This blog covers the day to day progress of water rocket development by the Air Command Water Rockets team. It is also a facility for people to provide feedback and ask questions.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Acceleron V rebuild

We've made good progress this week in getting Acceleron V back on the launch pad. Early in the week we tested the new narrow nozzle seals to make sure they will hold up to the pressure. This was also a pressure test of the booster side of the launcher. During assembly we noticed that one of the nozzle seals was distorting too much when the bottle was tightened. So dad machined up a new nozzle seal cutter that was a little wider and we made 3 new nozzle seals out of harder rubber. These worked well during assembly and in the pressure test.

Pressure testing the new nozzle seals. You can see the fog in the upper bottles as we let the pressure out.

On Friday we pressure tested the sustainer release mechanism and air supply. During the test we noticed that there was a very minor leak (1 or 2 drops per second) in the release head. On closer inspection it looked like there were a couple of small vertical grooves in the o-ring seat. So we spent today replacing the Gardena release mechanism with a new one. We are letting the epoxy fully cure before doing another test.

We spent the rest of today re-assembling Acceleron back to its normal configuration,.

Attaching the fins with the use of a fin alignment jig.

There are still lots of little jobs to do on the rocket, but it's good to see it back together again. We will do an integration pressure check to around 60psi to make sure there are no leaks in the Tornado couplings without putting too much stress on the entire rocket.

Next major milestones include a re-assembly of the sustainer. Depending on our progress schedule we may fly it at this weeks NSWRA launch day to flight qualify it before it gets used with the Acceleron booster.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pressure tests

After a week of curing, yesterday dad hydro tested 5 of the new splices to go into Acceleron V. These ones had a slightly narrower sleeve than the previous 4 for ease of manufacture. The results were all good with the test having the splices hold 140psi for 30 seconds. There were no leaks and no visible stress marks.

I'm happy with the yield rate so far for these splices. We haven't had any leaks in the 10 we have made to date. I'm sure there will be the occasional one that will leak or fail, but so far it's a good start.

We now have enough of the splices to put Acceleron V back together again. We will do a nozzle seal check next by placing the lowest bottles with nozzles on the launcher held down via the baseplate and checking to make sure the new nozzle seals are good. We won't need to remove the nozzles after the test.

Because the new pressure switch is only a SPST type, we can't wire it directly to an LED like last time to tell us that enough pressure is in the booster. When this LED was ON (@~20psi) we knew the switch was activated and the flight computer was safe to arm. I'm going to update the software in the primary computer to give us a pressure switch status indication on the LED display so that we can tell when it's safe to arm it. Although we could get it to arm automatically when the pressure switch activates, I still prefer to keep the human-in-the-loop for these kinds of things in case we need to abort the launch.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Flight day and progress

Last week we went to the NSWRA launch day as we wanted to see the egg lofting competition. We weren't going to fly rockets on the day as Acceleron V has been taking up all spare time, but we did put a couple of small ones in the back of the car just in case. We ended up flying a couple of them during the day. I'm putting together a couple of videos at the moment. One is just a short one from the day showing the flights, but the cloud cover made it difficult to get a good shot against the white clouds. The other video is a discussion about some of the components going into Acceleron V booster.

I'll do a short write-up over the next couple of days. Otherwise it's been a continuation with splicing all the bottles.