Vidroc is a SUCCESS!!!


My name is John Pretto, TRA#573. Welcome to my Tripoli Level III certification rocket project. The name of the rocket is VidRoc. VidRoc was the world’s first live webcast from an amateur rocket! Vidroc flew on St. Patrick's day, March 17th at about 4pm. I used a composite video camera linked to a transmitter to a downlink and then demodulated the video and feed it into a PC with an Internet connection via 2.4Ghz wireless antennas out to El Dorado Dry Lake. In addition to the feed from the rocket, I will had two cameras on the ground watching the rocket launch upwards.

The level III Tripoli certification is the “Black-Belt” of amateur rocketry.

Growing up in Las Vegas in the 60’s was quite adventurous. I would walk out my back door into the desert and catch lizards, scorpions, snakes, and horny toads.  My father, the radiologist, would take us out behind Vo-tech High school which today is known as “Green Valley” to shoot our Estes™ Rockets off. Ironically, Les Derkovitz  (Las Vegas based rocketeer) retired from Vo-Tech High School in the video broadcast department. He probably was there as we launched our Estes a few miles away. 

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I remember thinking we were in the middle of nowhere. My father and other Physicians built VW-based Dune buggies that we used as “Recovery Vehicles.”

I remember, very clearly, the night my father took my “Honest-John” Estes rocket and covered it with gasoline and shot it off in our back yard on the fourth of July! I was mad for a long time, and now I think I would do the same thing! My father the Doctor is very cool. He is a certified welder, has his Commercial Drivers License (CDL), is instrument rated pilot, built his own dune buggy, and had two dozen automobiles and five vintage tractors. He’s done everything I like to do. I was very proud to have him out at the last “Turkey-shoot 2000” when I certified level II on my “Cohiba” rocket on a J90 long burn.

As I build the VidRoc, I’m already ruminating its storage location in my garage during the idle moments of my hobby.


Here is my son, Gianni Quintano, with his rocket Gianni Salame. This is a LOC kit painted like a Gallo Salami. I scanned in the Gallo logo and changed it so it reads "Gianni Salame." Additionally, I added the bar code and the nutritional facts.

Gianni Salami was "Best of Show" at Turkey Shoot 2000!

Here is my RDS Quasar, Slim-Jim. The Slim-Jim red just happens to be the same color as 2000 PPG Plymouth Prowler red; that is what we used here. Slim-Jim sports a single 54mm motor mount with a Missile Works RRC˛ altimeter.


This site was 

March 2nd 2001


Copyright © John Pretto 2000. All rights reserved