Saturday, September 8, 2012

What an Easy Race

My cross-country ski training pushed me through my first race since June today. Let me tell you it was not the most pleasant thing I have ever done. The race starts off just a few hundred feet above sea level and climbs the locally infamous Ester Dome whose peak is over 2000 ft. All of that in a 5k race or 3 miles. The first 200 meters are flat, then after that it just gets steeper and steeper. The times on this course speak for themselves. This year a new record was set somewhere around 22:30, I was a whopping 27:57, about my 5k time from 2nd grade.

This is the kind of race where, if I were doing it alone, I probably wouldn't finish most of the time. Today I just had to keep reminding myself all the benefits to my skiing this would bring and how I would feel if I got beaten by a girl. Last year the top two women finished ahead of me, this year I was able to hold them off by 30 seconds or so, what a relief.  

Rocket Failures

I'm starting to feel like NASA when it was desperately trying to launch something to space. The second attempt with the new rocket design was another failure. This launch was a bit more promising. The rocket got a little bit of altitude, granted it was about 6 inches, but it is a start.

With this rocket I did everything like the first with the exception of the rocket fuel, which I made a
much better batch of. As it turned out the propellant was the problem with the last rocket. When I lit this one off it burned in about a thirtieth of the same time. I don't know the math to calculate it, but I can tell you that is a lot more thrust. Unfortunately, with that added power comes some added complications. The quick burn obliterated my makeshift nozzle, completely blowing it out and rendering the rocket useless. The next rocket will sport a much stronger nozzle that will hold up, if everything goes right, which it probably won't. And if I am really lucky the next launch will be a successful one.
                                                                                                            The Determination 2 Rocket

I have decided to call these rockets Determination, because I won't stop until I get a successful launch.


The blown out nozzle

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Making a Model Rocket

I have recently gotten very interested in rocketry. I think it is a super cool science that almost anyone can appreciate, I mean who doesn't like rockets? Now, I could just go out and buy some Estes rockets and launch those, that wouldn't be too hard, but I am a little weird, I want to build my own rockets. I have discovered that this is a much more difficult task, I have yet to actually get a rocket off the launch pad and I have tried several times.

Yesterday I came the closest I ever have to getting a rocket airborne. Unfortunately, I forgot to take any pictures, but the rocket is basically made out of  card stock and a few different types of glue. It is about a foot high and a little less than an inch in diameter. The rocket propellant is a potassium nitrate sugar mix. When I actually get a successful launch I will post more information on the making of the rocket. With this rocket I was able to successfully light the motor, but the propellant burned about 30-40 times too long. I expect this is because I directly melted the sugar and potassium nitrate instead of dissolving them in water first. By doing this I caramelized the sugar, which I have heard can seriously decrease performance. The one thing that is confusing me is the burn test I did before hand that had the fuel burning at about 12s/inch. I looked burn rates up and this is just a little above average, so I don't quite know what went wrong. However, I plan to make up another batch of propellant using the water method and hopefully that will work.

More post will be coming shortly as I continue to work on this project.