DIY Rocketry

We’re rocket fans. Particularly, of SpaceX- but in general too. When in the mood to launch our own, we have a good number of options:

  • Easy- we just print some cardstock graphics (falcon/Saturn V/etc), roll them up and add a nosecone.. sometimes tail fins if we’re feeling ambitious, and load them onto what is essentially a potato gun generously donated by my friend Jeff. It’s really just a simple wrapped PVC volume with a poppet valve in the middle and a barrel past that. You pump up the volume with any random pump (schrader valve) and then apply current to the solenoid. Done! This same device is one that we use for pulling down dead limbs, hanging swings, rescuing drones, etc. I modified it to work with my B&D Firestorm modular drill which includes an air pump as an accessory. Now we can pump it up and trigger it just by plugging in that drill.

  • Still easy: We have a tin can with a spot welded barrel protrusion. Originally we swiped my wife’s turkey baster and were doing custom “stomp rockets” but it evolved into a 2 stage device which is even easier and more fun now that there’s a little pop involved. Now we just jam the blowtorch into this hole and pull the igniter button. Little rockets explode off the can. Easy peasy and pretty fun.
  • Sugar rockets- I’ve done this a number of times now and never with great success. If someone reading this has suggestions please let ’em rip. It ought to be pretty straightforward and yet rarely do our sugar rockets get off the ground. I’ve followed all the guides as carefully as I can, but STILL not sure what I’m getting wrong here. Using blended stump remover and blended powdered sugar. I have my little baggie of “rocket fuel” still but still a work in progress. Maybe I’ll return to melting these fuels together instead of the ol’ mix & pound technique.
  • Water rockets- this is an easy one, obviously. Not much to say here- in fact the one we use is one I helped design going on 20yrs prior when I was designing toys in Chicago. Amazing that this one still works! (Vintage video behind our chicago apartment with Cody below)
  • Conventional model rocket engines. Well, they work. What’s left to say? Still fun- but too easy for my usual taste.