- There are several Canadian altitude records that remain open. These include A, B, and C single stage, single motor and A, B, C, D, F complex, staged, cluster, or dart. Chartering as a CAR club would allow our members to make official record attempts in these (and other) areas.
- If we are ever to be capable of launching HPR, we need a trained Range Safety Officer. Being part of the CAR would certainly facilitate this. I do not yet know the process of becoming qualified but having CAR connections couldn't hurt.
- The most recent issue of Sport Rocketry featured coverage of TARC 2016. The Team America Rocketry Challenge is an annual event in which teams of students must build and fly a model rocket according to strict guidelines. This year's event requires a flight of 41-43 seconds and an altitude of 800' while carrying two raw hen's eggs. The top 100 teams are invited to Washington, DC in the spring for the finals to compete for $100 000 worth of prizes! Canada does not currently run this type of event--but we should! It would certainly start out on a smaller scale but it could grow over time. CAR involvement is almost certainly a must for this to happen, especially for students to have mentors and access to flying fields. I would love for S.W.A.R.M. to provide the push to get this type of event started.
I'd love to have S.W.A.R.M. chartered as a Canadian Association of Rocketry section. I started down the road to making this happen a while back but was sidetracked with personal business and haven't gotten back to it yet. There are several advantages to getting this done:
I can't believe it's been so long since I've updated this blog! I guess I'll just jump right in with this week's excitement--NARAM-59. Although I could not attend the meet, I did build two rockets for my team, H-Bomb. My brother, Mark, is in Muskegon competing and has been texting me the results and asking for advice. Although I am not at the field, he has let me feel like I am contributing to our effort.
Before the start of official competition, Mark flew his Door Knob on a J engine for his High Power Level 2 certification. Rod Schaffer and John Brohm witnessed his launch and verified its success. Mark had previously written the required test, so he is now officially Level 2! (Photo courtesy of Chris Taylor.)
Monday was the first day of competition, featuring C Altitude and C Flexwing Duration. I had built the flexie and Mark built the booster. The first flight corkscrewed on the way up and was DQ'd but the second flight scored a time of 319s! That alone was good for 4th place!
There were computer issues with altitude tracking for C Altitude but they were eventually sorted out and H-Bomb ended up in 7th place (out of 16 teams).
Tuesday brought G Helicopter and B Egg Loft Altitude. My last minute build was an upscale Tri-F-O, like what was used last fall in Saucer S.W.A.R.M. It looked great on take-off and even spun enough to qualify but it landed on a truck and broke apart, ending our chances at a qualified flight. B Egg Loft Altitude went a little better, but not much. The first flight scrambled the payload and the second flight only reached 19 m--at least it qualified.
With three days left, this year's NARAM has been exciting, even without being there. If you ever get the chance (say, at The Harvest Classic 2017) you should really try competitive rocketry. It's great fun!
Recently, NAR leadership has put forth some major changes to the format for competitive rocketry. No longer will flyers receive points for finishing well in NAR sanctioned meets held by local clubs with whatever events that club chooses. Instead, there will be six different events each year that can be run at sanctioned events and at NARAM. Not every one of those six events has to be run at any meet and other events may be added as desired by the club running the meet. However, if a flyer competes in one of the national events, his/her results will be posted on the NAR website along with the results of all other flyers, regardless of where they competed. At the end of the contest year, the top flyers in each event will receive awards and will be eligible to compete for national titles at NARAM.
Some of the details will likely change before these rules are put into effect. Overall, however, this new system should benefit S.W.A.R.M. It has traditionally been difficult for our members to gain many points in a year because of the lack of local events. Now, all it really takes is one good showing at an event to place in the national standings. We could even give our members more opportunities to try the six national events by holding more sanctioned competitions. This won't be difficult, as the events could be the same at each competition. The Harvest Classic could be run with the six national events as well as any others of our choosing, but we could also run the six national events at any of our launches, as long as we nofify our regional competition chair.
As with any type of change, there will likely be disagreements along the way. Regardless, I am very much looking forward to this new system and the possibilities it will open up for S.W.A.R.M.!
This past weekend, S.W.A.R.M. held its 3rd annual competitive meet, The Harvest Classic 2016. Although only S.W.A.R.M. members attended, there was some good, friendly competition in a variety of events. Between launches on Saturday, a meeting was held and some great ideas were discussed. In addition to what we already do (Harvest Classic, Saucer S.W.A.R.M., S.T.A.G.E.R., The Buzz!, etc.) plans are in the works for even more exciting rocketry activities!
The Astronautical Society of Toronto and S.W.A.R.M. are discussing having a competition between the two NAR sections. One weekend would see several events at their Guelph launch site with another weekend of events at the S.W.A.R.M. site in Chatham. Perhaps a special trophy could be awarded to the section with the most points altogether.
S.W.A.R.M. members also agreed that a virtual rocket contest sounds like a good idea. Members would be tasked with designing a rocket using software like OpenRocket or RockSim that meet certain design criteria. Those rockets would then "fly" in specific virtual events, similar to a regular meet. Points could be awarded for aesthetics, creativity, and performance.
This certainly seem to be going well with S.W.A.R.M. this year. Our new launch equipment is in. We are now capable of running 20 pads with a 12V battery for each set of 10. Our wiring will accommodate 10 high power pads, once we get clearance to launch from Transport Canada. Founding member Mark Halinaty had club patches and pins made and donated them to S.W.A.R.M. Now, new members will receive one of them and all members will be able to purchase them. We have added some new members, including Ron Orr, who has been launching for several decades and made it out to our June event. Saucer S.W.A.R.M.! is ready to go in September, with several members already purchasing kits. Leftover kits will be offered to students in an effort to attract some new members. Planning has even started for Harvest Classic 2016, with much interest in another shot at the Classic Model event.
Stay tuned! There will certainly be much more to come!
I recently had the chance to visit with my brother, fellow S.W.A.R.M. member Mark Halinaty. He and I are also NAR teammates on H-Bomb. Although we have competed together at the past two NARAM's, we had never had the opportunity to actually work together on a build project. Until now. And what a great way to spend a weekend it was! We put together an Estes Ventris to use for NARAM-58's G-streamer Altitude competition. I learned how to use dope, silk span, and sanding sealer to get a smooth finish on balsa (or plywood in the case of the Ventris). We bounced ideas off of each other, shared stories of personal building mishaps, commiserated over endlessly re-organizing our shops, and just generally had a great time!
S.W.A.R.M. needs more of this. We meet once a month to take care of business and we try to launch once a month as well but we have yet to hold a build session. Having a mix of junior and senior members attend would be an excellent chance to not only build together but to inspire and mentor younger rocketeers. I hesitate to ask that we meet any more than we already do; I know I have too many other things on the go. What if we tacked on some build time to some of our meetings? Or maybe we could replace some of our meetings entirely with build sessions?
Just something to think about, fellow S.W.A.R.M. members. As much as I enjoy launching rockets, it is so much better with friends. I didn't realize it until now, but building works the same way. If you aren't a club member yet, join soon! S.W.A.R.M. has so much to offer, as do rocket clubs wherever you live. Enjoy!
This year's Harvest Classic competition was definitely considered a success by all in attendance. We had some friends from Pittsburgh Space Command (Brian and Sean Guzek) join us, Mark made it down from Newmarket, Matt and I participated, and Grace and Charlotte competed for A-Division supremacy. The weather could have been better, as it was cold and windy, but the sun was shining most of both days and the fun of rocketry couldn't be stopped.
Saturday started late but quite a bit of flying got done in the few hours on the field. There was a steady wind from the back of the field toward the house, so we trucked ourselves and the launch equipment through the field and set up along the creek. The wind stayed steady and straight all day, so predicting launch direction and drift was fairly easy. Hitting our spot landing target was certainly more difficult than it would have been in calm weather, but we still managed two flights within the 50 m window. The Guzek boys flew a Centauri Hummingbird clone for their Classic Model and earned mission points for ejecting the motor tube assembly and gliding to a safe recovery.
On Sunday, we arrived very early to try to avoid the big winds. We were somewhat successful and managed several flights in calmer conditions. Brian and Sean flew their "F Postal Altitude" entry which made it to 2000' and still recovered within our field! They also launched a shuttle prototype with RC controls that flew better than us onlookers predicted. The last flight of the day was their large cluster, multi-stage scale model that flew like a charm, even in pretty windy conditions.
There were, of course, things that could have run a little better ("Got any rockets, Matt?" and "Five...launch!" come to mind.) but everyone had a great time launching rockets, sharing stories, and helping each other. Rocketry at its finest! Can't wait for next year!
S.W.A.R.M. has once again been lucky enough to receive a grant from the NAR. Last year, we purchased our PA system. This year's money will be going to the purchase of a water pump and a Jolly Logic Altimeter I. The pump will be available at every launch in case of a fire. The altimeter will be available for use by competitors for our Harvest Classic or for any S.T.A.G.E.R. altitude trials (for a small rental fee?). The benefits of joining the NAR are many...insurance, fellow rocketeers, advice, national events, and section grants! If you haven't already joined, get to it!
Wow! Two former Chatham Rocketry Club members in just a couple of weeks! First I heard from Larry Broadbent, former CRC president and 50 year rocket veteran. He read about S.W.A.R.M. on The Rocketry Forum and contacted me to see what we were up to. A few days later, I ran into an old friend from high school, Brian French. I vaguely recalled Brian doing some rocketry back then (30 years ago!?!) so I asked him if he was still interested. He hadn't thought about rocketry since his days at Tecumseh Secondary School but was very excited at the prospect of rekindling his old hobby. His rocketry claim to fame is having attended the very first LDRS (Large and Dangerous Rocket Ships) launch in the mid-80's. We spent a good while talking rockets and getting reacquainted and Brian has decided to come out to the next S.W.A.R.M. launch. I'm now interested in putting together a section on this site about the history of model rocketry in Chatham. Looks like I'll be hitting the Chatham-Kent Public Library soon to see if I can find any mentions of the CRC in the newspaper archives.
Last Saturday I had the pleasure of meeting Larry Broadbent. Larry has been active in model rocketry since 1965. He is past president (1969 and 1980) of the former Chatham Rocketry Club and he still lives in Chatham. During the 1980's, he purchased Composite Dynamics, Inc. (CDI) and began selling their models along with some of his own designs. He has amassed quite a collection during his time in rocketry. He was kind enough to share some of that collection with me and fellow SWARM member Matt Turner. Larry showed us some prototype resin nosecones that he had produced for his company, several CDI ProJet composite engines, an FSI F100 engine, and many more great items! We heard great stories about the beginnings of high power rocketry, he shared some advice with us about our current projects, and Larry even decided to join SWARM and renew his NAR membership. It was truly a great way to spend a Saturday morning--talking rockets, making new friends, and learning a lot of model rocket history! And to think, I've been a Chatham rocketeer for over ten years and never knew that someone so involved in this great hobby lives about five minutes away. I am certainly inspired to reach out to our community and discover more about all the other folks involved in model rocketry!