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Old 07-07-2013, 01:17 AM
K'Tesh's Avatar
K'Tesh K'Tesh is online now
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Lightbulb Estes Porta Pad E review...

Well, I broke my drought of launches today... It only took 15 years. I guess now I'm officially a BAR. Problem is, I only have freshly used engines, and no photos (save one from my cell phone)

A friend of mine who came in from Arizona on a short vacation from his school and I went out and launched today. Three went up, two returned safely, one got caught in a tree . I know exactly where it is, and it is safely protected by about 40 feet of blackberries and 20 feet of tree. So, I won't be getting it back any time soon.

I wasn't able to locate my old original Porta Pad, nor my BigFoot launcher, so we were forced to use the PPE that I recently purchased.

Pros:
The blast plate is huge, as is the footprint of the launcher, making it very stable, even in the occasional gust from a thermal current that we experienced. On one occasion, we even found the expelled plastic plug still on the plate and were able to re-use it.

The swivel can hold a 3/16" and 1/4" launch rod.

Cons:
The blast plate gets HOT from C11-X engines, I can only imagine what D's and greater would do to it. The one launch that didn't occur over the leg of the hub dented the blast plate. I doubt that it's going to be a serious problem, unless a rocket were to hang on the launch rod and keep a concentrated flame on one spot for several seconds.

Two of my launches occurred with the leg of the hub directly under the blast plate and directly under the line of fire. It visibly got damaged from the heat transferred through the thin metal of the blast plate.

I used the old swivel I found in my stuff, and it showed visible damage from the heat that the blast plate transferred to it.

The issued 1/4" 3 piece launch rod had an alignment issue with the threaded rod. Before I'd be able to use it, I'd have to seriously sand or file it to make the joints smooth enough not to possibly damage a launch lug.

The OEM swivel is designed to lock the blast plate to the hub, and will do so permanently unless it is disassembled. Transporting it with the launch plate locked down raises the height (only important when space is tight), but disassembly poses the risk of losing parts.

Recommendations:
When I launch again, I will be first finding a way of sliding the blast plate down the launch rod, and steadying it above the swivel. This should remove all chance of damage to the hub and better protect the swivel from heat damage. An alternate idea is to take a large can of juice and after drinking it, cut it open, then poke a hole in it, and unfold it so it forms an upside down "V" shape. Some bends to the cut edges should prevent cuts. This would then be slid down the launch rod, rest on the blast plate, and protect the swivel.

I'd look to see if I could locate a 1/4" diameter piano wire before using the stock part.

I got some odd scorch marks on my fin and body tube (I since was able to sand them out with some toothpaste). I don't know if this was from the size of the blast plate or what, but it would have marred my rockets finish, had it gone up finished (I have yet to try applying decals again).

I wonder if Estes could have added another hole in the swivel to accommodate the 1/8" launch rod? Seems like it could have been done.

Some issues about the appearance:
Prior to use, I did paint the hub black. The white hub just looks odd to me.

If I could, I'd do something about those really annoying looking lightning bolt legs. If I need a PPE, I'm not a child, nor do I need childish looking designs. If I could find my old launcher its legs would probably be pressed into service, and these would be kept only for spares.

Photos (post launch shots) will be posted soon, but I've got to start studying again.

BTW, my review of the Aston II launch controller is pending.

Just my $0.02
Jim
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Last edited by K'Tesh : 08-25-2013 at 01:15 AM.
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  #2  
Old 07-07-2013, 02:28 AM
Rex R Rex R is offline
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did you use any form of standoff to raise the rockets up off the blast deflector? standoffs can be made fairly easily by using a (if you want to be neat) masonry bit to enlarge the nozzle of an expended motor(one could simply knock the nozzle out for that matter ).
rex
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  #3  
Old 07-07-2013, 02:32 AM
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K'Tesh K'Tesh is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rex R
did you use any form of standoff to raise the rockets up off the blast deflector? standoffs can be made fairly easily by using a (if you want to be neat) masonry bit to enlarge the nozzle of an expended motor(one could simply knock the nozzle out for that matter ).
rex



Hi Rex,

No, I didn't use a standoff. That said however, the swivel acted as one, thus my rockets were kept above the blast plate by an inch or so.

Jim
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Making the rockets I dreamed of as a kid (and then some).

"The Guide says there is an art to flying", said Ford, "or rather a knack."
"The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."


Launching is Optional... Landing? That Depends on Trees.

I survived the Heyford bone. USAF RAF UH 77th AMU 1988-90 46250
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Old 07-07-2013, 02:46 AM
Rex R Rex R is offline
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ah, I thought that might be the case. I normally like to get mine 2-3" up from the plate. spring clip clothes pins(wood) can also be used to elevate the rocket(composite motors do a number on them though).
rex
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  #5  
Old 07-07-2013, 09:11 AM
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luke strawwalker luke strawwalker is offline
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I dumped commercial pads years ago for my own design... I prefer the look of my clone of the Zooch Pad 34-Z (Z for Zooch) LOL

The Porta pad I used to use was too light, and I didn't like having to stake it down all the time... plus it was built pretty chinsy... and I didn't like the look-- the new "lightning bolt" leg pads are even worse... But, you use what you got I guess...

The tin can cut on one side and turned inside out works well for a blast deflector... that's what I used on the Pad 34-Z...

If you want to use a 1/8 rod in a launcher made only to take 3/16 or larger, you can always wrap the end of the rod with a few layers of masking tape to make it big enough to fit in the rod holder of the pad...

Never liked the two-piece rods either... bought stainless steel rods from Fastenal a few years ago and couldn't be happier... highly recommended.

I like putting my launcher up on a small card table or kiddie play table (yard sale fodder) so I don't have to get down on the ground for hookup and prep... plus it makes the rocket more visible and keeps the pad up high enough one doesn't have to worry about jabbing their eye on a rod sticking up 3 feet and a few inches above the ground...

Later and good luck! OL JR

PS. Sorry to hear about your landing troubles... trees and berry vines-- that sucks... no better place to launch at ALL??
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Old 08-25-2013, 12:57 AM
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K'Tesh K'Tesh is online now
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Lightbulb Photos.

Here's some photos of the Estes Porta-Pad E, and the modifications I've made to it...

Here's how it looks now, much as it was when I used it in a near OEM configuration:




The white mark near the square hole (on the hub) is the heat damage from where the blast plate got so hot it melted some of the plastic in the hub below it. Before using the launcher, I had painted it with a black, made-for-plastic, spray paint. Note: I've only used 2 C11-5's and one C11-7 on this pad.

Here are my modifications to protect the hub and the swivel from further heat damage:

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Making the rockets I dreamed of as a kid (and then some).

"The Guide says there is an art to flying", said Ford, "or rather a knack."
"The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."


Launching is Optional... Landing? That Depends on Trees.

I survived the Heyford bone. USAF RAF UH 77th AMU 1988-90 46250

Last edited by K'Tesh : 08-25-2013 at 01:17 AM.
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  #7  
Old 08-25-2013, 08:57 AM
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Ironnerd Ironnerd is offline
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I HAD an old Porta-Pad II I bought when I got back into rocketry in the 1990's. It was a really nice launch pad (just like the Porta-Pad I had when I was a kid). It's nothing special, it just works. Sadly Estes no longer carries a "nice" launch pad Apogee, however has one they import from China (big shock there) that looks pretty familiar.


[LINK]

I normally use my club's equipment (which is actually really nice), but for a quick fix at a local park, I use a Tilt-A-Pad my father-in-law helped me build (he has a shop-smith in his basement).

I still have a Porta-Pad E in my basement. I looked it over and said "No Thanks" - just looked a little too cheesy. I really think Estes can do better with their launch pads - and I think they should do better. Keep a cheap on in the line-up for starter kits, but bring back the "non-lightning-leg" Porta-pad II's and maybe the "Big-foot", and dare we dream, the Power-plex.

As I understand it, the Astron II pad has no ability to tilt the rod and can accept on 1/8" rods - so, I'm not enthusiastic about this offering.

I did a poll a while ago a while back, and the most popular launch pad was the Tilt-A-Pad, followed by Big Foot, then original Porta-pad.

The most popular controllers were Solar, then Astron, then a tie for Big foot and Electron Beam.
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Old 08-25-2013, 09:40 AM
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I made a bunch of Tilt-A-Pads.

I also have some with longer legs. Leg length depends on how long a piece of wood I have.

But I can make the legs as long as you want. Email me for a quote on longer legs. It doesn't take me long to make longer legs.

The longer legs include a three way chain to keep the legs from splaying out.

The only real variation from the original is the wood.

Originally, the Port-A-Pad was made of redwood.

Here in the mid west redwood is kind of hard to come by so I used red cedar.

http://www.excelsiorrocketry.com/pr...p?id_product=10
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Old 08-25-2013, 10:01 AM
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hcmbanjo hcmbanjo is offline
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I have a camera tripod "ADEPTOR" available from Odd'l Rockets:

http://oddlrockets.com

It fits any camera tripod and and 1/8" to 3/16" rods.
Gets you off the ground - No more wet, dirty knees.
Just open your tripod and raise the legs, just one stop is all that's needed.
Weight can be tied to the hook in the middle of the tripod if needed for stability.
(I launch MMX through Ds and don't need the weight unless it's windy.)
It's available from the distributors listed at the bottom of the Odd'l Rockets first page.
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  #10  
Old 08-25-2013, 10:41 AM
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K'Tesh K'Tesh is online now
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Lightbulb

Quote:
Originally Posted by hcmbanjo
I have a camera tripod "ADEPTOR" available from Odd'l Rockets:

http://oddlrockets.com

It fits any camera tripod and and 1/8" to 3/16" rods.
Gets you off the ground - No more wet, dirty knees.
Just open your tripod and raise the legs, just one stop is all that's needed.
Weight can be tied to the hook in the middle of the tripod if needed for stability.
(I launch MMX through Ds and don't need the weight unless it's windy.)
It's available from the distributors listed at the bottom of the Odd'l Rockets first page.

Another nice thing about that design is that it keeps the end of launch rod up and out of lill'un's faces.

Jim
.
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Making the rockets I dreamed of as a kid (and then some).

"The Guide says there is an art to flying", said Ford, "or rather a knack."
"The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."


Launching is Optional... Landing? That Depends on Trees.

I survived the Heyford bone. USAF RAF UH 77th AMU 1988-90 46250
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