Well after almost a year of preparation I got to go to Balls this year. What is Balls? Well that’s kind of hard to explain to the “non-rocket geek”. However I will endeavor to describe by degrees like Burns. (Reference to rocket accidents un-intended.)
1st degree rocket event. www.nar.org
You buy a rocket kit and spend the weekend building and painting. You go to a NAR club launch and fly the thing. You break the tip off a fin and have to glue it back on with some superglue. Total cost: Rocket $12.00, motors $10.00 Superglue $2.00. Total investment $24.00.
2nd Degree rocket event www.ncrocketry.org
You have been flying rockets at events for a few years and started making custom rockets, learning how to fiberglass phoenalic airframes and you’re working on your high power certification. You go to a large club event and fly some of your fleet of rockets spending well over $100.00 on propellant. Two of your rockets come in ballistic and are a total lost. Total investment over $200.00 for one weekend.
3rd Degree. BALLS. www.balls15.com
You work for almost a year with a group of friends to build a large rocket. You consult engineers and hire graphic designers. You come up with a Logo and have T-shirts printed up for your group. Some of your group drive to
Utah just to mix the propellant, and you have to borrow a motor casing (Experimental) from an actual rocket scientist. Total investment:
You share of the rocket parts, epoxy, glass, parachutes, etc. $200.00
Your share of Gas to drive there and back $100.00
Your share of food, beer, sodas, crackers, (Other junk food) $300.00 (a lot of beer)
Balls T-shirts, Balls coffee mug, Bruno’s coffee mug,
Tripoli membership, Burning man T-shirt, $175.00
Grand total: You do the math, its too depressing.
I did however have an outstanding time. Close friends, excellent food (Elk steaks) amazing rockets, and the most interesting people I have ever met. The only way it could have been better would be if I had my own experimental rocket and experimental propellant to launch, maybe next year.
Some things I learned while at Balls:
I will never again launch a rocket that large from only 150’ away.
You can’t use a GPS with double vision from drinking too much beer.
A good euphemism for throwing up is “Calling Dinosaurs”
You can ride a bike with your eyes closed by feeling the heat on your face from the sun.
You can burn an amazing amount of rocket propellant in a fresh Jack-o-lantern with out it falling apart.
Everyone looks stupid posing with the cat-in-the-hat.
You have to drive backwards to make good do-nuts with a front wheel drive minivan.
I now know what a Playa serpent is. DO NOT hit one at 75 mph in a minivan.
Playa dust gets in everything. And I do mean everything.
Playa dust is edible.
You can also breath it.
Krytox ™ is good to lubricate a beer tap pump.