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REV 2.4 - Wed Jul 4 23:31:02 2012

Viper III
P.O. Box 470396
Broadview Heights OH 44147
(330) 745-9755
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SPECS: 47.5" x 2.6" - 16 oz
ROCKSIM FILE: Right Click to Download
SpaceCAD FILE: MISSING - please submit here
REC'D MOTORS: 24mm x 3: D12-7 x 3, E30-7 x 3

[Picture](07/01/04) The LOC Viper III is my third LOC kit and I purchased it for the 24mm x 3 cluster aspect. I wanted a cluster rocket that could fly on D12's and E9's and the Viper III fit the bill.

The Viper III is a 47.5" tall rocket based on a 2.6" airframe with the cluster of motor tubes sticking out of the bottom. The three fins are attached at the joints of the motor tubes. Nothing terribly fancy about the rocket.

Rocket Pic

The kit includes a 30" long body tube and a 9" plastic nose cone. Then add the three 12" long motor tubes that stick out 8 ½" to make up the 47 ½" total length. There are two 1/8" plywood centering rings, three 1/8" plywood fins (pre-cut), a recovery system and a launch lug. The recovery system consists of a round 18" nylon parachute and 96" (8') of 3/8" wide elastic along with the standard LOC nylon loop for mounting the recovery system to the side wall.


Typical LOC instructions: printed on the back of the 8½ x 11" card stock that displays the kit specifics through the plastic bag that held the kit. There are only two illustrations, a rear view and a side exposed view. These give some direction, however, the kit is designed for those that have built some before and don't need picture-step to picture-step guidance. The text instructions are clear and take the builder from start to finish and give some insight into flying preparation. Also the shock-cord mount has its own separate instructions.

The Viper III is really easy to build. LOC recommends Epoxy glue, but for fun I used Omni-Stick glue for everything but the shock cord mount. I did this to test out the strength of this glue on a bigger rocket. It takes some getting used to, but grabs quickly (formerly called Quick Grab - see here for more info) and has adequate strength.

As I said, this rocket is simple to build. Here's what you do:

  • Glue Motor Tubes together
  • Glue Centering Rings on Motor Tubes
  • Glue Motor Tubes into Body Tube
  • Glue on Fins
  • Attach Shock Cord Mount
  • Attach Shock Cord and Parachute
  • Attach Nose Cone
  • Finish

That is it, really!

I didn't install LOC's launch lug, but instead used Rail Buttons.

I used my typical finishing techniques for Kraft tubes and plastic nose cones. I then used Walmart Gold and Gloss Black paint (additional comments about Walmart paint). After waiting 1 week, I added vinyl letter that I bought at Ben Franklin's and then hit the whole rocket with Walmart Clear coat.

Overall, for CONSTRUCTION I would rate this kit 4 ½ points. The instructions are adequate and will get anyone that has a bit of experience through this simple to build kit. It would be nice to have lettering or decals. A bolt with nut could be glued between the three motor tubes for retention, but for this rocket, I'm more understanding as to why their isn't motor retention. Quality of parts was excellent and everything fit.


LOC recommends three of the following motors: D12-5, D21-7, E9-6, E15-7, E30-10, and F21-8.

LOC indicates the rocket should weigh 16 ounces. My rocket weighed in at 16.3 ounces (with the Nomex heatshield). Pretty dead on, I would say.

I added a piece of Nomex® heatshield and prepared for its first flight on D12-7's. I followed the instructions and made a tape thrust ring and then friction fit each motor into the motor tubes until they were all even. I then put in three Estes ignitors, added the ignitor plug and then twisted the ignitor wires together in parallel.

E9's Using my Estes Command Controller on 14.4V all three motors ignited and lifted the Viper III to an excellent first flight. The flight was perfectly straight and it was a perfect apogee at ejection. Recovery was good with a fairly fast descent rate on the smaller parachute.

I felt the rocket would life fine on three C11-3's so I gave that a try. Unfortunately only two ignited and lifted the rocket to about 25 feet, it turned and then a few feet from the ground ejected. There was no damage.

The third flight was on three E9-6's. Varooom! This was great! (see pic on right). Straight and good altitude. It was still heading up, but not at a fast pace when the ejection charge popped the parachute. The fast descent rate helps to keep it from drifting off.

For FLIGHT/RECOVERY, I would rate this rocket 4 ½ points. What a nice flier on Estes motors! The descent rate is fast, but the rocket is sturdy and can take it. It would be nice to have a piece of Nomex® included in the kit, but since it isn't we recommend you get one.

I give the rocket an OVERALL rating of 4 ½ points. The rocket is super simple to build. You can get away with wood glue (or Omni) except you should use epoxy for the shock cord mount. This is the type of rocket that can give the Estes-motor flier an entrance kit into LOC/Precision. That can be a stepping stone into mid to high power. Definitely a kit to consider.

(Contributed - by Cliff Oliver [Who's Who Page] - 11/11/00)

Picture courtesy of LOC/PrecisionRocket Pic

This model is a single-stage, three-motor, cluster rocket. It was designed for 24mm mid-power motors. Primarily D and E impulse motors.

In this kit there are one body tube, three motor tubes, two 3/16" plywood centering rings, three 3/16" plywood fins, one 18" nylon parachute, one elastic shock cord and mount, 1/4" launch lug and a plastic nose cone.

The instruction for this kit were structured for modelers that have built a few rockets and understand how a rocket should be assembled. They explain the areas of the kit that differ from others in good detail. The order of construction was well thought out so you do not have to "go back" in the construction process. This kit is very easy to build.

The only area I wish I had paid more attention was motor retention. LOC does not include a method of retention in this kit. Which is good in my opinion. The builder can choose his/her own method of motor retention. I had the rocket completely assembled when I discovered how I wanted to retain the motors. The tree motor tubes are epoxied together in a pyramid style. During construction, a length of all-thread rod can be epoxied in the middle of the three tubes so that it extends past the aft end of the assembly. This way, the motors can be retained with a nut and washer. I had to "go back" and drill a hole in the epoxy for the threaded rod. It works very well.

If you do not use the all-thread style motor retention, remember to seal the gap between the motor tubes with epoxy. This will prevent venting the ejection gases rather than deploying the recovery system.

All the parts fit very well. I did not have to sand any of the parts to make them fit. I was a bit concerned about the fin method of fin attachment at first. The aft end of the motor tubes extend past the aft end of the body tube. This makes up a large part of the length of the rocket. The fins are attached at the motor tube joints. No through the wall mounts here. However, A little patience and a lot of epoxy in the fin to tube joints will pay off in the long run. Also I suggest an epoxy fillet in each motor tube joint. This will greatly increase the strength of the lower end of the rocket.

All in all, using good construction techniques and EPOXY, the Viper III turned out very sturdy.

The only "con" that I can say about this kit is the spiral grooves. Need I say more? The grooves in the body tube were no worse than an Estes kit though. I filled them with Elmer's FNF and they turned out smooth and invisible when primed and painted. The fins were coated with sanding sealer and sanded several times before priming. I used auto primer to start the finishing process. One light coat. Then sanded smooth. Any imperfection were filled with Squadron Green putty. Then primed and sanded until I was pleased with the finish. Krylon "Glowing Lemon Yellow" fluorescent paint was applied the to the main body tube. The nose cone, motor tubes and fins were painted gloss black. There were no decals included in the kit. This allows the modeler to add their own design. The model looks great after it's finished even without decals.

Construction Rating: 5 out of 5

The recommended motors for this rocket are D12-7 and E30-7. I used three Estes D12-5's for the first two flights. Cellulose insulation was used for wadding. This stuff works great! It's cheap and can be bought at almost any building supply store. About three inches of the body tube full is enough. As I mentioned earlier I used a piece of all-thread epoxied between the motor tubes with a nut and washer for motor retention. I also epoxied thrust rings in the motor tubes to keep the motor from moving forward. If you plan to use motors longer than D's and E's, don't put any thrust rings in. Other motors will not fit. The day I flew it for the first time was near perfect. 5-10 MPH winds clear skies and the temp was around 80. I used the Estes ignitors that came with the motors. I have an Ignitorman kit, but didn't have time to make some up before this launch. Upon hitting the GO button the rocket lifted off very quickly and straight as an arrow. Beautiful flight. I guessimate altitude at approximately 1000'. Recovered close to the pads with no damage.

The shock cord is attached to the inside of the body tube using a small Kevlar® string. The string is taped to the tube so that a loop extends one inch from the end. Epoxy is applied other the end of the string and tape. This a very strong mount. The included elastic shock cord is then tied to the Kevlar® string. I tied a loop in the very end of the shock cord for the parachute to attach. The nose cone was attached about 18" from the parachute. The set up returned the rocket very nicely. It landed close to the pads at a rate that did cause damage upon impact.

Flight Rating: 5 out of 5

This a great kit. I was kinda nervous about the first launch. It was my first cluster rocket. It assembled and finished very well. The flight can be summed up in one word. WOW! I haven't flown it on E motors yet. I can hardly wait.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

[NAR][Sport Rocketry]

The following excerpt is from "Sport Rocketry". The intention is to allow guests to get a basic feeling about a kit. We strongly suggest that you get a copy of the referenced Sport Rocketry and read the entire article. Inside you will find many helpful hints in construction as well as other useful information. For more information, use the two links above.

(Sport Rocketry - Sep/Oct 2000 - page 44 - by Bryan M. Chuck)

"The components are solid, quality parts: plywood fins and centering rings, rugged cardboard tubing, plastic nosecone, and three 24mm motor mount tubes."
"A unique feature of this rocket is that the motor mount portion of the rocket is exposed..."
"Building the Viper III was quite simple."
"The instructions are clear and easy to follow..."
"There are no decals with the Viper III."
"It's unique, yet simple to build, and a solid performer."

The entire article gives the impression is that it a skilled modeler would enjoy this unique kit.

[Submit your Opinion]

03/10 - "I love this kit. It's a super easy build and incredibly sturdy and I love the plywood fins. I used JB Weld and I suspect it will last for years. Every flight has been successful, not a single misfire yet. And the sound of three Es lighting simultaneously is most impressive." (G.W.R.)

08/06 - "This was my first LOC kit and only cluster. It was a quick, easy build and is a good way to fly a large(ish) rocket if you are limited to black powder motors. The exposed motor tubes make this a unique looking bird and it has proven to be very tough when one or even two motors have failed to light. I've clocked up about 10 flights so far on black powder and I've loved every one of 'em! Too bad I cant get my hands on some SU 24mm AP at the moment :(" (P.C.)

03/01 - "This really is an excellent first kit for those moving into the midpower range. I got mine 3 years ago when I was just starting medium/high power and the kit has gone great on everything from D12-3's to E-30's. I have not got my hands on 3 G55's yet. It will be a little easier to cluster now with the first fire ignitors. These directions and assembly are straight forward, 5 minute epoxy is even strong enough for this kit. This kit is an attention grabber at the launches." (C.S.)

[Enter Rocket Specific Tip]

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[Enter Flight Log]
Date Name Motor Ejection/
Wind Notes
11-25-2005 George+&+Mark Beever 3x AT SU E15-7 Apogee - NC Down 10+ mph winds - Only two motors fired, but still a great flight!! First attempt at clustering composite motors.
11-25-2005 George+&+Mark Beever 3x Est SU E9-6 Very Early 10+ mph winds - All three motors ignited, one CATO'd, blew out the nozzle. No damage.
05-23-2009 George Beever 3x Est SU D12-5 Just Before 0-5 mph winds - Have flown this on -5 motors many times, but this time 7-second delay motors might have been better.
04-02-2005 David Bellhorn 3x Est SU D12-3 Just Before 0-5 mph winds - Everything worked great. Need to try some E9s next time and F21s in the future.
06-14-2009 Edward Chess 3x Est SU D12-5 Apogee - NC Up 5-10 mph winds Event: Koehler's Farm
- Nice vertical flight. Had to chase this one a ways, but no damage.
08-30-2009 Edward Chess 3x Est SU D12-5 Apogee - NC Down 5-10 mph winds Event: Eat Cheese or Fly/Bong
- Only two motors lit, so a little underpowered. Good chute, and no damage.
09-19-2009 Edward Chess 3x Est SU D12-5 Apogee - Perfect 10+ mph winds Event: CIRFF/Muncie IN AWA
- Parachute jammed and did not deploy, but nosecone was off and rocket floated down to land with no damage. Got lucky this time. Will need a new shock cord, as this one took all the heat.
08-01-2010 Edward Chess 3x Est SU D12-5 Apogee - NC Down Calm Event: Woosh July Launch/Bong
- Great flight, perfect deployment; got all three motors using Quest ignitors.
10-06-2001 Bryan Chuck 3x Est SU E9-6 Didn't Record 0-5 mph winds - Underpowered off a 6 foot rod. Recovery without damage. I won't be using this configuration again.
08-11-2002 Paul Collier 3x Est SU D12-3 Just Before 0-5 mph winds - My first cluster launch. 3 sec delay isn't long enough, but perfect flight just the same. All motors lit. Straight, fast flight. Est alt 1000 ft. Forgot wadding! Slightly damaged chute. Loved it!!!
08-11-2002 Paul Collier 3x Est SU E9-6 Just Before 0-5 mph winds - Another perfect flight. All motors lit - nice view from underneath, seeing 3 big orange flames. The only problem with this rocket is it is expensive to launch on black powder. 3 flights cost me ~$50 USD
08-11-2002 Paul Collier 3x Est SU E9-8 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds - 2nd launch was spectacular. 2 words: PERFECT and WOW!!! Who said E-9s were under powered??? Rubbish! This was an awesome flight. Dead straight and est alt of 1800+ ft. Recovery close to pad.
11-22-2006 Hughie Dahl 3x Est SU E9-6 Apogee - NC Down 5-10 mph winds - First flight for the rocket,my first cluster,WOW! Grand kids thought it was great. Nice rocket to build and fly, can't wait for the next opertunity. Building another LOC kit is a yes.
05-06-2004 EMRR 3x Est SU D12-7 Apogee - Perfect Calm - Excellent first flight. I think she could fly on 3x C11-3's as well. Going to try that in my small field. Recovery was good with a fairly fast descent rate.
05-13-2004 EMRR 3x Est SU C11-3 Very Late Calm - I figured 3 C11's would be good for this rocket. They would, if they all lit. So stick with D's. Only 2 lit and it was only 20-25 feet off the ground. Chute did pop and no damage.
05-31-2004 EMRR 3x Est SU E9-6 Apogee - NC Up Calm - Nice with the longer burn motors. All lit. Excellent and enjoyable flight. Landed within 50 feet of pad.
04-25-2004 Al Gloer 3x Est SU E9-6 Just Past (1-2sec) 5-10 mph winds Event: CATOLXXXVIII
Al - Beautiful flight - Landed downrange about 500 yards. Lost one fin on landing. I need to find a better wat to reinforce the fin mount.
06-19-2004 Al Gloer 3x Est SU D12-3 Just Before 10+ mph winds Event: CATO 90
- Way under powered - Overdid the dog barf, as last time the ejection charge blew a hole on the Nomex. Low thrust and high wind caused low arcing flight. Recovery via parawad (no time to fully deploy)
09-19-2009 Peter Gude 3x Est SU D12-3 Apogee - Perfect
(150 m)
Calm Event: Fly to the Sky 6 Netherlands
- Excellent flight as usual !
11-07-2000 Alex Immerman 3x Est SU D12-3 Apogee - NC Down 0-5 mph winds Flight 1 - Slow boost to a few hundred feet. Deployment was fine. Next time I might try the new E9s.
05-09-2009 Mike Lysic 3x Est SU D12-5 Just Before 10+ mph winds Event: Gumbert's Field
- My first cluster flight, all 3 motors lit in sync. Great flight, straight boost. Would be better with a 7 second delay. Short walk to recover. No damage.
06-07-2008 Todd Mullin 3x Est SU E9-6 Just Before 5-10 mph winds Event: Plaster City
11-07-2009 Todd Mullin 3x Est SU E9-4 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds Event: Plaster Blaster 8
- Night launch!
10-28-2000 Cliff Oliver 3x Est SU D12-5 Apogee - NC Up 5-10 mph winds - Beautiful flight. Same as first .
10-28-2000 Cliff Oliver 3x Est SU D12-5 Apogee - Perfect 5-10 mph winds - Notes My first cluster rocket flight. Great flight and recovered close to the pads.
12-02-2000 Cliff Oliver 3x Est SU D12-7 None - Parachute Fail Calm - Chute tangled in new bungie shock cord. Core sampled but very minor damage.
09-10-2005 Cliff Oliver 3x Est SU D12-5 None - CATO 5-10 mph winds - CATO - two of the three nozzles blew out of the motors. Estes notified and MESS report filed. No damage to model
09-10-2005 Cliff Oliver 3x Est SU E9-6 Didn't See 5-10 mph winds - Great flight. All three motor lit and stayed together this time.
11-05-2005 Cliff Oliver 3x Est SU D12-5 Apogee - Perfect 10+ mph winds -
01-07-2006 Cliff Oliver 3x Est SU D12-5 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds -
03-04-2006 Cliff Oliver 3x Est SU E9-6 Apogee - NC Down 5-10 mph winds -
06-10-2006 Cliff Oliver 3x Est SU E9-6 Apogee - NC Down 0-5 mph winds - Two of three motors ignited
08-05-2006 Cliff Oliver 3x Est SU D12-5 Apogee - Perfect 5-10 mph winds -
12-02-2006 Cliff Oliver 3x Est SU D12-5 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds Event: Samson
02-03-2007 Cliff Oliver 3x Est SU D12-5 Apogee - Perfect 10+ mph winds Event: Feb Launch
- Flown for NARTREK Silver Level cluster reqiurement
10-06-2007 Cliff Oliver 3x Est SU D12-5 Apogee - Perfect 5-10 mph winds Event: October 2007 Launch
06-14-2003 David Pierce 3x Est SU D12-5 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds - A second launch, also near perfect. No damage, recovered near pad. Used 12 volt battery and tied igniter wires together.
06-14-2003 David Pierce 3x Est SU D12-5 Very Late 0-5 mph winds - Near perfect 3 engine launch. Went nearly straight up, came down near the launch pad. No damage.
05-12-2000 Casey Smith 3x AT SU E30-7 Just Past (1-2sec) Calm - Perfect motors for this kit, immeadiate ignition, went screaming way up there. Nice big blue flame, great depolyment. Now it needs 3 G-55's.
05-12-2000 Casey Smith 3x Est SU D12-5 Just Past (1-2sec) Calm - Nice flight on these motors but needs more power. Very sturdy kit.
11-05-2000 Casey Smith 3x AT SU E30-7 Apogee - NC Down 5-10 mph winds - WOW! Screamed off the pad, way up there, almost into the low ceiling. All engines lit on NCR Igniters.
11-05-2000 Casey Smith 3x Est SU D12-5 Very Late 5-10 mph winds - Nice good boost, all engines lit. Good deploy. Weathercocked some.
02-18-2001 Casey Smith 3x Est SU D12-5 Just Past (1-2sec) 0-5 mph winds - Nice boost on the repainted kit. Need to put G55's in here.
03-30-2001 Casey Smith 3x Est SU D12-3 Just Past (1-2sec) Calm - This went great after the new paint job and effects added. Those blackpowder motors sure make a lot of smoke. Excellent ignition.
11-10-2001 Casey Smith 3x Est SU E9-6 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds - Great boost for my first flight back at NASA. All three of these motors lit and produced a great high flight.
12-01-2001 Casey Smith 3x Est SU D12-5 Apogee - NC Down 0-5 mph winds - Great flight, all motors lit this time. The E-9's go better in this kit. May go better with D12-3's on windy days.
12-01-2001 Casey Smith 3x Est SU D12-5 Just Past (1-2sec) 0-5 mph winds - Great boost, unfortunately only 2 motors lit. Very low flight, ejected OK.
08-06-2005 Aaron Stanley 3x Est SU E9-6 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds Event: Aeronauts 2005
- What a great flight. My first 3 motor cluster.
02-11-2006 Aaron Stanley 3x Est SU E9-6 Apogee - NC Up Calm - Second perfect flight. The motors lit instantly and the rocket hauled off the pad very quick.
08-19-2006 Aaron Stanley 3x Est SU D12-5 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds - Almost perfect flight except the parachute stripped and the rocket came in on flat spin but substaned only mirror damage just a chipped fin.
12-08-2007 Aaron Stanley 3x Est SU D12-0/3x Est SU E9-8 Apogee - Perfect Calm - Perfect CHAD stage flight.
10-10-2009 Aaron Stanley 3x Est SU D12-5 Apogee - Perfect Calm -
11-14-2009 Aaron Stanley 3x Est SU D12-5 Apogee - Perfect Calm -
06-24-2006 Peter Stanley 3x Est SU C11-3 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds - Nice flight. The C11's were perfect for the tiny field I was using.
07-01-2006 Peter Stanley 3x Est SU D12-5 Apogee - Perfect
(554 ft)
Calm - Another great flight. I'm going to try composite motors next, with a wireless video payload.
09-02-2006 Peter Stanley 3x AT RMS F24-7 Just Past (1-2sec)
(1467 ft)
Calm - Excellent flight. Rocket had a wireless video camera payload.
09-02-2007 Peter Stanley 3x AT RMS F24-7 Apogee - NC Down 5-10 mph winds Event: Freedom Launch 2007, Orangeburg,SC
- Great flight. Youtube video.

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