SkyPirate Home Page Updated July 25, 2005 EVInteractive  
Projects Launch Reports FAQs Construction Tips Links  
Current Projects
Upscaled Quest Intruder 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
National Association of Rocketry Dallas Area Rocket Society

Hi, and welcome to my online diary on the construction of an upscaled Quest Intruder, I've named "The SkyPirate". This was my first custom project and things didn't always go as quickly or easily as planned. Experienced High Powered Rocketeers probably won't find anything new or miraculous here. Newbies and rocketeers embarking on their first custom project may learn from my experience. One word of warning, this page will be under heavy construction. History may periodically be revised to improve accuracy or to give credit where credit is due.

October 2001
Fire in Las Vegas

Aerotech, the major supplier of high powered rocket motors, factory burns to the ground. This left just about everyone wondering what would happen to the hobby. Almost every source of existing motors was quickly exhausted.

November 2001
Would you like that super-sized?

I thought it might be a good idea to focus on some small scale projects and picked up a Quest Intruder from the local MJDesigns. I fell in love with the design, but I just felt like it needed to be bigger. So I upscaled it to a BT-56 bodytube and a D motor mount (I also downscaled it to a BT-20). Well, the BT-56 upscale fueled the fires of inspiration and the desire to build some absurd scale version of the Intruder was born. My initial focus was on a 4 inch upscale, but I didn't think the wingspan would fit in the back of my car and I figured the fins would cost too much. I considered 3, 2.6 and 2 inch diameter versions and decided on the 3 inch.

Meanwhile, I'd never actually flown any of my other Intruders and I'd read some reviews citing unpredictable stability.

December 11, 2001
Anybody done this before?

I posted a thread on RMR asking if anyone had done an upscaled Quest Intruder. No responses, but my SPAM increased significantly.

December 13, 2001
Your ambition will create your obstacles

At the heart of the Intruder, is an exotic fin design. The position and alignment of the six fins was just as unusual, not conforming to a traditional hexagonal layout. For years, I'd seen several companies advertise that they offered custom G10 fin cutting services, but none them seemed at all enthusiastic about taking on this project. Jim Turner, owner of Trailing Edge Technologies, had never cut G10, but volunteered to try. I had heard a lot of stories about G10 ruining blades, machinery and health and I valued his friendship too much to accept his offer until I did a little more research.

December 30, 2001
Is a Confederate Flag the answer?

Well, no. But that was my first thought when Google provided a link to a Rebel Rocketry. As the Rebel Rocketry site came up, I realized this company wasn't in America. Vivid, stunning European landscapes with rockets in the foreground painted up on the screen. Rebel Rocketry ended up being based in the Netherlands. Frank DeBrouwer, the owner, was enthusiastic and the price was right. One minor issue would be the metric widths of the G10 fin stock. One major hurdle overcome.

Fokker Triplane   An all Dutch Project? There was something kind of cool about an "International" project and a trivial triple coincidence. My Dutch heritage, Jacob Vandergriff was captain of the Dutch trading ship Swol that settled in America in the 1600's. Add a Dutch rocket company and paint scheme based on the Red Baron's Fokker Triplane (while the Red Baron was German, airplane designer Anthony Fokker was Dutch).
January 3, 2002
Bomber Nose Art

If I was going to build the grandiose rocket that more closely resembled a plane, I wanted some cheesecake on the nose cone. My first thought was of Dave Stevens "Rainbow" from DNAgents, but this probably wasn't going to be a financially practical option, so I started surfing the net. Surfing and surfing and...

Upscaled Quest Intruder at lift off. Photo courtesy of Bill Gee.

January 19, 2002
One less thing to worry about

I finally flew the 1.346" diameter Intruder on an Estes D12-5. A very stable and rather dramatic looking flight.

However, the red paint looked a little toyish. So the larger version would definitely have an all metallic finish.

side by side comparison of the original Quest Intruder and the 3x upscale Intruder That's no optical illusion, the wingspan of the upscaled Intruder is greater than the length of the original model.



February 20, 2002
The fins and body tube arrive

The fins were clean and remarkably precise. Frank had done an excellent job.

I had spent a lot time in front of the computer screen designing it and setting yard sticks out trying to visualize it. But having the fins in hand, brought the dream one step closer to reality.

I put together orders for both Public Missiles and Giant Leap Rocketry for the other parts.

February 22, 2002
Finally, an artist!

After six weeks of searching, I found a great artist to create the female mascot for "The SkyPirate". Gary Ham seemed intrigued by the project and agreed to take it on.

Vent holes  

February 23, 2002
Vent holes
High power rockets can reach very high altitudes in a short amount of time. The resulting decrease in air pressure at these altitudes can actually cause a nose cone to pop off earlier than expected. The results are not pretty.

A pair of 1/8 inch vent holes were drilled in both the payload and booster sections of the rocket.

all of the parts before assembly  

March 9, 2002
Pre-assembly roll call
The majority of the rocket's individual pieces had arrived and it was time for a group photo.

From the back row forward:
Motor mount, centering rings and phenolic motor tube.

Booster airframe, PML Quantum Tube.

Payload section and nose cone.

Fins made of 2mm G10 fiber glass.

Fin beveling technique  

Sanding the fins
The goal of sanding the fiberglass fins is to provide a surface area that epoxy and paint can hold on to.

With the Intruder, there was more surface area and pieces than any rocket I had previously built. I went to Home Depot to pick up a couple of grades of sandpaper for my power sander. They had sold out of the coarse grade, so I settled for 100 grit. I also picked up some breathing masks and goggles. Fiberglass dust is not something you want in your eyes or lungs. I also wear latex gloves while sanding.

An hour and a half later, the flat areas of the fins were sanded, beveling the fins could wait a day.

Later that evening while watching TV, I sanded the outer surfaces of the PML Quantum tube using a 3M foam sanding pad.

March 10, 2002
Beveling and scoring the fins

Using the hand held power sander just wasn't going to produce anywhere near even bevels. My solution was to use an aluminum right angle and 80 grit adhesive sandpaper strips. Folding 80 grit sand paper didn't create a very crisp corner, so I resorted to butting two strips up to the corner. This worked much better. Both sides of the fin get sanded simultaneously and evenly. About an hour and half for the ten pieces.

To enhance the surface area the epoxy will wick into, I scored the tang at forty-five degree angles to the root edge. Then I drilled 1/8 inch divots half way into the tang, spaced about an inch apart.

Upscaled Quest Intruder previous  next

© 2002 SkyPirate
The SkyPirate - High Power Rocketry Main Page