elite shames my Estes Omloid by over 100 feet! Her pre-cut 18" diameter mylar 'chute makes for some good duration, too.

The fin material is the hardest I've ever seen in a model rocket kit, and the launch lug standoffs are made from tough, laser cut plywood, also very unusual for a kit under $10. The die cutting on the fins was superb, they practically fell out of their stock. Parts count is minimal, and the instructions are clear and easy to follow. A goodly amount of technique is discussed, but a few steps (and parts) need work.

There is no wrap-around fin alignment guide, and the stand-up one does not provide a location mark for the launch lug stand-offs. Separating the payload sections is done after the model is pained, and without careful handling, the paint can chip or scratch. The payload section has a lot of flash, and though it can be removed fairly easily, a lot of sanding is required to get a good finish after paint. The fit to the body tube was very loose, requiring two wraps of masking tape to come right. (Granted, its probably supposed to be a little loose so the engine core is retained, but it was really loose, folks.)

The shock cord and 'chute mounting hole in the transition is way too small; I cut another though the interior taper and used that to attach an 18" length of 1/8" shock cord, the included length being way too short. The mylar 'chute uses the old tape disk method for attaching the shroud lines (which are very thin and tough to work with), notoriously unreliable, especially for a payload-carrying rocket. I punched holes in the disks and tied the lines on a la the current Estes system.

Rocket Pic

Painting the plastic parts was a bit of a challenge; the interior of the payload section jointing ring must be masked to prevent over-spray. The payload section must be sanded thoroughly for the paint to get a good grip. Not much chance of keeping it in its clear state. (NOTE: Later production Elites have black payload sections.) The water slide decals have a lot of clear border, and required a bit of trimming to look right on the model. No mention is made in the instruction for airfoiling the fins (the unusual semi-ellipse form would have made this tough to do, anyway), and the blunt edges make for a rough appearance. If I had this bird to do over, I'd design and attach my own fins.

Why are the good looking ones always such pains to build? I'd rate the Elite a on the Essence scale, needs some improvement.

As I said, this bird is a real go-getter! A quick check in VCP told me that she wasn't stable enough to fly empty, so for her first flight I loaded her with an egg and an Estes B6-2. Empty she only weighs about an ounce, so the addition of a two ounce egg doesn't hurt her performance that much. My C6-3 flight with a grade AA egg more than doubled the altitude of her B6 effort, and it sure was impressive! The Elite isn't going to beat the one-off or high-end birds you see at meets, but she'll take anybody's Scrambler or Omloid at your club shoot, and quite convincingly, too. (If the manufacturer can be believed, she'll beat (no pun intended) Aerospace Speciality Products' 18 mm Eggstravaganza, too.)

Just a couple very minor complaints about operations; packing foam isn't included, I had to scare up some old open cell stuff to cushion the egg. I was also disappointed that she wouldn't fly empty and with the absence of a motor retaining clip.

If you're looking to get into egg lofting on a budget, the Elite is the only way to go. I'd rate her a on the Essence scale for flight, as close as you can get to perfect for $7.95 (MSRP).

Custom needs to improve the build of this kit, but they've got a solid handle on looks and performance here; I'd rate the Elite a 4 overall on the Essence scale, above average.


Rating
(by Kenneth R. Johnson)

Custom Elite Brief:
A lightweight, minimum diameter egg lofter with an efficient aerodynamic design.

Construction:
The kit comes in the typical "hanging bag" style package. As such, it doesn't protect the kit from any damage incurred in shipping, and this one was indeed damaged in shipment, though I couldn't tell until the package was open. The kit featured a length of 18mm tubing, a very unusual plastic nose cone, a very good mylar parachute, a laughably short shock cord, and a bit of grainy, flimsy balsa. Motor retention is simply friction fit, with a paper motor block inside the body tube. Hardly earth-shattering stuff here, but different enough to be interesting.

The kit comes with two sets of instructions, one for assembly, and one set for flight. Unfortunately, nothing is mentioned on the package that tells you the rocket will not fly without an egg or other similar weight payload. Regardless, the instructions are logical, and only feature a couple of typographical errors. The fins, while grainy and a bit flimsy, popped out of the die-cut sheet very easily, and featured good, straight lines. And the quality of the mylar parachute blew me away - far above what I expected. Like all of the other Custom rockets I've built, this one featured a loose nose cone. This one is a unique type of plastic that is really thin, flexible, and lightweight, but surprisingly durable. The shock cord and parachute attachment points are horribly small and look weak, yet so far they've held up. I used small snap swivels to attach the 'chute and shock cord, which I highly suggest doing on any kit you build. Things don't seem to get tangled as often. As I mentioned earlier, the body tube was crushed in the center, so I upgraded with some 18mm tubing I had left over from ASP. The ASP tubing was much sturdier, had less of a spiral, and took up the slack in the nose cone department, and thus, the nose cone fit perfectly. I'll use the Custom tubing as a basis for another project. Like I always do with Estes and Custom kits, I threw the supplied shock cord in the parts bin and used some elastic thread, in triple the rocket's length. The shock cord attaches with the old tried-and-true paper fold method, and works well in this case. But a word of caution - make sure it doesn't stick out too far! Not much room in there for a parachute.

Finishing:
Unlike my normal practice of coating the whole rocket in epoxy, I just painted this one as-is. The much higher quality ASP tube was already white, and only needed two light coats of enamel to cover. I painted the fins contrasting colors, in an attempt to make it more interesting. As a result, it bears a passing resemblance to the old Estes Camroc, which was intentional. The lone decal went on without a hitch. Overall, my finishing technique resulted in a lightweight, yet strong rocket that looks great. Unfortunately, the little ring that holds the two halves of nose cone together swelled up when I painted it, and it won't fit anymore. So I just use a piece of electrical tape cut into a 3mm strip. No problem.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

Flight:
If launching an egg, don't try an "A" motor at all. In fact, skip right on up to a "C" right off the bat. The rocket isn't particularly heavy, even with an egg aboard, and flights will be great. The small fins impart a slight wobble with wind, but not enough to worry about. Just make sure the motor is friction fit well; otherwise, it'll kick out the motor and come in ballistic. Hasn't happened to me on this rocket, but it has happened before on another rocket. Care must be taken in packing the parachute. It won't pack as tight as a plastic 'chute, and will hang inside the body tube. This rocket's so light that no damage will occur if you get a "streamer" or a "hung" parachute, but it is messy!

Recovery:
The original shock cord is a pitiful joke. Throw it away or into a parts bin, but do not use it. I used elastic thread, and it takes up less room than the original, despite being about four times longer. Care in packing the 'chute is the key to success: fold it small, don't ball it up. Roll it only once, and use a good bit of cellulose insulation for wadding. It'll recover well, won't get damaged, and will drift a good distance in any sort of wind.

Flight Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary:
I think Custom came up with a great little egg lofter for a good price. There are some things I'd change, like the pathetic shock cord and the wobbly nose cone, but I could overlook the coarse fins, since I fill and sand mine anyway. I would recommend this rocket for a first time egg lofter, but don't expect it to be an easy build for a beginner. Still, it's the best Custom kit I've built.

Overall Rating: 4 ½ out of 5


Rating
(Contributed - by Thomas Tweedel - 09/24/09)

Construction:
Parts included:

  • 1 18mm ID tube
  • 2 part nose cone it splits in half along the horizontal axis and is held together with a mylar ring
  • 3 Die cut fins
  • elastic shock cord
  • Engine stop ring (no hook)
  • 12 inch parachute.

First off the quality of the kit was mixed. The body tube was the same. The Fins were die cut out of a very lightweight but somewhat flimsy balsa. Had to use the Xacto to get them out but they worked fine and even survived the tragedies that were to follow, so aside from higher surface roughness (even after sanding) they worked fine.

The nose noseconecone was the most interesting part of the rocket. It separates in the middle and is held together by a mylar ring. You put the “cargo” in the nose and then put the top on and clamp them together via the ring.

One strike is that the hole your supposed to put the shock cord through is WAY too small. It had to bore it out and really work it to get the cord through. The cord itself is more like elastic than rubber band. The body tube seems pretty standard. Though its very narrow (18mm inside diameter). This was to keep the weight down but it is also the source of many of the rockets problems.

The chute seemed sturdy but you do have to assemble it. You cut it out of a square and then stick the little hole reinforcement stickers on it. Then poke holes in them and tie the cord. They provided two lengths of cord from which to cut 3 lengths of chute. Your supposed to cut the cord in half and use it I guess. I did and the length of the cord seemed a bit on the short side. I was also skeptical of the chute being big enough to land an egg safely.

The launch lug gets set on an offset piece of balsa to account for the wide nose cone. The narrow body tube proved problematic when fitting the engine block. This rocket has no engine hook and is thus a friction fit. The only thing keeping your engine from shooting up the tube is that engine block.

The only thing keeping it from shooting out the back is the friction between the engine and the tube. Getting the friction right is a challenge, too much and you can’t get the engine in, too little and you have problems. Masking tape is your main tool.

Finishing:
I painted the rocket yellow and back to my own tastes. One gotcha on painting is to make sure you mask off the recessed area at the top/bottom of the nose cone parts which they are joined together by the mylar ring. The tolerances are too tight on the ring to accommodate the paint.

Construction Rating: 3 out of 5

Flight:
After it was assembled we went out to launch it. According to the instructions your supposed to put your egg in a plastic bag in case of disaster, but where’s the fun in that. So we got an egg that was just the right size, mounted it up and secured it with the mylar ring. The launch was without event, I was surprised at how high the rocket went given its payload. However at ejection things went terribly wrong. There were two issues.

The body tube is so narrow compared to chute size that its packed in their very tight. That combined with the fact that it’s a friction fit caused it to eject the engine and NOT deploy the chute. But the real fun was what happened to the nosecone. The shock of the ejection was more than the mylar ring could handle and the nosecone separated ejecting the egg!. So nose cone parts, egg and rocket come streaming down. The egg was a gonner with a classic splat, the rocket sunk into some mud about an inch but was unharmed.

We decided to fly it again without an egg using an A8-3 to see what would happen. Made sure that there was plenty of friction between the engine and body tube. The launch did not go as expected. The rocket only got 30-40 feet into the air and started to tumble over (later learned it is not stable without cargo), then the ejection charge fired and it blew up. I got the friction right but the chute was packed too tight in that little body and the force had nowhere to go so it blew the back half of the rocket apart. The nose cone also separated again. This rocket was a gonner.

Recovery:
Good Flew straight but the parachute is too tightly packed in the small body and the mylar ring doesn't hold it quite well enough by itself.

Flight Rating: 2 out of 5

Summary:

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Easy enough to build

Cons

  • Requires fitting and strapping to flight right.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5

Other:
If I were to do it again I’d have to carefully mange the chute and the friction as well as using tape (not the mylar ring) to secure the nosecone together. I had pretty much written this rocket design off until I realized that actually this rocket is unique and can be used for things that no other rocket can. The fact that it can launch and then on ejection safely eject its cargo into free-fall is unique to my knowledge. What else can send an egg up a couple of hundred feet in style and then have it come down with a satisfying Splat. You could load those little green army men with parachutes into the nose cone and have an airborne assault on your park. You can experiment with all sorts of cargo and recovery methods that you could not do with your cargo trapped in the rocket. I very well may buy this rocket again just for this purpose. If I do I will make one modification though, instead of the supplied parachute I’ll switch it to a streamer recovery that doesn’t have to be packed so tight. Tempted to try and fit an engine hook on it as well.

[Submit your Opinion]

GUEST's OPINION:
09/09 - "This was my first Non-Estes rocket that I ever built. As such it was an interesting experience. For the most part it went together the same as any rocket I’d ever built but there were some notable differences due to its function. First off the quality of the kit was mixed. The body tube was the same. The Fins were die cut out of a very lightweight but somewhat flimsy balsa. Had to use the Xacto to get them out but they worked fine and even survived the tragedies that were to follow, so aside from higher surface roughness (even after sanding) they worked fine. The nosecone was the most interesting part of the rocket. It separates in the middle and is held together by a mylar ring. You put the “cargo” in the nose and then put the top on and clamp them together via the ring. One strike is that the hole your supposed to put the shock cord through is WAY too small. It had to bore it out and really work it to get the cord through. The cord itself is more like elastic than rubber band. The body tube seems pretty standard. Though its very narrow (18mm inside diameter). This was to keep the weight down but it is also the source of many of the rockets problems. The chute seemed sturdy but you do have to assemble it. You cut it out of a square and then stick the little hole reinforcement stickers on it. Then poke holes in them and tie the cord. They provided two lengths of cord from which to cut 3 lengths of chute. Your supposed to cut the cord in half and use it I guess. I did and the length of the cord seemed a bit on the short side. I was also skeptical of the chute being big enough to land an egg safely. The launch lug gets set on an offset piece of balsa to account for the wide nosecone. The narrow body tube proved problematic when fitting the engine block. This rocket has no engine hook and is thus a friction fit. The only thing keeping your engine from shooting up the tube is that engine block. The only thing keeping it from shooting out the back is the friction between the engine and the tube. Getting the friction right is a challenge, too much and you can’t get the engine in, too little and you have problems. Masking tape is your main tool. After it was assembled we went out to launch it. According to the instructions your supposed to put your egg in a plastic bag in case of disaster, but where’s the fun in that. So we got an egg that was just the right size, mounted it up and secured it with the mylar ring. The launch was without event, I was surprised at how high the rocket went given its payload. However at ejection things went terribly wrong. There were two issues. The body tube is so narrow compared to chute size that its packed in their very tight. That combined with the fact that it’s a friction fit caused it to eject the engine and NOT deploy the chute. But the real fun was what happened to the nosecone. The shock of the ejection was more than the mylar ring could handle and the nosecone separated ejecting the egg!. So nose cone parts, egg and rocket come streaming down. The egg was a gonner with a classic splat, the rocket sunk into some mud about an inch but was unharmed. http://sixgun.smugmug.com/Adventures/2009/Rockets/9353309_yMcSp#652905592_x8GJn We decided to fly it again without an egg using an A8-3 to see what would happen. Made sure that there was plenty of friction between the engine and body tube. The launch did not go as expected. The rocket only got 30-40 feet into the air and started to tumble over (later learned it is not stable without cargo), then the ejection charge fired and it blew up. I got the friction right but the chute was packed too tight in that little body and the force had nowhere to go so it blew the back half of the rocket apart. The nosecone also separated again. This rocket was a gonner. If I were to do it again I’d have to carefully mange the chute and the friction as well as using tape (not the mylar ring) to secure the nosecone together. I had pretty much written this rocket design off until I realized that actually this rocket is unique and can be used for things that no other rocket can. The fact that it can launch and then on ejection safely eject its cargo into freefall is unique to my knowledge. What else can send an egg up a couple of hundred feet in style and then have it come down with a satisfying Splat. You could load those little green army men with parachutes into the nose cone and have an airborne assault on your park. You can experiment with all sorts of cargo and recovery methods that you could not do with your cargo trapped in the rocket. I very well may buy this rocket again just for this purpose. If I do I will make one modification though, instead of the supplied parachute I’ll switch it to a streamer recovery that doesn’t have to be packed so tight. Tempted to try and fit an engine hook on it as well. " (T.T.)

GUEST's OPINION:
06/03 - "I hate to be the sole negative here but I downright despise this rocket! Construction was easy but the balsa was very, very low grade. Custom: Please add to the directions that this rocket is NOT stable without a payload! Overall this rocket is the typical maybe-fly, maybe-not product that Custom seems to foster. (Like the Custom Twister, a rocket that should helicopter recover but does not, this kit needs more thought.)Also, for an egg lofter to have a minimum diameter body tube and to consistently beg disaster with a scrunched up, too tight chute; well, this too is unacceptable in my book. This is my last Custom kit. Hello Quest!" (KRE)

GUEST's OPINION:
11/00 - "I just bought this kit and I would like to point out that mine came with a 12" plastic parachute which seems to me a bit small for an egglofter." (L.S.)

GUEST's OPINION:
08/00 - "I thought this kit was an easy, straight-forward build. I always use the Estes Fin Alignment Guide, so I would have thrown out the body wrap guide anyway. I sanded the fins to an airfoil, and colored the whole thing black to match the black egg capsule that came with my kit. I skipped the decals. I used packaging tape to attach the shroud lines, and I haven't had any problem with seperation. The only snag I ran into was the ring that joins the capsule halves-- it won't go over the front end of the bottom of the capsule the way the directions say. I had to slide it on from the back. I'd recommend this kit to anyone. It is my first egg lofter, and I've already won C eggloft duration at two local meets with it." (D.K.)

[Enter Rocket Specific Tip]

SPECIFIC ROCKET TIP:
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[Enter Flight Log]
Date Name Motor Ejection/
Altitude
Wind Notes
11-15-2008 William Beggs Est SU C6-5 Apogee - Perfect Calm Event: Rio Ranch, NM
- Great flight. I didn't tape the forward section very well and the egg came out.
06-18-2006 Richie Brunjes Est SU B6-4 Very Early 5-10 mph winds RIP - underpowered , egg smashed , one of the kids stepped on it later in the day Status: Not Repairable
09-01-2001 Tim Burger Est SU A8-3 Didn't Record 0-5 mph winds Senoir - Mods to competition rocket test. Needs work.
09-08-2001 Tim Burger Est SU A8-3 Didn't Record 5-10 mph winds Senoir - Attempting to improve competition eggloft kit by adding a shroud and much larger recovery system. Needs work.
09-27-2003 Tim Burger Est SU B6-2 Apogee - Perfect 10+ mph winds Senoir - Eggs survived - 16+ seconds.
09-27-2003 Tim Burger Est SU B6-2 Apogee - Perfect 10+ mph winds Senoir - Good. Egg survived! 24+ seconds.
07-28-2001 Jerry Davis Est SU C6-5 None - CATO 0-5 mph winds - Wild spin & crash... first flight. Not sure about the stability.
04-13-2002 David Fergus Est SU B6-6 Just Before 5-10 mph winds - modified to carry payload for Minnesota Rocket League contest, understable.
05-18-2002 David Fergus Est SU B6-6 None - Parachute Fail 5-10 mph winds - better, but still not very good flight.
02-01-2002 Pat Kozacik Est SU C5-5 Didn't Record 5-10 mph winds - two flights, it was for a school project.The first time the egg scrambled, due to the parachute failure.The 2nd flight was perfect
12-01-2001 Michael Mangieri Est SU B6-4 not recorded 10+ mph winds - Another shock cord failure. (Hmmm, got to look into this!) The main BT landed OK; the nose section with the egg payload landed a bit hard. Egg was cracked.
06-22-2002 Michael Mangieri Est SU C6-3 Apogee - NC Down 0-5 mph winds - Nice flight - almost straight up, and quite high. Payload was rocks to substitute for egg, but weight was probably a bit low.Recovery was fine - just missed entering the northern tree line.
02-20-2000 Mark Patoka Est SU B6-4 Just Before 0-5 mph winds - Initial flight without the egg. Ejection charge blew the top half of the egg carrier nose cone off but not the cone. Caught by hand before crashing.
02-20-2000 Mark Patoka Est SU B6-4 None - Nose Cone Stuck 0-5 mph winds - Second flight. Once again nose cone stuck. Engine casing ejected because this rocket has no retainer clip. Nose-dived in the ground and crunched nose.

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