May Rocket Build

From: Kevin W.
Sent on: Sunday, April 1, 2012 12:20 AM

Hello Makers!

At the March meeting I proposed we do something with rockets in May. After the meeting Ben S. suggested we have group build projects, and that we could start with building a rocket together for the May launch day. I think that's a fine idea and I'm keen to get it going.

I propose we do a group water rocket build. It seems to make sense to me to form three teams, one for propulsion (launcher and pressurization systems), a vehicle team for the body and staging systems, and a recovery and avionics team. Each team would be responsible for coordinating a design for their subsystem and supplying the materials. I imagine a process where each team could talk ahead of time and kick around design ideas sometime in the first part of April, teams all get together to talk about their favorite designs and ideas and together we hash out an integrated design for the whole rocket sometime before the end of April, and each team divvies up the bill of materials and finalizes their design ahead of a build day sometime mid May-ish.

The parameters of the mission:

  1. Two-staged rocket design (with a target altitude of between 250 ft. and 500 ft.)
  2. On-board video to get a view of the ground and/or horizon on ascent
  3. Predict how high it will go
  4. Verify flight altitude and maybe acceleration profile (with some degree of accuracy)
  5. Safe, controlled recovery

To keep this project feasible let's not totally reinvent the wheel. There are a lot of resources out there we can borrow from to design the rocket.

My buddy George in Australia is my main inspiration for water rocket stuff: and you'll get a kick out of all his YouTube videos.

You can also check out the team holding the world record for water rocket altitude (2044 feet): US Water Rockets and in particular I would like to consider their camera hack.

A launcher design I really like is called the "Clark Cable" launcher. It's named after Ian Clark. There are a bunch of references when you Google for it but I can't find my exact design preference. It's an h-frame PVC design. But they all work on the same principal. But of course the vehicle team would have to choose to use 2L bottles for the body.

NASA actually has a good beginners rocket education program online.

A dated but still helpful index of water rocket reading is

Oh, and you can check out my most popular water rocket video (half a million views) on YouTube.




So I would like to volunteer for the recovery and avionics team. I'm willing to buy the camera. If you want to join in speak up about what team you'd like to join and let's get this conversation moving. This is a post on the message boards, so that's probably a good place to have this discussion.

This should be fun!


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