Category Archives: Videos

The YouBee’s Last Flight

I launched my YouBee, a 12-foot tall upscale of the Odd’l Rocket’s Break Away rocket, on a CTI L1115 motor at NEFAR’s Bunnell Blast on November 9.

The rocket reached about 5000 feet in altitude.

Unfortunately, the main parachute deployed at apogee. The rocket was designed to break apart, like the Break Away, then fall in a “Wacky Wiggler” style for a few thousand feet before the parachute opens.  Instead, the 10-foot Top Flight parachute came out at apogee which caused the rocket to drift about two miles before landing in some tree tops.

YouBee in a TreeThe rocket spent almost six weeks in the wild before a couple of local hunters found it and returned it to me.

YouBee in an ATVAt first I was pleased with how good the rocket looked after spending weeks outdoors including days of very heavy rain.

I left the rocket in the garage to dry out for several weeks before I finally got around to taking a closer look at it.  When I did, I discovered that the wetness had dissolved the glue holding the layers of paper together in the cardboard tubes.  The tubes can be easily unraveled, peeled open like the wrapper around a can of Pillsbury refrigerator biscuits.

YouBee RecoveredWhen I opened the electronics bay, I found that the inside was still very wet.  I removed the battery. The clips in the battery holder snapped off.  They had rusted through.  I wiped off the altimeter then set it aside to dry.  When it was dry, I hooked up a new battery to it, but it wouldn’t turn on,

I was able to remove the tube from the fin section leaving the fin can intact.  That’ll give me a head start when I decide to rebuild the YouBee.

But, I’m going to retire the YouBee, at least for now.  Instead, I’ve decided to build a 4″ diameter upscale of the Break Away which should end up about eight feet tall.  It’ll be easier to prep and launch than the big one and will fly on smaller, less expensive motors.  Eventually, though, I may decide to rebuild the YouBee.


Hobby Rockets (A Lot of Them) Featured in Superbowl Commercial

Mountain Dew Kickstart CommercialMountain Dew advertised their “Kickstart” flavors of soda during the 2014 Super Bowl in a commercial featuring a spectacular night launch of 400 model rockets at one time.

The Commercial

The rockets are meant to be a “metaphor for getting you up for the night” according to Greg Lyons, Mountain Dew’s Vice-President,

Created by the ad agency BBDO and filmed near Palmdale, California, over two nights in November of 2013, the commercial shows approximately 400 model rockets launched within a period of about 1.5 seconds. No computer graphics (CGI) were used in the commercial. Small fireworks were added to the standard model rockets to create the sparks seen in the video.

Behind the Scenes

The filmmakers actually performed the massive launch twice, attaching small video cameras to some of the rockets to capture the unique angles shown in the finished commercial.

Mountain Dew Commercial

After the Super Bowl, the commercial aired nationally.

The commercial features the song Repetition by The Willowz.

Photographing the December, 2013, NEFAR Launch From the Air

NEFAR Launch

Saturday’s NEFAR launch was plagued with high winds most of the day. I didn’t have any rockets ready to fly, but looked forward to capturing still photos and videos of the launches using my Phantom 2 Vision quadcopter. Unfortunately, the day began with high winds, gusting to 25 mph.  Together with the overcast skies, this limited the number of people who showed up for the launch and the number of rockets they flew.

The high winds made me nervous about flying the helicopter, so I started off slow. I powered up the ‘copter and flew it up to about 25 feet in altitude. I let it hover in place as was amazed at how well it help position in spite of the strong and variable wind.

Having built up some confidence, I flew the helicopter out into the range.  Because of the wind, I decided not to fly too low or too high. and I didn’t try to maneuver too much.  For the most part, I just put the helicopter in a position to record a launch and let it keep itself in place.

Between each rack of rockets launched, I landed and either let the helicopter idle to preserve battery life or I replaced the battery with one I had been charging. The wind made landings challenging. I tipped the Phantom on pretty much every landing and even flipped it completely over once. There was no damage to the Phantom, though.

After tipping the Phantom over on landing for about the twelfth time, I decided to practice landings for a few minutes.  I realized that I was using “CSC”  (moving the two control sticks simultaneously down and to the center) to force the motors to shut off immediately as I landed.  But, the Phantom was skewing a bit as the control sticks moved which was causing many of the tip-overs. When I shut the motors down by just holding the throttle down for a few seconds, the landings were more successful.

The stills and video I captured on Saturday aren’t as impressive as I had hoped.  The wind made the Phantom bounce around too much and few larger rockets were launched.  But, I managed to produce what I think is a pretty good video of the day’s fun.

My New Camera Takes Flight

Bracha gave me a new camera as a holiday gift.  It came attached to a helicopter.

DJI Phantom 2 VisionThe DJI Phantom 2 Vision is an almost-ready-to-fly quadcopter with an integrated camera. It includes a “First Person View” system for viewing what the camera sees and controlling the camera while the helicopter is in flight.

After Bracha gave me the gift, I took the quadcopter to a neighborhood schoolyard for some practice sessions. I found the ‘copter very easy and very fun to fly.

Neighborhood Aerial ShotI was pleased with the still images captured by the camera, but was concerned about the video which seemed shaky. The video also suffered from the extra-wide “fisheye” lens.

Phantom 2 Vision

On Saturday, I took the Phantom 2 to the ROCK launch just down the road from us in Oviedo.  It attracted some attention as I flew it out in the field and positioned it to capture stills and video of the launches.

December ROCK LaunchWhen I got home, I plugged the camera’s memory card into my computer then viewed the photos. I’m really pleased with a few of the stills, but I failed to capture the rockets in flight in most of the photos.  I need to learn when to click the button to take the photos.

I loaded the videos into Adobe Premiere then used the “Warp” filter to remove most of the vibrations and shakiness. It worked better than expected.  Then I edited the videos in Standard Definition (SD) rather than High Definition (HD).  This allowed me to crop the video and avoid most of the annoying fisheye effect.  I produced a short video and am happy with the result.