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Old 09-05-2010, 02:52 PM
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blackshire blackshire is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
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Originally Posted by Doug Sams
I've never laid hands on one of these, but based on what I've seen and read over the years, it sounds gimmicky. I suppose that's the basis of the cool factor. But it really does sound Rube Goldberg. It's needlessly complex - I can think of many ways of closing a switch that don't involve balloons and hoses

Surely a little heavier wire or a relay could have been used in lieu of the pneumatics at comparable cost. Of course, it wouldn't have been as cool.

Nor as kludgy.


Doug, since Centuri designed some of their products (such as the 1340 Sounding Rocket) with industrial and scientific customers in mind, I'm not surprised at the design of the pneumatically-activated Servo Launcher. My guess is that it was originally designed for launching lightning research rockets (the kind that carry fine, ground-connected copper wires to induce lightning strikes at the instrument-equipped launch sites).

Using non-conducting pneumatic tubing instead of copper ignition lead wires decreases the risks of the launching personnel getting struck by the lightning discharges. A more recent lightning rocket experiment series (documented in National Geographic some years ago) utilized Aerotech Arreaux rockets trailing wires into the sky. The experimenters blew into long lengths of surgical rubber tubing to actuate the pneumatic ignition circuit contact mechanisms at the launch pads. (When I expressed interest in replicating these experiments in our back yard in Miami [I likened it to the prophet Elijah calling fire down from heaven], my mother answered with a firm "NO!") :-)
Black Shire--Draft horse in human form, model rocketeer, occasional mystic, and writer, see:
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