Summer's at Hand

Eldest's eczema has been out of control for more or less three months now. We've finally been able to get her in to see a dermatologist. On top of the usual suspects for prescription drugs, we've got a total overhaul of her skin care regime to deliver on: milder cleansers, gentler treatment. I need to add shelves to the girls' bathroom for all the new bottles.

Be vewwy vewwy quiet. We're hunting stwikes. Heheheheh.

Good night Monday, with scores running from 119 to 129. Decently consistent, even though I didn't find the strike groove until the last half of the last game. And once I found it, I couldn't help laughing at every delivery that I saw going well.

The consistence held up 'cause I'm starting to figure out how to adjust my delivery for picking up spares. If I keep that strike groove (and I know just what it was I changed to find it) and I have the spare strategy that works, I should be able to punch my average up quite a bit from the current 110. If I can get to 120, I'll be pretty happy -- that's where the USBC sets its benchmark for absentee/vacancy scores. So I'll be bowling at least as good as Nobody! :-)

Ejectum Canis

The things that change in this hobby. I grew up thinking chemically-treated tissue paper wadding was the way to protect recovery systems from the hot products of the ejection charge. It's still in all the model instructions and starter sets and all.

But it seems that very few clubs like tissue wadding. In fact, large clubs ban tissue wadding and mandate the use of cellulose insulation as wadding. This is a building material made mostly from shredded newspaper, with chemical fire retardants added. It's apparently easier and more reliable to handle, and it biodegrades much more quickly than tissue. Also, when it falls from the sky into turf, it disappears! (From sight, anyway.) It has the colloquial name "dog barf" in the rocketry community, but it doesn't really resemble anything I've ever seen a dog throw up. Which is just as well.

I bought a bale (yes, bale) of it yesterday. Apparently this is enough to last a medium-sized lifetime of rocketry. All for $12 plus tax. And the clubs that mandate its use sell it to the barf-deprived at several dollars for a gallon bag. There's a nice racket (and still far cheaper to the consumer than tissue).

I've put most of the bale into a big green storage tub. The rest is in a cat litter bucket for taking to the range. Seems like that's how I'm organizing most of my field supplies these days: cat litter buckets. But, what the hey. Buy seven bucks of cat litter, get a free four-gallon bucket with lid. Too bad the Mantis pad won't fit into such a thing. I'll have to dig up a disused sports bag for that one.

Meanwhile, most of my paper wadding (and I have a lot) will get donated to the 4-H afterschool program. Along with an LED bulb and a couple of easy-to-build rocket model kits.

Now we just hope tonight’s thundershowers don’t render the range an icky-sticky mess for the morning.

Estes Controller and Quest Q2G2 Igniters Easy Solution

So here's the story. At the beginning of the year, Quest introduced the Q2G2 igniter, a gorgeous little apparatus with long INSULATED leads and a really aggressive kick for ignition. The insulation eliminates 90% of igniter failures, the very energetic ignition takes care of most of the rest, the lead length makes them ideal for cluster applications ... just a wonderful new design.

But the instructions say "DESIGNED FOR USE WITH THE QUEST 9V LAUNCH CONTROLLER." And they mean it. If you try to use one with an Estes Electron Beam launch controller, the igniter will fire when you push the Safety Key in for your circuit test. There's about 185 milliamps of current flowing during that circuit test, more than enough to set off the Q2G2.

So somehow you need to reduce the current flow if you want to use Q2G2 and an Estes controller. This usually involves replacing the lamp bulb with an LED, a buzzer, a resistor, or some combination of the three. It also tends to involve substantial kitbashing, soldering, etc. -- skills which I do not have. Fortunately, I found another solution: LED Bulbs.

An LED Bulb is an LED, with current limiting resistor and with polarity-shuffling bridge circuit, wrapped in a traditional lightbulb chassis. They are very much the rage with car buffs who are swapping out older, harder to find incandescent bulbs for long-lived, low energy consumption LEDs. LED Bulbs work perfectly well as replacements for the light bulb in the Electron Beam controller: they give good light, they don't run the battery down as quickly, AND they limit the current flow so that the controller becomes safe to use with all Estes and Quest igniters (and maybe even other brands of igniters and electric matches).

DISCLAIMER: I am not affiliated with Super Bright LEDs in any way except as a customer. I receive no discounts or other compensation for this endorsement. The bottom line is, Super Bright LEDs has the best prices I've found on LED Bulbs ... $1.98 for the part plus $5 (minimum) shipping/handling per order is WAY worth it to me to avoid the aggravation of learning to solder or not being able to use my equipment in some configurations.

SECOND DISCLAIMER: This solution in no way invalidates Quest Aerospace's statement: "Please note that since [Q2G2 igniters] are very low current igniters (120ma fire current), some model rocket launch controllers can set them off during continuity tests. Be sure to test your model rocket launch controller, by connecting an igniter to your controller before inserting it into the model rocket engine (motor) to make sure it does not prematurely activate when you insert your safety key and/or when you perform a continuity check." So ... if you try this solution, TEST it yourself first! I decline all responsibility for outcomes good or bad if you take my advice. Isn't that lovely? Hmm?

I bought "white" replacement bulbs, but they're available in blue, green, red, amber ... and ultra violet ("black light"), though what good that does in this application I have no idea. The amber draws the highest current ... at 21 milliamps. The rest are all under 20 milliamps.

The products are here. The basic bulbs are the BA9s-[] LED bulbs, where [] is the code letter for your color. The 4-LED bulbs are just overkill, and the "wide view" bulbs actually have less field of view than the basic bulb. Select the appropriate operating voltage for your launcher -- 6V for the Estes Electron Beam or "E", 12V if you have an older or more robust system like the old Estes Solar with external power clips.

I've fitted all the Estes launchers for the 4-H Club with these, and they work splendidly for me. They stand a little taller than the old glass bulb, but it's a sturdy solid-state component so it should put up with the knock-about in your range box. And you can bet I'm going to use these in any future home-made launch gear.

Playtesters Welcome

As reported by the Groknard, I'm now ready for folks who might want to playtest my EZFudge rules extensions for Star Trek (original series). Drop me a line at nvdaydreamer (at) gmail (dot) com and I'll send you the package.

C'mon, you can do this! The core rules are only 16 pages. The Final Frontier add-on is only 16 pages. And I'm throwing in more paper toys than you can shake a Horta at.