Saturday, April 25, 2015

An hour to kill

I woke up early this afternoon, and with sunny skies and light breezes over B6-4 Field I saw no reason to waste the hour or so before school let out.  I still had a box full of rockets from my last launch that got cut short and a couple of new Ebay rescues that arrived since then, so packing up wasn't a problem.  Field conditions were as perfect as I could have asked for.  April must be my month.

My wind test rocket for the day was an Estes Challenger 1 that I picked up via Ebay many moons ago.  It came as part of the original starter set, which was complete, but the rocket had been treated cruelly over the years.  The body tube was brown and looked to have been twisted at some point.  The good news was that it had been glued together with model glue, so everything just pulled apart, allowing me to replace the tube and update the recovery system.  I've been bringing the finished product along with me to the field for quite a while now, but today was the day for flight #2, just slightly more than ten years since the last flight.  

Yeah, that's just sad.  Ten years off meant nothing to this bird.  The A8-3 flight topped was dead straight in the light breeze, topping out around the 200' mark.  

Recovery, however, still needs to be worked on.  The shock cord tangled on the fins, but the chute brought the whole assembly down safely.  It just wasn't pretty.

Second flight was the Quest Courier on a B6-4.  This one had been around the shop for quite a while after painting because I hadn't seen the decals in years.  I found them last week and even though I hate sticker decals with a passion, I've got to admit they look great.

I've flown the Courier here before, and it's definitely a B6-4 bird.  Flight was high and straight, ejecting just as it tipped over, then heading for the trees.  It wound up short of them, but they'd get their fill later.

Interesting bird.  It's the second of three Ebay refugees that I flew on the day, and one of the two that is unidentifiable.  With no idea what to call it, I went to my list of potential rocket names and picked Fury.  So this is the Ebay Fury.  At least for now.  This one is probably a tweener here, capable of flying on an A8-3 or B6-4 without overflying the field, but I decided to go with the A8-3 on the first flight.

The flight left the pad heading south, which was back over my head.  After getting the launch shot I turned around to try to get a recovery shot, only to see the rocket bounce in the grass about 20' away from me.  No chute.  No shock cord.  They were all tangled around the fin can, and tangled like I'd never seen before.  The flight itself topped out around 200', but since it was pretty much over by the time I turned around, I'm not sure I can say much about it.  Probably a B6-4 for the next flight.  Maybe I'll see some of it that way.

Next off was the LOC/Precision Iris Mini, an obvious A8-3 flight.  Still waiting for paint, but I like how it's turned out so far.  These were part of a somewhat halfhearted attempt by LOC/Precision to find footing in the low power segment of the hobby.  The rockets were very basic, but also very sturdy.

The A8-3 flight was perfect for the field and for conditions.  It windcocked slightly back over my head, then recovered behind pitcher's mound on the infield.  I had the parachute wrapped and ready to pack before I realized that the nose cone was missing.  I found it out in center field about 20' from where the pad was set up.  The rocket had a payload section and the cone fit tightly thanks to a wrap of masking tape, but that was obviously not enough.  It will be glued permanently in place before it gets painted.  

I flew the Quest Apollo the last time I was out, but made the mistake of flying it on an A8-3 for a woefully underpowered flight.  I decided to try it again on a B6-4, which turned out to be a much better motor for it.

This was likely the best flight of the day, high and straight with a perfect recovery just short of the treeline.  It's also one of my favorite angles for a launch shot.  

I picked up the Estes AIM-120 AMRAAM at NARAM 43 as a gift for my son Sam.  He worked on it long enough to get the motor mount in and the lower fins in place, then decided that he had no other interest in rocketry other than eating chili or burritos after the launch.  Along the way one of the upper fins was misplaced and it was fourteen years later when I finally got around to finishing the project.

This would be its first flight, on a B6-4 much like the Quest Apollo.  At least that's what I was hoping for.  The reality of the situation was slightly different.  The flight paths were almost mirror images of each other, decent altitude and a gentle windcocking back toward the school behind me.  Unlike the Apollo, the AMRAAM drifted a little closer to the trees.  I was concentrating on getting the recovery pics, so through the viewfinder it all looked normal to me.  When I was done shooting I lowered the camera, expecting to see the AMRAAM on the ground in short left field.

Uh, that's not short left.  Houston, we have a problem.  
I returned to the field twice over the course of the day with my fishing line rescue rig, but both times I found cars parked just under the tree where I'd be throwing.  I've got a lot of confidence in my arm.  Others don't share in my confidence.  The last trip was just before dark, and when I woke up today it was raining.  Things don't look good for the AMRAAM. 

Next up was the Ebay Cutlass.  As with the Fury, all this one needed when it arrived was a new shock cord and a name.  I dragged out my elastic and my list and took care of both in short order.  The Cutlass is a minimum diameter bird with little more than an engine block, fins and a nose cone.  The matte black and neon orange paint scheme reminded me of a lot of my own scratch builds, missing only a swath of white.  Oddly enough, it has two lead weights attached under the nose cone, which seems like overkill on a long rocket with fins as large as this one.  This was the only shot I got of the flight as the camera became tempermental at liftoff.  It was an A8-3 flight, straight up to 200', then a rapid return via streamer for a near core sample.  With the heavily leaded nose this one might fly with a chute from now on.

Final flight of the day was the obligatory Semroc flight, the Cherokee C on an A8-3.  I thought this was a first timer, but when I went to enter the flight at I found that I'd previously flown it here in bare balsa back in 2013.  This time it was painted.  Maybe next time it will be in full livery.

The flight was exactly the same as the LOC Precision Iris Mini.  Those small birds on an A8-3 were made for fields like this one.  Fairly high flight for conditions, but recovered nicely on the infield, well away from any danger.  After recovering the Cherokee C I decided to make my break for it as the after school crowds were gathering and my parking spot was much sought after.  Next weekend is the TORC regional in Dayton, Ohio.  This will hopefully be my first trip to the new field on Rip Rap Road.  It's G capable, so I'll have quite the lineup of birds that I can't fly at B6-4 Field including the Mega Red Max and Leviathan.  Yeah, I'm looking forward to it.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Just not my day.

Heck, not my weekend.  I had a chance to fly on the big field yesterday, a perfect launch day with light breezes and shirtsleeve temps.  The dream started to sour when we got a 2:00 am call from our daughter, the kind no parent wants.  She'd been getting out of her car in front of her house and one of the local d-bags came flying around the curve and took her door off.  Hit and run, which is what you expect anymore.  In the last month we've gone from a five car family to a two car family, and with four drivers that is going to leave someone out in the cold.  In all honesty, I could have gone and picked up my car that my son had taken to work, but with all the drama my chances of not feeling guilt-ridden were at zero.  To add to the frustration, all of my small field launch stuff was in the trunk of my car, something I didn't think about until 1:00 pm.  With 4:00 pm dinner reservations I decided to throw in the towel.
Today looked almost as good from a weather standpoint.  Blue skies, warm temps, a bit more of a breeze, but still well below the cut-off for flight ops at B6-4 Field, so I headed up to the field, not thinking to check the motor stash in the trunk.  When will I learn?  When will I learn?

So, I get to the field with two A8-3s, one 1/4A, and no 1/2As.  I have three Hobby Lobby clearance flight packs of 1/2A motors in the basement.  B6-4s out the ying-yang, and even a couple of C6-3s that I tossed in just in case I got the nerve to try the Estes Star Wars Darth Vader Tie Fighter.  Clearly I need to make a motor run this week.

Making do with what I had in the box, I went with an A8-3 for the first flight of the Quest Apollo.

When will I learn?  In my defense it felt pretty light, but apparently all that plastic makes it pudgy.  After two failed ignitions due to the new Estes "starters", I finally got the rocket off the pad.  Straight up flight, straight down recovery, with the parachute not inflating until it was almost at eye level.

Woo-hoo!  Closest to the pad, though.

As you can tell by the lack of any lift-off shots, I'm still having issues with my arsenal of cameras, specifically the Sony.  The lack of recovery shots is because the whole flight was finished before I could even think about getting the big unit powered up.  

Second flight was the Goonybird Star Snoop on a B6-4.  Yep.  I said B6-4.  I'd flown one of my 18mm Goonys last year and thought the A8-3 delivered kind of a wuss flight, and I wanted some drama.  

Oh, yeah.  That was my Semroc Saki that needed a B6-4, not one of the Baby Bertha Goons.  The Star Snoop left the pad like the mythical scalded dog.  

(Note the perfect Star Snoop shadow below the launch pad.)

Light windcocking to the south, but at ejection it immediately caught a breeze, headed across US 27 and started drifting north.  It initially looked like it might land in the driveway of the apartment building, but it crossed back over the road and landed just at the edge of the parking area for the HHS softball complex.

Like I said, JUST at the edge.  Another five feet and we start talking about a tree rescue.  

Next came the first flight of the Centuri Akela-1, a rocket generously sent to me by Earl Cagle following a post at YORF.  I've had it done for quite a while, but today was the first time I thought to take it to the field with me.

While the bulk of the rocket is original, I printed off the decals using my inkjet printer.  They're not quite up to the standard of Gordon's work at Excelsior, but not bad.  I went with the traditional colors of the Cub Scouts as this was a rocket produced specifically for the Boy Scouts of America.  They occasionally turn up on Ebay and Earl apparently picked up one of the bulk packs.  I felt very fortunate to be one of those chosen to receive one.  The A8-3 flight was a prototypical B6-4 Field flight.  High for an A and fairly straight, with an ejection at apogee and a right field recovery, which also allowed me to recover an errant foul ball for the Knothole team.  Recovery was handled by twin Mylar streamers, which I have been saving as they come off of UPS packages at work.  They're too short for most birds, but perfect for smaller ones like this one.  The Mylar is nicely reflective and shows up nicely on sunny days like today.  No launch shots.  The camera decided it was too tired.

Although it wasn't planned as such, the FRW Rogue Mini became the last flight of the day.  

First flight had been on my previous trip to the field and a fin had hooked under the standoff, resulting in a 0' flight.  I made sure nothing was hung up for this flight, my last 1/2A.

Apparently the camera felt like this flight was worth photographing.  It immediately headed across the infield at liftoff, topping out around 200'.  At ejection I initially tracked the expended motor casing, but quickly realized my error and found the Rogue drifting lazily toward 2nd base on the Mylar streamer.  Recovered with no damage. 
I was out of As, out of any suitable mini engines, and the breeze was picking up.  I thought about going home to get the box of 1/2As, but that would have meant taking everything apart and setting it all back up again.  I opted to go home and reorganize my small field flight boxes so that I wouldn't find myself in this position again.  Hopefully.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Flyin' with the April Fool

Wednesday, April 1 looked like it would be the last nice day before the April Showers took control of the B6-4 Field weather system. It was also the middle of the spring break week for the city schools, so I knew the field would more than likely be empty. With that in mind I spent a half hour making sure I had everything necessary for a quick launch, loaded the car, and headed for the field. When I returned ten minutes later to pick up the RANGE BOX that had the LAUNCH PAD and LAUNCHER, I decided that in the future I'd need some sort of checklist. (Shakes head sadly knowing there will be no checklist.)

As expected, I had the run of the field, and unlike Tuesday, winds were light enough to be negligible. I set up in deep in the hole at shortstop, more outfield than infield. The flag over the Highlands girls softball field fluttered harmlessly. I'd chosen wisely. It's a well known fact that April 1st is the birthday of rocket deity Don Magness, head nut at Squirrel Works Rocketry. In Don's honor I'd decided to make my recently repaired Squirrel Works Red Baron the first rocket off the pad. Having actually checked to see that I had a B4-2 in the range box, and having just as recently trimmed the Baron for flight after a rebuild, I expected a memorable flight. Memorable. Yeah, we'll go with that.

The plan was to get the shakedown flight in, then go home and touch up the paint from the recent repairs, and finally add the decals. I was pumped. The B4-2 fit into the engine tube without tape, which I took as a good sign. Clearly I had done something right. I loaded the Baron on the pad, hooked up the clips to a new Estes "starter", took the obligatory glamour shot, checked the camera for burst mode, and pressed the button. The burst mode rang off ten quick shots while the Baron sat on the pad. Bad "starter". Luckily I still had a decent stash of old school igniters and I replaced the now dead "starter" with one.

Camera at the ready I pushed the two buttons simultaneously. The Baron leapt off the pad and suddenly the launcher was ripped from my hands. I watched helplessly as the Baron did a St. Louis Arch off to my right, trailing my launcher. Fifty feet to my right the whole parade nosed in under power, exploding in a shower of bright red balsa. Clearly I wouldn't be applying decals any time soon. Meanwhile at the crater, I had to dig the nose cone and engine tube out of the soft earth behind third base. The remains reminded me of Loopy's pasture pizza at the 2007 NSL. Not sure if there will be another shake down flight in the Baron's future.

Second flight on the day is a project that I just can't seem to leave alone. Ever since I first saw one at VOA a few years ago, I wanted to build a corkscrew rocket of my own.  So last year I finished a roll of masking tape and decided it would be a good starting point for the Screw Loose.  Four flights later it decorates one of the B6-4 Field trees.

I named this one Buffalo Wings and Rings because that was where we were eating dinner after the Fool's Launch.  It made me laugh at the time, but I've grown up since then.  

Buffalo Wings and Rings flew on an A8-3.  It has a shorter body tube than the Screw Loose because that was what was laying around unused in my work space.  The nose cone is weighted and the ring fin strengthened, both lessons I learned the first time around.  

As a shakedown flight it was okay.  It corkscrewed at first, but eventually the back end corked too much and the whole flight was screwed.  Ejection occurred just after the thrashing had started and the whole mess recovered in straightaway center field.  Nose weight before the second flight, and if that doesn't work it might be that the body tube is too short.  Such is the life of shop scrap birds.

Back in the aughts, Estes brought out a series of kits based on rockets that were competing for the Ansari X-Prize.  I bought a bunch of them, but they weren't exactly the stuff that fine scale dreams were made of, and none of them got built for a long time.  I found the Gauchito last year during the early stages of my current "build what ya got" frenzy.  It was always the one I was most drawn to because it was obviously patterned off of the Little Joe II, so I built it and eventually flew it.  It was stable and performed very well for a kit I'd never really been impressed with previously.   Around the same time I built the Lucky Seven, a really cheesy plastic rocket with no traditional body tube and afterthought plastic fins.  I think it took me 30 minutes.  The idea of flying it had never occurred to me until the Fool's Launch, which was fitting in a way.  

I was prepared to be unimpressed.  With the limited space inside the body and the soft, wet landing area, I decided to just let it fall using nose-blow recovery.  I used an A3-4T because the rocket seems like something of a pig for a mini engine.

The flight was delayed due to another bad "starter".  After all the bleak thoughts I should have figured that it would be one of the better flights on the day.  The flight was arrow straight and quite a bit higher than expected.  The cobbled together recovery system worked perfectly, not at all strained by an ejection charge that sounded quite enthusiastic from ground zero.  The Lucky Seven recovered in fair territory along the right field line.  Recovery was slightly muddy as the somewhat heavy plastic pieces hit with a splut.  I had to shake my head.  Never thought these would be worthwhile flyers.  Definitely a candidate for the "All-Mini" launch that has sounded like a good idea for a while.

The next flight was the Estes Mini Fat Boy that recently came out of the paint booth.  It would be painted AND decaled, but I'm a little fuzzy on where I last saw the decal for it.  (Insert embarrassed smilie here.)

Once again, a failed "starter".  This seems like it will be a theme in 2015.

Flight was on another A3-4T and was quite the laugher.  Don't get me wrong, the flight was perfect, straight up with ejection occurring just as forward momentum stopped.  The A3-4T gets this rocket up there nicely.  I had a 12" chute with a spill hole and the complete absence of a breeze meant that it recovered almost straight down, heading right for me.  I moved left.  It stayed with me like a Heatseeker missile.  Through all of this I was waiting for the camera to recycle the images so I could catch the impending assault on "film".  Never happened.  After my last jig to the right the Mini Fat Boy landed right on top of me with the shock cord draped over the bill of my baseball cap.  It didn't stay in place long enough for a selfie, and I didn't have the 30 minutes that would have probably been necessary to figure out how to do a selfie, so I settled for a landing shot.

Keep in mind that this was taken AFTER I'd taken a couple of steps back to get all of the rocket in the picture.

The next mini on the pad was the Estes Star Trooper.  This one is a puzzler.  It's an old Centuri design and I have an original kit that I got for cheap on an Ebay auction.  It was open, so I scanned it for inclusion at YORP, but I never felt the urge to actually build it.

I also never understood how it was chosen as a "bring-back".  If the whole Estes and Centuri universe had been opened up for "bring-back" voting, the Star Trooper would have likely finished near the bottom.  The Centuri name might have earned it a few votes over generic old Estes birds like the Sparrow or the Blazer, but that might have been it.  But, it was "brung-back", and Hobby Lobby stocked their shelves with it, so I bought one.  I never expected to actually build it, but here it is on the pad.  I never actually expected to fly it, but here's a liftoff shot.  Uh, no.  I missed the liftoff shot.  But I did pull it down and replace the "starter".  (Insert MAD smilie here.)  The flight was on my lone remaining 1/4A3-4T, and being of the 1/4A variety, I wasn't expecting it to go terribly high, so I was surprised when it topped out around 200' to 250'.  The real shock was the ejection charge.  It sounded like a firecracker had gone off just over my head.  I saw the event, but nothing after that.  There was a light breeze blowing toward right field, and I instinctively looked that way hoping to see the flash of the Mylar streamer.  Nothing.  I'd had this happen in the past, so I went looking in that direction, holding out very little hope of finding anything.  That said, I walked right up to it.

A pretty little metallic flower bloomed in the mucky area of right field.  No sign of the yellow nose cone, Kevlar or elastic shock cord, or shiny Mylar streamer.  I did get a legitimate core sample out of it.  I have more BNC-5 nose cones downstairs, so this one will fly again.  I might even go up and walk the field in the next few days.  It couldn't have gone far.  Then again, judging by the sound, I might be just as well served to start looking on S. Ft. Thomas Avenue.  Or on the roof of the school

My next victim was a slightly modified version of the Semroc Triton.  I bought the Triton because it had been one of the original Semroc kits back in the first incarnation of the company.  I built it around the time of the first flight of the Semroc Lil Hercules, which I had flown on an A8-3, the ejection charge of which blew it into the ether.  I searched the whole field for a sign of the Lil Hercules that day and came up empty until I went to the end of our neighborhood to see if the Estes Amazon I'd treed was going to be recoverable.

I came up empty on the Amazon, but when I turned around I saw the Lil Hercules sitting in the middle of the tennis court, a fin broken off, but otherwise unscathed.  In the above picture, the white house at left center sits about 150' to the left of the tennis courts.  Granted, I was flying slightly deeper in the outfield that day, but the distance here is right around the 100 yard mark.  That was via ejection charge, which I know because the ejection happened directly above me.

So anyway, back to the Triton.  The Lil Hercules and the Triton were very similar in size, so when I built the Triton I went the mini engine route, just hoping to get it back.

I'd also painted it neon orange, hoping to boost my chances of recovery.  That wound up looking a bit dull, so I added some metallic blue to give it a gross University of Florida scheme.  This was the first rocket I painted that had some of the paint lift when I pulled the masking tape, and the close-up view is pretty grim.  Still, it was a REAL Semroc bird, a Semroc clone of a Semroc original, and I wanted to fly it at least once.  No launch shot again.  I think I'm on the verge of camera shopping again.  This one is developing a mind of its own that I don't particularly care for.  Flight was on a 1/2A3-2T, and of decent height, but not over the field, which is exactly what I hoped for.  I heard the ejection, another boomer, but couldn't follow the Triton after it ejected.  I did hear something hit over in the direction of Woodfill Avenue, so that was where I headed to start the search.

I missed it at first, and headed up to check the school parking lot.  Nothing there either, so I headed back to the field from the opposite end of the parking lot.  As I stepped onto the sidewalk I saw a flash or orange off to my left.  Turns out the Triton had landed in the street, but had been angled so that all you could see was the dark fins and nose cone when you looked at it from straight on.  Three cars had driven over it while I was looking, and two more passed when I was walking to it and taking the picture.  Apparently Triton stands for lucky.

Okay, so maybe not so lucky.  The Florida colors won't matter much now.

Still sticking to the mini engine theme, the next flight was the freshly painted New Way Check It.

This rocket had languished in primer for quite a while because I couldn't find a satisfactory yellow.  A couple of weeks ago I had stopped in a Tractor Supply company hoping to find some Persian Orange paint.  I struck out on the Allis-Chalmers color, but I did find school bus yellow.  Something about that appealed to me.

The Check It flew on an A10-3T because it's fairly heavy, and while the A10 took it to a respectable height, I immediately noticed something different at ejection.  While the 1/4 and 1/2A ejection charges had had a sniper-like crack to them, the A10 ejection charge sounded like a thud.  This thought was reinforced when it fell to the ground in a flat spin because the parachute had not been ejected from the body tube.

This is exactly how it landed.  The chute had just begun to pull out before it hit the ground.  Dog barf was just enough to take the brunt of the ejection charge.  The shock cord was of normal length, and the parachute wound tight enough that it would have fallen out if the rocket had been turned upside down.  This was just another end of the Estes ejection spectrum.  I think in the future I'm going to invest in A3-4T motors as it was the only one that performed correctly for me on this day.

The Estes AstroSat LSX flew next, the only bird of the day that flew on a B6-4 engine at B6-4 Field.

The AstroSat is a long suffering member of my fleet, a rocket that for years I looked at with disdain because of its semi-RTF roots.  I had originally bought it on the cheap and cannibalized the nose cone to replace a favorite scratch-build that I lost here about fourteen years ago.  The rest of the rocket sat in a box until I wanted to build something bad enough to hunt up a nose cone for it.  I found that the cockpit cone from a Sunward kit was a perfect match and fit the original concept of the rocket.  I flew it as a wind bird for a long time, and it turned in good flights every time, especially on fields like this one.  For the last few years I've flown it here on B6-4 in its original, beaten and bruised form, but I recently found the decals and decided that it needed an upgrade.  I primed it, painted it gloss white, and finally applied the stickers, which look pretty good despite their stickerhood.

The flight today was pretty standard.  An almost straight up flight, followed by a slowly drifting recovery.  The chute is one of the last of a great batch of homemade checkerboard parachutes that I bought off of Ebay years ago and it looks great bringing the larger rockets in.  An impressive pairing, time after time.

The next bird ties into my previous post about Canaroc cloning.  The Canaroc FK-3 was an impressively quick build and will hopefully be painted and decaled the next time it flies, but I wanted to fly as many new birds as possible today, and it was flightworthy and fit the bill.

This would be an A8-3 flight because of the small stature of the rocket and the plethora of trees, but I think I could have gotten away with a B6-4.  Maybe the next calm day.

What made this flight interesting was not the flight, which was prefect and surprisingly high, but what happened at ejection, which happened almost directly overhead.  It was immediately obvious that some sort of seperation had taken place, as the rocket and chute drifted off toward the outfield and something white fell toward the pad area.  "Nose cone" was my first thought, but I realized that in that instance it's usually the cone that floats off on the chute while the body freefalls.  I clearly had something backwards.  It was about them that I realized what had happened.  The PNC-50Y is a two piece nose cone that had been a shop scrap.  I used it without checking to see if it was glued together.

It wasn't.  Both pieces recovered without incident, so I got a good laugh at my own expense, which is good, because I rarely get mad and kick my own butt.

Flight #10 was another first flight bird that I think turned out extremely well, the Quest Evader Cruise Missile.  It had an oddball paint scheme and an orange and black nose cone.  (Three pieces!  All of which were securely glued before the flight.  Yeah, I checked.)

I'm never impressed with sticker decals, and in this case I felt justified in not applying them.  The adhesive felt weak and they felt thick and clumsy.  I have enough thick and clumsy in my life, so I scanned them and intended to print them out as waterslides.  I will eventually. 

The A8-3 flight was of decent altitude, with only a trace of a wiggle.  Not a big deal as I expected as much with the small finlets toward the front.  The Evader recovered in left center and I considered making it the last flight as dinnertime was approaching.  Mmmm.  Wings. 

In the end I decided to go with one last flight, the BT-5 Estes Rogue downscale. 

I bought the parts for this project last year after I built a BT-50 Rogue out of the remains of my Estes Skywriter, which gave me Rogues in BT-20, BT-50, BT-55 and BT-60.  I picked up a nose cone from Semroc that would give me the correct profile, and before I could get started on the project, I lost interest in things rockety.  By the time my interest returned I'd misplaced the nose cone.  I knew it would turn up eventually, so I went ahead with the body, and sure enough, the cone turned up in a bag in the trunk of my car, happily undamaged through the winter. 

The Rogue Mini is nose blow recovery, so I figured a 1/2A would be doable as it couldn't blow it too far at ejection with the nose and shock cords trailing.  It sounded good.  Good enough to convince me.  I guess we'll know the next time I try it.

First I should mention that I had another "starter" incident, which caused me to have to take the rocket off the pad and replace the igniter.  Apparently when I reloaded the rocket on the rod, I got a fin hooked into the standoff when I was attaching the clips.  The rocket rose a fraction of an inch, then just blasted away at the deflector, which deflected just as it was supposed to.  The finale was the firing of the expended casing into the deflector, which brought a great round of applause from the galleries.  Or maybe it was just a loud laugh from me.