2008 Space Derby
When we learned we would be running a Space Derby I wanted to make it more fun than the last Space Derby we attended (when he was a Tiger). The other Space Derby was not very organized and there was no actual racing. This means that the scouts went through a lot of work for 5 minutes of playing with the rockets on the line. We decided to use the Gran Prix Race Manager and race for points. I also decided I needed to build a winder that could wind 4 rockets, with a counter so all rockets racing would be wound the same number of times (to keep everything even).
Noah told me he had decided to make his rocket into a Star Wars - X-Wing Fighter (I was thinking something like an SR-71) but since Noah, and his mother are huge Star wars geeks we built an X-Wing Fighter. As usual we start with a drawing for the plan…
Noah came up with a very sleek looking X-Wing,
I showed him the drawing I had done of a blank space derby block showing the inside hollow area for the rubber band motors, and how we needed to make the rocket bigger to fit around the cavity. In the plans we tried to leave 1/8” around the cavity.
Once the basic plan was completed he sketched out the rocket on the block and I trimmed it using the band saw.
Then he used a potato peeler to shape the rocket more.
And then he sanded the rocket smooth.
We added the fins in a different way. They are also angled up to help with lift (not sure if this really helps). Then we had to find the perfect lightweight items for the thrust engines and the laser cannons (it is amazing how much a person can learn about Star Wars vehicles, surfing the internet). I stopped at many convenience stores, on my way home from work, to measure straws and coffee stirrers, until I found the perfect straws and stirrers (Icee straws are almost 5/16”). We trimmed, sanded (so paint would stick) and attached the thrust engines and laser cannons. After we determined where the hanger should be placed (by balancing the rocket with all the parts attached on a pencil), we determined the R2D2 was not going to be split in half and attached to either side of the hanger. Noah set out to make and detail the R2 unit. We found a small scrap of balsa and cut it round and then it was sanded into shape and painted.
Then we were ready for paint. I, as a casual observer, I thought the X-Wings were white, but I was informed they were light grey. As I have not seen much in light grey model paint I asked if light grey primer was an appropriate color. Noah, after seeing the spray paint top, thought it would be perfect.
After the paint dried overnight Noah set out to paint some details on the X-Wing. We taped off the lines on the canopy and he painted the windows of the canopy black. We mixed some custom gray paint to paint the back section and the sensor window on the front. Noah wanted to make some of the panels (lines) on the sides of the rocket. We used masking tape (to keep the lines straight) and an extra fine Sharpie. He then painted the red and orange on the top and sides, and the red on the top of the wings. We attached the R2D2 and gave the whole thing a coat of matte clear.
The night before the race I had planned to setup some fishing line out in the shop to test out the rocket, but I had to finish up the rocket winder and make a rack to hold the rockets, so that never happened. The morning of the races I was informed, by Noah that the X-Wing would not work in the new rack. When I inquired as to why it would not work he proceeded to show me. The wings stick up almost as far as the hanger so to hang the rocket you needed to flex them down. He was correct, I left work early to make an adapter for the X-Wing that would hold it a little lower (using a spare hanger and some wood). You can see it hanging in the rack with some of the other rockets.
The chain driven 4-rocket winder, with counter, worked flawlessly. Everyone wanted to know where we had gotten it from.
Noah’s rocket was the only rocket to make it to the end of the 40’ track 4 times - smack the end and fall off. Every time it raced the line judges would try to catch it.