Clear coating with Future Shine
Return to the main construction
Initial check
        of center of gravity
Drilled hole in nose
        cone to make room for 10 oz of lead
Drilled hole in nose cone to make room for 10 oz of lead

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Initial check of center of gravity

Completed Mars
        Lander body
October 2011 Construction Report
Mars Lander Construction

Oktoberfest is over. The leftover German food is gone and the German beer is dwindling. The Mars Lander project is once again taken off the shelf, dusted off, and moved to the family coffee table (slash workbench).

The entire body tube was slightly sanded and given two coats of Krylon gloss white. The gloss white really highlighted the imperfections even more. Once again, the entire body was touched up with putty, sanded, and repainted a couple of more times. What I thought was a decent raised detail with the fabric paint did not look as good once the white gloss highlighted every imperfection. More time should have been taken for the raised detail. The Mars Lander was given the final two coats of gloss white. Once the paint dried, the Mars Lander was taken outside into the sunlight and scrutinized from ten feet. It passed the 10-foot test.

The decals were studied and each decal location was found on the Mars Lander body. The water slide decals were individually cut and applied. Pappa Tango are known for their quality decals and the decal application occurred without any problems. In fact, the decal application was quite enjoyable. The decals were allowed to dry for a couple of days.

I decided to try Future Shine as a protective clear coat. I used Pledge Floor Care Tile and Vinyl Floor Finish with Future Shine. The key is the Future Shine. A foam brush was used to apply the Future Shine. The Future Shine applied well and provided a hard clear coat of acrylic protection. It also had a nice clean scent so it was no problem using it indoors. The wife even throught I did some cleaning, little did she know. The Mars Lander with its clear coat was once again allowed to dry.

The legs were attached and the recovery gear was packed. The Mars Lander weighed in at 4 lbs, 8 ozs. The initial center of gravity was checked and was 15 inches aft of the nose cone tip without a loaded engine. The Mars Lander will require some nose weight to maintain the center of gravity with a loaded engine.

A Loki H144 was loaded into the Mars Lander. A plastic cup was duct taped to the nose cone and the Mars Lander was once again balanced while water was added to the cup. Water was slowly added until Mars Lander balanced at 15 inches with the loaded H144 engine. The water was then weighed and came to 10 ounces. This technique was suggested by Tom, the maker of the Mars Lander 2X kit.

I went back to Rocksim armed with this initial knowledge. A Rocksim file for a Mars Lander 1.5X was found and was scaled up to 2X. Various tweaks were made until the Mars Lander was virtually constructed within the simulation software. I was disappointed as my Mars Lander weighed in at 19 ounces more than Rocksim’s calculation. I reminisced over the construction and realized that the weight difference must have been a scaling issue as there were not many opportunities to shave that much weight from the project. A mass object of 19 ounces was added to Rocksim to make the weight match. This also allowed the mass object to be positioned within Rocksim so the center of gravity that was previously measured matched with Rocksim.

A virtual Loki H144 was loaded into the virtual Mars Lander and the nose weight was virtually added. Rocksim confirmed that 8 - 12 ounces of nose weight would be adequate. The balsa nose cone was carefully drilled to make room for 10 ounces of lead. The nose cone was drilled deep to get as much weight forward as possible. The balsa wanted to shred so drilling was more difficult than anticipated. However, with persistence, a hole was drilled almost all the way to the tip of the nose.

October ends with kids knocking at the door asking for candy. I hope we do not get many trick or treaters this year as that means more leftover candy for me. Steps 44, 45, and 47 have been completed. Only the Mars Lander nose cone steps 41 and 46 remain.

Return to the main construction
By Peter E. Abresch Jr.
Mars Lander body with
        final coat of gloss white
Mars Lander body with final coat of gloss white
Completed Mars Lander body
Clear coating
        with Future Shine