Introduction: Basic But Very Effective Bottle Rockets

Picture of Basic But Very Effective Bottle Rockets

 I'v always had a fascination for rockets, and a friend and I had the chance of devoting a saturday to having some fun with bottle rockets. We wanted to build a very simple, but impressive, bottle rocket, with hardly any parts. Check the video at the end to see how it goes!

Step 1: Concept

 Basically, for our rocket, the concept is very simple. A bottle has water and pressurized air sealed inside. The bottle is turned upside down  for launch, so that the water sits at the bottle cap end. When the cap is spun off, the highly pressurized air pushes the water out of the bottle neck with great force, and this creates the thrust.

Step 2: Materials

Picture of Materials

 For the rocket you will need:

a plastic soda bottle. ( You can play around with sizes, we found 2l and 1l bottle worked best)

a bicycle tube with a schrader valve

a bicycle pump

scissors

silicone glue (only need if problems occur)

a sunny day at an large open space, and clothes to get wet in!

Step 3: Constuction

Picture of Constuction

 firstly, take the cap off the bottle. Drill a hole in the center of the lid, the same diameter as the valve. 

Cut the valve out of the bicycle tube. leave a "collar" of rubber around the base of the valve, the same size as the inner diameter of the bottle lid. This collar will form the seal in the lid, preventing leakage before release, and will avoid the use of any sealing glue in the lid.

push the valve through the bottle cap hole, so that the valve sticks out the top.

If you find the rubber collar is not sealing properly, then you can use the silicone glue to seal, however if you have cut right then this should not be necessary 

Step 4: Firing

Picture of Firing

 This is quite the fine art! the first step is to get the optimum water/air ratio. Too much air and too little water will accelerate fast (very very fast) but will run out of propellant very fast, thus not going very far/high. Too much water and too little air will result in a very heavy rocket, and will only go a couple of metres.

We found that a little less than a quarter full of water and masses of air produced impressive results. Put in as much air as possible. We pumped to 170 pump strokes (until the pump could not do anymore, or we ran out of muscle)

Launching the rocket takes practice. Hold the bottle cap in one hand and spin the bottle off, leaving the cap in you hand and the bottle in the air .If you spin badly, the water and air will leak out before it even launches. We found one initial small twist to loosen the lid, then one big twist to release it works best.

Check the attached vid for a compilation of launches. A slow Mo camera shows some good action!

Enjoy!

Comments

JohnR (author)2010-06-08

So . . . in your video . . . exactly what was that air-to-water mixture in the very "last" sendoff? Thanks for the instructions.

MrShambles (author)JohnR2010-06-13

water, air and a little special ingredient haha

rocketree2000 (author)2010-06-06

The optimum water/air ratio is about 35-40% water. Hold the bottle level and sideways, cup your hand at the nozzle and have water flow into the bottle from your hand, when it starts to backflow, it is just about perfect. Some of my students paint their rocket and needed a way to get the right amount of water without looking so we found this technique. We tested this ratio by computer simulation and actual launches and it seems to be the "sweet spot" for 60-90 psi launches. More than 90, we didn't test. I would be a bit careful launching like this, while fun on a hot day, you need to protect your eyes, the water exits at about 70mph. Otherwise it looks like you are having a great time with it, enjoy! My daughters and I spend many summer afternoons launching water rockets.

DJ Radio (author)2010-05-24

That first picture in the intro looks very very wrong.  jk =P

TheChemiker (author)DJ Radio2010-05-24

Someone got too horny......jk

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Bio: Cape Town based maker and Geoinformatics student
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