April 2021 Virtual Meeting

by Keith Yoerg (RRS Secretary)


The latest meeting of the Reaction Research Society took place this past Friday, April 9th and had 15 attendees – including another guest presenter. We kicked off the meeting by watching footage of Bill Inman’s Solar Cat launch from March, and a video of a liquid engine static fire from the Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Space Program, who presented to the RRS about their project last month.

Screenshot of discussion during the monthly meeting

GUEST PRESENTATION – WILSON F/X LAUNCH CONTROLLERS

Brad Wilson from Wilson F/X launch controllers was our guest presenter for this month, continuing our recent discussions on wireless launch controllers. Brad started the company roughly 20 years ago with Dan Fox, after building launch controllers for their local high power rocketry club in the midwest. They began with a wired single pad controller, and have since expanded to build 64-pad systems as well as adding wireless firing capabilities. Their wired and wireless modules are in use by many local rocketry clubs including ROC and FAR, as well as others around the country. The largest motor known to have been flown on a Wilson F/X system was a size Q at a rocket launch in Black Rock.

Richard Dierking modeling the wireless launch module from Wilson F/X

RRS members had a lot of good questions for Brad, who was gracious enough to explain several different features and specifications of his system. Both the wired and wireless Wilson F/X systems use 32-bit encryption to send the firing signal from the control box (where the operator flips the switch) to the pad box (which supplies the current to light the ignition charge). This means the control box is required and the pad box cannot be used by itself to fire the motor. Brad sent along some product specification sheets for RRS members to review. Any member that would like a copy can request one by emailing the RRS secretary at: secretary@rrs.org

EVENTS AT THE MTA

After a brief discussion about the March launch event, the group began planning for the MTA event the day after the meeting. Several members with projects that have become staples at our recent events planned to join for the launch – including Bill Inman’s Solar Cat, Wolfram Blume’s Gas Guzzler, and “Yoerg Challenge” low-power model rockets from Dimitri Timohovich and Keith Yoerg. In addition, Larry Hoffing expects to have experimental motors ready for testing.

A low-power rocket launch near the MTA entrance

2 additional fights are expected – a rocket from the USC Rocket Propulsion Lab flying on an experimental 6″ diameter motor and BPS.space, flying on a commercial N sized motor. A write-up on these activities will be available within the next few days.

LAUNCH COORDINATION BETWEEN RRS & FAR

Rick Maschek joined for the meeting and began a discussion about coordination of launching activities between the RRS and our neighbors at FAR. With activity picking up at both organizations, it’s becoming more common for us to have event scheduled at both sites for the same weekend. Because of the proximity of our launch sites, rockets have been known to launch from one and land near the other.

Both groups are committed to safety when performing rocket activities, and improving communication about launches between on-site personnel in each organization has been identified as a priority. One option suggested is to alternate weekends between the organizations so that events do not overlap. Since weather and other schedule considerations can sometimes make that difficult to implement, it was agreed that radio communication should be established on days when both organizations are operating so that everyone will be aware of impending launches.

YOUTH OUTREACH CLASS

Frank Miuccio updated the membership on the status of the youth outreach programs that the RRS hosts, which seem likely to happen but are more complicated due to COVID-19 precautions. A classroom space large enough for adequate physical distancing has been found, but travel to the MTA site will likely not be possible until more restrictions are lifted.

Because the demonstration of rocket flights is one of the more engaging aspects of the class, Frank has begun developing a class plan that would allow for more hands-on activities without pyrotechnics. Soda straw rockets propelled by air and film canisters propelled by a baking soda & vinegar mixture are 2 ideas being pursued to give the students an exciting achievement until an MTA visit can be safely arranged.

NEXT MONTHLY MEETING

The next RRS monthly meeting will be held virtually on Friday, May 14th at 7:30 pm pacific time. Current members will receive an invite via e-mail the week of the meeting. Non-members (or members who have not received recent invites) can request an invitation by sending an email to:

secretary@rrs.org

March 2021 Virtual Meeting

by Keith Yoerg (RRS Secretary)


The latest meeting of the Reaction Research Society took place this past Friday, March 12th and had 20 attendees (who came & went at different times) – including a guest presenter. Society president Osvaldo began discussion by informing the group that USC has requested a launch of their 6″ booster rocket in April, before leaving the meeting to go on a Home Depot supply run.

Screenshot of discussion during the monthly meeting

GUEST PRESENTATION – GEORGIA TECH YELLOW JACKET SPACE PROGRAM

Sam Kim from the Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Space Program made a presentation on their mission to be the first collegiate team to send a liquid rocket to Karman Line. The team conducted the first hot fire of an 800 pound-force LOX-kerosene engine in November 2019 (pictured below). This engine will support a sub-scale rocket which will be used to prove and test methods on this student-designed, -machined, and -assembled project.

November 2019 static fire of the Georgia Tech YJ-1S rocket

The team has planned a launch for the sub-scale rocket in October to an apogee of 5,000 ft. An 11-second burn static fire of this engine is expected in April. The team conducts testing out of the DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, and plans to make launches from the Spaceport Camden in southeast Georgia.

BILL CLAYBAUGH’S 6″ ROCKET

Bill Claybaugh presented a number of hardware pieces related to a 6″ rocket which he hopes to launch this year. The rocket will fly on a 6″-diameter, 60″-long motor producing 1,350 lbf of thrust with an 8.3-second burn time. This design is optimized to be used as the second stage in a rocket boosted by a 9″-diameter motor, but the impending flight is only the 6″ second stage. Bill mentioned that he has a test flight planed for the 9″ first stage some time within the next year. The combined 2-stage rocket will have to fly out of a national range because of the expected altitude of 120 statute miles.

Bill showing off the avionics package on his rocket

The hardware that Bill C. presented from his rocket included the tapered fins, bulkhead assemblies, and a section of the 40″ avionics payload which will be mostly contained within the nosecone. In addition, Bill provided insight on the FAA paperwork that he is currently completing for the flight of the 6″ rocket. The FAA form 7711-2 he has been working on is the same one used for airshows, and requires a supplemental that covers both class 2 & 3 amateur rockets. The final hurdle is the “splash pattern” Monte Carlo analysis of over 1,000 launches with varying launch angles, wind, and other launch parameters to determine the probability of landing in a populated area. He expects the launch will be deemed safe, and plans to submit the paperwork soon.

PLANS FOR THE UPCOMING MTA EVENT – SAT. MAR 20

Several members stated their intentions to join the launch & work event at the MTA site next Saturday, March 20th. Work on welding the new plate on the vertical test stand, clearing brush in the launch/firing areas, and other site maintenance may take place if time and equipment availability allow. There has also been discussion of taking an inventory of the working order of some Society equipment (such as the PA system) stored at the site.

Bill Inman plans to once again bring out his solar-powered steam rocket, Solar Cat, which uses mirrors to heat water with sunlight. Bill has been a fixture at MTA events the past several months, perfecting the design and procedures so that he won’t be caught unable to launch because of a minor oversight like untested equipment or cables that are too short. Although all of his equipment is flight-ready, MTA launches are always at the mercy of the Mojave desert weather. Wind, rain, and sunlight permitting – we hope to see the Solar Cat take to the skies next weekend!

Early stages of Dimitri’s water bottle rocket module, which is now assembled & ready for testing

Wolfram Blume is vaccinated (an impediment to his attendance at last month’s event) and ready for another launch attempt of the booster stage on his rocket, Gas Guzzler. In the final version the upper stage will include a gas-powered ramjet, but this flight will be flown with water instead. The goal of this test is to measure drag & acceleration, particularly during separation of the booster stage, which will help inform the final design parameters. We’re excited to see this launch, and expect it will be a fun one to watch!

Keith Yoerg will bring his model rockets and multi-pad wire rail launcher to test out deployment boxes and high-power solid rockets to test LoRa GPS trackers as a cheap rocket tracker. Dimitri is finishing work on a his hybrid & water rocket launch controllers (pictured above), both of which should be ready for testing on Saturday as well. It was once again agreed that a grill-out should take place, which is quickly becoming an MTA event tradition.

WIRELESS LAUNCH CONTROLLERS

The last topic stimulated a great discussion on the use of wireless launch controllers, with many members providing thoughts and opinions. Richard Dierking presented the commercially available Wilson F/X wireless control box, which consists of the firing box shown in the photo below and 2 wireless modules which run on 12V gel cell batteries. This entire system cost him around $900, and larger versions of this system have been used by the Rocketry Organization of California (ROC) and Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR) for launches of high-power solid rockets.

Richard Dierking showing a Wilson F/X wireless control box

Dimitri expressed his comfort and trust in the Cobra wireless firing system, which he has used many times as the Pyro Op for million-dollar shots in movies and television. The Cobra system uses 64-bit encryption (it was suggested that the Wilson F/X system uses 32-bit) and the only issues Dimitri reported was when attempting to fire directly near an ultra high-speed camera. Richard stated that he would look into getting someone from the Wilson F/X company to attend a future RRS meeting to describe that system in further detail.

Most members expressed cautious optimism about the potential of using wireless launch controllers at RRS events, though it was re-iterated that the Pyro Op in charge has the final say in what firing systems may be used at any event. The consensus best path forward was progressing slowly by starting with LED lights & low energy firings like model rockets. The aim is to build experience with and knowledge of these systems to determine if they can be safely used for more energetic firings. Richard & Dimitri plan to bring the Cobra and Wilson F/X systems up to the MTA event next weekend, where (with the permission of the Pyro Op in charge) they will be tested safely on a small scale.

NEXT MONTHLY MEETING

The next RRS monthly meeting will be held virtually on Friday, April 9th at 7:30 pm pacific time. Current members will receive an invite via e-mail the week of the meeting. Non-members can request an invitation by sending an email to:

secretary@rrs.org

The Executive Council has committed to an additional monthly meeting moving forward to address administrative matters. Members who would like to discuss an admin topic in detail can request attendance at a Council meeting by sending an email to the Secretary at the address above.

February 2021 Virtual Meeting

by Keith Yoerg (RRS Secretary)


The latest meeting of the Reaction Research Society took place this past Friday, February 12th and had 19 attendees – including several guest presenters. The meeting started with a discussion of the logistics surrounding the upcoming MTA launch & work event next Saturday, which overlaps with ongoing construction on Dave Crisalli’s adjacent land. The construction workers will be utilizing some of the MTA facilities, and following a discussion among RRS members it was agreed that the planned launch & work event could still be held without interfering with construction activities.

Screenshot of discussion during the monthly meeting

GUEST PRESENTATION – POLY RABBOTICS

Members from the Long Beach Polytechnic High School First Robotics Competition team made a presentation on their project and the adjustments they have had to make due to COVID-19 restrictions. Without being able to meet in person to fabricate and assemble parts on their robot, the student-run group has had to shift their work to virtual workshops and at-home competitions to keep their skills sharp. One such competition required teams of 3 to build a mini-robot able to climb a pole.

Title slide for the Poly Rabbotics presentation – checkout their cool logo!

Their team is currently meeting 3 times a week to prepare for competition later this year, which features an altered “at-home” layout. Despite the many challenges, it’s clear that this team is making the best of the situation and continuing to help their members gain knowledge and improve their skillsets.

GUEST PRESENTATION – CSULB ROCKETRY

A second guest presentation was provided by members of the Cal State Long Beach Rocketry team. They compete in the NASA Student Launch Competition which challenges teams to design, build, and fly a rocket to between 3,500 ft and 5,500 ft while carrying a drone payload. The drone must deploy away from the rocket and fly to a specific position.

Presenter Dan Dao in the CSULB campus lab in Feb. 2020.

Fortunately, this team has been able to continue fabrication work on their rocket by following strict precautions to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Their shop site is on the Starbase campus at the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base, and only a small number of specific team members are allowed on site. During competition last year the team placed 12th out of 46 total entrants, and they hope to finish in the top-10 this year.

PLANS FOR THE UPCOMING MTA EVENT

The primary focus for the upcoming MTA event is construction of a new pit toilet on the property. Dimitri plans to build a wooden platform this week and transport it out to the MTA site on Saturday, along with a sonotube liner for the pit. The wooden platform will rest on posts dug into the ground, and once in place we will remove the port-a-john from its current concrete plinth and secure it to this new platform. Work on welding the new plate on the vertical test stand, clearing nearby brush, and other site maintenance could take place if time allows.

Bill Inman plans to continue work on his solar-powered steam rocket, which uses mirrors to heat water with sunlight. Seemingly unsatisfied with any energy source other than the flaming ball in the sky, Bill has decided to modify his setup so that the tracking mechanism (which automatically tilts the solar collector to track the sun) is powered by a solar panel. Bill will be testing this new setup at the next event and may attempt a launch of the steam rocket.

Mockup of the internals for Dimitri’s hybrid rocket module

Keith will bring his high power solid rockets “Charlie Horse” and “X2”, and intends to launch at least one of them. The goal of the launch will be to test whether the LoRa GPS trackers, which have been discussed at previous RRS meetings, can be used as a cheap way to track rockets. Dimitri is finishing work on a 4-pad solid rocket launch controller (a layout is shown above) as well as a water rocket launch controller, both of which should be ready for testing on Saturday. A discussion on what food should be grilled at the event was concluded immediately after Dave Nordling’s suggestion – brats.

RRS HISTORY

An additional guest with a connection to the society joined us for this meeting – Tom Hendricks. He was a member of the RRS from 1959 – 1960 while he was a student at Glendale High School. He recounted launching micrograin rockets fueled by zinc dust and sulphur, displayed a rocket nozzle he had once launched, and recalled that the only test stand at the MTA site at that time was a lone I-beam (there’s a lot more on-site now!).

Tom also mentioned that back when he was an active member, the majority of the fabrication for the RRS was provided by 1 society member who had a lathe in their home. Many current members were excited to have Tom back in the fold, and he expressed a desire to join us for an event at the MTA soon. We’re looking forward to having him!

EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEETING RECAP

The final item of business was a recap of topics covered during the January 2021 meeting of the RRS executive council. Council members have received the recommended edits to the constitution from the 2020 Constitutional Committee, and expect to have a version ready for the voting membership to review during the March meeting.

Image of Chris Lujan explaining different setups for security cameras

Council members Keith and Larry have been working on plans to install a security camera at the MTA, and presented the current status of the project. The goal is to have a network hotspot run WiFi security cameras. The project will start with the installation of a hotpot in the Dosa building (once shipped from backorder). The plan is to power the hotspot with a solar panel and determine the installation location that provides the maximum WiFi signal range. This will allow for optimum placement of WIFi security cameras. Chris Lujan has a lot of experience with home security cameras as a result of personal research, and shared that knowledge to help with the project.

NEXT MONTHLY MEETING

The next RRS monthly meeting will be held virtually on Friday, March 12th at 7:30 pm pacific time. Current members will receive an invite via e-mail the week of the meeting. Non-members can request an invitation by sending an email to:

secretary@rrs.org