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Team America Rocketry Challenge
Introduction to Egg Lofting and the Team America Rocketry Challenge
Egg Lofting can become an art form when you start competing against others to see who can get an egg the highest, or stay aloft the longest. The Team America Rocketry Challenge is for kids in 7th through 12th grade and they compete for $60,000 worth of prizes and a chance at international competition. The goal of this lens is to share tips on how to compete in Egg Lofting Rocket Competitions. For teams that require support, check the National Association of Rocketry Website. Teams must have a registered successful flight within the qualification time period.
The 2012 TARC challenge is to design, build and fly a model rocket that reaches exactly 800 feet, stays aloft for between 43 and 47 seconds and returns the raw egg payload un-cracked. Registration is open from September 8 until November 30, 2011. Rocket weight 23 ounces. Egg weight 57-63 grams.
Students that become interested in Rocketry can then often start competing in the National Association of Rocketry regional competitions which also often include egg lofting events.
--Todd Member NAR
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For initial testing of an egg lofter, Wooden and ceramic eggs are available at most hobby stores and can make for less messy initial testing. The wooden egg can also have additional weight added to it to match the weight requirement. Egg lofting competitions usually require the egg to weigh with in a certain range.
Currently TARC specifies a Grade A Egg for 2011
Egg lofting competitions are often for altitude and the weight and aerodynamics of the rocket become very important.
The TARC competition specifies that the altitude of 750 feet must be achieved or else points are deducted depending how far under or over a flight reaches. An altimeter is required for the TARC competition.
A second egg lofting competition is for seeing how long you can keep you egg aloft. Timing starts as soon as the engine ignites. For a predicted duration event, test frequently and modify the rockets weight to reach the time objective.
The TARC competition requires the egg to be aloft for 40-45 seconds and points again are deducted based upon how far off a flight is from this target. Some tricks and technology exist to help with this objective such as dual deployment technologies or by modifying a parachute for faster decent.
Parachutes come in many sizes and designs. Sometimes competitors cut a hole out of the parachute to quicken the decent. This is a good trick but remember, your egg must survive the landing to be a qualified flight.
For larger rockets, using a dual deployment system where an additional parachute is deployed at a set altitude can help support a safe faster decent. Many competitors will cut a hole in the top of the parachute to prevent the egg capsule from swinging side to side on decent. Since the end of the egg is the strongest, this trick can often help improve the odds of not having the egg break.
Nose Cones / Egg Capsule
Many Vendors sell nose cones for either single or dual egg loft competitions.
The 2009 rule that the egg must be carried in a sideways orientation may require a larger nose cone if this is where the egg will be placed.
I have used the Paper Nose Cone Plan from this site to build an egglofter.
Rocket competitions often specify which engine size must be used but usually the B class is the lowest chosen given the weight of an egg.
The TARC Competition does not specify an engine class so participants can choose whatever they want. The choice will be made based upon your rocket's performance and the time and altitude requirement. Given only one egg needs to be launched, it should be less expensive for teams to compete.
I'll post what I have found works best after I start my testing.
Take your pick! I have built paper Vellum egg lofters to keep the rocket weight down. The diameter is often based upon the size of the egg capsule. I often use thin cardboard like from a calendar as shown in the picture to build the rocket body. The one in the picture used mylar tape to hold the body together then I dropped in a engine tube with a centering ring. The last step was to attach fins.
For TARC competitions, a larger nose cone might be needed to support the required sideways egg orientation for 2009. Additionally, the rocket must house an altimeter. I have seen the Big Daddy used for other egg lofting competitions because of its large nose cone.
Shock Cord & Elastic Cord
Kevlar Thread and elastic cord is used to reduce the strain from the ejection charge on the nose cone. If it is note done well it is possible that the nose cone will separate from the rocket and the flight be declared unsafe and disqualified. Another common trick is to use a slip knot and tie the kevlar threat around the engine. Place the thread all the way through the rocket then add the engine and tie the knot.
Remember to tie the kevlar to the elastic at multiple sections to get better shock performance. Stretch the elastic and measure at what point on the kevlar to tie to the stretched location.
Competitors often use launch towers to improve the performance of the flights. The tower removes the necessity of a launch lug on the rocket. Most towers support three fin rockets.
TARC teams often build their own towers to be familiar with how to use it and to understand the tower's contribution to the rockets performance.
Fins, number of, what type
Use a fin material which will have appropriate strength and allow for easier transport of the rocket. Balsa wood is used for competition rockets and fiberglass for larger models.
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If you are a TARC Team, please leave a message on the content or any suggestions you have.