April 2018 meeting

The RRS held its monthly meeting on April 13, 2018 at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. We had a full agenda with the most important item being the 75th anniversary RRS symposium that is coming in only 8 days. We had a prompt start at 7:30pm with Osvaldo calling the meeting to order and giving the reading of the treasury report. We had a full attendance including our new RRS members, Jack, Dylan, Connor, Cooper and Byron from the former Chaminade High School rocketry club. They have been very busy with their solid rocket project. We didn’t have time to add their progress to our agenda, but we hope they’ll give an update at the May meeting.

Bill Janczewski and Chris Lujan just before the April 2018 meeting

The first agenda item discussed the work done by the Aerospace Corporation of El Segundo, California, on March 26th and 27th at the RRS MTA site. RRS member and Aerospace Corporation employee, Drew Cortopassi gave an excellent summary of the work. Aerospace Corporation’s experimental work was a success and we hope that Aerospace may return to use our site to advance their designs. Aerospace Corporation is one of our exhibitors and presenters at the meeting. A fuller discussion of their rocket testing at the RRS MTA will be given at the RRS’s 75th anniversary symposium, next Saturday, April 21st.

Aerospace Corporation tests an experimental solid motor design at the RRS MTA, 3/26/2018.

The next agenda topic was discussing the results from the launch event held last weekend with Florence Joyner Elementary School with the LAPD CSP program. Frank gave an excellent summary and Osvaldo discussed a theory explaining the odd bending of each alpha rocket found at the event. Most alpha rockets come down nearly vertically and burying themselves straight into the hard dry lake bed. At the launch event of April 7th, nearly all of the rocket propellant tubes were bent. Typically, this only happens if the rocket strikes a rock beneath the surface, but it is quite uncommon. Osvaldo’s invention of the Rockextractor proved to be a swift tool for reclaiming found alpha rockets.

Osvaldo’s newest invention, the Rockextractor

As a side note, Frank had mentioned that the USC short film “Rockets in the Projects” covering the November launch event with Grape Street Elementary class and the LAPD CSP program will be screened with other short films at Annenberg Hall on the campus of USC on Wednesday, April 18th. Seating is very limited so those interested in seeing the film should act quickly.

The third agenda topic was about the RRS expanding its roster of licensed pyrotechnic operators (pyro-op’s). We have great support from our current pyro-op’s but the society would benefit from having more. The RRS will be building a training manual that includes the materials mandated by the California Fire Marshal’s office to attain a license in rocketry. This tool will be an effective study tool for members looking to become licensed pyro-ops. At the very least, the training helps spread safe practices in the society. Given the limited time we had at this month’s meeting, we agreed to discuss this topic further at the next month’s meeting in May.

RRS pyro-op manual and training guide

The fourth agenda topic was something that Larry Hoffing discovered. The 2-bit Circus Foundation is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to the next generation of inventors to advance environmental stewardship and spur community engagement. The 2-bit circus has a futuristic arcade in downtown Los Angeles and has reached out to the RRS to be an exhibitor at their next event in Hawthorne, California. The RRS was supportive of this idea and once more details become available we will find a few members to attend the exhibition to help us reach more people at this event for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) education which our shared passion.

Two Bit Circus Foundation – STEAM education

The fifth agenda topic briefly discussed an idea that I have developed a second-stage design that fits with the RRS standard alpha payload tube. With a short segment of 1-1/4″ PVC tubing turned down to fit inside the 1.75″ OD payload tube and machined PVC end cap, a second stage motor with a graphite nozzle can be fired atop of the micrograin booster. A short length of Type-1 PVC round stock was donated to the RRS by Industrial Plastic Supply Inc. of Anaheim, California. There are many plastic suppliers, but not many that offer such a range of plastics in small quantities better suited for experimenters and hobbyists with modest personal budgets. I happily recommend them to all.

Industrial Plastic Supply Inc. – Anaheim, California

An interstage piece is necessary to trigger the second stage after a set time delay. I have designed an umbilical connector piece that uses a 3.5mm audio plug and panel-mount jack as a switch.

3.5 mm audio jack, panel mount

To internally mount the switch at a shallow angle for easy extraction of the plug as the alpha rocket lifts away from the launch rack required a unique plastic piece that Richard Garcia was able to 3D print for me in plastic. The fit check was a success so now I have to get the connector wired and mounted.

two of the umbilical jack mounts, plastic nozzle puck in the foreground

The solid motor grain itself was thought to be simple rocket candy, but other solid propellant types could be tried. Chris Lujan offered to pour a second stage grain for my design. Richard Garcia also offered to make his next motor grain to fit in this standard payload tube size. I have designed most pieces, but some aspects of this design need more work and testing. The RRS would like to encourage our members and our partner organizations to design and fly payloads with our standard alpha rockets which are easy to produce. Time was short so this topic was also tabled for the next month’s meeting as this work evolves.

RRS standard alpha, second stage assembly (work in progress)

The sixth agenda topic similarly had no real time to get into the details. The quarterly progress report of the SuperDosa project had only the RRS ballistic evaluation motor (BEM) to discuss. This workhorse tool will help the RRS accurately determine burn rate with variable nozzle puck sizes. Richard Garcia did turn out a basic set of graphite puck nozzles for the BEM.

RRS BEM graphite nozzle pucks, courtesy of Richard Garcia

The cylinder piece is with Osvaldo once he can find time to machine the bore and pressure ports. The top and bottom plates will be made soon by CNC Specialty Machining of Huntington Beach. This is the same machine shop that did a quality job with milling the S-type load cell adapter blocks for the RRS horizontal thrust stand. Thanks to Matt Moffitt of CNC Specialty Machining which is soon to relocate their business in Huntington Beach next month.

RRS ballistic evaluation motor design concept

The last agenda topic was the last preparations necessary for the RRS symposium coming next Saturday, April 21st. This event will easily be larger than last year’s event with over 400 Eventbrite reservations made just before the meeting. We have a longer list of speakers including new participants such as NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center’s (GSFC) Wallops Island Flight Facility (WFF) in Virginia. We will need all of our members to help us support this event. Please spread the word!

There will be a lot of work in setting up the night before. Members are encouraged to come help set things up at 7PM on the Friday night beforehand, April 20th. Contact Frank Miuccio who is our symposium coordinator if you would like to help.

vicepresident@rrs.org

The RRS meeting went out to the exhibition hall of the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. The RRS will have the whole center for our public event and we hope everyone can come. Frank will send me the final agenda with the speaker list and the presentation times. This is an all-day event, but consult the RRS.ORG website for updated information. I plan to make a posting for the RRS symposium soon.

The meeting adjourned as the Ken Nakaoka Community Center closed. Osvaldo did some work for our new members with a clamping assembly to hold their rocket casing in their own horizontal thrust stand to test their full-sized boosted dart motor. Although independently conceived, this work nicely fits with the SuperDosa project and the RRS is glad to have another project to help advance the work of the society and our members.

RRS members stand outside of the Ken Nakaoka Community Center after the meeting with the horizontal thrust stand

If there is anything I have missed or misstated, please email me:
secretary@rrs.org

Our next meeting will be Friday, May 11, 2018. Please come as we will have much to discuss after the symposium and plenty to do in this summer of our 75th anniversary as a society.

March 2018 meeting

The RRS held its monthly meeting on Friday, March 9, 2018 at our usual location at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center. We got a timely start at 7:31pm. After the reading of the treasury report, we proceeded to discuss the agenda items.

The first item is the release of the Astrojet newsletter. We’ve sold the first twenty copies already. Copies are $10 each and proceeds go to benefit society activities in this 75th anniversary year. The RRS’s newsletter hasn’t been in print for nearly 20 years. The RRS is very proud to offer a tangible token for the public’s reading pleasure. The RRS is grateful to member Bill Janczewski for making a very professional looking newsletter to commemorate this milestone year for our society.

75th anniversary issue of the Astro-Jet is now on sale for $10/copy.

The second item on the agenda was to get an update on the on-going RRS educational event with the students at Florence Joyner Elementary supported by the growing and successful LAPD CSP program. The program that started in February is going well and the students were able to visit the California Science Center as part of the five session program. The rocket build was completed today and the painting will commence on Saturday. Frank had the students make the paper tube rockets for use with the air launcher. The launch event at the MTA was rescheduled to April 7th. The forum has also been updated with this change.

Flo Jo Elementary students visit the California Science Center with the RRS

Frank has compiled a lot of educational materials from the many Powerpoint presentations over the last few classes, but the amount of material is getting pretty large. Some work should be done to pare down the content to have a greater impact to our younger audience. Also, Frank has bound the information in a booklet which might make for a fine publication as we refine our content with the great questions we get from the students.

For the third agenda topic, we discussed the progress on the RRS symposium. All is going very well and our speaker list is nearly fully confirmed. We held our first teleconference and will hold the next one on Tuesday, March 13th to continue the many planning activities left. 116 free tickets on Eventbrite have been sold already. Frank has been putting out flyers to local high schools such as Redondo Beach, Torrance, and Gardena. We ask all members to download the flyer and spread the word to colleagues, friends and other fans of rocketry both past and present.

The RRS 75th anniversary symposium will be Saturday, April 21st, 2018 and will have speakers and exhibitors from academia, industry and government agencies on topics related to professional and amateur rocketry. If there are any questions, please contact Frank Miuccio our society vice president and symposium coordinator.

vicepresident@rrs.org

At the symposium, the RRS would like to show photos of people and projects throughout our long history. We have received a lot of great items from members past and present and we encourage everyone to contribute whatever they can to the on-going RRS history project. In particular, photos, articles or stories from the 1970’s and 1980’s are of particular interest to us as we have little from this time period.

I am happy to lead this project and hope to give a nice montage to display before all of our symposium attendees and also invite people to write articles describing their experiences and past projects with the RRS. It is through storytelling that the RRS history is kept for future generations to learn and appreciate those that have come before us. Please email the RRS secretary if you have anything to share for the RRS history project.
secretary@rrs.org

On the next agenda topic, we discussed the possibility of moving the meeting start time to 7:00PM. The purpose was to try to have more time to discuss the growing activities at the RRS. The RRS is growing and the meeting time is important. After some discussion, it was decided to keep the meeting time at 7:30PM. The meetings will start on time and discussions will have to stay on the topics of the agenda. Many people come from great distances, but if other topics want to be discussed they can be done before the meeting starts.

For the next topic, a lot of progress was made on the horizontal thrust stand that will be used at the MTA on the small concrete slab just in front of the old blockhouse at the MTA. I had the load cell adapter pieces made and they fit quite well. Many thanks to Matt Moffitt of CNC Specialty Machining in Huntington Beach.

adapter blocks made for the S-type load cell

The horizontal thrust stand will go out to the MTA on the April 7th launch event, but this will be only for final fit checks. Osvaldo is also helping with getting the last mating hardware pieces to complete the set.

load cell adapter matching a standard alpha payload tube

The main frame pieces were welded, but we will not be able to use the thrust stand at the next launch event until the foot plates are aligned and welded. Many thanks to Jim Shirley of Shirley Design and Custom Fabrication in Huntington Beach for his welding skills. I hope to complete the thrust stand and have it ready to static fire alpha rockets at the next launch event after April 7th.

main structure of the horizontal thrust stand to be used for alphas at the RRS MTA

Richard spoke briefly about the progress he’s made to date on his liquid rocket vehicle build. The RRS standard liquid rocket will be the result of a few builds and a lot of testing to arrive at what will be a practical and effective standard design. Richard has built his thrust chamber with a G10 fiberglass internal liner insert and a graphite nozzle. Richard found a good supplier of fiberglass tubes and pipes that are sold in convenient 5-foot lengths.

Richard’s liquid rocket thrust chamber with fiberglass interior wall liner

Richard’s design also includes a pintle-type of injector which is in the works. We hope to see more details when he finishes this piece in the coming month or so.

The last agenda topic was about that fact that we are flying a lot of alphas, but few of them have payloads besides the smoke grenade which works well to help spotting them in flight at apogee. I have looked into making flight speed sensor and my parachute system. I am hoping this will be a semi-regular topic in future meetings.

A future topic for next month’s meeting will be to discuss the pyrotechnic operator’s exam. Licensing is done by the California Fire Marshall’s office and it is an important qualification to have. The RRS is working to get more members trained to help us expand our rocketry activities at the MTA and help us expand knowledge about safety in our hobby.

The meeting adjourned at 9:03pm. The next RRS meeting on April 13th will likely be spent working on the final details of the RRS symposium which will take place 8 days later at the same Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, Saturday, April 21, 2018.

If there is anything from the meeting that I missed or misstated, please let me know. I am also trying to keep the email list updated. Please let me know if anyone isn’t getting the meeting notices.

secretary@rrs.org

February 2018 meeting

The RRS held its monthly meeting Friday, February 9, 2018 at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. After reading the treasury report, we proceeded with the meeting agenda as listed on the “Forum” earlier this week.

Attendees at the 9-FEB-2018 RRS meeting

The RRS was glad to welcome new student members Jack and Brayden who come from the former Chaminade High School Rocket program. The RRS will be supporting their project to launch a boosted dart ultimately to an altitude of 150,000 feet or more. This work fits nicely into the RRS goals with the SuperDosa project and Jack and Brayden have made a lot of progress already thanks to the help of their sponsors and supporters including the RRS’s own Dave Crisalli. Last year, Jack and his team had a successful motor grain test at the MTA and they are looking to build upon this success for an even larger hot-fire test. RRS as a 501(c)3 educational non-profit group is glad to support our members.

On this Friday, the RRS has started the first of five classes with our third group of students from Florence Joyner Elementary School in Watts in conjunction with the LAPD CSP program. The program will seek to schedule a tour of the California Science Center at some point and the five session program will culminate in a launch event at the RRS Mojave Test Area (MTA) on March 24, 2018. The launch date has not yet been confirmed so please look for updates on the “Forum” portion of this webpage.

On this same subject, Michael has been working with his contacts at Redondo Union High School to find a way to begin an educational program with the RRS. The RRS is glad to work with new and returning schools in our educational programs. For more details, contact the RRS events coordinator, Larry Hoffing. events@rrs.org

On our third agenda topic, we talked about the progress made to date for the 75th anniversary RRS symposium. We have had great responses from our prior exhibitors and speakers as many are returning for this year’s event on Saturday, April 21, 2018. Our event will have speakers and exhibitors from the aerospace industry, government agencies and academia. The speakers slots have filled up fast so we hope to have our final confirmations given to us soon.

Frank has made the first flyer for this event and we encourage everyone to download a copy and share with everyone interested in attending this event covering topics of professional and amateur rocketry.

first flyer for the RRS 75th anniversary symposium

Frank has said that there is still much to do in preparing for the symposium. This event will likely be bigger than last year’s so we will really need our membership to pitch in and help make this year’s 75th anniversary a success. Weekly phone teleconferences will begin in two weeks. Frank will notify people of their assignments and we will discuss progress at these meetings.

Our fourth topic on the agenda discussed the progress I have made with the parachute recovery system I have built for an RRS standard alpha rocket. We launch many of these at our school events at the MTA and even with our membership making their own. I would like to see more of our members and high schools working with making payloads for the alpha. Given the small size of electronics these days, there are many more possibilities for flying instruments and recording data.

parachute and tethered nose cone for RRS standard alpha rocket

My time was very limited as the meeting was running late and I was only able to show the key parts of the parachute system still in build. Chris Lujan showed me some better knots for securing my nose cone and tether line to the internal bulkhead. I also showed the 3D-printed plastic umbilical port that Richard Garcia kindly built for me which will make switching on RRS alpha payload much easier if they use PVC payload tubes. I will compile more details soon and if this subject is still of interest, I can elaborate more at the March meeting.

Modified 555 timer chip with solid state relay replacing a mechanical relay. Umbilical part in the upper left.

I have also been working on a horizontal thrust stand built to test RRS standard alpha rockets. This would allow members to record thrust from the S-type load cell donated to us by Interface Force Inc. of Arizona. All of the structural members have been cut, but the adapter pieces need some changes to make a simpler connection. Thanks to Osvaldo for improving my load cell adapter design.

RRS horizontal thrust stand parts with S-type load cell

For our fifth agenda topic, Frank Miuccio, inspired by the device built by the Space and Missile Systems Heritage Center (SMC) of Los Angeles Air Force Base (LA AFB) in El Segundo, made his own little rocket air launcher. This simple tool takes an air pump to compress the sealed interior space of PVC piping behind a simple sprinkler valve.

Frank’s mini-rocket air launcher using a car-tire pump

Once inflated and everyone is at a safe distance away, the rocket is slipped over the angled launcher tube and is fired by releasing the valve and reservoir of air pressure behind it. Very simple in operation, it is quite fun to play with and we think the kids in our educational programs will think so also.

RRS treasurer, Chris Lujan, holds a 12-inch plastic rocket launched from the pump driven air launcher; Larry and Frank discuss

As the last agenda topic, Richard had mentioned that the modifications to his cryogenic methane dewar were complete and that the vessel was back at the MTA. As we were out of time, Richard can explain the details more at the next meeting in March.

The meeting adjourned but several of us watched Frank and Chris test fire the small rocket air launcher that Frank had built from Home Depot parts and a battery powered car tire pump. Despite the darkness of night, we were able to recover these small 12-inch vehicles aided by the inclusion of a blue LED in the nose. We had more than a little fun popping these little rockets as high as 100 feet.

If there is anything I have missed or misstated, please let me know:
secretary@rrs.org

Our next meeting will be Friday, March 9, 2018 at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. See you there!