July 8th is my birthday. What year? Well, every year!
I had a lovely lunch out with the family but before we went out, my dad gave me this -

I think it's pretty cool :)

I've just returned from a 1950km (1211 mile) road trip up to central New South Wales for Lydia's graduation at the Charles Sturt University. Since we were in the neighbourhood, I thought a visit to the Parkes Radio Telescope was in order :)

The Parkes Radio Telescope was built in 1961, It's a 64 meter antenna, making it the second largest radio telescope in the Southern Hemisphere. (The largest is the 70 meter antenna at Tidbinbilla near Canberra) It's known locally as "The Dish"

When Buzz Aldrin switched on the TV camera on the Apollo 11 Lunar Module, three tracking antennas received the signals simultaneously. They were the 64 metre Goldstone antenna in California, the 26 metre antenna at Honeysuckle Creek near Canberra in Australia, and the 64 metre dish at Parkes.

In the first few minutes of the broadcast, NASA alternated between the signals being received from its two stations at Goldstone and Honeysuckle Creek, searching for the best quality picture.

A little under nine minutes into the broadcast, the TV was switched to the Parkes signal. The quality of the TV pictures from Parkes was so superior that NASA stayed with Parkes as the source of the TV for the remainder of the 2.5 hour broadcast.

How could I not take the opportunity to visit this piece of space history!

Here's some photos I took of the dish.

(Click to embiggen)

More after the jump.... (or see the full set on Flickr)

The Ballistic Chicken is available now from The Rocketry Shop for just AU$35.00

Back a while, Dick posted on his blog an article about the Raygun Gothic Rocketship. It's big & pretty and I very much wanted one! However lacking large sums of money, the skills to fabricate a 38' tall steel and aluminium rocket and nowhere to store it even if I did build one, I was left to sit and stare longingly at the picutres on the web.

A few nights ago, while again looking at photos of the Rocketship, one of the few bulbs that haven't yet burned out went on - an idea! I could lasercut one of these! Make a little one that would fit in my loungeroom, to sit upon my bookshelf!

A good old-fashoned Googling turned up lots of photos and the one thing that I was hoping to find - a good structural drawing :) I was set!!

I vectorised the artwork and dropped it into CorelDraw. Two evenings later (and three goes cutting it out) I have this!

Raygun Gothic Rocketship Model
Click to Embiggen
More photos after the jump!

A while back I made up a rocket stand using Balsa. And while it served it's purpose just fine, I thought that I'd have a crack at creating one with the laser.

Horizontal Rocket Stand - Laser Cut Acrylic.
Click to Embiggen

I created the design in Corel Draw and cut it from 3mm acrylic. I used a heat gun to soften the area of each bend (There's a small notch to indicate where the bend should be). Once formed into shape, it only took a moment for the acrylic to go hard again.

Horizontal Rocket Stand - Laser Cut Acrylic.
Click to Embiggen

I have uploaded the file onto Thingiverse if you want to make one yourself :)

In a shameless effort to promote the I Build Rockets website, I came up with this nifty little V2 rocket that slots together. You can download and make your own from Thingiverse www.thingiverse.com/thing:4084

I Build Rockets - V2 Rocket Business Card

Since Cathy is both an engraver and cutter, I thought I should give it a go engraving and cutting. Layout done in CorelDraw, engraved and cut from a slab of 8mm Acrylic. Very happy with the way this turned out!

I Build Rockets - Engraved Plaque

Since the arrival of Cathy - my laser cutter (Yes, it has a name, thanks to Mike!) I've been designing new and exciting things. Well, rocket stands at least!

18mm & 13mm Rocket Display Stands
13mm & 18mm Rocket Stands

You can download and make your own from Thingiverse www.thingiverse.com/thing:4139

Orbital Decay Prototype 2The Orbital Decay had it's 1st test flight this week with a new fin design. Stability issues now fixed!

Final tweaks on the kit and it should be ready to ship early in July.

The first run will be 10 kits, but looking for a larger run on the 2nd batch.

Expressions of interest can be lodged via email

Watch this space!