Last weekend I went to Balls. It sounds funny, but it is the name of a largish (the largest) amateur rocket launch in the world. Balls is not an acronym, it simply means if you have the balls to build an extreme project, here is the place to launch it.
As I wrote in a previous post, I wasn’t really planning on going to Balls19. Two things changed my plans. First was the mysterious availability of cheap rocket components, and second, and most important, was the fact that my Brother and his son wished to go. I really enjoy any time I spend with my brother so it was indeed the catalyst that I needed to light the fuse on my project and finagle my way west.
I had to burn the candle at both ends for a bit to make this happen. I had a major presentation to prepare for work, a rocket to complete, and the logistics of actually getting there to work out. It also happens that the presentation I had to give would not only be challenging and stressful, but I had to give the presentation at 5am due to pesky time zone differences between here and Europe. Once the conference was complete I had to go home, pack up my rocket toys into my buddies car and jet off to the Black Rock Desert. Then it was a simple mater of driving all night so we could get to the launch first thing the next morning. Oh, and sleep was optional.
So we packed up rockets, beer, camper, tools, beer, sleeping bags, food, beer, and some other goodies and off we went to Nevada. Heck it was only 1087 miles or so, what’s the big deal? We took a nap at a rest stop located somewhere west of Battle Mountain Nevada. Battle Mountain used to be known as the “Arm-pit of America” before it lost this title due to a lack of sponsorship from Old Spice. (True story)
We left Battle Mountain early in the morning and managed to arrive in Fernley Nevada just in time for breakfast. Unfortunately breakfast wasn’t ready at 5am so I had a cup of coffee and two day old corn dogs. Yum. Another hour or so and we arrived in Gerlach. After a hop on to the desert and a check of out GPS we were almost there.
Ah, the Black Rock Desert, what a sight. There is really nothing like it in the whole world. Most people can’t find the site with out a GPS. We had the coordinates locked in and headed in line with the little arrow on the display. We kept our speed just shy of 70 because we were towing a trailer. We finally arrived at the launch site shortly after 7am and proceeded to set up camp.
The first thing to do was to start prepping rockets. The wind was absolutely still, sky clear, and the air was ripe with expectations. My brother and his son weren’t expected to arrive until the next morning so putting together a decent camp could wait.
Elvis and I went to the registration desk to get our badges and pay our respect to our fellow rocket geeks. We also wanted to see what projects other rocket geeks were working on. Wow, there was some serious shit being prepped for launch. Here is one Hybrid project that a group was going to launch on Saturday. Yikes.
Once registered, we went back to camp to find John working on one of his extreme altitude rockets. Elvis started prepping his rocket and soon the race was on, who would complete their preparations first? Who would be first off the pad? I decided it was high time for me to begin work on my rocket.
Next installment: GPS Tracking