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REV 2.4 - Tue Aug 17 04:35:06 2010

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Estes Industries
The Dude
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SPECS: 78" x 6" - 10 oz
ROCKSIM FILE: MISSING - please submit here
SpaceCAD FILE: MISSING - please submit here
REC'D MOTORS: D12-3

Rating
(Contributed - by Joe Cacciatore [Who's Who Page])

Rocket PicBrief:
This is sure a strange rocket. It is 7.5' tall and uses a balloon for the body of the rocket! Fins and an engine mount are attached to the balloon which uses an 11' parachute for recovery. It flies only on a D12-3 engine. The whole thing weighs about 10 ozs.

It costs $19.97 at Walmart and that includes a launch pad and controller! The launch pad is just a plastic stake that you stick in the ground with a three piece rod that screws together (almost like the Aerotech Mantis rod but slightly smaller diameter) and a large 10.5" blast deflector. The controller is a standard Electron Beam.

I don't think the rod is very good and it bent a lot with the weight of the rocket and with a small breeze.

Construction:
The huge body is one large silver mylar type balloon, similar to the silvery party balloons that have become popular in recent years. The fins and motor mount are attached to a plastic sub-structure which the bottom of the balloon fits in. The plastic structure is glued together using airplane glue. The balloon is inserted into the structure and taped to it.

At the top of the rocket (actually 18" down) is the nose ring and it houses the weights which are required to properly set the CG. The ring is already pre-assembled and is held in place by tape. The plastic fin/motor mount assembly takes about an hour to put together and most of that time is waiting for the glue to dry.

The fins consist of a plastic frame and a sheet of mylar glued to it. The fins are already assembled.

Rocket PicThe motor mount is plastic and houses a D12-3. There is a retaining plastic cap that holds the motor in place. At the top of the motor mount is a right angle plastic pipe and a cardboard tube which sticks out about 3" from the side of the rocket. The wadding and parachute are stuff in there. The motor mount/right angle tube/cardboard tube assembly is already put together for you along with the chute. From the nose ring up on top is attached a fishing line which drapes down along the outside of the rocket and is attached to the chute.

Estes gives you a straw to blow up the balloon. I used helium instead of air which has been stated on the Newsgroups to lighten up the rocket by 2 ozs. It blows up fast. But after 2 days it was getting limp as the air was leaking out of it.

The launch lugs are attached to the balloon using tape. The tape is supplied.

The instructions are typical Estes with pictures and words in English and French. The whole thing goes together really fast. There is one thing to look out for. You are instructed to insert these 3 plastic ring supports into the body ring using one drop of glue. Be careful here. If you use too much glue and clog up the rectangular opening, you won't be able to insert the fin assembly tabs later on.

Also, one other point which isn't clear is they say position the nose ring 18" from the tip of the rocket. But it isn't clear if you measure 18" to the top or bottom of the nose ring. The ring itself is about 1". I don't think it is critical.

The whole assembled rocket is kind of flimsy with a lot of flex in the large fins.

Finishing:
There are no decals supplied and no painting is required. You just assemble the rocket and fly!

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

Rocket PicFlight:
The only recommended engine is a D12-3 which puts it up about 300'. There is a plastic cap which twists on the motor tube to hold the engine in. Estes recommends tapping the launch rod 19" up from the blast deflector. They don't say why but it is to position the rocket high enough off the pad. There was a light breeze and with the flimsy launch rod and the large surface area of the rocket, the rocket was very tilted on the pad. It was impossible for me to get the rocket to stand up straight! That 3 piece rod bents a lot! But because it was still safely aimed and because of the large field, I flew it anyway.

Recovery:
On the first flight it went straight up, slowly, arched over and finally the chute came out. Although the 11" chute seems small, it brought it down what looked like a good landing on grass. The fins, which hit first, really flexed a lot and I thought maybe were broken. When I got to the rocket, all fins were fine but the rocket was almost deflated. The top part of the rocket, when it hit the ground, got 3 small cuts in the balloon which quickly let the air out. Not having any scotch tape to repair, I had to call it quits. I believe many people will have problems with the balloon contacting the ground and getting small cuts. Perhaps a larger chute would help.

Close UpOn the second flight I removed the tape wrapped on the rod at 19" because I felt it was holding the rocket too far up on the rod, causing the rod to bend even more than what it could handle. And I still could not get the rocket aimed the way I wanted because of the bending rod and wind. Removing the tape was a mistake. Because on the second flight with the engine almost sitting on the deflector, the engine blast deflected off the deflector and hit AND MELTED the balloon. Even before the rocket clear the rod, the rocket was deflated enough to make it go out of control and crash right near the pad. I have a video of it on my site (click button above or below) on the rocket video page. Attached you see a picture of the bottom of the rocket with the melted holes.

Flight Rating: 3 out of 5

Summary:
This rocket gets a lot of attention where ever it goes. Its 7.5' tall and is bright silver. It comes with a launch pad and controller for $19.97 at Walmart. If you are like me and fly high power rockets and engines, flying a 7.5' balloon rocket from Estes is more or less just for fun and ha ha's. It is not a serious rocket but then again, it doesn't suppose to be.

Pro: Its big, its cheap, it flies good, it draws a crowd. It goes together very quickly. It goes only about 300' so you can fly it almost anywhere. It comes with a launch pad and controller.

Con: It rips easy and the launch rod is too flexible.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5


Rating
(Contributed - by Les Bradshaw [Who's Who Page])

Brief:
This rocket goes back to the time when the body of a rocket was so thin it could not support its own weight. The rockets relied on the pressurization of the fuel to keep them from collapsing. The Dude has a fin/motor mount cage and then a chrome covered nylon "balloon" that is inflated for the body and nose.

Construction:
There are no body tubes. A simple plastic cage consisting of 2 rings and 3 supports get glued together with plastic cement. The Dude comes with a pre-assembled motor mount. This motor mount slides onto the fins and is glued in place. This motor mount/fin assembly is then glued to the cage.

The instructions were simple to follow. All you need for supplies is plastic cement. There actually is very little construction required. I did need to do a bit of trimming where the cage and motor mount/fin assembly joined. Being a balloon, the unit is not very sturdy. The balloon attaches to the cage with tape. The launch lugs (2) are taped to the side of the balloon. There is a top ring that is weighted to ensure the stability. This ring is just taped to the balloon. A line runs from this ring down to the motor mount. There is a 12" parachute that ties to this string. It is ejected out the side from the motor mount.

Finishing:
No finishing is required. The chromed balloon looks cool as is.

Construction Rating: 5 out of 5

Flight:
The only recommended motor is the D12-3. The motor easily slides into the mount. There is a twist ring to hold the motor in place. Wadding is required to protect the parachute. I feel there is a problem with launching this rocket. First, it comes with a "launch pad" that is a stake you are supposed to push into the ground. Good luck if you have hard or rocky soil. Also, the instructions do state launch with little or no wind. Since the balloon is so wide and tall, yet light weight, it catches the wind very easily. I tried flying in 5 mph winds with 10 mph gusts. During one gust the rocket leaned over and the top of the stake that holds the rod broke off. I ended up just putting the rod directly into the ground. The rocket stayed upright during the flight. In fact, instead of weather cocking, it sort of went side-ways with the wind. It is a very sloooww flying rocket.

Recovery:
As I indicated earlier, the parachute is located at the bottom in the motor mount. It is ejected sideways, then moves to the top by the string attached to the top ring. The parachute causes the rocket to drift down horizontally instead of making a nose-down ballistic flight. Again, due to how light the rocket is compared to its size, it will drift far in the wind.

Flight Rating: 3 ½ out of 5

Summary:
This is a cool looking rocket and does impress the people watching. However, there are several problems. Don't try flying if there is any wind. The launch pad is useless. Unfortunately, the rocket uses a 1/4" rod so a standard Estes launch pad can't handle it. I would try to find another way to hold the rod instead of the stake (unless you are launching at a beach). I've flown the rocket twice, and I two places where the seam of the balloon let go. A little cleapacking tape fixed that problem.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5


Rating
(Contributed - by Victor R Gigante-Hueber - 03/10/02)

Brief:Rocket Pic
This is an interesting rocket from Estes. It is basically just a plastic fin canister with a large Mylar balloon on the front. It comes with a launch pad and a launch controller and can be ready to fly in a few hours.

Construction:
This rocket comes packaged with its launch pad and controller in a very brightly colored box. The rocket's parts are bagged and the launch set is taped to a piece of cardboard. The instructions are very concise and have drawings of the assembly and launch prep next to the text. Both the box and instructions are printed in English and French. The three fins are made of a plastic framework with Mylar glued to it. The motor mount is a 24mm plastic tube with a bend in the top, and a paper tube inserted into the bend. This comes with a locking ring to hold the motor in. The balloon is Mylar and about six feet long. The balloon replaces a conventional body tube, and is very simple to inflate. The fins and motor mount slide together and glued in place, then they attach to the balloon via a plastic framework (which is glued together and then to the fins), and tape. The launch lugs are plastic and tape on aligned with the balloon's seam. The parachute is 12" diameter and attaches to a long nylon thread which resembles fishing line, but thicker. This attaches to a ring which is taped to the balloon at the top. The parachute is deployed from the paper tube attached to the motor mount.

The instructions are very simple and easy to follow, and the pictures are helpful. The fin-motor mount assembly is simple, but the canister that attaches to the balloon kept coming apart when I tried to slide it in place, even after I let it dry overnight. The balloon blows up with a straw and is fairly simple to inflate, if you follow the instructions. The launch lugs tape on and require more than one person to attach. The upper ring also tapes on and also requires more than one person to attach. The nylon "shock cord" is difficult to tie in the proper loop, especially because it's wrapped around a piece of card stock when you get it and has a tendency to try and re- wrap itself. The parachute comes pre-assembled and is fairly easy to tie on, once you have the nylon cord tied together. All-in-all, I agree with Estes' decision to give it a Skill Level 2 rating.

Finishing:
The fin canister parts are of a molded red plastic which requires no finishing. The fins themselves are molded as well, with Mylar pre-attached. The motor mount is molded red plastic, with a white tube which you could probably paint if you wanted to. The balloon, obviously, requires no finishing, as it is just metallic Mylar. Really this rocket requires no finishing whatsoever.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

Flight:
One word of caution before I go on. The Electron Beam launch controller that comes with The Dude has the safety key tied to the controller. Do take the time remove it so you can keep it separate. I could have gotten my fingers burned off because, on launch day, one of my non-rocketeer friends picked up the controller and said, "How do you launch this thing? Just press the button?" I proceeded to tell him that he couldn't launch yet because I had taken the above precaution and had the key with me. Thank you, and on with the review!

This rocket has only one recommended motor which is one of the Estes "Mighty D" series, the D12-3. This gives a very low flight, maybe 200-300 feet if you're lucky. Launch day was clear with a light breeze blowing, These are actually decent conditions for this rocket if you have people to help you. Setting up for launch is supposedly very simple if you do it right. I, unfortunately, tried to pound in the stake that comes with the pad using a hammer. This resulted in the holder for the launch rod breaking off. I just pounded the rod into the ground and then slid the blast deflector over it.

Prepping for flight was simple. First I put the recovery wadding into the little tube as recommended, and then I folded the parachute, wrapped the lines once, and stuffed it in on top of the wadding. I then deviated from the instructions again and put the motor into the retainer ring, and then put in the igniter and plug. I then put the motor into the mount, having some difficulty fitting the top past the mouth of the mount, and locked the ring in, again having difficulty because the ring did not slide into position well. The rocket was very difficult to get on the pad because of a light breeze that was blowing (I had decided once again to go against the instructions and just launch anyway). I didn't have any tape, so I decided to do without. Once it was on the pad, it blew around a little, so I had one of my friends hold it in place while I hooked up the micro clips. I then backed up to the launch controller and had everybody stand behind me. When we were safely away, I proceeded with the countdown and launched.

The rocket lifted off the pad, turned slightly into the wind, and climbed until the motor burned out. The rocket hovered for a moment at burnout altitude, then started to drop just as the ejection charge fired. The chute took awhile to deploy, but was safely open when the rocket had reached half of the distance to the ground. The rocket hit hard and bounced once on its tail, then flopped over. After we recovered it, we flew two other rockets, but "the big one" held the most interest. By the time we had it prepped again, the rocket had lost pressure so we re-inflated it and took it out to the pad. We re-inflated it once more on the pad and could find no leaks, so we decided it was go.

The second flight went much the same way as the first, but when we got the rocket back, the pressure was low again, so we decided to pack up and go home. All-in-all, this rocket is fun to fly, but very difficult to hold still in a breeze. Also, the impact of recovery seemed to damage the balloon. I have not found the leak, so it must have been the stress of the hard impact creating pinhole leaks in the balloon. Another problem I noticed is the occurrence of minor charring on the tube the recovery system fits into. I haven't figured out what causes this either. Look out for those if you buy this rocket.

Recovery:
The recovery system is very simple to assemble on this rocket. All you do is slip the upper ring on and tape it in place with the included tape, then extend the nylon cord which is molded into the ring itself, and tie the pre-assembled chute in place. Recovery itself is another matter. There is a little tube that leads out the side from the motor mount, and the 'chute goes in there. When the ejection charge activates, it blows the chute out and into the open air. The chute then swings away from the rocket and deploys. The nylon cord is there just to connect the 'chute to the rocket. The 'chute is too small for the rocket's weight, and the rocket hits hard. The fins are resilient, but I wouldn't trust them for too many flights. Also, the balloon is easily damaged by the impact. It deflated rapidly on me after hitting the ground. It might be a good idea to replace the stock 'chute with an 18" or even a 24" one.

Flight Rating: 3 ½ out of 5

Summary:
This rocket is fun to fly, even in a light breeze. I like the idea of a balloon rocket, but it needs a slightly stronger balloon. It's fairly simple to build, but some parts could be a little tighter or a little looser. The fact that it doesn't need finishing is a plus. Another plus is that this rocket can be flown on fairly small fields. It needs a bigger parachute, the 12" 'chute doesn't cut it. The D class motor is cool, though. If somebody could devise a better launcher, that would be good. Overall, I'd recommend this rocket because it's the kind of thing that makes people go "wow".

Overall Rating: 4 ½ out of 5


Rating
(by Glenn Roth [Who's Who Page] - 08/08/08)

Brief:
This is a large rocket that uses a mylar balloon as its airframe (like a blimp), is powered by a 24mm motor, and recovers by parachute.

Estes The Dude

Construction:
There is no body tube or payload, just an inflatable mylar balloon, and 4 fins. It uses a right angle motor mount for chute and motor with a monofilament line coming from the nose ring down to the parachute on the outside of the rocket.

Construction is sort of simple. The fin assembly snapped together and was difficult to put together, however, you do only have to do it once and glue it together. It has been launched a couple of times and survived, but the silver treatment on the mylar is coming off.

Finishing:
Nothing to finish. It looks impressive.

Construction Rating: 3 ½ out of 5

Flight:
There is only one recommended motor, the D12-3. Prep is easy, uses wadding and a "lock ring" for motor retention. It flew like a rocket powered balloon and relatively straight.

Flight Rating: 3 ½ out of 5

Summary:
PROs: Very impressive to watch.

CONs: It takes a "soda straw" to deflate and about 4 hours!

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

[Submit your Opinion]

GUEST's OPINION:
08/03 - "I think this is a good rocket. I'm probably not going to fly it because Estes just discontinued it. :(" (J.R.)

GUEST's OPINION:
07/02 - "I got a DUDE! for Christmas in 2001, and just got a chance to fly it this month. I decided to use a Aerotech F12, as I didn't think the D12 would do. I had to tightly friction fit the RMS case into the DUDE! motor mount. There was no wind so it flew nice, straight and high on a pillar of black smoke. Everyone at the launch was laughing at the sight of this metallic Hindenburg floating back to the ground. I flew it once more, and the recovery resulted in a pin hole. The DUDE! is dead for now. If you have a DUDE!, I would suggest at least one flight on an F12. Make sure you use the parachute! We wouldn't want anyone getting hurt...." (T.A.M)

GUEST's OPINION:
07/02 - "I have to respectfully disagree with the negative comments entered so far about "The Dude". First of all, it’s not an ordinary rocket. If the wind is blowing, don't fly it! In windless, or nearly so, conditions the supplied rod/deflector works fine. This rocket in flight is a real attention grabber as well. Be careful packing the chute, if it fully deploys properly the rocket will descend near horizontally rather than one end hitting the ground first and absorbing all the impact. I hear leaks can easily be fixed with clear tape, I have had no leaks as of yet so I can't vouch for that personally. I also hear that Estes will send a new "balloon" if you call the number listed in the instructions. Very impressive, fun to fly (especially for kids) rocket when used as intended." (C.T.)

GUEST's OPINION:
03/02 - "I just bought this rocket on Ebay last night, (it hasn't got here yet) and it sounds like Iím gonna have to buy the Estes E-pad anyway. I saw the E-pad just yesterday at the hobby store, it also has a 1/4 in. rod. What the heck were the Estes people thinking when they manufactured this one?! The rocket itself seems pretty okay, but how did they think a crappy little rod and plate was good enough for a launch pad. Well, if Estes is gonna monopolize this by making us have to buy the e-pad to safely launch this, I think they should join Microsoft! ;-)" ()

GUEST's OPINION:
10/01 - "If this is an example of what we get when Estes design people "think outside the box", I suggest we find the lid and a good, strong lock. Thanks, but no thanks. Wait until you see one on deep closeout at Wal-Mart before you lay out any cash for one." (B.E.)

GUEST's OPINION:
10/01 - "I think Estes should've called this one "The Dud" instead. Quite a bit of cash outlay for a rocket that only flies once and then melts. Might as well just make a rocket out of snow and cram a D12-3 into that!" (KRJ)

GUEST's OPINION:
10/01 - "These reviews are right on the money. I highly agree that the stake and rod are virtually useless because they are. Mine bent like the palm trees that we have here in Southwest Florida. I have yet to fly mine because of this. I also agree that the assembled rocket is rather fragile. The controller was a nice addition because I really needed a new one. I would somewhat recommend this rocket or for another $25, you could buy a Maxi V-2 reissue." (D.B.Jr)

[Enter Rocket Specific Tip]

SPECIFIC ROCKET TIP:
07/02 - "A couple of ideas for finding leaks: 1. Inflate partially and submerge it in a bathtub. Look for the bubbles. 2. Take a bowl of water and put a healthy dose of dishsoap in it. Take a paintbrush and paint onto the inflated balloon. It should cause bubbles in the soapy mixture where the leak is occurring" (J.H. )

[Enter Flight Log]
Date Name Motor Ejection/
Altitude
Wind Notes
09-02-2001 Joe Cacciatore Est SU D12-3 Just Past (1-2sec) Calm - Great flight even though the rod supplied with the kit bends way too much. Lands and gets some minor cuts.
09-03-2001 Joe Cacciatore Est SU D12-3 Very Late 5-10 mph winds - Rocket sits too low on deflector plate and engine blast melts and instantly deflates rocket. Video on my site, www.joecool.org/myrockets.htm
06-29-2002 Joe Cacciatore Est SU D12-3 Just Past (1-2sec) Calm - Another nice flight, posted video of it on my site, www.joecool.org/myrockets.htm. Must of gotten a hole when it landed since it doesn't hold air now. The rocket seems to be good for 2 flights only!
06-29-2002 Joe Cacciatore Est SU D12-3 Just Past (1-2sec) Calm - Picture perfect flight on a D12-3 with new ballon supplied by Estes. Supplied chute could be bigger since this lands hard.
06-30-2002 Dean Cooper AT RMS D13-4 Just Past (1-2sec) Light winds - Maiden launch of this rocket, and first (i beleive) in NZ. PERFECT flight. Slight melting of chute, but recovered UN-DAMAGED. I LOVE THIS ROCKET! Dean Cooper. www.geocities.com/nzrocketman
02-24-2002 Victor Gigante-Hueber Est SU D12-3 Apogee - NC Up 0-5 mph winds - Deflated slightly before launch. Hovered at burnout. Good flight.
02-24-2002 Victor Gigante-Hueber Est SU D12-3 Apogee - NC Up 0-5 mph winds - Good flight. Hovered at burnout.
12-20-2003 Scott Jenkins Est SU D11-3 Just Past (1-2sec) 5-10 mph winds - First flight for The Dude - windy day but it did great. Slow takeoff but impressive for the kids. Parachute popped out just past apogee, but was twisted and really not necessary. Floated back a short distance from the launchpad.
12-20-2003 Scott Jenkins Est SU D11-3 Just Past (1-2sec) 5-10 mph winds - Second flight on D11-3, this time wind tilted The Dude just when motor fired so it took off like an ICBM streaking across the field. Very cool! Again, parachute not needed as it landed without any damage.
12-20-2003 Scott Jenkins Est SU D11-3 Just Past (1-2sec) 5-10 mph winds - Second flight on D11-3, this time wind tilted The Dude just when motor fired so it took off like an ICBM streaking across the field. Very cool! Again, parachute not needed as it landed without any damage.
12-20-2003 Scott Jenkins Est SU E9-6 Just Past (1-2sec) 5-10 mph winds - The Dude loves an E! Removed plastic cap and wrapped motor with masking tape to friction fit, but it was awesome! Flew much higher. No damage without parachute. Much more durable than reviews suggested.
08-24-2004 Matthew McFarland Est SU D12-3 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds - 3 great flights on D12-3(3rd flight ejection charge melted body-dead) Bought new one, will be flying on E's & F's. Each flight required A LOT of tape to fix pinholes & nose ring rips. Fun but disposable.
12-26-2007 Mark Rose Est SU D12-3 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds - Superb first flight--I am amazed--it flew well!
12-26-2007 Mark Rose Est SU D12-3 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds - Superb first flight--I am amazed--it flew well!
07-27-2008 Glenn Roth Est SU D12-5 Apogee - NC Up 0-5 mph winds Event: Chubb Park
- Got very overcast fast but, flew fine. Longer time delay, ejected chute about @75'. Very Impressive flight in front of over 85 people.
09-15-2001 Bob Sanford Est SU D12-3 Apogee - NC Down 0-5 mph winds - Darn thing actually flies. Not sure if a parachute is really required.
08-25-2007 Dwayne Shmel Est SU E9-4 Just Past (1-2sec) 0-5 mph winds Event: Club Launch Nowthen
- The DUDE rocketed on an E9. I also filled it with helium which took off 1.75 oz. of weight. Very strong flight with a bounce on the recovery
07-26-2008 Dwayne Shmel AT RMS F24-7 None - CATO 5-10 mph winds Event: Club Launch - Nowthen
- I thought the F24 might be a bit much - I was right. The dude lept off the rod and got to about 75' before the lower fin cage came apart. The inflatable tube and fin can came down separately.
05-23-2009 Dwayne Shmel Est SU E9-4 Just Past (1-2sec) 0-5 mph winds Event: NSL 2009
- Duuuuude. Very popular flight.
06-20-2009 Dwayne Shmel AT RMS F12-5 None - Unstable 0-5 mph winds Event: Nowthen Solstice Launch
- F12 was a little too much for the Dude. Went up with fins a flappin' and nose dived into ground. Ejection happened after lawn dart. Small hole in end of body balloon - repaired.
06-20-2009 Dwayne Shmel Est SU E9-4 Just Past (1-2sec) 0-5 mph winds Event: Nowthen Solstice Launch
- Probably the perfect motor for this rocket. Went up - then sideways - then up again. Great flight
07-04-2009 Dwayne Shmel AT RMS E12-3 None - Parachute Fail 0-5 mph winds Event: Monthly Launch
- Little too much power. Rocket went up, then sideways. Very fast though. Ejection was too close to ground and parachute didn't deploy in time to save the balloon from hard impact. It ripped on impact. Will replace with new body balloon.
08-22-2009 Dwayne Shmel Est SU E9-4 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds Event: Monthly Launch
- Broke fin cage on impact. Repairable.
11-10-2001 Larry Zeilmann Est SU D12-3 Apogee - Perfect 0-5 mph winds - Hole poked by stem on landing, Repairable
   

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