Labor Day Systems Test

Labor Day was the 1st test for the new Inertia II system and the completely revamped Pumpkin Rover 2 (PR2). The awesome crew from Science Channel was there to film the whole thing! Have to say that their professionalism made the whole process almost painless! Amelia, Tim, Ryan and Chris rock!! If it wasn't for the extremely high winds (been there, did that last year) blowing a fertilizer/mulch mix all over us and everything, it would have been better. Wonder how dirty our faces will look on HD TV??

First, Inertia II will certainly be able to take on the competition this year. Hitting the mile should be well within our reach! We have fixed the hydraulic issues and PR2 easily moves up and down slopes and the boom and hoist are working super well. Previously, we still had to "help" PR2 up slopes, and the winch was not pulling well enough. Greg fixed that by tweaking the controls.

Second, the chain issue that was a problem on Monday has been worked out. Moving the chain tensioner closer to the lower gear on the gear speed reduction box drastically reduced the chain flap, due primarily to a new, unstretched chain. The choice between a pre-stretched chain and a new unstretched one was strictly financial. We got it worked out, by moving the tensioner and reinforcing the very heavy gear reduction mechanism to avoid the movement of the box to make the chain jump off the gears.

This year, we are going to use a much stronger guy wire support system for the towers, along with a spring system to both support the towers to reduce sway, and secondly allow the natural swing back motion that is inherent to the launching movement.

All in all, the tests went very well. We made some MAJOR changes to PR2 this year, the power system for Inertia. We changed out the engine to a Chevy 454, added an alternative power unit to run the auxiliary systems when not actually launching, a hydraulic system so we can use PR2 to move and setup the components, and many changes to the electrical system. Greg draws up the most complex electrical schematics!! PR2 is an extremely complex system, with electrical, pneumatic, hydraulic and mechanical systems all working together to throw a pumpkin a mile! Takes a lot of testing and tweaking. She works very well.

Looking forward, we are planning a field test around the 25th of September in a location TBD. If you are interesting in viewing this event, please email us at, with the subject line, "Test Launch Viewing" and we will get back to you. A little difficult to find an area to test a mile launch without taking out buildings, vehicles, and local livestock. Also, we need to consider how to do this without violating local air space!!

The local event, Jack-O-Launch in Aurora is coming up the weekend of October 9th. This will be the last test of field set-up and limited launch testing. Then it is time for our departure for Delaware on Halloween! Look out Delaware, Team TMC and Inertia II is coming your way!