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HomeTRATech 2022

One of the presenters at this year's TRATECH conference had to cancel.
If any members would like to present a topic at the conference during LDRS, please contact Gary Rosenfield ASAP.

 The Tripoli TRATECH Technical Conference and Summit 2022 takes place during LDRS 40 in Victorville, CA. We have 12 outstanding presentations that will be made available to the membership on June 9th and 10th in the afternoons following the launching at LDRS, at the event host hotel. 

TRATech is an In-person program only. However, recordings of the presentations will be made available to Tripoli members on the Tripoli website later.

Although attendance is free, space is limited. For that reason, seating is “first come, first, served.”

Austin Sennott

Austin Sennot 

Professional Websites for Amateurs: How to Make Technical Resources Accessible and Exciting

Thursday, 6/9, 3:00pm Room A

Synopsis: Presenting information in a coherent, structured, and appealing manner has a drama/c effect on capturing attention, providing a reference, and conveying a message. There are many excellent resources for amateur rocketry - but much of the /me they lack a centralized and easily accessible format, making it difficult to retrieve specific sources. In the modern day it is quick and simple to construct a website which serves content in an organized and visually interesting format. This presentation will use as an example of how to build and maintain a useful repository for technical discussion that is both informative and exciting.

Bio: Austin Sennott is a rocket propulsion engineer from Florida. He graduated from the University of Central Florida in December 2020 with a degree in Aerospace Engineering and is now employed with Virgin Orbit in Long Beach, CA. Currently, he is Level 2 certified in high power rocketry and has been experimenting with solid, hybrid, and liquid motors since 2018.

Bryce Chanes

Bryce Chanes

What Motor Did I Just Fly? A Tutorial for Converting Flight Data into a Thrust Curve

Thursday 6/9, 3:00pm Room B

Synopsis: Did that motor not seem to perform to a manufacturer’s specifications? Do you want to back out a thrust curve for your EX-motors? Good thing you flew with electronics, right? In this session, the presenter will discuss various mathematical approaches to accurately determine your motor’s performance by analyzing the post-flight data that you already gathered! Don’t worry, an engineering degree won’t be required, and all participants will leave with new tools in their rocketry toolbox. 

Bio: Since launching his first model rocket in 2009, Bryce has been fascinated and enthusiastic about everything rocketry. He joined Tripoli in 2012 and since then has served as a Board member and Vice President to the Rocketry Organization of California as well as Board Member, Prefect, and President of the Southern Arizona Rocketry Association. In 2017 he earned a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Since graduation he has worked as a propulsion engineer at a major defense contractor where he supports various solid rocket motor propulsion research and development efforts.

Curtis Heisey

Curtis Heisey

Building and Flying an Upscale Deuce's Wild! and High-Power Clustering Techniques

Thursday 6/9, 4:00pm Room A

Synopsis:  This presentation summarizes the history and flight physics behind the Deuce’s Wild! and offers a concise explanation of why the thrust lines should focus half way between the center of pressure and center of mass for safe flight on a single motor. Safety is an essential concern for high- powered rocketry, and high-powered clusters add another dimension of safety concern. The author discusses a number of safety considerations and tips for high-powered clustering as well as best practices for safe high-powered clustering. For the Deuce’s Wild! precise motor alignment is important, and the author presents a number of maker 3d printing and CNC techniques for creating precise clustered bulkheads. The author calls out notable Deuce’s Wild! flyers over the years. Finally, the presentation offers a photo and video gallery of a number of some the author’s most spectacular Deuce’s Wild! flights.

Bio: Curtis Heisey is a BAR who got into high powered rocketry with his son in 2007. He earned his L1 in 2010, L2 in 2013, and L3 in 2020. He has building upscale Deuce’s Wild! since 2011. He has authored nine articles for Sport Rocketry, including three on Deuce’s Wild! rockets. He provided safety consulting for a large MDRA Deuce’s Wild! project by Bob Utley, Scott Szympruch, Bill Cook and Tom Cohen and others. He worked with Ray DiPaola on creating an Update Deuce’s Wild! kit. He works as a software engineer and has mentored TARC and IREC teams. He has recently begun the journey into EX motors and has the dream of one day launching an Upscale Deuce on two EX motors. In addition to building and flying high-powered rockets, he enjoys photographing rocket lift-offs. 

David Smith

David Smith

Tracking Rockets with Onboard Radio Transmitters

Thursday 6/9, 4:00pm Room B

This presentation provides a description of methods of rocket tracking including both direction finding and GPS based equipment. Both unlicensed equipment and gear requiring a ham radio license will be included. Telemetry available from common systems will also be demonstrated. Transmitting equipment, receiving equipment and strategies, and antennas will be discussed.

Bio: David Smith, W6DPS, was first licensed as a Ham in 1977. In addition to being an Amateur Extra class, he is a certified ARRL license instructor and Volunteer Examiner accredited by the ARRL and Greater Los Angeles Area Amateur Radio Group. A member of both Tripoli and NAR, Mr. Smith certified Level 1 in 1999, and Level 2 at LDRS 20.

Francis Graham

Francis Graham


Thursday 6/9, 5:00pm Room A

It is like a mapleseed going up! Here is the history and aerodynamics of these exciting machines, with new technology including guidance systems of monocopters. In the first half of this session, we will explore the history of these unusual devices flying devices from the very dawn of aviation, and then examine the aerodynamics and stability of them using Liapunov stability ideas. Finally, we will peek at advances since Ace began flying them at Tripoli events, and their use in Defense.

Bio: Francis Graham Emeritus prof. Kent State University, wrote technical papers including an AIAA paper on monocopters, plus a book on the subject sold for many years by Apogee Components. Author of other books including a physics textbook, and recognized as the co-discoverer of the (extremely) tenuous atmosphere of the Moon. Also helped found the Tripoli Rocketry Association, the largest and best rocket club in the world. 

Jim Jarvis

Jim Jarvis

Lessons Learned in the Development of a Practical Vertical Orientation System.

Thursday 6/9, 5:00pm Room B

Mr. Jim Jarvis (Presenter) and Dr. William Premerlani have been working on a Vertical Orientation System (VOS) since 2015.  The system uses a 6 DOF IMU, in combination with custom-designed software based on MatrixPilot, to continuously monitor the orientation of a rocket during flight.  A mechanical canard-based system is then used to move the rocket to a predetermined orientation (such as vertical flight).  The system works quite well and has been demonstrated on several dozen high-power flights, including a flight to 175,000 feet. The TRATECH presentation will present an overview of the development of the VOS including a description of the equipment and software, control theory used for flight, and key test data and lessons learned accumulated during development of the system.  In addition, Mr. Jarvis will discuss plans for developing a new Beta Test Group intended to conduct more flight testing with the objective of expanding the use of VOS technology into the hobby rocketry community.

Bio: Mr. Jarvis is a chemical engineer and works as a project manager for a large engineering company.  He flew his first rocket in 1962 and became a BAR in 2003.  He achieved his L3 certification in 2007 and has been a member of the Tripoli TAP since 2013.  Mr. Jarvis specializes in high-altitude, two and three-stage rockets and has flown over 100,000 feet six times.  He also enjoys mentoring and participates in rocketry competitions such as NASA’s SLI and ESRA’s IREC.

Steve Thatcher

Steve Thatcher

Modular 3D Printed Avionics Bay Design

Friday 6/10, 3:00pm Room A

A typical avionics bay for a rocket is a custom designed assembly that is unique to each rocket, the batteries selected, and the individual electronic devices used for flight events, telemetry, and tracking. Because of this uniqueness, a typical bay is not easily upgraded or modified for different devices. The advent of 3d printing has enabled the design of modular parts that can be used to create a standard bay that
provides support for a wide variety of devices and batteries with minimal cost. Modularity also allows for the quick adaptation of new devices and support for new battery configurations. The purpose of this presentation is to provide the rocketry community with proven modular bay design concepts and how to make the most of modular designs in their future products. Wouldn’t you like to use the latest devices and batteries without having to drill any new holes without being tied to specific manufacturers.

Bio: Steve has been an electronics engineer for over forty years and has worked in different private and public sector positions.  He started designing electronics hardware back in grade school (1966 ñ relay binary counting devices) and started developing software in high school (Monroe desktop computer ñ 1971). Steve had a great desire to fly rockets back then, but lived in the state of Washington that required an adult with a pyrotechnics license to buy motors. Consequently he never flew any Estes rockets. In 1989, he was working for a company and a new hire came on board. He and Steve struck up a friendship and one day he asked if Steve knew about high power rocketry. He was introduced to what has been a passion for him since then.  Steve purchased a Aerotech Initiator and Mantis launchpad, then started flying.  He had a company called Impulse Aerospace which I joined as a partner and created the Veri-Fire launch controller. We sold them at LDRS10 and LDRS11. Steve started integrating electronics into rockets shortly after that with his own bay concepts such as modular slide in bay assemblies, printed circuit bulkheads with switches and post for pyro connections. The advent of 3d printing enabled me to create products that could be customized and fabricated by a printer rather than building each part by hand. 

Paul Trainer

Paul Trainer

Designing and Building 3D Printed High Power Rockets

Friday 6/10, 4:00pm Room A

3D printing of high power rockets allows for easy production of complex rockets without a need for glue, paint, drilling, or sanding.  An actual 6ft. long, L powered 3D printed rocket will be on display, and a teardown of this rocket will show in detail all the 3D printed parts and methods used to make them.  Advanced design techniques such as threaded parts assembly, integrated screw-in electronic ebays, nosecone design by mathematical equations, live hinges for deployable fins, structural parts thickness and infill recommendations will be discussed.  The structural advantages and disadvantage of various 3D printing materials will be presented.  Live demonstration of CAD (Computer Aided Design) of a complete rocket will be  performed, as well as a discussion of 3D printer recommendations and slicer setting optimizations for 3D printed rockets.

Using Virtual Reality 360 Degree Cameras for Rocket Photography and Video

Friday 6/10, 5:00pm Room A

Virtual Reality 360 degree cameras are ideal for use in rocket based aerial photography.  All the advantages of these cameras will be described, as well as how the images are post processed to get ultra-stabilized video and photographic images.  Rocket videos and photos using these cameras will be presented, as well.  Rocket capabilities and design requirements to accommodate these cameras will be discussed.  A description and actual hands on presentation of some 3D printed rockets with printed VR camera mounts will be shown.

Bio: Paul Trainer has worked in the aerospace industry in France and the USA for the last 30 years building the biggest and most powerful commercial satellites for EchoStar, DirectTV, and others. Paul has participated in Atlas 2 launches at Cape Canaveral, Ariane launches in French Guyana, and an H-IIB launch in Tanegashima.  He began his rocket career as a teenager, building many of the first Estes model rocket kits in the mid to late 1960’s.  For the last 6 years, Paul has been retired and has spent much time developing and constructing over 150 3D printed rockets for both model and high power rockets.  He has passed his Level 1,2, and 3 certifications with homebuilt 3D printed rockets, including a 30 lbs. 8.5 ft. tall, 4” diameter rocket for his Level 3.  His main objective in building rockets is to launch imaging systems for aerial photography and video. Paul has a degree in Applied Physics and Information Sciences from UC San Diego and a PhD in Oceanography from the Universite de Bretagne Occidentale in France. He is retired, and occasionally works as a consultant in the electronics, drone and aerospace industry.

Jim Wilkerson

Jim Wilkerson

Rocket Photography

Friday 6/10, 4:00pm Room B

Rocket photography is a fun and exciting aspect of the hobby. A photograph of you holding your rocket, or your rocket's flight, can be a social media post, a desktop background, a nice print to hang on your wall, or all of the above. Photographs of the prep and launch of contest flights or high-power certifications can make lasting memories of hobby accomplishments. Affordable, commercially-available consumer camera equipment has the capability to capture a range of rocketry images to include still and video. High performance flights may need additional capabilities, but still within the reach of most hobbyists. This presentation will cover photography basics, how those serve you well in capturing rocketry images, and tips/techniques to capture not just good but great images. In addition the presenter will discuss his system for capturing remote images of high-power launches.

Bio: Jim Wilkerson, TRA 2733, serves on Tripoli's Technical Advisory Panel (TAP). He started in rocketry with the NAR in 1978. He certified in HPR in the early 2000s and attended his first BALLS launch in 2003. He held the Tripoli commercial "M" altitude record for several years. He was a member of Kimberly Harms' 2004 Community Space full-scale Honest John project. His interest in photography began around the same time as his rocketry activities, first with Kodak 110 instamatics, transitioning into film SLRs and eventually into digital SLRs and mirrorless Nikon cameras. He photographs regional and national rocketry events as Tahoma Photography and donates images to TARC, Student Launch Initiative (SLI), and the Tripoli Report. He maintains his proficiency in HPR along with the photography, most recently completing a "ladder" event at 2021's XPRS launch, flights starting with an A motor all the way up through an Aerotech M1075-powered minimum diameter launch. 

Pat Artis

Pat Artis

Mentoring College and International Teams

Friday 6/10, 5:00pm Room B

Unlike any other time since the Apollo program in the 1960s, the dream of rocketry is alive! Across the nation and the world, student teams are making the giant leap from Estes class rockets to highly complex Level 2 and 3 design projects. Whether it is a local university which flies at your Prefecture or the more than 150 university teams from all over the world who compete at the Space Port America Cup each year, every one of these teams needs mentoring and support from experienced Level 3 fliers. To quote G. Harry, “it is time to pay it forward!”

Being a team mentor is far more than being a flyer of record for a team launch. Rather, it is the opportunity to share your years of design, fabrication, and flight experience to highly motivated young engineers who don’t know what they can’t do. Beyond the math and engineering which students learn in the classroom, there is an immense body of “tribal knowledge” which you can share with these teams.

This presentation will discuss:
Understanding the team mindset
The mentoring process
Structured design reviews
Working with international teams
Focusing on safety
Responsibilities and risks

If you are ready to share your years of experience, let’s spend an hour together this summer at TRATECH.

Bio: Dr. H. Pat Artis is a Professor of Practice in the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering at Virginia Tech. He holds degrees or certificates in Engineering Mechanics, Computer Sciences, Systems Engineering, and Flight Test Engineering. He started his engineering career in 1972 at Bell Laboratories, entered the startup ecosystem at Mornio Associates in the 1980s, and then founded and directed his own engineering company for more than thirty years before returning to Virginia Tech to teach aerospace engineering. Within the department, Dr. Artis is the lead instructor for the sophomore Introduction to Aerospace Engineering and Aircraft Performance course, is co-instructor for two semester capstone aircraft senior design course series, and has authored and presents elective courses in Avionics Systems and Booster Design, Fabrication, and Operation. In addition to his teaching activities, he advises Virginia Tech’s NASA SLI, Rocketry@VT, and Orbital Launch Vehicle Team. Wherever possible, he incorporates a rocket design, build, and fly project in his courses.

Dr. Artis has been building and flying rockets since 1958. He has been a member of NAR for more than six decades, has been a member of Tripoli for two decades, is a TAP member, and continues to be an active flier.

Tripoli  Rocketry Association, Inc.
P.O. Box 87, Bellevue, NE, 68005
(402) 884-9530 - phone  /  (402) 884-9531 - fax