Sunday, 8 July 2007

Nozzle and end closure design breakthrough

A series of design variants for securing the nozzle and end closures were discussed at an ad-hoc Chimera meeting between the two project leaders, Howard Smith and Mark Field, on July 7th at PARS HQ. The design variants are available to see in the Chimera Notebook - Closure page.

At this meeting, Design Option #6 was viewed as promising, avoiding large size (38mm) inside or outside threading or the use of circlips. At the same meeting, it was decided that the two core challenges from now on were the Nozzle Design and Injector Design. The focus of work in Chimera will now be upon these two design challenges, as well as experiements in machining plastic rod for reloads. (The idea of using home made reloads with a commercial rocket motor was mooted)

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Chimera orders Plastic Rod for fuel reload

The Chimera project has ordered a batch of eight plastic rods, 500mm in length, and in different materials and thicknesss (30mm, 32mm and 35mm). We need a plastic material that is easy to drill clean holes in, and easy to machine. Acetal Resin is good for machining, but unheard of as a hybrid fuel rod. Why is this?

Other materials we have ordered include PVC, PE (polypropylene), HDPE (high density polyethylene) and UHMWPE (ultra high molecular weight polyethylene).

PVC and PE are used in SkyRipperSystems commercial Hybrid motors. HDPE has been used in hybrid design. UHMWPE might offers advantages of more material being ejected, and therefore higher thrust. Presumably, this is all to do with the density of the plastic. Some of these plastics may be very difficult to machine or drill. This is why Chimera will be doing some experiments.

Saturday, 16 June 2007

First Materials for Chimera arrive in Post

Great excitement. The first materials for the Chimera bench test motor, B0, arrived in the post on Friday. The project team are now the proud owners of two 600mm lengths of 38mm 6082 alloy type T6 temper Aluminium motor tube (3.2mm walls) and two solid Aluminium rod lengths 1.5inch and 2inch round, for making the end enclosures. This material was found at low cost on eBay, and appears to be of really good quality.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Chimera buys Aluminium for B0 Case

Found some cheap aluminium tubing offcuts on ebay last night. The alloy is 6082, stronger than Pro38 cases, 1.5in 38.1mm OD (outside diameter) with 3.2mm walls. This is easily thick enough to withstand the required pressure, and with just under 32mm ID (inside diameter) it is likely we will be able to find a fitting plastic, or skim 32mm plastic rod. It was a good find, and so I went ahead and purchased. Also bought some solid rod for end closures. The eShop, Ringwood Precision Engineering do a range of stuff that is likely to be useful in the future. Even if this material is only used for some lathe/machining practice, it will be worthwhile.

Monday, 11 June 2007

The Hunt for Suppliers

I would welcome comments of the team on the following issue:

Everything about a hybrid motor can be made, but we cannot make anything unless we have materials. The main two materials needed are aluminum for the case and plastic for the reload. It is proving very hard to find the right sizes of materials. Why?

1. There are lots of people who will supply aluminum tubing, but very few in the right alloy, right temper, right outside diameter, and right wall thickness. And they will only make tubing to our size requirements if we buy hundreds of meters (literally).

2. There are lots of people who will supply various kinds of plastic rod or tubing, but not in the right diameter (to fit in the case exactly) and with the right wall thickness for the burn. And they will only make tubing to size if we buy hundreds of meters (literally).

I've found some suppliers that can supply small quantities, even having quite a range of sizes, but, as yet, no match - nothing fits exactly.

You see, while I think we make make values, end closures and much else, we cannot machine four feet of aluminum tube to a specific outside diameter, let alone an inside diameter. And I don't believe we can take plastic rod and reduce its thickness, nor can we drill the large hole in it for the gas to pass through. The plastic will likely buckle. Even if we did manage it, we don't want to have to do this for every reload we make. What we want, is a reliable source of the fuel, and then build the motor and values etc., to fit that.

So... as far as I can see the main Chimera challenge now is to get a reliable source of these two materials, in the right specifications, in the right sizes. It's a hunt for suppliers.

Any comments?

Monday, 4 June 2007

Nitrous is the only way to go

Lately, I've been reviewing some of the videos of so-called hybrid motors tested on YouTube, and most of them appear to be using oxygen directly, not nitrous oxide. It is very easy to build a test motor on oxygen for bench test, and really does not require any complex skills as far as I can see. And oxyogen is completely inpractical for an actual motor. Far too dangerous.

So, for Chimera projects we shall be focussing on nitrous oxide (otherwise known as laughing gas or NOS). This is not to be confused with NOX which is a generic term for any single nitrogen atom molecule oxide. NOS got its name from the company that first made nitrous oxide for boosting internal combustion engines.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Hybrid Design Manual

Just a short note to say that I've ordered a copy of the Hybrid Design Manual. This is only available from the legendary rocket supply shop in the USA, Aeroconsystems :

The introduction to Hybrid Technology is written by Bill Colburn, the Co-Inventor of the Urbanski-Colburn Valve for simplified hybrid motor construction. Bill also designed, constructed and tested the first Hypergolic Hybrid Motor in June of 1951.

Bill also built the first N2O Hybrid motor using 2 inch tanks (laboratory demonstration tanks), the fore-runner of the consumer High Power Rocket Motors now supplied by both Aerotech and Hypertech. Bill wrote the first Hybrid Propulsion Manual aimed at the field of Experimental Rocketry. This re-written manual is included as part of the SORAC Hybrid Manual.

Friday, 1 June 2007

Material for Chimera B0

Chimera is in the process of selecting the material, and supplier, for the main motor tube. The type of aluminium alloy, as well as its wall thickness is important. The tube must withstand great pressure. The problem is complex, for ideally we would like to make a 38mm motor, to fit standard motor tubes and retainers. If the walls are, say, 2mm thick, then the inside diameter is 34mm. The problem is, such a size is very rare, or impossible, to find for the plastic rod for reload/fuel.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Project Phases and Names

Chimera will be developed via a series of phases. They are:

Phase 1 - Research
Phase 2 - Chimera B0 (bench motor)
Phase 3 - Chimera X1 (flight motor)

Ceseroni (Pro38) have acquired Hypertek hybrids

Cesaroni Technology Incorporated (CTI) is announcing that it is now manufacturing and distributing the HyperTEK® Hybrid Propulsion System under license from Spacetek, Inc. HyperTEK® is a modular, hybrid propellant rocket motor system that uses readily available nitrous oxide (N2O) and thermoplastic fuel grains. Designed primarily for use in launching small experimental payloads by universities, colleges, research institutes and sport rocketry enthusiasts, the system is also intended to be a technology demonstrator for CTI's and eAc's hybrid propulsion technology.

Extensive research and development by CTI and eAc has yielded a high tech, low cost rocket motor alternative to the current solid propellant rocket motor. Hybrid motors have several safety advantages over solids. The fuel and oxidizer are isolated from each other until just before ignition, thus eliminating the requirement for a low explosive permit during transportation and storage of rocket motors. HyperTEK® hybrid propulsion system uses a remote fill/fire launch system as well as 100% pyrotechnic free ignition system.

HyperTEK® flight motors consist of three major parts: the oxidizer tank, the injector bell and the fuel grain. The fuel grain is molded from thermoplastic and has an insert-molded silica/phenolic nozzle. This monolithic grain functions as both the fuel and the combustion chamber. Complicated assembly of a reloadable system has been eliminated by incorporating the fuel, nozzle and motor case into one injection molded component. The fuel grain simply screws onto the injector bell prior to flight and the spent fuel grain is unscrewed and disposed of after each flight. J and Original L motors include an injector bell with field interchangeable injector orifices for tailoring the time/thrust profile to the needs of the rocket. Potential applications include small sounding rockets, RATO boosters and more.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Welcome Team

Welcome Team. This is a BLOG that we can use to discuss Project Chimera.

Project Chimera has its own BLOG, this BLOG, but it also has a Zoho Notebook project space, which includes many notebook pages. These pages will expand, and cover different aspects of the design and the project. Over time, I'll be sharing these pages with you so that you can participate. Right now, the most important page is the Design Issues Log (a Google Spreadsheet) and the Research Links (

Chimera Zoho Project Notebook
Chimera Design Issues Log
Chimera Document Library

You will need a Zoho Account (free) and a Google Account (free) in order to use the Chimera pages and tools. And I recommend getting your own page.

Inception of Project Chimera

PARS has begun the initial research phase of Project Chimera, code name for hybrid.

Chimera is an attempt, by PARS, to design, build, test and fly, a hybrid rocket rocket motor. It could take years. The first step is some serious learning and research.

The most common hybrid configuration is a rocket engine composed of an inert solid oxidising propellant (for example a plastic) lining a combustion chamber into which an inert gaseous propellant (for example NOX) is injected so as to undergo a strong exothermic reaction to produce hot gas that is emitted through a De Laval nozzle for propulsive purposes. Designing and building such a rocket is non trivial.

The workshop facilities at local schools attended by PARS members will be enlisted in the effort should we get to Build Phase. A skilled machinist is a prerequisite. And while hybrid motors are considered "safer" than solid motors, there are still many important safety considerations to take into account.

/Project Inception May 2007
/Current Phase: Research