Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Background Work

I’ve been doing some background work on EMRR here lately perhaps you’ve noticed. The two main things have been:

1) I have reformatted all the archive and review headers. You might notice the improved consistency in logos and addresses. I also added logos on all the OOP review headers. That was tough. I searched for and found as many logos as I could, but I’m still missing:

Missing Logos (some just don’t have logos):

Experimental Rocketry Group (Loki sells the book)
J.A.P. Systems (anyone know this guy and is he still selling kits)
Maine Model and High Power Rockets (Is he still doing a business)
RocketPad (getting ready to move to OOP)
Roachwerks Custom Turnings
Shecter Rockets

OOP – does anyone have a logo they could scan for me?

Ballistic Bob
C.A.R.D.E. Systems
Empire Rockets
Novus Aerospace
Outlaw Rockets
Phoenix Rocketry
Pyramid Rockets
Weir Rockets
West Coast Rocketry
Yoyodyne Aerospace

2) I’ve added a Link to EMRR page that will help clubs, vendors, and personal website managers to be able to link back to EMRR. I’ve always had this type of page, but it was buried. . You can get to it from the Links menu.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

EMRR Featured Reviewers

It seems that from the very beginning of EMRR (Jan’98), I introduced the Featured Reviewer. The first ever was Tim Wood. Tim’s reviews accounted for 6 of the first 25 reviews ever posted. They were the FSI Echo, FSI Sandia Sandhawk, Custom Landviper, Weir Rocket Sweetheart, Weir Rockets Tannenbaum, and the Pratt Hobbies Power Pack. Here is a link to Tim’s reviews. Tim added a couple additional reviews and then disappeared.

I remember communicating with Tim initially asking for permission to place the reviews from his website onto EMRR. I liked the general format and flow of Tim’s reviews and therefore selected him as a featured reviewer to demonstrate the style of reviews that EMRR wanted to have on the site.

In March 1998, I added Dave Sutter. I remember excellent e-mail discussions with Dave Sutter on whether EMRR reviews should have ratings or not (he was adamant that we needed them). Dave was another review writer that had a good flow and format.

At this time EMRR didn’t have an interview page for each featured reviewer, so you won’t find one on Tim or Dave.

In March 1998, I also added Tom Bell. I actually have no recollection as to why I asked Tom to be a featured reviewer. Sad, eh? Tom does have an interview page which I collected in June 1998.

All three of EMRR’s initial Featured Reviewers appear to no longer be active with rocketry.

The fourth Featured Reviewer was Jim Stuckman. Jim ran the “Out of Production Rocket Auction” as well as other rocketry related activities. He and I did the first (and only) joint review. It was my attempt into a Siskel and Ebert type review. We reviewed the North Coast Rocketry Interceptor G. Jim’s most thorough review was the 30th Anniversary Estes Industries Saturn-V/Apollo 11 where Jim presented a step-by-step review and update. The page had many, many followers on RMR and I still see it listed on various club websites. Unfortunately, Jim passed away in 2002 after a long illness.

Okay, so what, they’re Featured Reviewers, big deal! Well, true, but also a resounding false. My initial plan included utilizing the Featured Reviewers to be available if/when a manufacturer asked for one of their products to be reviewed. That happened. Tim Wood reviewed the Apogee Model Rocket Propulsion book, Dave Sutter reviewed the Edmond's Ci-Ci, Tom Bell reviewed Nordic Rocketry's Delta-X, and Jim Stuckman reviewed JP Parachute's 38" Parachute. All of these were provided by the manufacturers to have a review turned quickly and added to EMRR.

This portion of the program has been very successful and EMRR Featured Reviewers have reviewed over 70 products provided by manufacturers. Manufacturers contact EMRR and ask for a quick turn-around, usually target 30 days for someone to review and post it to EMRR. We stress non-biased, objective reviews.

The Featured Reviewer program on EMRR has continued and we have now had 20 different Featured Reviewers over the past 10 years. They can be found under Attractions/Featured Reviewers on the menu.

On my very first Blog post someone asked: “How do you select featured reviewers? Are they experts or in some other way better at building and flying than the non featured reviewers?”

I provided an initial reply to the first of his two-part question indicating that “I have picked each one of them for some specific reason...” and then gave some examples. Below are the reasons for all the active Featured Reviewers in alphabetical order. You can see each of their interviews on the Featured Reviewers page:

Lance Alligood – Solid supporter of EMRR and has now probably formatted more reviews for the site than I have. He has contributed 51 articles/reviews to EMRR and has some excellent USR reviews. He also was fortunate to build and fly the now OOP F104 Starfighter

Donald Besaw Jr – He was 21 when we asked him to join EMRR’s Featured Reviewers and that is the reason. He had stuck to flying rockets from age 13. Donald has 46 articles/reviews on EMRR and I just know he has more than a handful waiting to be submitted.

Larry Brand – Larry has been finding his own niche with building, flying, and analyzing tube-fin rockets. Perhaps you noticed the article in Sport Rocketry last issue? Well, we choose Larry for this tube-fin experience. He has 38 articles/reviews on EMRR including some unique modification articles and, of course, tube-fin scratch builds.

Bob Cox – Our featured mystery man who never shows his face. He has demonstrated that he is a “virtual” rocket king winning 5 of the 9 Virtual Rocket Contests that he has entered and placing 2nd in two others.

Drake "Doc" Damerau – All we could say when we saw some of Drake’s work was “wow!”. For instance his nearly 15 foot long upscale Andromeda. Or check out his 1st place entry in EMRR’s Design this Spaceship contest called Annulus. Impressive work.

Clive Davis - He builds many types of rockets and has been a good participant in EMRR contests, but he was selected for his work with paper rockets. He has numerous reviews, his own plans, and a featured tip on paper rockets. Neat stuff and good techniques.

Bill Eichelberger – Bill has 71 reviews/articles on EMRR (4th highest), however, he was selected for his excellent craftmanship in cloning out-of-production kits including many Centuri and Estes kits. Check out his OOP Estes Alien Invader and his recently added Hareus Humongous which is an upscaled Goonybird Cloudhopper.

Geof Givens – Take a look at Geof’s scratch builds, especially the Sapphire Queen and the Dark Matter Driftship to get a sense of why we picked Geof. Imaginative and very skilled.

Dick Stafford – What can we say? Dick became a Featured Reviewer in 2001 and now has the most articles/reviews on EMRR…148…(yes, he just passed me last update, although I have two I’m working on so I’ll pass him again). He is highly supportive of the site in database management and a good sounding board. He runs a great rocket-related Blog, Dick’s Rocket Dungeon. Although he has many, many unique, odd, and challenging rockets, I personally liked his Fireball X15 rocket.

Chan Stevens – After just saying what I did about the number of Dick’s reviews… Chan is going to pass us both this year. He is a rocket-building monster. Back in 2004, in his interview he said he had over 250 rockets. Well four years have gone by and I suspect that number is nearly 500. He has 142 reviews/articles on EMRR.

So, now back to the second part of the question asked, “Are they experts or in some other way better at building and flying than the non featured reviewers?”

You decide.

Next Up: Help along the way.

EMRR introduces Who's Who Registry!

Introducing the new Who's Who in Rocketry Registry... this could be a lot of fun. Can you join in? Also, check out the exciting... reviews and opinions added to the site. Click What's New?.

I've updated the Essence BLog as well (share your comments):


Regards, Nick

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Why “Essence”?

Some have wondered that. Many have indicated that they thought that was my last name. It isn’t. Essence actually comes from something completely detached from my rocketry hobby. Here’s how it started:

I worked for a company responsible for maintaining manufacturing equipment in 1989. We had a service contract to maintain the equipment and were responsible for producing performance metrics. Things like availability, mean time between fail, mean time to repair, etc. The customer’s data collection system could not produce adequate reports. I found a shareware program called QubeCalc (a 3-Dimensional Spreadsheet). This program had the ability to write macros and was probably well ahead of Lotus123 in its day.

Using QubeCalc, I created a program that allowed us to import the customer data and process it to create the appropriate reports. After working many late nights, I got this delusion that "this is really something" and "I should call myself something"… and therefore, I came up with Essence Software.

Why Essence? I started to look for words that were close to my last name and meant something. Essence had one meaning that caught my eye: distinctive quality. That was significant to me and so I adopted Essence Software.

To finish the QubeCalc story, the company we were supporting wanted to buy it. Couldn't. My company and I felt differently about the ownership of that piece of software. So the first product of Essence Software died a quick and painless death. (NOTE: I did get a check from my company for $1500 in recognition for the work I did which was cool!)

From there, I decided Essence Software could do more.

I then taught myself VisualBasic and created an offline Bulletin Board System (BBS) Reader and Search engine. It was pretty good and became fairly well know. Eventually a researcher contacted me for the publisher of the Dummies Guide To. We agreed that they could include it on a disk for a “Dummies Guide to BBS”. Now, pause for a moment and think about the date. When would you say that BBS’s were overtaken by internet forums? Some say that by 1996 BBS’s lost their popularity… I felt it a bit earlier.

Strike two for Essence Software. (Oh, and how he goes on!) Essence Software was decidedly dead.

Okay, so previously I wrote about getting into HTML programming which started EMRR. The obvious answer to “why Essence” is that I have carried the Essence name over to the website. However, as you have probably noticed, I use a different definition. I think the basic, real, and invariable nature of a thing fits so nicely for a “reviews” site. Breaking things down to their very basics. Perhaps you share the same thought.

I also use Essence for Essence Aerospace Technologies which I loved calling EAT. I may do more with that in the near future. Check out this logo Arley Davis created in a Logo Contest. Cool, eh?

And most recently, I’ve added this Essence of Essence’s Model Rocketry Reviews Blog using the new definition of (in philosophy) the true constitution of anything, as opposed to what is accidental.

Essence Software is dead, but Essence Technologies is a registered LLC and is happy to bring you Essence’s Model Rocketry Reviews!

Next up: What is a Featured Reviewer? What do you think?

EMRR has been updated!

We've added articles from the big "Hareus Humongous" to the small "Micro Darmok". So definitely something worth looking into. Also, here are a couple preview activities…

The SpaceCAD Library is just kicking off. Send us your files.

Also, not available on the menu’s yet is our newest database. The Who’s Who in Rocketry Registry. Add your information here.


Regards, Nick

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Rocket Room

Seems like the years have clipped by. My second son is almost four, we’ve been in this house for just over two years, I travel more for work, and I haven’t (seemingly) had time to build rockets… nor fly that often.

But, yesterday afternoon, I fixed up my “rocket room” and am now poised to build some rockets this year. I will also plan on finishing and flying them as well.

For the last couple of years, I’ve just been able to hit a couple of larger launches: 2006 it was NYPower and last year it was NARAM-49. Outside of that, not much flying. So, it is time to hit the high school field and farmland again.

I have a ton of things to build, but most recently the Pemberton Kraken and the Sirius S.S. Cestris Interplanetary Transport Vehicle have captured my attention (and are sitting on my building pile). I also love the lines of the Estes Crossfire ISX which came in a starter set with the Amazon that my oldest son built. AND, I’m intrigued with the design of the Heavenly Hobbies Backdraft.

I also need to finish painting the Madcow Scout, Semroc Hydra VII, and the USR Sentra SRB 2.7.

Lastly, I have a plan to convert my damaged BSD Thor into an upscale of my “award winning” SpaceLiner 100. I’m still working out what to use for the fins/wings to reduce the weight, perhaps the Giantleap aerospace composite material (picture on right).

Coming from the last two years… this is a lot on my plate, but, let’s go for it!

Friday, February 1, 2008

It All Begins Here

Why? Is it like I need more typing in my life?

Well, the reason is that sometimes I have more to say than what actually belongs in EMRR content. I hope some of you spend a few minutes and read along. Your appreciation of EMRR may grow or there is that risk that you could care less. But if the latter, then look here before reading another word.

So with this introduction, I’d like to get into the Essence of Essence’s Model Rocketry Reviews:

That’s right. I started off back in 1998 with an idea. You’re wrong. The idea was not EMRR, it was to learn how to program in html. I thought this could benefit me some how. EMRR came about as a medium to learn HTML.

Funny thing was, after I started the site with the initial 25 reviews I determined that it was fun. Some responded in a positive way. In 1 month the 25 had grown to 50 reviews, in 2 months over 100, and by the end of the year it was over 200. The curve definitely decreased after the first couple of months because I had pretty much completed my scrounging of the internet and asking permission to copy other’s reviews into EMRR.

But then the site started to gain an audience. At that time, EMRR was getting about 500 hits a month, we relied on some free space from our ISP and we didn’t have a dedicated URL (although the original still works).

The growth slope changed significantly in 2000. Quarterly review and article additions went from approximately 50 per quarter to consistently over 75 and sometimes as high as 200. Well, today (2/1/08) we surpassed the 3000 mark with about 770 different authors! (NOTE: submissions have dropped per quarter, but that may be a sign of having so many kits already reviewed)

I regret not knowing which were the very first reviews… that would be fun to know. Back then my back-ups were done on tape and I tossed those when I went to CD’s. I also regret not putting dates on the reviews until more recently. When I did this I went back through all the archives ( and also to as many back-ups that I could find.

One of my earliest reviews was the Estes Quark. Look how old the rating box is!

Shortly after the initial start of EMRR I realized how important flight logs were. I added mine and then had others tell me they’d like to have theirs recorded, so by June 1998, the first flight logs were entered. Now there are over 25,000 flight logs on over 2,600 rockets by more than 1,300 rocketeers. Check out one of my first reviews that actually had flight logs, the Rogue Aerospace Hex Courier.

So, there’s a start to “The Essence of Essence’s Model Rocketry Reviews”. Let’s see where it goes from here.

Next up: Why “Essence”, unless someone entreats me with a better question.

en-treat () to ask (a person) earnestly; beseech; implore; beg.

EMRR: Hit's 3000 Reviews and Articles!

With rocket names like Cymech Armageddonator and Saboteur, you can
see why I created the You Flew It campaign, and Jeff Lane took me up on it this time. Enjoy those two rocket articles
as well as many more with this update. And, HEY, YOU!… Yeh, YOU. If YOU flew it… please, please review it.

Also introduced the new Essence of Essence’s Model Rocketry
Reviews BLOG. Why? Read and find out.

Introducing a new contest to model rocketry and guess who has it.
Right! EMRR, who has instigated many unique rocketry contests. This time we are merely the host of Todd Mullin’s
idea. Enjoy it.

The EMRR Challenge is off to a pretty good start.

If you can, please place a banner on your club’s website, your
website, or even ask your favorite vendor to us the “Reviewed @ EMRR” button. All these can be found at the
bottom of the page here.


Regards, Nick