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Building the "Jolly Roger" Pirate Rocket

September 18, 2006: On a visit to the local Michaels craft store the other day, Bracha and I spotted a styrofoam pirate's skull Halloween decoration. It was about the same size and weight as the foam ball which forms the head of our Akavish rocket.


Foam Skull

So we were inspired to create a pirate-themed rocket based on the foam skull and our experience with the Akavish. Like the Akavish, we intend to fly the "Jolly Roger" on a G motor.


"A G motor????!!!"

To add crossbones to the skull, we use some plastic bones from a party store. The bones are glued over lengths of balsa which are glued to the internal body tube.


Cross Bones

The rocket will have a motor pod and a rear-ejection parachute. We also plan to add a bandana around the pirate's ... uhh ... neck.


Say "Cheese"

The rocket is about two feet tall. We still have a few things to complete such as attaching the Kevlar shock cord from the motor pod to the rocket.

Additional photos of the construction of the "Jolly Roger" are in the "Jolly Roger" - Pirate Rocket album of the PayloadBay.com gallery.

October 7, 2006: I test flew the "Jolly Roger" at the Rocketry of Orlando's Community Kids's October launch. The rocket flew okay on a G38-4FJ motor, but made a big arc and landed before the ejection charge went off.

The damage looks spectacular, but it'll be easy to repair. I think I'll replace the balsa struts in the legs with dowels. Dowels are stronger and more flexible than the balsa strips I used. And I'll move the "bones" to the back some to counter-act the drag which caused the rocket to arc during flight.

A video of the flight is in the Payload Bay gallery. Click the icon below to view it.

October 17, 2006: It lives! I rebuilt the "Jolly Roger!" A number of improvements were made in the "Jolly Roger 2."

The bulkhead inside the bodytube failed during the test launch, so I beefed it up. I actually cut a new bulkhead from plywood using my Dremel circle-cutter. It's the first plywood centering ring or bulkhead I've made myself.

I removed the weights I had placed in the "head" of the rocket. I think it was overstable because of them.

I moved the "bones" radially towards the back of the rocket - away from the skull's face. I think this will conteract the tendancy of the rocket to arc in the direction it's facing.

Finally, the structure of the "bones" was replaced with dowels. I cut circles of spongy foam (as used in pillows) and glued the circles to the dowels. The plastic bones were slid over and glued onto the foam circles. This makes the whole thing "springy" which I hope will absorb the shocks of launch, ejection, and landing.

The first flight of the rebuilt Jolly Roger was ... interesting.

[Posted: 2006-09-18 | Updated: 2006-09-18]


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