Binder Design Excel 38mm (Finished)It's finally done, I've finished the Binder Design Excel 38mm kit!

Well, almost. In the next few days I will give it a couple of coats of clear gloss just to seal everything in, but it won't change the look. I decided to go with a very different paint job to the stock rocket, and am happy with the result - nice and bright! I shouldn't lose that now.

I originally thought about painting it yellow from top to bottom, however after a coat of primer, a coat of white and a coat of yellow, the red line for the launch lugs was still bleeding through, so a coat of orange hid that.

At the moment, solid rocket motors with more than 62.5 grams of propellant aren't allowed to be flown in this great state of Victoria. Worksafe are currently reviewing their regulations and are open to submissions on how the explosives act can be updated. The good news is that Tripoli Australia and the Australian Rocketry Association have put aside their differences and are working together to try and get the law updated as quickly as possible. But for now, the Excel may simply sit and look pretty in my lounge room...

Some build photos can be seen here

Binder Design Excel 38mm (Build)Over the last few weeks I have been working on my Binder Design Excel 38mm. I had held off building it until my replacement fins arrived.

Cutting the fin slots was a nerve wracking experience! After getting advice from other builders and reading all I could find on the web, I put knife to tube. I masked out the area to be cut using masking tape and, armed with a Binder Design Excel 38mm (Build)brand-new #11 blade and a right-angle straight-edge, slowly cut the slots. They turned out perfect :)

The 10-ply fins are solid. Very solid! So solid that it took ages to sand them down. After sanding, they got a thin coat of finishing epoxy and then more sanding. They've turned out smooth... Ooohhh.. Smooth.

The instructions showed both forward and rear centering rings being glued onto the motor mount tube and then installed in the rocket prior to attaching the fins. I differed from this step by not gluing the rear centering ring - allowing it to be removed. Fins went in next and having access at the rear allowed for the application of internal fillets on all fins as well as attaching the rail button.

Apart from installing the Aeropac motor retainer, The rocket is built!

I'm still debating with the colour scheme - should I go stock or paint something different... I'll make a decision on that after I've given it a spray of undercoat.

Binder Design SpikeAt the start of the year I purchased two Binder Design kits - the Excel 38mm and the Spike. Over the last couple of months I have been working on the Spike and am very happy with the end result!

Standing 30" tall (76cm) doesn't make it the biggest in my fleet (that honor goes to the Estes Mean Machine at 6.5" tall!) but I think it's one of the best kits I have put together to date.

The kit comes with a plastic nose cone, ply centering rings, heavy-duty cardboard body tube and motor mount, very nice high-quality plywood fins, rail buttons, tubular nylon shock cord, 18" parachute and detailed step-by-step instructions.

After running the design through rocsim, I added a couple of gramms of weight to the nose (there's a note on the front page of the instructions about this) for stability. I deviated only once from the instructions with regard to building the fins. Instructions call for mounting the two centering rings and then glueing in the fins - I didn't glue in the rear centering ring, allowing me to apply internal fillets to the through-wall fins - I believe that this will make for a more robust rocket.

I also made the decision not to use the rail buttons, instead using a 1/4" rod lug.

I can't wait to fly it!

Semroc SPEVA recent addition to my fleet, the Semroc SPEV is a great little (big!) rocket. The SPEV officially stands for "Space Exploration Vehicle" however rumour has it that it's really a "Spare Parts Elimination Venture"... Either way, this is a rocket that you will either love or hate! A retro-repo kit originally released by Estes in 1972 and looks every bit the vintage.

The number of parts that Semroc have packed into their customary plastic bag is impressive -

  • 3 different sizes of body tube
  • 2 transitions
  • Stubby little nosecone
  • Laser cut fins
  • Decals, Recovery & Engine mount

The original mounting position for the parachute is in the first (largest) section of body tube directly below the lower transition. I decided to drill out the centre of the transition and put the parachute in the middle section of body tube. I figure that this will do two things - It puts the parachute furthe away from the hot ejection gasses and I will be able to use less wadding.

I have flown it twice on C6-5's and very happy with the performance.

Painted up as per the illustration (or as best as I can figure since they only show one side of the rocket!!). The results are a very NASA-esque looking rocket that stands a little over 2" tall :)

Performance Hobbies - Little Dog DDI had been looking for a good solid 38mm workhorse to use with my 38mm EX motor, and the Little Dog by Performance Hobbies seemed to fit the bill. Fiberglass from top to bottom, this really is an outstanding kit.

I have heard horror stories about people dealing with Performance Hobbies (products taking a long time to ship - or not at all) and it was recommended that I order through one of the listed dealers, which I did. I placed my order with Liberty Launch Systems (Rockets Magazine) and had a response back with a quote for postage within a day. I paid my money and received a conformation almost straight away. The kit shipped direct from Performance Hobbies and, despite the fact that it left the USA on December 19th - right in the middle of what I would expect to be the Christmas rush of post, it only took 6 days to arrive here in Australia - landing on my desk on December 24th.

I am absolutely blown away by the speed of service provided by both Liberty Launch Systems and Performance Hobbies - despite the negatives I had heard, I would not hesitate in recommending you look at the range of kits available. The quality was the first thing that really impressed me - the body tubes are amazing - very strong, smooth and straight. The fin slots are pre-cut and dead straight.

The Little Dog is a bare-bones kit - it don't come with any build instructions, recovery etc. but standard HPR build techniques apply.

The Little Dog will fly on G - J motors and the Rocksim file is available online.

I am planning on building in a Missle Works mini RRC2 to deal with apogee drogue and main paracute deployment.

This kit is well suited to both L1 and L2 flights and I'm looking forward to working on this during the year.

The only decision left now is what colour to paint it?!

Binder Design - Excel KitWell, this is the season of the jolly fat man and pretty wrapped gifts! And what better gift to receive than one that blasts 1000's of feet into the air on a column of smoke :)

Suburban Rocketry has just started stocking the Binder Design range of High Power rockets. Christmas eve my Excel arrived!

Standing just over 1.2m tall and 4" diameter, this is one big rocket.

The bag contains:

  • 3 plywood fins
  • Centering rings and bulkhead
  • Quick links and eye bolts
  • Tubular Nylon shock cord
  • Rail Buttons
  • 30" Parachute
  • 4" Airframe & Payload bay
  • Big-Ass plastic ogive nosecone
  • Vinyl decal
  • pages and pages of instructions

The quality of the parts is fantastic, however a pre-slotted airframe would have been a nice touch (I believe that this is a feature of Binder's Premium kits) and will fly on anythig from G - I motors.

I'm still deciding on if I should glass the airframe (I think the work is worth it). It will add to the weight a little, but the rocket will be much more durable for the work.

This seems like a great kit and well suited to doing your L1.

Build photos will be posted during 2009.

V-2 RocketI've wanted a V-2 kit for some time now and recently found a good range of different scales on the Aerospace Speciality Products website. I purchased the 13mm kit - the smallest they offer. Here's the blurb from their website:

The V - 2 ("Vengeance Weapon 2") is perhaps the most famous, and certainly the most infamous, rocket ever built. Designed by Werner von Braun for the Nazi war effort during WWII, the V - 2 was the world's first large liquid-fueled rocket. Originally designated the A - 4, thousands were built by prisoners during the early 1940s. After the war, many captured V - 2s were flown by the U.S. as well as the Soviet Union. Despite its' horrific inception as a weapon of destruction, the V - 2 was the forerunner of all the large liquid-fuel rockets which were to follow.

ASP V-2 Kit At just 7 3/4" tall, this model is true to scale and features a balsa boattail, balsa nose cone and laser-cut basswood fins. Flies on mini A motors.

Length: 7.75"/19.69 cm
Diameter: 0.976"/24.8 mm
Weight: 0.88 oz/25 gm
Parachute Recovery
Recommended Engines: 1/2A3 - 2T; 1/2A3 - 4T; A3 - 4T
Scale: approx. 1/67 (0.015)

TLP Type 30 Rocket (Japan)TLP Type 30 Rocket (Japan) I have started work on a Type 30 kit released by 'The Launch Pad'. One of the more unusual aspects of this kit is the paper nose cone extension to give it the proper profile.

The kit includes a Mylar parachute and additional balsa for the detail - small 'launch guides' are positioned near the nose cone.

The rocket still needs more work. The final shaping on the nose cone, a little filler between the two lengths of BT80 tube and it will be ready to paint.

I have three other TLP kits in the queue.

Golden Scout To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Vern and Gleda Estes start in the rocketry business - and really the start of the hobby for so many people, Semroc have re-released the very first Estes kit - the Scout. Since this is the golden anniversary, they have called it the Golden Scout! Everyone has been encouraged to purchase a kit, paint it gold and fly it during July. All flights logged on the Semroc site during July will be sent a certificate signed by Vern and Gleda. This is my Golden Scout, waiting for it's moment of glory next month!

Two Art Applewhite saucers - MicroMaxx and 13mm 'Delta'

Art Applewhite Saucers

Art Applewhite Saucers


The plans for these saucers are available in the 'Free' section of Art's site. Just print them out and glue them together!