Completed gear housings and start of lander legs
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July 2011 Construction Report
Mars Lander Construction

The pieces of the Mars Lander stood in the box, collecting dust until July, when time finally presented itself. I took the box of parts off the shelf and re-read the instructions, and then again, and then again. I opened the epoxy only when I finally felt confident that I knew where all the parts go. I decided to stick to the instructions since I never built a Mars Lander before. I also found Jeff Brundt's build of his Mars Lander and the pictures on the Mars Lander website helpful. I also often glanced at Richard Pitzeruse’s Mars Lander as inspiration to complete this project. I figure I would pound each construction step out until eventually there were no more construction steps remaining.

I took the gear housings and legs and sealed them with a light coat of West System. I then carefully cut the gear housing covers from the cardboard stock that was included with the kit. I check, and recheck multiple times as to the orientation of the gear housings and the gear housings covers. I applied epoxy once I was satisfied. I then set the gear housing assemblies aside and started my efforts on the legs.

The Mars Lander legs are not for the faint hearted. There are many pieces and I found myself referring to the instructions and the various web sites many times until I had a clear understanding of their construction. Using the provided templates, I cut the four long dowels into the long strut braces and cut an additional dowel into four short strut braces. The four long aluminum strut braces were already cut. I scratched the aluminum with some sand paper and epoxied the aluminum leg braces to the bottom of each leg. I also epoxied the short dowel to the upper part of the leg. Once dried, I cut the provided clear tubing using the template and slid it onto the remaining four dowels at the location indicated in the template.

I cut the eight gear strut supports from the cardboard stock. I used a drill to cut the holes but that idea did not work as well as I had hoped. The drill tended to shred the cardboard on the edges. I glued one gear strut support to each of the four legs. I then epoxied the long dowel strut and then the other gear strut support to the leg. The landing pads were next.

I happen to have part of a 38mm motor tube and cut four sections off of this tube using a miter box saw. These became the pad rings. Each landing pad consisted of a bottom pad, lower disc, pad ring, upper disc, and two supports. The pads were assembled and then epoxied to each leg with the supports. Each lander leg was then tidied up using sandpaper and body filler. Care must be given to the cardboard gear strut support when sanding. The legs were then primed and hung out to dry.

July comes to an end and I have, for the most part, completed steps 1 – 12. Only 35 more steps to go.


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By Peter E. Abresch Jr.
Blastoff
The ply required sealing with West System
The ply required sealing with West System
Completed lander legs with pads, primed, and drying in the sun
Completed lander legs with pads, primed, and drying in the sun
Completed gear housings and start of lander legs