After looking over the requirements for the first three levels of NARTREK, I, like so many other rocketeers, said "Hey, I've done all this!" Little gotchas in the requirement specifications, though, mean that I had to redo a lot of them. Bronze was especially niggling, requiring the use of existing kits for everything. The independent timing requirements are stinkers, too, for as I'd achieved these durations in competition and had documentation (and a few ribbons) for all of them, I'd forgotten who the timers were. More importantly, they'd probably forgotten, too, so getting a signature on the certification sheet was problematic.
On the other hand, persuing the first three NARTREK levels gave me the opportunity to do a few things I hadn't done before. My Black Brant VI, purpose-built for the sport scale event at the Midwest Model Rocket Regional, had never actually been judged, as I entered my scratch of the Grumman Rigel there instead. I'd always wanted to try and use wRASP's Digitrak feature for backing-out a drag coefficient from flight data, but thought that the effort to perform altitude tracking was too much and prone to sufficient error to give poor data. Only when I read the Gold Level requirements did it dawn on me that I could use my PerfectFlitemicroAlt 4600 altimeter to do this instead.
When I began, I needed to make nine more flights (if everything went well) to complete the first three levels, three independently-timed performance flights and six Gold Level efforts. I got the first six done in a single day, but the next day was too windy for the final three. I had to shoot the streamer duration flight twice and make four Gold flights due to bad data on one, but given the struggles I've seen other rocketeers go through for these levels, I felt very lucky. I had to wait two weeks to get the remaining Gold level flights in, and had to make four again, as one motor was obviously damaged during reignition.
Once they were completed, I turned in the first three levels together, requesting the PMC Advanced Level. George sent me my Bronze level, but said that he was holding the Silver and Gold ones until he'd had a chance to consult his "advisors" about the "overlaping dates on the Bronze and Silver flights." (See the considerate note he included with my Bronze award here with some personal info redacted.) About two weeks later I received the Silver and Gold levels dated one week apart as promised.
A few things included with the Bronze packet make the $5 per level a lot less painful, though. Along with a B/G article from Competition Rocketry, Estes' TR-6 Cluster Techniques, Peter Alway's Judging NAR Sport Scale, plans for a B/G, R/G, and the Astron Cobra, Ranger and Scrambler, are a set of Bronze logo self-adhesive stickers, water slide decals and a nicely sized embroidered patch, all shown here @ 150 dpi. (The Silver and Gold waterslides are the size of the stickers.) Now the rockets that earned me this level can carry the emblem of their achievement. Time to get a brag jacket!
60 Second Parachute - Completed: I used my purpose-built Quest Sprint for this requirement by switching the included streamer to a nine inch nylon 'chute. Duration was one minute, 51 seconds on a B6-6. Date: 10/5/02
30 Second Streamer - Completed: I used my purpose-built Quest Sprint for this requirement. Duration was 41 seconds on a B6-6. Date: 10/5/02
Two Stage - Completed: The first flight of my Custom Aztec satisfies this requirement, a B6-0 to an A8-5. Date: 3/30/02
D Motor - Completed: The most recent flight of my AeroTech Mustang on the new F21 Econojet satisfies this requirement. Date: 9/28/02
Payload - Completed: Either of the two altimeter flights of my Estes Python would satisfy this requirement, but I chose the E28 effort as I actually retrieved data from the altimeter and could supply a graph of the flight. Date: 6/23/02
Glide Recovery - Completed: My scratch-built Heron regularly achieves two minute durations on a B4 motor, and the worst she'd ever done up 'til this was about one minute. I flew her on the B6 for this requirement, achieving a duration of three minutes, 20 seconds in light thermals and winds. Date: 10/5/02
Cluster - Completed: The lowest power flight of my modified Estes Gemini DC on a A8-3 central motor and a pair of ½A3-2 outboards satisfies this requirement - I think. While it is an existing kit, I bashed it using an original scheme. We'll see . . . Date: 6/2/02
Scale Model - Completed: My scratch-built Black Brant VI still needed to be judged, but had completed a successful flight on a C6-5 (6/2/02). I chose this bird over my clone of the Centuri V-2 because its much better-looking, and my scratch of the Grumman Rigel because I've got real scale data for it. Score was 548 points out of 1,100. Not bad, for a sport scale bird. Date: 10/6/02
Completed: I used my Nike-X for this level. After a few modifications to the upper section, she now carries my altimeter to get me good data. Flights on the C6-5 with this payload only got to about 450 feet, but ejected after apogee, giving me good peak altitudes. (10/5/02) I back-tracked the drag coefficient using these altitudes and wRASP in Digitrak mode to get a 0.645, close enough to the predicted 0.562 to continue. I flew the D12-7 to 980 feet for the second data set; not as late, but still good enough to get more than a few samples at apogee. I captured the data from all four flights to confirm turn-over before ejection. Final empirical drag coefficient was 0.64 for all the flights. Date: 10/20/02
The Advanced Level Summary for each is provided in italics, and the PDF and text files of each level will be linked to when I receive and scan them. Please note that these are not the official documents, do not use them to turn in your advanced level. I have left off the NARTREK logo in each so they cannot be used for this, they are provided for reference only. Also note that the colored logos at left for the levels I haven't been awarded are my fanciful idea of what the patches for each level might look like, and are not the real thing.
Research & Development - Summary Received:
Design, document and complete a Research & Development project according to Pink Book criteria. Submit a detailed report.
I have a couple of good ideas for development projects, like non-pyrotechnic ejection charges, but not much in the way of pure research.
Ground Support - Summary Received:
Assemble and test ground support equipment in any two of the following catagories: Launchers, Launch Controls, and Trackers (theodolites). Submit a detailed report.
Build a model rocket or missile. Craftsmanship is the key criteria. Conduct and evaluation of the final display model. Prepare a detailed report.
Still some unanswered questions here; is this a non-flying model? Are kits and/or dioramas permitted? (A scale V-2 with the appropriate ground personnel and launch ring would be neat.)
Super Scale - Summary Received:
Build an accurate scale model of a rocket or missile as well as its launcher. No kits allowed. Record construction details, photographs, etc. Conduct and evaluation of your finished model and launcher. Fly and recover it. Prepare a detailed report.
Basically like the NAR competition event, which is "a model rocket that is a true scale model of an existing or historical guided missile, rocket vehicle, or space vehicle; and a launching complex that is a true scale model of the launching complex used by the prototype of the scale model rocket." Gack. I'll probably do something simple like Goddard's first liquid-fueled rocket. A half-scale version made with PVC pipe would be cool, no?
Build a commercially available plastic rocket/missile kit. Safely convert the model for rocket flight without significant changes to its appearance. Conduct and evaluation of the completed model. Prepare a detailed report.
Even if my Saturn V Payloader would have satisfied the requirements for this level, it certainly wouldn't have been in the spirit of the thing. Neither would've the PMC kits offered by QCR I should think. I did the simplest conversion I could find, the GlencoeJupiter C. Check out the other models I'd purchased to attempt this level here.
Radio Controlled Boost/Glider - Summary Received:
Build and fly an R/C glider. The flight tests will include 3 flights simulating an R/C contest event - try to match a predetermined duration and spot landing.
While still not successfully flown, I hope that my scratch-built Loon will satisfy some if not all of the requirements for this level. If not, I'll complete Trigger or my BOMARC.
Part 1 - Demonstrate witnessed duration flights in both a Standard Event (SD, ELD, HD, PD) and a Glider Event (B/G, flexi, R/G). The times are longer than for Bronze and Silver and vary with engine class. Part 2 - Participate in any NAR sanctioned competition and meet the minimum total point score (150 to 300 pts depending on the contest factor). Part 3 - Choose any 2 of the current U.S. Records for your member class and demonstrate witnessed flights exceeding 50% of the record.
I hope the score sheets from some of the cometitions I've participated in will count toward the requirements in Parts 1 and 2. For part three, there are a number of events with lower times in the E, F and G range, I'll do two of them. Who knows, I may even snag one for a short time.
Platinum - Not Developed:
While the current NARTREK is cool and all, no way it covers everything in rocketry. I plan on adding my own level for my club members that includes things like upscale/downscale, staged cluster, cloning and the like.