Monday, April 8, 2013

Then and Now

Here's where I'm coming from:

As a kid, I launched rockets, but never to any degree of sophistication. My neighborhood friends and I all did. We built Estes models, shot them with spray paint, launched them, and had a lot of fun. Did we meticulously seal the balsa parts? No. Did we join the NAR? No. Did we even use a launcher or even a launch pad? Well, no - we had speaker wire with a 9V and paper clips, and a piece of music wire stuck in the ground. And no, we never bought flame-proof wadding either. I probably reached farther than anyone in my group when I checked out Harry Stine's book from the library. But I certainly didn't read it cover to cover or follow all his advice.

I don't exactly remember when it stopped. Certainly by the end of high school. I think I may have launched one or two rockets as a young adult.

Jump forward 20+ years, to the summer of 2012. I'm a father of a two year old girl and a five year old boy who is intensely curious and physical science-minded. And friends of his/ours announce plans for a rocket party. My son, Jack, and I get psyched and in advance of the party I pull an old Estes starter set out of the garage - it's got the launcher, the pad, and a rocket - all we need. So we do the build together and go out for a launch, and we're hooked. The day of the rocket party arrives and it is insanely fun.

So now here I am as an adult. I don't exactly have lots of spare time, but I do spend almost every minute outside of my job with my kids, and I need a hobby. Jack is still interested in rockets, and we work on some together, but my interest can't remain at the pace of a five year old. And I'm older, more thorough. And I have more money. Plus, this rocketry business - it's a whole different deal now. Sure, the Estes-level stuff is still at the local hobby store, almost identical to 1978. But now there is the Internet, with loads of information, loads of online vendors for parts and models. And microelectronics - cameras, altimeters! So, so much to explore.

I won't say I've become obsessed, but sometimes it feels like it. I've built about a dozen models since last summer, and have a half dozen kits in my closet waiting to be built. Plus an impressive stock of pieces and parts, with ideas for at least three or four custom models. With every new build, I'm exploring new techniques - adhesives, finishes. I've got my first composite motors that I'm itching to use. I just joined the NAR, and am hoping to go to my first club launch this spring. 

 So this is my blog, to document and reflect on what I do. I may not have anything original to say, but I will try to distill what I learn. 

No comments:

Post a Comment