I figured it was time for me to make an instructable. I have been on the site for some time and feel it’s time I contribute.
In this instructable I will show you how to make a quality model rocket for cheap from start to finish. No kit or commercial parts will be needed but you could use them if you wish.
• ruler / straight edge, you will need a long and short one
• cotton swabs (optional)
• razor saw (optional)
• hobby knife / razor
• plastic container / cup / bowl
• sandpaper, from 220 up, depends on how you want the final finish
• dremel (optional)
• drill (optional)
• clamps (optional)
• glue, white glue and wood, if you only use one use white glue
• balsa, block and sheet
• masking tape
• craft paper
• glazing putty, automotive (optional)
• spray paint
• tubes to form/make the body tubes, could be a pvc pipe or a shipping tube, just as long as it isn’t too big, you can also use tubes from paper towel rolls and rolls of plastic wrap and aluminum foil make good tubes
• motors, whatever size you want
• launch rod
• recovery wadding
• elastic cord, for shock cord
• chute material. ripstop nylon, heavy trash bag, maybe a chute ible in the future
• something to use as clamping plates (optional)
Sites and Software
• open rocket, free model rocket design and simulation software
Rock Sim, offered by Apogee, more powerful and from what I have heard you are able to model more complex rockets but the cost is about $120usd
• http://www.rocketryforum.com/, lots helpful people and info
• Nar.org, good info for people getting started
• discountrocketry.com, lots of parts and good prices if you plan on using commercially available parts
Step 1: Making tubes
For this step you will need the craft paper, cup/container, white glue, sponge and whatever you are going to use as a tube form. Of course if you are going to use a found tube you can skip this.
You will need to do a little planning at this point. You need to know how big of a rocket you want to build and what motor/motors you want to use. Once you have figured out what you want to use as a form you need you need to figure out how many tubes you need to get the desired length.
Pvc pipes and mailing tubes make good forms but anything that is straight, round and sturdy will work.
Lay your form to the side and get ready to cut some strips of the craft paper. I usually cut mine about two inches wide because that is how wide my large ruler is and I make them as long as the ruler. Test fit a strip to see if it will make it to the end and it fits the way you want, if it’s short make the next one wider. Go ahead and cut a few as you will need several layers to build the tube.
Take your first strip secure it with tape to one end and wrap it around your form spiraling up like a candy cane. Make sure there are no gaps and secure the strip at the other end with another piece of tape. No glue is put on this first layer.
Now you need to mix the glue in a container. Mix glue and water till the mix is about the consistency of buttermilk, maybe a bit thicker.
Using the brush/sponge we can wet out the next strip to go on. You don’t want to completely soak it because the paper would probably just fall apart, just enough to coat the paper. You will need to work quickly on this step. This strip will be offset from the first, use the seam from the first strip as a guide. If you put it on nice and straight it will stay flat and keep an even seam all the up. Repeat this two more times to make a total of four layers.
At this point you will need to set it aside and let the glue dry. After the glue has dried you can add another few layers or if it turned out good leave it as it is.
Once you are happy with the tube you will need to remove it from the form and trim the ends. Take a piece of masking tape and wrap it around the tube so it lines up with itself, this will give you a straight line to follow. Make sure you are cutting down far enough that you will cut off all of the loose and uneven ends. Using the cutting tool of your choice remove the excess. You can use a dremel and a cutoff wheel for this too. Do this for both ends to get a good tube. If you want a rocket longer than the tube you have I will show you how to connect tubes later.
Tubes for motor mounts. Take at least two motors and tape them together end to end. Cut a strip of craft paper that is wide enough to go from end to end of the motor stack. Wrap the paper once and make sure to keep it tight and straight. I had a piece that was 710mm long and when wrapped was about 1.5mm thick tube which is a bit on the thick side, half that would probably be fine. Make sure you make the tube long enough to accept the longest motor with that diameter if you think you might want to go bigger. You will want the finished mount to be a little shorter so you can grab the motor and pull it out. You can sort motors by dia in open rock and see what the longest motor would be. Be sure to remember room on the end for the motor block to come in later steps.
You will also need a motor block, I usually use a piece of used motor casing of the same size. If you need to make one wrap craft paper around something smaller that would give you a thickness of around 3 to 6mm and fit in the motor mount tube. You will cut a length of this off to use as a motor block.
Do the same with the launch rod but only a few wraps, this will be used to make the launch lugs that will hold the rocket to the rod as it leaves the pad.