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Old 04-21-2017, 10:23 PM
luke strawwalker's Avatar
luke strawwalker luke strawwalker is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Needville and Shiner, TX
Posts: 5,829

Originally Posted by jeffyjeep
That's interesting. I'm surprised I don't recall ever seeing this pamphlet before.

+1 to the Astrocam 110 photos. Of ALL the launches I made with the Astrocam I have exactly (2) clear photos. My most epic fail with the Astrocam happened almost 30 years ago: I had a perfect day for flying. Huge, vacant field, no wind, clear weather, good light. I had a 24 exposure cartridge in the Astrocam. After it popped the laundry on the 15th launch, it caught a thermal and drifted east and came down in a retention pond.

I was so pi$$ed I didn't even bother to fish it out. I just HAD to go for that 15th flight!

LOL Yep... I had one I was flying on a 24 exposure roll and sure enough, about that lucky 13 to 15, the parachute stripped half its shrouds and she came down "hot"... even landing on a disked up turning row, the ground was still hard enough to pop the back off the camera and expose the friggin' roll of film... it didn't even pop out all the way, but it was out enough that landing in full sunlight fried the roll.

After that, I just did the 12 exposure rolls and sometimes didn't even finish with them, and sent them in with 8-10 exposures done. MUCH better luck that way...

The other thing is, after I had done 2-3 rolls of film, the plastic fin can on the stock rocket that the Astrocam came with was cracking pretty badly from the undersize parachute the Astrocam used to prevent the whole thing from drifting off and being lost... I HAD learned that basically the ONLY engine you could really count on for decent pics was the -7 delays... the -5 delays were usually either blurred (rocket not stabilized from the "flip" at apogee and was wiggling or spinning too much at ejection) or it popped right in the middle of the flip right at apogee... The -7's gave the rocket enough time to complete the "flip" at apogee and pick up enough speed to stabilize itself again on the way down to get a clear pic.

I switched to the "Maniac" rocket (the "Challenger II" or whatever "D" launch vehicle for Astrocam had been discontinued by that time, and the "Maniac" took its place-- basically the same BT-56 rocket with extremely tacky sticker decals and a crappy color scheme-- same tube size, nosecone, and plastic tail fin unit). The D-powered Maniac was a MUCH better booster for the Astrocam, and again, the -7 motors, it usually turned in some really nice flights and usually got more decent usable pics than not. -5's were still a TOTAL crapshoot and yielded a usable photo maybe 20%-30% of the time... the -7 motors were more like 60%-70% of the time...

One time I had the Astrocam bust loose from the shock cord some sort of way-- the rocket came down with the chute but no camera! I was videotaping the launch and my little brother was actually launching it for me, and he saw EXACTLY where the camera had impacted in the cotton field, which at the time was growing waist-high cotton in 40 inch rows. I happened to catch him on the video walking out into the field to retrieve it, before I turned off the camera and waded out across the rows of cotton with him... we looked for about an hour without luck, and were about to give up, and I said, "let's watch the video"... so we did, and sure enough, you could see him walking out straight toward where it impacted, but he had got off the straight line when he got out into the field and got lost... so we took the video back to Grandma's, popped the tape into the VHS and put it up on the big honkin' (for those days!) 27 inch tube type TV, and watched the tape several times, and since I was standing almost directly behind him, we could line up with some landmarks on the horizon to get a bearing out into the field. We went back and followed his exact trail out into the field, following a straight line to the landmark on the horizon, and we ended up within 3 feet of it-- reached down, picked it up, dusted it off, and we were golden... the cotton leaves broke its fall just enough (along with taping the back cover on, extra insurance I started doing after having it pop open once before and ruining the film) and once we put on a better shock cord leader, we were all good...

I dunno what happened to all my Astrocam pics from the 80's... they were in my stuff under the stairs at Grandma's, ended up upstairs when all my stuff got moved up there, and then disappeared when my brother moved what was left into the garage and then over to my house after Grandma passed away. Guess they're gone...

I always thought it was something of a pity that they didn't "upscale" the Astrocam to use the 35mm film format-- with the larger exposure size, (negative size) it would have made MUCH better pictures than the dinky half-postage stamp size 110 film negatives did... even with a less than stellar "glass" or lens... but alas, I guess tooling cost was too much and Estes instead chose to come out with the rather pitiful Oracle digital video rocket, and then the "Astrovision" successor to it (which sadly was about obsolete by the time it came out, as it was FAR surpassed by even the early keychain-fob cams available at the time). Now film is pretty much obsolete anyway...

Later! OL J R
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