Stifling Innovative Kids

larger image of parts needed to assemble Defcad Liberator Pistol When I was a young boy, my favorite store was the Hobby Shop on Avenue S and Coney Island Avenue, in Brooklyn, New York. It was across the street from the dungaree factory, where I bought my first pair of bell bottoms for $6.

I earned $8 a week for walking Rusty, a very old beagle. I spent most of my money at the Hobby Shop. I started buying plastic car models. I bought one gas powered U-control plane, before discovering Estes Model Rockets.

I built and launched dozens of rockets, usually in Marine Park. I started with kits, then designed my own. I read the Estes “Technical Reports” to learn how to balance them and create fins. I aspired to be an aeronautical engineer, so I could design “real rockets” like Robert Goddard.

Estes Rockets were powered by disposable engines, rated by size and power. The engines were filled with gunpowder, ignited by a glowing coil of nichrome wire.

Where Have All The Rocket Engines Gone?

My salary rose after my fourteenth birthday, because “working papers” allowed me to work at Rose Seal Pharmacy after school. I wanted to use my additional income to build multi-stage rockets. I designed my first multi-stage rocket and brought my parts list to the Hobby Shop. Sadly, the clerk informed me that he could sell me the parts, but not the rocket engines. He explained that the engines were now illegal in New York City. I was supposed to order the engines by mail, and launch rockets in Nassau County, outside the city limits.

Bad Science

I ordered a few engines from the Estes mail order catalog. However, they were more expensive and took a week to arrive. After checking a map, I asked Dad to drive me to Eisenhower Park on Long Island, to launch them. Dad replied, “Forget about it. I will test it with you.”

We tested my multi-stage design in Marine Park. Nevertheless, model rocketry had lost its charm. I did not want to break the law or wait a week for new engines. I stopped building rockets.

Evil Science

Cubify Cubex I would like to buy a 3D printer. I am not sure how I would use it, but I would like to try building a gun.

I do not want to kill anyone. I never imagined creating a gun from a printer. I would like to try it.

However, I should have downloaded the design before yesterday. When I checked the site today, I found:

This file has been removed from public access at the request of the US Department of Defense Trade Controls. Until further notice, the United States government claims control of the information.

I would still like to try building a gun from a printer. I expect to find other designs.

If my daughters asked me about the law, I would give them Dad’s answer, “Forget about it. I will test it with you.”