A while ago, I saw a post on The Rocketry Forum about the Northern Illinois Rocketry Convention being held in February this year. I checked out the details and found it was only about an hour’s drive away from where my sister lives. I made arrangements to fly out there to visit my sister and brother-in-law from Thursday to Wednesday around the convention.

We cancelled our plans to go into Chicago on Friday night due to a snow storm and I wondered if I’d be able to drive over to Woodstock the next day. Saturday morning was better with only light flurries as I started out that tapered off to nothing as I drove inland. It was great to see Bunny Bundick, former NAR President and current President of the Fox Valley Rocketeers – the host section for the convention. There were a couple dozen attendees who all welcomed this outsider. The presentations were done mostly by local participants.

After Bunny’s greeting, Jeff Hallet presented information about his L3 project. He’s doing in a budget mode after building his L2 rocket like a tank; everything will be tough enough but not overbuilt. He’s sewing his own parachute and using altimeters he already owns. With a borrowed motor case, he figures it will be between $1500 and $2000 when it hits the launch pad. We then heard from a team of three sisters who have done TARC together a number of times. They finished 10th and 3rd in two trips to the finals and got a chance to participate in the NASA SLI program. That project was a CO2 system to deploy the recovery device; they put tons of work into the project, collected a huge amount of shear pin data and learned a lot about dealing with a large governmental agency (our own Bob Krech was thanked with his name included on one of the fins of their rocket).

Next, a 14-year-old student presented her findings on an analysis she did to determine the relative drag of four different fin cross-sections. She 3D printed the fins, constructed a wind tunnel and collected and reduced the data. A statistician in the audience was impressed that she used regression analysis in her work, a subject he didn’t encounter until his junior year in college. A speaker from the Chicago Society for Space talked about Humanity in Space. The father of the 14-year-old did a presentation about 3d printing model rocket parts. The father of the three sisters talked about parachutes and streamers (serge stitching is best for compact chutes) and, for those of us who were paying attention, gave away samples of Dynochutes, the family’s business.

An enthusiast did a presentation of Stellar Dimension Rockets; the company designed square rockets in the late 1990’s and used extensive laser cut parts, and early adopter. They also etched decorations into the balsa and basswood with the lasers. The company folded but the products are spectacular. The presentations finished up with Bob Kaplow demonstrating the making of centering rings using a drill press, fly cutters and templates.

There was a beauty contest for rockets brought in by attendees. The day ended up with a number of kits, accessories and gift certificates being raffled off. CMASS needs to get back on track and get NEMROC going again.

My week ended with my brother-in-law interviewing me for a cable access show he hosts. If you can stand it for a half-hour, here it is on You Tube.