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'[EE]:: Amongst the most impressive rocket videos e'
2007\06\03@224722 by Russell McMahon

Pixel, the rocket in this 31MB video, flown by remote control by John
Carmack doesn't go to space or, for that matter, go very far at all.
It "simply" takes off, flies to a nearby landing pad, gets refilled,
takes off and flies back to its starting point. The time-lapse portion
in the middle of the crew refuelling it for the return trip is
interesting and fun. My wife found it all boring and thought that I
should turn the (very very loud) sound down as it wasn't doing
anything except make (very very loud) noise. I couldn't alas match the
130 dB odd actual noise level that the cameraman reported.

A must see for all rocketry enthusiasts !!!!

FWIW - this is a privately funded "NASA Lunar Lander Challenge"
development vehicle and has a flight profile capability unmatched by
the Lunar Lander design itself or any other vehicle ever built.

> Subject: [AR] Armadillo LLC1 demo video
> John Carmack


Needless to say, the Russell in the following notes is not me :-):


One of the coolest feats of amateur rocketry ever seen would have been
garbage if it weren't for the GENIUS editing skills of Matt Ross!!!!!

I must say, This was a cool video to watch.  I was the unfortunate
soul left to pushing buttons and sorting wires of whose functions I
didn't entirely grasp in the training process.

There were 5 cameras. 3 on board, one on the ground and a hand held.
3 wireless systems with signal conditioners and a video mixer...  What
the heck am I a rocket scientist?!  Oh yeah, I guess I am...  :)
Thought to self: Find a way to make something work and get back to the
pad ops!

When the flights were done, I know there was some descent video on the
stationary video camera at pad 2, but after running from the pad ops
to pick up Matt's personal and very expensive camera, I was breathing
heavy and forgot to put on my hearing protection, Both times!  Yeah
you would think I was a slow learner...  (I managed to get them on one
handed during the second flight with Russell's help though.)

The hand held video was going fine until John lit the engine!  I could
only cover one ear after I discovered I was not able to wrestle the
headphones up and over the tangle of goggles and had to suffer through
the 130+Db noise on the right side for a full 90 seconds.  I am
certain I yelled at this discovery, but it was no where near the sound
energy coming from the rocket, so that will never be heard.  It was
lost in the noise as if it were no scream at all!

Thus the question, "If a man screams during an engine firing, and no
one can hear it, did he make a sound?"

After that, it was "try and hold the camera still".  Of course that
didn't work very well, but again, Matt managed to pick all of the
better parts of it for a very nice cut.  I especially liked what he
did with the footage from the stationary camera...  I forgot to go
shut it off between flights, but in a way that turned out to be a good
thing.  All of you other entrants got to see just how fast Armadillo
Pad ops REALLY are now that we have practiced up a bit!  ;~)

Since I couldn't get any of the on board video to work, you can
imagine my surprise when all of the sudden I was seeing a downward
shot!  I had automatically hit record on the one last camera hooked to
the wireless system by Matt's training, and somewhere after takeoff
the signal must have cleared for a few moments although it was
probably very intermittent.  The battery was getting very low in the
truck running the video equipment, so unfortunately there was no video
for the return trip.  Bummer too, you would have seen the camera
target painted on the ground as we landed within a foot from the
original takeoff point at pad 1.  All of this done by the cooperative
efforts of John's piloting skills and Russell pointing and yelling "Go
That way more!!!"

Murphy had plenty of opportunities to shut us down yesterday.
1) A bad driver channel for the main fuel valve, We moved to our
2) A huge helium leak that would have threatened the vehicle balance
potentially, Russ and I did a quick fix on that.
3) A minor fuel leak issue that was handled smoothly by Joseph, Tommy,
and James, by reducing load pressures and snugging down a connection
that was improvised for unloading only minutes before.
4) And then most of all, with downward video missing and flying blind
on instruments only, John maintained his cool under pressure and put
Pixel down dead center on the pad!

Murphy, after being beaten into submission, was held merely to an
advisory role rather than part of the pad crew, and amused himself by
playing with Neil's checklist for the rest of the afternoon until he
was even removed from that position by Neil's proficiency and
knowledge of our flight ops.

Murphy works much better as an advisor than as a participant, and he
is always present!  In a way, I firmly believe he has trained us to a
certain extent.  As much as we would like to it was easy, this was
certainly not the first attempt to do what we did yesterday.  Some of
you saw him with us at the cup last year, and he will no doubt be
there again this year.  He will want to help the rest of you as much
as possible I am sure...  Be ready!

Every one of our team is vital to operations as well as construction.
When one is not there, it is tough to operate as smoothly as we would
if we were all there, and the video you saw was an excellent
resurrection of bland footage that kept me on the edge of my seat
watching it for the first time.  It was also nice to watch while not
screaming and holding one ear!

In the end, All 8 of us still did everything we could, and some of the
best work was done after the fact!  Thanks again Matt!

Oh yeah...  The "Cough".  That was a pretty intense change in sound
standing there watching to the point it almost seemed as if the engine
shut down.  I'm sure that is one of the "Improvements" John has in
mind for the future!

I think perhaps I am turning into the "Drama guy" for Armadillo.  I am
as excited as anyone when it all works right, but I am compelled to
share some small part of the journey behind the scenes.  Perhaps the
non-eventful problem free video of a perfect flight shown to the
world, won't seem like it came quite so blase' or without a price paid
in human emotion.  Besides, if it weren't for the stirring of human
emotion, who of us would really be doing this?  Who of "Them" would
want to go "Up There"?

I will reiterate what John said,  I am also extremely proud of the
accomplishments of our team.  Everyone did their part in a most
excellent fashion!

Phil Eaton
Armadillo Aerospace

If there's alcohol in my blood, it's only because I haven't loaded the
LOX yet!

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