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craig1
04-07-2008, 11:51 AM
I recently built an Estes Quark with my 5 year old son. This is a very small rocket with tumble recovery. I picked this rocket because it was cheap, it only has a few parts, and I figured it would be a good learning experience. We had a great time putting it together and he got to paint it.

We managed to get two launches out of it. The first one went up without a hitch. My son got to press the button and he was so excited when it took off. Within a second the rocket itself was completely invisible. I was able to track it as long as the engine was going, but as soon as it stopped, the thing disappeared. We heard it hit the ground nearby, tracked it down, and of course a couple of fins broke off.

I fixed the fins and we launched it a second time. This launch was similar, except we never found where it landed. He's still bugging me to go back and look for it.

So I need some recommendations for our next rocket. Here is what I'm looking for:

Easy to build, so that I can keep his interest while we're building it.
Relatively cheap, so if it's lost or damaged, it's not a big deal.
Slow launch and low altitude apogee, so my kid can easily follow it and we have a good shot at recovering it.
Big enough that a young kid can see it throughout its flight.
Streamer or parachute recovery, so we can watch it come down.


What do you think?

dwmzmm
04-07-2008, 12:50 PM
Welcome to the forum!

If you have a Hobby Lobby or Micheal's nearby, try to get the Estes Big Bertha or StormCaster. The Big Bertha uses 18 mm motors while the StormCaster 24 mm. For
your immediate needs, the BB will probably be better suited to fit the requirements
you spelled out in your posts. Hope this helps.

CPMcGraw
04-07-2008, 01:25 PM
I recently built an Estes Quark with my 5 year old son. This is a very small rocket with tumble recovery. I picked this rocket because it was cheap, it only has a few parts, and I figured it would be a good learning experience. We had a great time putting it together and he got to paint it.

We managed to get two launches out of it. The first one went up without a hitch. My son got to press the button and he was so excited when it took off. Within a second the rocket itself was completely invisible. I was able to track it as long as the engine was going, but as soon as it stopped, the thing disappeared. We heard it hit the ground nearby, tracked it down, and of course a couple of fins broke off.

I fixed the fins and we launched it a second time. This launch was similar, except we never found where it landed. He's still bugging me to go back and look for it.

So I need some recommendations for our next rocket. Here is what I'm looking for:

Easy to build, so that I can keep his interest while we're building it.
Relatively cheap, so if it's lost or damaged, it's not a big deal.
Slow launch and low altitude apogee, so my kid can easily follow it and we have a good shot at recovering it.
Big enough that a young kid can see it throughout its flight.
Streamer or parachute recovery, so we can watch it come down.
What do you think?

I think you have an excellent first name... :D

Welcome to the asylum, Craig!

One thing to keep in mind about the smaller rockets is they are not really meant for first-time flyers (or very young children). The Quark, like its cousins the Mosquito and the 220-Swift, are pure performance models, basically the smallest model rockets you can build for 13mm motors. They are little more than motors with fins. Their flight profile is mostly: Press the button; See the smoke; Hear the whoosh; Blink your eyes; Go home. They are the true "Launch And Forget" rockets of the model world.

The better model rockets for first-time and low-time flyers include the SEMROC Astro-1 and Astro Jr; the Estes Alpha and Baby Bertha; the Quest Astra; and the Fliskits Rhino. These are not "minimum-diameter" type models, but have body tube diameters that are larger than the motors they use. When flown, they are much easier to track, and they recover on either parachutes or streamers, which young children (and old farts with declining eyesight :o ) can still pick out of the sky. Being larger, they don't get the altitude the smaller performance-types can achieve; but you also don't usually have the disappointment of watching them drift so far that they cannot be found.

These larger-diameter models are also much easier to build, especially for younger builders with little or no experience. A parallel analogy is with model railroading: Which works better for youngsters? 3-rail, O-gauge Lionel-size (1/48th scale) trains, or Atlas/Athearn/Bachmann/Life-Like (160th scale) N-Scale trains? Same issues, different hobby.

With a larger model, you get to use all of the most-common components, and that allows you to gain the construction skills to build more complex designs later. That's what the old "Skill Level" ratings were meant to be: A gauge of assembly complexity for a given kit. Start with the "ones" and work up to the "fives".

Be sure to check the Ninfinger Archives (http://www.ninfinger.org/~sven/rockets/rockets.html) for old Estes and Centuri catalogs; YORP (http://plans.rocketshoppe.com/) and JimZ (http://www.dars.org/jimz/rp00.htm) for OOP (out-of-production) model rocket plans; SEMROC (http://www.semroc.com/) and BMS (http://www.balsamachining.com/) for kits and components; and BARCLONE (http://barclone.rocketshoppe.com/) for original (not kitted) rocket designs.

banco
04-07-2008, 02:49 PM
...So I need some recommendations for our next rocket. Here is what I'm looking for:

Easy to build, so that I can keep his interest while we're building it.
Relatively cheap, so if it's lost or damaged, it's not a big deal.
Slow launch and low altitude apogee, so my kid can easily follow it and we have a good shot at recovering it.
Big enough that a young kid can see it throughout its flight.
Streamer or parachute recovery, so we can watch it come down.


Craig, I recently introduced my 7-year-old to the hobby, and quickly found out that attaching fins accurately is simply too difficult for a child that age, even if they have good manual dexterity. So I've found models with assembled fin units, or fin cans, to be a good compromise. This still allows the child to attach the fins, but he does so in pre-cut slots, so they are easy to align. Apogee (http://www.apogeerockets.com/) has a model called the Sky Eagle, which was our first rocket. Nice large tube, good length, and very easy to build. Another one we really liked is the Bright Hawk from Quest, which is quite large for a such an easy kit and has some colorful decals. Its fin unit comes entirely pre-assembled, with an integrated launch lug. The next one we're building is the Quest Penetrator, which has an embarrasing name but is about three feet long and with a transition and payload section. It has a snap-together fin can with slots for the fins, similar to the Sky Eagle. All these can be configured for parachute or streamer. Good luck and have fun!

ghrocketman
04-07-2008, 04:04 PM
Two reccommendations:

1: Semroc Centurion; Large single-stage, simple to build rocket that is similar in size to the Estes Big Bertha, but has upgrades to recovery with Kevlar/elastic shock cord tied to an ejection baffle (never needs wadding)

2: Estes Alpha 3; Only chose this one because it is very simple & has plastic fins/nose cone and is VERY simple for a beginner; Semroc does not offer anything with plastic fins or i would have advised a kit from them as I despise what has become of Estes since the Mid-80's

craig1
04-07-2008, 06:06 PM
Thanks a lot for the recommendations! It seems there are quite a few designs that will get us where we want to go. I will stop by the local hobby shop and see what they have.

We had a lot of fun with our first rocket; I'm sure we'll have a great time with the next one as well!

jflis
04-07-2008, 10:15 PM
Greetings! Welcome to YORF and rocketry :)

Since no one else has mentioned it, I would also point you to two of our (FlisKits) kits:

First up is the Thing-a-ma-Jig (http://www.fliskits.com/products/rocketkits/kit_detail/thingamajig.htm)
This model is all balsa and paper (no plastic) and features our unique Jig-Tech fin assembly. 3 laser cut fins with tabs and slots that allow for error free assembly where the fins won't fall off while the glue dries (standard white glue) and the fins can't be put on crooked. About 24" tall with parachute recovery. Uses A, B, or C motors. Our best selling beginner kit and a snap to assemble.

The other would be our Whatchamacallit (http://www.fliskits.com/products/rocketkits/kit_detail/wcmci.htm)
A 13mm (mini) motor version of the Thing-a-ma-Jig. This kit was developed specifically to provide a lower cost model using the lower cost mini motors and suitable for small field recovery with a streamer instead of a parachute. While small (only 10.8" tall), she will stay visible with all recommended motors. A breaze to assemble with the Jig-Tech fins.

Whatever your decision, you are approaching this the RIGHT way! Getting into the hobby, not just for yourself, but with your child. How cool is that? :)

Enjoy!
jim

Rocket Doctor
04-08-2008, 06:36 AM
Thanks a lot for the recommendations! It seems there are quite a few designs that will get us where we want to go. I will stop by the local hobby shop and see what they have.

We had a lot of fun with our first rocket; I'm sure we'll have a great time with the next one as well!

I'm partial to the following two kits.

Estes #1260 No2 Estes Sky Writer (a/k/a - pencil rocket) E2X

Estes #1261 Baby Bertha (balsa fins) Skill Level 1

dwmzmm
04-08-2008, 06:46 AM
I'm partial to the following two kits.

Estes #1260 No2 Estes Sky Writer (a/k/a - pencil rocket) E2X

Estes #1261 Baby Bertha (balsa fins) Skill Level 1

The generic Estes E2X kit was used at the Makers Faire in Austin, TX last October, and proved
to be a real winner among the attendees, many who were building a model rocket for the
first time. Most still needed to be guided to the correct direction regarding several steps
in the instructions (you'd be amazed at how many didn't quite see the illustration(s) in the
instructions the way we do!)....

barone
04-08-2008, 08:22 AM
I'm partial to the following two kits.

Estes #1260 No2 Estes Sky Writer (a/k/a - pencil rocket) E2X

Estes #1261 Baby Bertha (balsa fins) Skill Level 1
Hhhhmmmm.....I wonder why? ;)

Rocket Doctor
04-08-2008, 08:27 AM
Hhhhmmmm.....I wonder why? ;)


I don't know?????

metalhead100
04-08-2008, 09:03 PM
Cant say the doctor is wrong though........we have both and my Son LoVeS the pencil....he picked it out himself.

And it flys well i might add...Keep with A engines...and you will be ok...(as far as sight and recovery)

#2 Pencil is built in a flash....
Baby Bertha takes a bit more time and painting.

And as always a Alpha (build and paint wood fins ect) or AlphaIII (quick build...easy plastic one piece fin base...stickers...)

CPMcGraw
04-09-2008, 12:11 AM
...I've found models with assembled fin units, or fin cans, to be a good compromise. This still allows the child to attach the fins, but he does so in pre-cut slots, so they are easy to align...
The generic Estes E2X kit was used at the Makers Faire in Austin, TX last October, and proved to be a real winner among the attendees, many who were building a model rocket for the first time...
Whatever your decision, you are approaching this the RIGHT way! Getting into the hobby, not just for yourself, but with your child.


Craig, as you can see, everyone has a different approach to what makes a good first-time kit for kids and older beginners. As Jim said, getting involved with your child is the important step.

Some of us are partial to the idea that you need to build the rocket, learning skills with each kit. Others believe that it works best if you see flight results early, without having to worry about some of the more difficult things (like fin alignment). Don't sweat it. Almost all of the RTF and ARF models generally fly acceptably. Enjoy the hobby by including both in your fleet, and share the moments with your child. You've already started down the road of building your models, so look at each new model as something to learn from. You'll start sounding like a true inmate here in no time!