(Contributed - by Joe Cacciatore )
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 . 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.
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.
The 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
The launch lugs are attached to the balloon using tape. The tape is
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
There are no decals supplied and no painting is required. You just assemble the
rocket and fly!
out of 5
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.
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.
On 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.
out of 5
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.
out of 5
(Contributed - by Les Bradshaw )
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
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.
No finishing is required. The chromed balloon looks cool as is.
out of 5
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.
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.
½ out of 5
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.
out of 5
(Contributed - by Victor R Gigante-Hueber - 03/10/02)
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.
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.
The 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.
out of 5
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
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.
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"
½ out of 5
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".
½ out of 5
(by Glenn Roth - 08/08/08)
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.
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.
Nothing to finish. It looks impressive.
½ out of 5
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.
½ out of 5
PROs: Very impressive to watch.
CONs: It takes a "soda straw" to deflate and about 4 hours!
out of 5