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Whitworth launch report

May 6, 2010

What is a college education? Whitworth college physics program offers a rocket class every other year and this was an ‘on’ year.
The students are provided with a supply of 29mm SU G-impulse motors. Their objective: Design and build a thrust stand, measure thrust characteristics of various motors, build a stock rocket kit (airframes varied from 38mm to 4” diameter), predict max altitude (no commercial software allowed), fly the rocket with a recording altimeter, and then report on the differences between theory and reality. Class size was approximately 15 students where only one had ever built/flown a rocket before. So, what did they learn? Weather plays a significant role in a rocket launch (had to postpone twice due to wind/rain). Copperheads earn their ‘crapperhead’ reputation, but attention to detail (careful installation, clean clips, diligent hook up) allow them to work just fine. Spare igniters are always a good idea. A freshly charged battery works better than the one you’ve been using all quarter. Launch lugs vs. rail buttons coupled with rods vs. rails for launch stability. Friction fit, means motor needs to be tighter than N/C + laundry (result could be either lawn dart or flat spin (they demonstrated both)). Thrust rings need to be secure or motor can push up into the airframe and both lift the rocket off the pad and burn the airframe in half before getting back to the ground. PerfectFlite data transfer cable will break if you pull on the wires instead of the connector. Laptop screens need to be in the shade before they ‘work’. Dog barf sounds funny but works well. You can take a bazillion pix of a rocket on the pad if/when an igniter fails. It’s easy to over write files when downloading data from multiple altimeters. Needle nose pliers don’t work well for pulling out spent motors. 5 minute epoxy takes longer than 5 minutes to repair a loose fin. Vern Knowles makes it look easy (I loaned them a couple DVD’s). Rocket are cool, fun, educational, and exciting. While they experienced multiple anomalies, they also had several successful flights and returned to campus with gobs of data to analyze. President bob

Posted by bobble at May 6, 2010 7:18 PM


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