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REV 2.4 - Tue Oct 12 00:08:02 2010

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Thrustline Aerospace
Duster
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SPECS: 39.5" x 1.325" - 4 oz
ROCKSIM FILE: Right Click to Download
SpaceCAD FILE: MISSING - please submit here
REC'D MOTORS: C11-5, D12-6, E9-6

Rating
(Contributed - by Tim Dixon [Who's Who Page] - 07/31/05) Thrustline Aerospace Duster

Brief:
This is a single stage sport rocket with a long airframe and split fin design which give it nice lines and makes for a lot of curious rocketeers at any launch.

Construction:
The kit is composed of two 1.325" diameter body tubes, balsa nosecone, eyelet, motor tube, two centering rings, metal engine hook, launch lug, Kevlar and elastic shock cords, 18" mylar parachute, and balsa fin stock.

When you first open the Duster kit you are impressed by the instructions. There is a photo provided at nearly every step of the build. As usual I upgraded a few things during the build including the motor mount. I went with an E length 24mm mount also purchased from Thrustline.

I did some simulations with SpaceCAD to ensure stability though. Initially it recommended adding 1/2 oz of weight in the nose, but as I typically build pretty sturdy and use a number of primer/paint layers in finishing, I decided to wait until build completion and check again. As expected, I had a decent CP/CG ratio and didn't have to add any nose weight.

Probably the trickiest part of the build was the layout and finish of the fins. There are six in all and each fin was recommended to be laid out in two pieces (12 pieces total). In theory, this is to align the long leading edge of each piece with the grain of the balsa for maximum strength. This made sense but the picture of the layout provided didn't accomplish the task, thus I used an altered layout. I had more than enough room on the balsa stock to accomplish what was needed. In any case, make sure to lay out the fins exactly so the angles are right and sand so each piece fits its mate exactly. If you end up with any slight gaps they can be filled with Elmer's Fill 'n' Finish or other similar product.

Thrustline Aerospace Duster A number of references in the instructions mention using yellow glue and CA. I seldom use either and prefer 5-minute epoxy for low power rocket builds which is what I used on the Duster.

Overall the build was great and very enjoyable. I always have an LPR kit sitting around to build in between HPR projects. The Thrustline Duster has to be one of my favorites.

Finishing:
I like a glass smooth finish so I use quite a bit of primer and a number of coats of paint. I used Rustoleum primers and Krylon colors and then finished it with Krylon matte clear coat. This final clear coat was mostly used as a test. I could see myself needing a flat finish on some HPR projects I had coming up, so this was my test case. Very smooth finish on the paint as usual with Krylon. Krylon matte was easy to use. I put five or six coats on with light 600 grit sanding in between and it turned out great. Durability was a question but after four flights over a five month time period, it still looks super!

Construction Rating: 4 ½ out of 5

Flight:
I had upgraded the motor mount to accept an Estes E sized engine. To be safe though, I started with a C11-5 at a nearby field in my subdivision. It was a slow liftoff as I believe the motor took a while to ignite. Once lit though, it flew straight and true. Not too high, probably around 750 feet. Perfect deployment and nearby recovery.

Second and third flights were at one of our club launches. I went for the E9-6 for the first flight of the day. Wow! It exploded off the pad. It simmed at greater than 1500' and I'm sure it got there. My son was along and did the trek of about 900 yards to retrieve the rocket.

The final flight of the same day was again a C11-5. Actually I kind of like that launch profile the best. Starts a little slow off the pad then goes like a bat out of hell.

Recovery:
Excellent shock cord attachment with Kevlar running from the motor mount through the airframe and a few feet out the forward end of the body, then a 1/4" elastic shock cord attached from the Kevlar to the nosecone. The kit contains a superb 18" mylar parachute and Kevlar shroud lines which Thrustline is known for.

For flight prep, I simply used a bit of blown insulation, packed the parachute carefully and inserted in the airframe. The fit of the chute is a little tight in the 1.325" airframe but have had picture perfect recoveries every flight so far. Only a couple of slight black marks on the lower end of the Kevlar cord after four flights.

Flight Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary:
The Thrustline Duster is a great low power kit. Very attractive split fin design. Superb, high quality recovery components. Great flight profiles with C and D engines although, I would recommend upgrading to the longer 24mm mount as I did giving you even more options as a sport flyer with E engines.

Overall Rating: 4 ½ out of 5


Rating
(Contributed - by Matthew Bond [Who's Who Page] - 01/22/06) Thrustline Aerospace Duster

Brief:
The Duster is an original design from John Rowan-Stern at Thrustline Aerospace. The Duster is a fairly large, high performance model rocket designed to fly primarily on Estes 24mm black powder motors (C11/D12) and is rated a skill level 2/3 build. The Duster is built around a BT-55 airframe, sports a sleek split fin design, and a conical nose cone. The best way to describe this rocket is that it looks fast!

Construction:
This kit arrived in my mailbox securely packed and undamaged. The Postal Service has yet to score damage points on any of the dozen or so orders I've received from Thrustline. The following items are included with this kit:

  • 2 BT-55 Main Body Tube, 17" long
  • 1 BT-55 Tube Coupler
  • 1 24mm Motor Mount Tube
  • 2 BT-50/55 Centering Rings
  • 1 24mm Engine Block
  • 1 Steel Motor Retention Hook
  • 1 Balsa Nose Cone
  • 1 Steel Eyelet
  • Balsa Fin Stock (1/8"x4")
  • 1 Launch Lug
  • 48" Kevlar Cord
  • 38" x 1/4" Elastic Shock Cord
  • 18" Mylar Parachute
Thrustline Aerospace Duster

All tubes were standard white, glassine coated paper and centering rings were the black fiber type. The motor mount tube was sized for 24mm x 70mm motors. The conical nose cone (BNC-55AC) was 5.5" long high quality balsa with very tight grain. The balsa sheet stock was standard quality with enough extra to make a spare set of fins. The Mylar parachute was unassembled and included Kevlar shroud lines, reinforcement tabs, and a brass swivel.

As with most of the rockets I acquire, the Duster spent some time in the project box before I moved it to the workbench. I had been on a tear building short stubbly "Goony Birds" and needed to work on something that would rip. The Duster came with 3 pages of instructions which included pictures to highlight most of the steps. The directions were simple and easy to follow with only one confusing area regarding cutting out the fins.

Thrustline Aerospace Duster The first step is to assemble the motor mount. I had corresponded with John at Thrustline about the stability margin of his design, and decided to upgrade the motor mount with a longer tube and hook to accommodate an Estes E engine. I also did not attach the Kevlar cord to the motor mount, deciding instead to use the tube coupler as my anchor point.

While waiting for the motor mount glue to dry, I turned to cutting out the fins. The fin templates are marked such that both sets of fins are cut in two separate pieces and then glued together to form the final shape. This was obvious for the forward fins since there are two distinctly different leading edges. I could not figure out, however, why the aft fins needed to be cut in two sections since there is only one leading edge. I consulted the parts drawing on the first page of the instructions and this only added to my confusion since the fins that are traced on the balsa sheet in the picture did not have the leading edge parallel to the grain of the balsa (per the instructions). After figuring out that the picture was wrong, I decided that I would just cut out the aft fins in one piece and went to trace them out on the balsa, only to discover that the fin pattern was wider than the standard 4" balsa sheet! Well that mystery was solved. I happened to have some 6" balsa sheet stock, so I was still able to cut the aft fins in one piece. After tracing, cutting and match sanding I glued the two piece forward fins together using thin CA glue, and then rounded the leading and trailing edges.

Thrustline Aerospace Duster My standard routine for attaching fins is to tack them on with Titebond wood glue, add a second wood glue fillet, and then a final fillet of Elmers Wood Filler. I attached the aft fins first and then the forward fins, using a simple jig of craft sticks and a paper clip to get them perfectly aligned. The launch lug was cut in two and attached in the same fashion. I joined the two sections of body tube together and installed the Kevlar shock cord in between the body tubes and coupler. This is accomplished by tying a large knot in the end of the Kevlar, laying it in the body tube and installing the coupler on top of it. Before the glue set, I pulled the Kevlar tight, so that the knot was snug against the coupler, and added a large drop of glue to complete the anchor point. The final step involved installing the eyelet in the balsa nose cone by screwing it half way in, removing it, filling the hole with CA glue and screwing it all the way down. I finished up the recovery system by attaching the elastic shock cord to the Kevlar cord and then to the nose cone, and putting a drop of CA glue on all the knots.

Thrustline Aerospace Duster

Finishing:
There are no decals included with this kit and the recommended finish is "paint it any color you want". Normally, finishing a rocket is the least fun part of the whole project for me. The fins and nose cone were sealed with thinned down Elmer's Wood Filler and sanded smooth. I got two coats of Rustoleum Painter's Touch Sandable Primer on this bird and then took it to the field and flew it a couple of times. The first time it left the pad, I decided that I would need to put a little effort into the final finish. This rocket is just too cool! I decided to stick with a two color paint scheme, but tried to pull off some very elaborate masking for what I call the "dripping paint" look. I started out with a Krylon spray enamel gloss white base coat. Drawing, cutting, and applying the masking tape took several evenings. I went with red for the highlights and just managed to get it painted before the cold season. The results were disappointing. Either the masking tape I'm using isn't good enough or (more likely) I'm just trying to do too much with it. The look was awesome, but there was a lot of bleeding under the tape. From the launch table it looked pretty good but up close it was a mess. Luckily, I will have a chance to improve the look of this rocket when I build version 2.

Construction Rating: 4 out of 5

Thrustline Aerospace Duster

Flight:
My first Duster logged 4 flights before heading up into the wild blue yonder, never to return. I flew it a couple of times after I got the primer on and twice more after the final paint job. All flights were conducted on standard cold and windy Ohio fall days. My version of the Duster weighed in at 3.2oz, slightly heavier than the advertised weight of 3.0oz. Flight prep is standard. As mentioned above, I had built the Duster with a longer motor mount, so flying standard sized 24mm motors requires a spacer. I make it a point to always cut a few spacers out of spent 24mm casings after every launch so I have a good supply in my range box. I usually tape the spacer to the engine with a piece of clear tape to make removal easier. Folding and loading the chute is simple since there is plenty of space in this rocket. The Duster logged flights on a C11-5, D12-5, D12-7, and E9-6, all in fairly windy conditions, anywhere from 10 to 15 knots. This is a fairly big bird and will sway quite a bit on a standard 1/8" rod on a windy day. All boosts were high, straight and fast with no weathercocking and the rocket was arcing over into the wind at ejection. The longer delays would be better suited for calm days, while I prefer a slightly shorter delay for windy days. The Duster is big enough to track without to much trouble and even on its last flight on the E9-6, I had no difficulty keeping an eye on it. Unfortunately, seeing it land and finding it after it lands are not always the same thing. At least I've still got an F21 waiting for when I build the next one.

Recovery:
The Duster comes with an 18" chute, which would probably be about right if you stick with the recommended motors. I fly this bird with a 4"x4" Nomex heat shield looped onto the Kevlar shock cord. The heat shield is a pretty snug fit inside the BT-55 which keeps the shock cord and chute from sliding back and getting tangled during boost. After the first flight on a C11-5, I swapped out the 18" chute for a 12" chute and finally went with a 2" x 60" streamer for the E9 flight. The bottom line is that this rocket is designed to fly fast and high. Unless you fly over hard dry ground, leave the 18" chute at home and when (not if, but when) you move beyond the D12, get a nice long streamer that is easy to see and a bunch of friends with good eyes to help you keep track of this baby! I fly over tall grass and vegetation, so all of my landings are essentially damage free, but the fin layout is pretty compact on this bird so it should stand up to some rough landings.

Flight Rating: 5 out of 5

Summary:
The Duster is a high performance bird, period. It just begs to be flown fast and high. With that in mind, this is not a rocket that you can just stick a motor in and rack up another whoosh-pop. You need to use your brain when you fly this bird or you will lose it! Of course there is a good chance you may lose it even if you do have a brain, so my advice is order a spare nose cone, save the fin templates and go for it!

PROs: Nice large high performance model rocket for a reasonable price that can handle way more motor than its specs call for. This is a great looking rocket with very clean lines. If you want a taste of high speed and high altitude, this is the bird

CONs: None, unless you count the temptation to get carried away with motor selection and lose your rocket! This really isn't a problem with the rocket but rather the rocketeer. The minor confusion caused by cutting the fins in multiple pieces and the incorrect parts drawing should all be corrected by now, which could be simplified even further by including 6" balsa sheet for the aft fins (or better yet how about some nice laser cut basswood). The 18" chute is OK if you stick to the recommended motors, unless you are flying over very hard ground then a 12" chute is a better choice for windy days. Of course when you start moving up into E30s and F21s, you will need a streamer and a good spotter or two!

Overall Rating: 4 ½ out of 5

[Submit your Opinion]

GUEST's OPINION:
02/06 - "Nice flames. If they're screwed up, you sure can't tell from the pictures. Ever consider doing a featured tip on flame painting?" (W.J.E.)

[Enter Rocket Specific Tip]

SPECIFIC ROCKET TIP:
"" (x.x.)

[Enter Flight Log]
Date Name Motor Ejection/
Altitude
Wind Notes
10-08-2005 Matthew Bond Est SU C11-5 Apogee - NC Up 10+ mph winds Event: QUARK Section Launch
- First Flight! Quick off the pad, nice straight boost, drifting with the wind during coast. Just tipping over at ejection, good chute, long walk. Grass landing, no damage.
10-08-2005 Matthew Bond Est SU D12-5 Just Before 10+ mph winds Event: QUARK Section Launch
- NARTREK Bronze flight. Fast Boost, straight and high. A little early on the ejection. Good deployment, 12 chute, still a fairly long walk. Short grass landing, no damage.
11-20-2005 Matthew Bond Est SU D12-7 Apogee - NC Up 5-10 mph winds Event: QUARK Section Launch
- Fast, high and absolutely arrow straight off the pad. Just stalling out at ejection. 12 chute, didn't look fully inflated. Short walk, landed in the tall brush. Couple of paint dings, no damage.
06-21-2009 Matthew Bond Est SU D12-5 Apogee - NC Up 5-10 mph winds Flight PictureEvent: Southern Thunder
DClone - Fist flight of the new Duster! Smooth boost, decent altitude, arcing over at ejection. Good chute, long walk, grass landing, no damage. Needs a smaller chute for these winds.
07-11-2009 Matthew Bond Est SU E9-6 Apogee - NC Up 5-10 mph winds Flight Picture DClone - Long burn, straight and high. arcing into the wind during the coast, still nose up at ejection. Good chute, long walk, grass landing, no damage
09-05-2009 Matthew Bond AT SU E15-7 Didn't See 5-10 mph winds Flight Picture DClone - Motor chuffed hard and kicked the rocket about half way up the rod. Slid back down and then the motor lit. Fast and high. Lost sight after burnout. Heard ejection but never saw it. Found it at the edge of the field. Chute stripped, no damage.
09-26-2010 Matthew Bond Est SU E9-6 Apogee - NC Up 0-5 mph winds Flight Picture DClone - First flight of the Duster in over a year. Nice smooth boost. Long burning E9 put it way up there. Arcing over, still nose up at ejection. Good chute, long walk, lakebed landing, no damage.
11-20-2005 Matthew Bond Est SU E9-6 Just Before 5-10 mph winds RIPEvent: QUARK Section Launch
- Took a downwind turn off the pad but straightened up quickly. Long burn put it way up there. Nose up at ejection, maybe a bit early. Good streamer, saw it all the way down. Had a good line, but never found it. Status: Lost
   

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