October 2017 meeting

The RRS held its monthly meeting this Friday, October 13, 2017 at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center. Our usual meeting room was unavailable that night so we met upstairs in conference room “F”. We called the meeting to order at 7:30pm and read off the treasurer’s report.

Frank, Osvaldo and Larry had just finished the last of the five sessions with Grape Street Elementary in Watts, our latest educational program supported by the LAPD CSP program. 23 kids were in this program and 13 alpha rockets were prepared including one for LAPD and another for the video crew who was kind enough to document each session. Osvaldo has made a really neat rack mounting system for the freshly painted but still unloaded alphas.

alpha rocket rack mounting system

Richard has built a larger rocket candy motor to fly with a parachute recovery system he has built. He brought part of his pyrotechnic actuated dual-deployment system to the meeting. Also in the photo is a cruciform-style parachute that was given to me for use on a beta rocket.

parachute and pyrotechnic dual-deployment mechanism

My alpha with a PVC payload tube and parachute recovery system is still in work pending resolution of some internal mounting issues. Osvaldo was kind enough to drill a hole in the point of an alpha aluminum nose cone with which I hope to fly a pitot-tube type flight speed sensor I am making.

alpha aluminum nose cone with hollow tip

The launch event was originally scheduled for next Saturday, October 21st, however, the RRS MTA will not be available as Polaris Propulsion is still using the site. The event will be rescheduled to no earlier than Saturday, November 11th. Please check the forum for the most up to date news on launch.

Alastair Martin, one of our newest members, had edited the footage taken from the last LAPD launch event in July. He showed his video for the membership at the meeting which was quite impressive. We hope to have this on the RRS YouTube channel soon.

YouTube – RRS channel

Alastair and his brother had some ideas on how to internally mount a camera within the payload tube of the alpha he hopes to fly at the next event. We discussed these after the meeting was over.

The quarterly update on the SuperDosa project was given. Richard has repaired the graphite dust gathering apparatus for his lathe and hopes to get some of the nozzle pucks turned out for the ballistic evaluation motor (BEM) we are building. Osvaldo is looking for a machinist with a mill to make the upper and lower plate for the BEM. I have bought an adapter fitting for the 5,000 psi pressure transmitter I bought but need to get 1/4″ SS tubing. I am also compiling a list of our chemical materials to make our first batch of the RRS standard propellant mixture.

A discussion of the 75th anniversary symposium was started however with all the work for the Grape Street Elementary program being done, Frank wanted to start discussion at next month’s meeting in November. I have already started to ask some of our previous speakers to return including NASA, AFRL and UCLA. We hope to have many if not all of last year’s speakers return for the April 14, 2018 event. Frank has again agreed to be the symposium coordinator.

The 75th anniversary issue of the Astrojet newsletter was discussed. This special one-time issue for the RRS 75th anniversary will be in print only and issued January 6, 2018. I have approached several people already, but I am making a wider call for articles to all of our membership. Two to three paragraphs on singular subjects related to rocketry past, present and particularly in the future are desired. The submittal deadline is November 15th. Bill Janczewsky has agreed to both contribute an article and help me in producing this one-time print publication to interested parties who provide their mailing address, pay their annual membership dues ($40) and the added price of the issue’s publication (TBD). The cost goes to benefit the society functions including the upcoming symposium.

To all members and invited contributors, send me your ideas or drafts as soon as possible. There is only one month left before the November 15th deadline.
secretary@rrs.org

The RRS history project continues as Richard Garcia has added to our archives with more newsletters and other past publications given by past and present members. I hope to schedule a few interviews with some of our long-time past members depending on schedules. John Mariano is helping me set this up.

UCLA sent two students, John Harnsberger and Nick Kuenning, to the meeting and gave us a rundown of the three projects they are working including their liquid rocket engine (Project Ares) now entering hot-fire testing at the FAR site. They are still working on a few issues with instrumentation, but will be back in hot-fire test again very soon.

USC RPL wasn’t able to come to the meeting but we hope to hear about their goals and objectives for this year soon. USC had indicated that they wanted to fire three solid motors at each of three different testing days. USC has already began testing at the FAR site, but we hope to have the MTA available to support USC on one of these occasions.

Next month will be nominations for the executive council. Larry will be putting forth the ballots to the administrative membership after the meeting with voting taking place in December before the next meeting (December 8th). Results will be announced in the December meeting.

We adjourned promptly at 9:00 pm. The next RRS monthly meeting will be Friday, November 10th.

If there is anything missing or misstated, please let me know. secretary@rrs.org

August 2017 meeting

The RRS met for our monthly meeting Friday, August 11th, at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena. We were well attended, but got a late start. After the usual reading of the treasurer’s report, we began the meeting with the first agenda topic.

Frank has been talking with several groups interested in doing alpha build events including the LAPD wanting to serve another set of students in another housing project in Watts. The Watts event at the MTA was very successful and we discussed what went well and what could be improved.

We discussed getting a shared server for running RRS members to run applications related to rocketry. Frank and Chris are looking into options but haven’t found anything yet. Many of us use cloud services to store our files, but the RRS ought to discuss data storage options that can be better accessed by our membership. This topic is on-going.

The RRS history project continues. We received a set of RRS newsletters from Bill Claybaugh (thank you, Bill!). Richard Garcia continues to scan the newsletter stacks he has. We are still interested in getting reports, newsletters and anything else relevant to our history.

Bill Claybaugh was also kind to donate one of his 3-inch nozzles with a graphite insert to the society. In time, we will receive Bill’s propellant test rig which I look forward to examining and using at the MTA.

Bill Claybaugh’s three-inch nozzle

side view of three-inch nozzle with graphite throat

The RRS has made contact with our founder, George James, and some of the other early members of the society. We hope to schedule interviews and help to document as much of our history as we can in advance of the 75th anniversary symposium, April 14, 2018. The RRS is working on a list of our officers going back through the many years to the beginning starting with George James. We appreciate the help we’ve got so far, but there’s still a lot of work to do.

The next launch event at the MTA will likely be in the latter part of September. Some of the potential events with schools will be in October. There is significant interest in the RRS having a launch event for the several members interested in launching their own alphas. Many of our new members, Alastair, Bill, Angel and now Drew, have expressed interest in launching their own alphas. Myself and Larry will likely try to put something together as I continue to work on the parachute system for the alpha.

The council will update our membership once the next launch event at the MTA can be organized and set.

We had hoped to look at the footage from the keychain camera mounted to the fin on LAPD’s alpha rocket. The camera was recovered and the data was good, but Osvaldo did not have the opportunity to edit the footage. Alastair also had some video footage he took from the 7-22-2017 Watts launch event at the MTA, but he was still editing. We decided to push this item off to next month.

We discussed timer chips and other methods of switching on payloads right at launch. I brought my wood block breadboard and worked with Richard to resolve some issues with my circuit not firing. Osvaldo built a cotter-pin based spring-loaded switch that he mounted inside a segment of the alpha payload as an example. The society continues its efforts to learn more about what works with payloads and what doesn’t. I discussed my idea to attempt a flight speed sensor with a pair of barometric pressure sensing chips. Osvaldo said he’d drill a hole in the tip of an aluminum nosecone for the stagnation port.

We adjourned late at 9:22pm. In the future, we need to watch the time spent on each agenda topic. I would suggest we bring a simple battery-powered 6-inch wall clock into the meeting room so all people can more easily keep better track of time without pulling out their phones.

The topic of issuing membership cards and developing a better system of tracking dues collections was not addressed and will also be pushed to the next monthly meeting.

Our next meeting will be Friday, September 8, 2017.

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

MTA launch event, 2017-07-22

The RRS hosted a launch event on Saturday, July 22, 2017, with the students of Jordan Downs, sponsored by the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) Community Safety Program (CSP) at our Mojave Test Area (MTA). This launch event was the final part of the educational program put on by the RRS. The event was very successful as we fired 10 student alpha rockets and one more alpha from LAPD.

RRS sign at the MTA entrance

It was a typically hot day (105 F / 41 C) for late July at our private test site the Mojave Desert, but everyone was well prepared. Some even brought umbrellas which was a great idea to stay out of the sun’s rays. The misting fan we bought from Home Depot seemed to work well in the observation bunker. Home Depot was also very kind to donate water misting bottles for this event which helped tremendously in keeping people cool. RRS treasurer, Chris Lujan, was also very well prepared for the event as he saved me with a cold water bottle just after launch. Looking after each other is what we do.

RRS VP Frank Miuccio talks with students from Jordan Downs

Larry addresses the Jordan Downs students at the MTA

Our pyro-op in charge was Dave Crisalli and he gave our safety briefing before we got started. The students were well prepared and seemed to get a lot from it. New RRS member, Alistair Martin was nice enough to film some of the briefing.

Alistair films the burn demonstration

We also gave a propellant burn demonstration after the safety briefing to give everyone an appreciation for the power of the chemicals commonly used in amateur and professional rocketry. I have a still of the sample composite grain below. I took a video of the composite burn and will have it posted on our YouTube channel very soon.

sample composite grain sitting in the cage

Larry and Osvaldo had already loaded the rockets the night before so we could get the event started as quickly as possible. The rockets were safely stored in our old blockhouse ready to go.

Each of the students had painted their rocket with a unique pattern and color scheme to better help identify them later. The photo below is from just after the build event.

Jordan Downs alpha rockets painted and ready

Dave allowed me to assist on the pyro-op duties including rail loading and connecting for firing. As promised, we worked quickly to call out each one as they were loaded in the rails. Dave and I worked very efficiently to get each one off swiftly and safely.

The LAPD rocket was the 11th one in the series. It had a few special features including a smoke tracer in the payload section and a tail-fin mounted camera.

LAPD’s alpha rocket

LAPD payload with red smoke tracker inside

LAPD’s alpha rocket, tail fin camera

The LAPD rocket was able to be recovered shortly after launch thanks to the smoke tracker. The nose cone wasn’t able to be recovered but the camera on the tail fin remained in tact. We have had good luck with one of these keychain cameras in the past. Although the camera imparts a spin on the rocket, the flight is very stable. Once the footage is downloaded, and depending on the quality, the RRS will post it on our YouTube channel. It should be a lot of fun to see (fingers crossed).

YouTube – RRS channel

The specific brand of smoke tracker used was “Enola Gaye”. Given the success of the flight, the RRS should certainly use more of this product in the future. There has been some discussion to increase the number of holes in the payload section to allow more of the smoke product to escape throughout the flight.

Dave Crisalli with the recovered LAPD rocket

Due to the summer heat, the students of Jordan Downs didn’t go downrange to search for their rockets after the launching was over. However, Frank was able to locate and recover (dig up) one from the event.

Frank in the Dosa Bldg. just before going out to search for rockets

The RRS thanks LAPD officers Acuna, Plascencia and Terrazas

The RRS is grateful to all of the parents and adults who supported the event with us. Also, the RRS is grateful to LAPD officers, Acuna, Plascencia and Terrazas, for their help in making this event a big success.

Osvaldo receives Cert of Recognition

University of Southern California (USC) and RRS president, Osvaldo Tarditti, were glad to receive a certificate of recognition from L.A. City Councilman, Joe Buscaino of the 15th district for putting on this event with the students of Jordan Downs in Watts. It is with gratitude that the RRS accepts the certificate and we hope to work again with the students of Jordan Downs and other groups in the city.

As for my own rocket which would have been the 12th alpha launched, an electrical problem with the timer forced me to pass on launch. Although each part of the circuit seemed to work individually when I tested them the night before, the fully integrated system failed the demonstration at the site. Working with Richard and with some more time, I can resolve the issue, improve the design a little, and fly the parachute system in the alpha at the next launch event.

Dave’s alpha parachute deployment system, still in work

UCLA was also at the MTA to continue their work on their liquid rocket project. UCLA proceeded after the Jordan Downs launch, but had an electrical problem which prevented their scheduled cold flow testing. UCLA hopes to reset their efforts and be back at the MTA for more testing in late August.

Chris, Richard and I discussed making some rocket candy (sugar/KNO3) at the MTA loading area, but it seemed that there wasn’t enough time to get things started. With most of the resources already on hand, we’ll wait for the next event for Chris to cook a small batch of this classic amateur rocketry compound for demonstration purposes.

If any one has any pictures or video of the event that they’d like to share on the RRS website. Please send them to me at secretary@rrs.org
Or comment to this posting below.

For more information on the RRS educational programs, please contact us at:
events@rrs.org

Also, if I have missed or misstated anything, please let me know. Our next monthly meeting will be August 11th at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center in Gardena, CA.
secretary@rrs.org