Sunday, November 29, 2009

2.375" Motor

Well November went by and I didn't get much done on the new motor. I did do a little testing with Erythritol based propellant. My first attempt was a little surprising given the fact that others have expressed that the combination is really easy to work with and cast. I found that the Erythritol based propellant "froze" quickly once removed from the heat source. Casting was challenging at best. I think there may be at least a couple of different factors at play. In my initial attempt I used a stainless steel pot which has thin walls and not much ability to retain heat. The other possible factor is the brand that I used. In contrast to the pure white Erythritol that other experimenters are using the brand that I have seems to have a hint of color which means that it may have some contaminant that is affecting it. I don't think that the quick freezing of the propellant is something that could not be overcome, but since I tend to cast out at the RRS facility where it's difficult to escape the wind and sometime surprisingly cold weather. Since I have around 50 lbs. of Sorbitol I decided to try an alloy of fuel consisting of 50/50 Sorbitol/Erythritol. This combination cast very well and was cured enough to remove from the mould after about 1.5 hours. A test strand had a burn rate that fell right in the middle of KNSB and KN/ER, so I'm expecting motor performance to be roughly the average of the the two fuels. Expected chamber pressure is expected to be around 1250psi.
The first image at the bottom is a sample segment of KN/ER, the middle image is a segment of KN/ER/SB, and the top image is a frame of the test strand burn test of the KN/ER/SB.
The RRS Christmas party/launch where I was expecting to test this motor was canceled this year so I'm hoping to find some time between Christmas and New Years to test.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Casting Tools

I haven't had much time lately, but the 2.375" motor project is moving along. The 2.375" motor project...hmmm. I have never a given a motor or rocket project a name. I usually refer to them by color, some key feature, or size like the orange and black rocket, or the camera rocket, or the 2.375" motor. I think I'll try and come up with a name for this motor, maybe something from Norse mythology since the high L/D of the design makes me think of the motor of one of my favorite sounding rockets the Loki dart.
I should be ready for the first test firing which is tentatively scheduled for early December. I modified the one existing casting set-up that I had for the original 2.375" motor to accommodate the slightly smaller diameter casting tube size. That set-up worked well in the past. The t-handle is removed during casting so it doesn't get in the way. Once the propellant is cured the handle is used to unscrew the mandrel from the base which pushes it part way out out of the propellant segment making mandrel extraction pretty easy.
The other two are simple hardwood bases coated with epoxy to maintain dimensional stability and keep them from absorbing the grease which will be used to keep the propellant from sticking. The coring rods are Delrin, which I haven't used before. Apparently Delrins thermal expansion properties allows them to basically fall out of the propellant once fully cooled. Basically the coring rod takes longer to return to ambient temperature than the propellant allowing the rod to shrink a bit more than the propellant.