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How to put duct tape into orbit for a dollar a day.
 
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Step 1: Build Your Launcher

The launcher is made out of PVC. I used what I had around. It has 2 parts: an air tank, and a launch pipe.
The air tank is used because most valve stems don't let a large volume of air through at a time. The valve stem let the air in, but not out (duh!). The first time I made this, I cut apart i bike inner tube for the stem, drilled a hole in the end cap, and hot melt glued it together. That lasted all of 10 launches. Then I found car tire valve stems at the local hardware store, so use those. Just follow the instructions on the package to drill the right size hole.
The launch pipe carries the air from the air tank into the rocket. Mine is way longer than it needed to be, but then again, I planed on make some much bigger rockets latter :) (don't, unless you have somewhere far from any cars that can be damaged. the big one I made with a Nerf ball nose but a big dent I the neighbor's car, luckily he was a good sport.) It does help you not have your ear next to the end of the pipe, and thats very good considering how loud this is. The launch pipe is 1/2" water pipe. The rockets should fit snug on it, and are fed completely onto it before launch.
I later added a threaded fitting below the valve so I could take the launcher apart for storage. If you do, use Teflon tape so that it doesn't leak.
Madrias3574 years ago
These are really quite cool!  I remember when I was a little younger, my friends and I would make stuff like this and shoot it off for the 4th of July.  Drove our neighbors mad with poorly constructed rocket tubes and rockets that we'd launch, of course, down the street.  One of them threatened to call the cops if we did it again, so we 'accidentally' shot his car with one.
aheld5 years ago
For what its worth - we discovered today that lighter/smaller rockets go better with lower pressures (20-40 lbs). Our larger efforts would go best from 50-80 pounds. Unless the rocket is solidly wrapped in duct tape, pressures over about 90 psi often resulted in exploded rockets.
pleasedontspamme (author)  aheld5 years ago
I pointed that out to the kids I was doing this with, next thing you know we've got one kid make a rocket with only one wrap of tape, just to see it blow up. make a dang good confetti cannon.
Yep - it doesn't take them long to try everything, does it? It also makes a heck of a POP! when you have 80-100 lbs air loaded in. We had one blow into two sections, and both still launched successfully (momentum, I guess.)
aheld5 years ago
Amazing! For $18 worth of pvc, connectors and a valve it works perfectly! Built it in less than 2 hours, including the trip to the hardware store. Used my portable air compressor. This was unquestionably our most popular Tech Club meeting of the year. THANK YOU!
pleasedontspamme (author)  aheld5 years ago
Glad it worked so well for you. If you want any other ideas, I could tell you some. i just haven't had the chance to make them into instructables.
todroda6 years ago
Thanks for the ideas!

launch 2Launch 1Love the rocket. We have built two. First was all 1/2 inch pipe with a manual release valve. works good up to 115 PSI. Decided to give it away.

Second is 3/4" PVC with two launch tubes, an installed pressure gauge (safety for the kids) since we use a bicycle pump to fill, and a yard sprinkler electric launch valve. It has two launch pipes. 1/2" and 1". we have only used this one a few times and only up to 110 PSI. works great with the electric launch control as the hand valve some kids turned too slow.

launch height has been agreed by several was about 5 stories high.

Masking tape rocket with waxy magazine pages as the paper and a little duct tape on the nost seem to work the best so far.
joemonkey7 years ago
oh. i thought they used engines. cool, but not that powerful.
pleasedontspamme (author)  joemonkey7 years ago
We shot one that ended up 2 blocks away. The best part is that once you have the launcher, you can keep shooting them off for free. Ream of cardstock $3.00 Roll of DT $1.50 PVC and glue and other parts for launcher $20.00 Per unit cost for 100 Rockets $0.24 And you can get more than 10 launches. Most of the estes rockets I've made failed after 3 launches And I don't have to buy motors for them
If you want it more 'splody then look up how to make spud guns. replace ye olde air tank with combustion chamber of spud gun and there you go. I work with youth in scouting, and as such have been instructed by said scouting higherups that i am NOT to teach said young people about such 'splodiness. I am however allowed other way of uping the coolness factor. such as duct tape glowsticks to the rockets and launching at night. most impresive, but sadly, the pics didn't turn out.
That's pretty sweet. Does it look like a green tracer round?
pleasedontspamme (author)  orangesrhyme6 years ago
Pretty much. You still lose track of it once it gets up there.
thats cool. my boyscout leader had one like it. these must be better. sorry about the down talk. his go MAYBE 50 ft up. we had to pump a bike pump untill it killed our arms to get it that high. it sucked! we all hated it after a while so we drilled holes all thru it and put gas in it.we lit a match and started pumpin. 3 seconds later it would shoot fire out the little holes. :D
ultrauber6 years ago
how high do these go?
pleasedontspamme (author)  ultrauber6 years ago
The normal 1 sheet of paper ones go about 80-100 feet up. the uber ones that can dent cars on the way down can land 3 blocks away, but we have ever really measured how high they went.
i made one of these in tech ed class this year ecsept we used masking tape
e13377 years ago
Ive been makeing these things for years, Ive discovered that the tighter the rocket is the higher it goes. The only problem is they can only be use once cause i cant put the back on the launcher (the inside is screwed up). So i make them with the blue painters tape and only one sheet of paper.
knexer17 years ago
I just roll up old papers from school, 6-7 sheets makes a pretty nice rocket.
pleasedontspamme (author) 7 years ago
I added some videos of a launch. The pressure is at 40 psi cause my air compressor was turned down. I also added some pics of the bigger rockets that go Lost higher. At 120 psi the little one explode, but the big ones can seriously damage vehicles. Don't launch bigs near anything that isn't completely expendable.
westfw7 years ago
A nice enhancement of the "Straw rockets" I've seen elsewhere (OMSI?)