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"Akavish" - the Spider Rocket

The Itsy Bitsy Spider ...

"Akavish" Lift-Off

"Akavish" is a spider-like rocket built by my wife, Bracha Smith, and myself. Akavish is always a crowd-pleaser. It roars into the air on an Aerotech G38-4FJ single use motor. The "Black Jack" motor provides a column of thick black smoke.

"Akavish" in Flight

The Akavish is actually the third version of the rocket we've built. The first two were basically styrofoam balls into which we inserted and glued a motor tube and legs (which act as fins).

The first Akavish was small, with balsa wood legs. It was designed to fly on a D12 motor. You can watch its one and only flight at the end of my "Rockets Gone Wild" video.

Video Featuring the First "Akavish"

The second Akavish was larger and designed for E and F motors. It was basically a styrofoam ball with a motor mount and dowel legs inserted into it. It flew okay, but didn't hold up well over time.

An Early Version of "Akavish"

The new Akavish is much sturdier. It's constructed more like a regular rocket, with a body tube.

Inside the "Akavish"

The legs are glued to the motor-mount tube inside the body tube. The head of the spider, a large foam ball, was cut in two halves. The bottom half was hollowed out and cut to fit over the body tube. The top had a short piece of tubing added inside which slips over the motor tube. The launch lug is glued to the motor tube and a hole was drilled in the top of the head for the rod to pass through.

Inside "Akavish"

A shock cord was added to tie the two parts of the spider's head together with a small parachute.

Naked "Akavish"

Large eyes were glued to the top then the head and legs were covered with fur.

"Akavish" Ready to Fly

A video of the Akavish in flight is available in the Rocket Videos section of the Payload Bay Gallery.

"Akavish" Video

After about a dozen launches, the Akavish was starting to show its age. So we decided to launch it one last time at the September 9, 2006, NEFAR launch before retiring it and building a new Akavish. Apparently, it heard us talking about replacing it because it turned in the best flight of its career.

Akavish's Last Flight(?)

November 11, 2006: We flew Akavish twice at the NEFAR Bunnell Blast 2006 launch. The second time we flew it on an H180 motor. Bracha wanted to see it fly higher. I was sure we were going to witness a gory mess with spider parts falling from the sky, but I went ahead and loaded the rocket with an H180.

The flight was excellent. The rocket roared into the sky on a brilliant white flame. It arced over and ... the top of the spider's head did pop off, but the parachute didn't deploy.

A post-mortem showed that the shroud lines for the 'chute had melted. Air pressure must have held the 'chute inside the rocket on the way down.

Akavish on an H180

Additional photographs of the Akavish are available in the Gallery at: http://www.payloadbay.com/gallery/v/projects/akavish/.

The Big Daddy Akavish ...

Big Daddy Akavish

In 2007, we introduced the Big Daddy Akavish. Standing almost 4' tall, the Big Daddy Akavish flies on I and J motors.

After the Big Daddy's first flight, I realized I'd made a mistake in the design of the rocket. Like some other rocketry "experts," I'd forgotten that our motors burn from the center out. So, I had designed Big Daddy to accept a long 38mm motor rather than a wider 54mm motor.

No problem. I got out a big drill bit and modified the rocket to handle a 54mm diameter motor.

Click Here to Watch Video

In June of 2008, the Big Daddy Akavish made an appearance on the TV show "Lawrence of America." Always a ham, the Akavish decided to demonstrate his "bounce recovery" skills rather than deploy a parachute.

That same month, at the NEFAR launch, Big Daddy was damaged when the motor failed at ignition.

After a nine-month recuperation period, Big Daddy is ready to return to the skies. I've rebuilt the big Akavish. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.

The rebuilt Big Daddy Akavish flew twice at the March, 2009, TTRA launch.

Watch Video

The first flight was on a Gorilla Motors J327. In spite of a steady breeze, the rocket shot straight into the air. The parachute popped out right at apogee and Big Daddy floated gently to earth. According to the altimeter, the rocket reached 384 feet.

The second launch was on a K327 motor. Again, the rocket flew straight. This time it reached 684 feet where the parachute again deployed right at apogee.

[Posted: 2006-06-30 | Updated: 2009-03-25]

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