Introduction: Eco Office Rocket: Build a Rocket From Trash

Picture of Eco Office Rocket: Build a Rocket From Trash

Don't throw away those old papers. Turn them into a rocket!

Whether you're just bored at work or want to have your own 'space race' at the office while your boss is on vacation, the Eco Office Rocket is for you. It's a great way to kill time, recycle trash, and take a break from a your day-to-day activities.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools

4+  Sheets of paper
1     File folder or similar sturdy paper
1     Plastic bag of any size
1     Sheet of toilet paper
1     Good rubber band
1     Paperclip
1     Pen

Ruler (print one)

Step 2: Make the Body Tube

Picture of Make the Body Tube

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The Body Tube:
1.     Determine what diameter of engine you want. As you may guess, the size and price are directly proportional. (C6-5's that I have were less than $10 for three.)
2.1.  Do a simple c=πd calculation to find out your body tubes inner diameter. (For A to C motors, use 56.55mm.)
2.2.  Make a straight line this distance, c, that is parallel from the edge of your paper.
3.     Loosely roll the paper on itself with your line inside the roll.
4.     Tighten up your tube such that the internal edge of the paper is lying along the line you made. Make sure the top and bottom are relatively flat.
5.     Tape the tube in the middle.
6.     Tape another sheet on in the tube in line with the first. (Tape the top, bottom, and middle.) 
7.     Repeat this until you have a sturdy tube. (I used three sheets. For larger diameter motors, use more.)
8.     Tape the last sheet in the middle then the full length of the edge.

Step 3: Make the Motor Mount

Picture of Make the Motor Mount

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The Motor Mount:
1.       Straighten out a paper clip.
2-3.   Using your scissors as pliers, make a small 90º bend on one end. (a little over 1/8" long)
4-5.   Using the scissors again, make another 90º bend out of the other end such that the length of your motor will fit in between. (A to C motors are 70mm long.)
6.       Make a note of where you need to insert the paper clip. You want about 1/4" of the motor exposed so you can easily pull it out.)
7.       Using a finger to prevent the body tube from crumpling, poke a hole through the body tube. (You may want to rough up the tip of the paper clip to make it into more of a needle.)
8.       After you poke through the one side, poke through the opposite side remaining perpendicular to the body tube.
9-10. After you're through both sides, bend the remaining bit of the paper clip down.
11.     Tape over the paper clip about two times.
12.     Tape over the middle of the paper clip about two times. (Make sure you can still bend the bottom of the paper clip up.)

Step 4: Make the Nose Cone

Picture of Make the Nose Cone

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The Nose Cone:
        Disassemble your pen to just the pointy cap and the tube.
2.        Cut the tube about two inches from the cap.
3.        Cut long strips of paper about 1-1.5" wide.
4-5.     Wrap the paper around the pen at a slight angle, starting at the cap. (Loosely coil the paper at first, then tighten to the right shape.)
6-8.     Add strips until it is the right diameter to fit in the body tube. (You may need to trim down the strips.)
9.        Cut some half-width strip of tape. (You can easily tear them.)
10-11. Wrap them around the nose cone until you have enough to form a stop to keep the nose cone from falling into the body tube.
12-14. Wrap a long strip of tape around nose cone from the pen cap to the tape stop. (When the tape gets too high of an angle, crimp the tape and wrap over them.)
15.       Gently crimp down the bottom of the nose cone so it can easily fit into the body tube.

Step 5: Attaching the Nose Cone

Picture of Attaching the Nose Cone

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Attaching the Nose Cone:
1.         Poke a slit for your rubber band about 2" from the top. (The bottom has the motor mount.)
2.         Cut your rubber band into a strip.
3.         Wiggle the rubber band through your hole.
4.         Cut about 1/2" off the end of the ink tube.
5.         Knot the rubber band around the piece of the ink tube.
6.         Tape the knot down into a low profile position.
7.         Cut three strips of tape about 1' long.
8.         Fold the tape on itself.
9.         Line up the three strips and tape them onto something.
10.       Braid the tape.
11.       Put the right in the middle.
12.       Put the left in the middle and repeat.
13-14. Tape off the ends into a tight coil.
15.       Cut off the tip of the pen cap on the nose cone so the tape string can fit through.
16.       Thread the string through and tie a knot to prevent it from slipping back through the hole.
17.       Bend the three strips back and tape them down.
18.       Tie the tape string to the rubber band.
19.       Tape over the knot.

UPDATE: The rocket tends to land on the top of the tube. It isn't going fast enough to mess it up, but add a few wraps of tape just around the top of the body tube to stiffen it up.

Step 6: Make the Recovery System

Picture of Make the Recovery System

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The Recovery System:
1.    Cut your bag into ~1"  wide strips that are ~5' long. (Tie them together if you need to.)
2.    Tie them onto the rubber band. (Max of two for this size motor.)
3.    Fold the strips.
4.    Roll the strips.
5.    Wad the toilet paper around the roll.
6.    Insert into the body tube.

Note: I chose to use streamers instead of a parachute for two reasons. One, the rocket is small and light enough that the streamers slow it well enough. Two, I am limiting myself to the tape string that is way too thick for this size body tube. If you are making a larger rocket and/or have thinner string, feel free to try and use a parachute.

Step 7: Make the Fins

Picture of Make the Fins

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The Fins:
1.       Find the middle of your file folder. (Typically, 5 3/4")
2.       Choose a desirable fin shape. (Make the leading edge on the fold.)
3-5.   Using the first fin as a guide, cut out three or four fins.
6.       Cut a small slit at the top of the fins.
7.       Bend out the flaps at a 90º angle to make tabs to better stabilize the fins. (You can use a ruler/desk edge to make a clean fold.)
8.       Tape down the trailing edges.
9-11. Tape the fins onto the rocket. (Avoid the motor mount, it needs to open and close)
12.     Tape the top ends of the tabs tightly.
13.     Tape a couple strips around the remaining pen tube. This is called the launch lug.

Step 8: You're Finished!

Picture of You're Finished!
Add some color to your rocket. It'll help you see it in the sky and find it on the ground. (I went with Christmas colors because that's all I had.) Also, if your motor doesn't fit snugly in the body tube, add a wrapping of paper to snugly fit it in. You need a good seal for the ejection charge (when it blows the nose cone off and the streamers out.)

I hope the build was interesting enough to get you through that boring work day. If you still have time to kill, think about adding the following things:
  • A payload section - All you would have to do is make a second, wider tube and a second nose cone that goes the other way.
  • A parachute - (for wider rockets) Plastic will work, but reinforce where you attach the string. It rips easy.
  • Put the fins on at an angle - It makes it fly straighter, but tougher to attach the fins.

Step 9: Extra Bits: the Launch Equipment

Picture of Extra Bits: the Launch Equipment

Here's a quick slideshow of how to make a launch rod and launch controller. The pictures are pretty self explanatory.


HG boy Regun (author)2016-05-09

how to make its fuel?

chuber3 (author)2011-11-20

Running a "bead" of super glue around the nose cone end of the body tube will help both stiffen and "toughen up" the tube with out adding a lot of weight. This will help to keep your recovery system from Zippering your body tube.

sokamiwohali (author)chuber32011-11-25

If you did that you would blow up the rocket when the ejection charge ignites OR you will blow the motor out of the rocket and no parachute will deploy. which according to the NAR is illeagal.

no its not. estes produces alot of "tumble" recovery rockets ei. 220 swift, quark, etc.

there is only a couple rockets that estes make (or used to make) that are TRUE "tumblers"...i cannot remember the name of it, but it had small sections of plastic tubing that interlocked with each other and connected by a shock cord...that is a break apart tumbler...perfectly legal in accordance to the National Association of Rocketry (NAR). that kind is legal because its design prevents it from completing the apogee in a nose down dive ( illegal according to the NAR). the "tumblers" that estes makes ALL have some sort of streamer to slow the rocket's descent, and to keep it from going into a nose down configuration. plus those rockets you mentioned dont have the same power as a standard rocket motor would have.

al_packer (author)2011-10-30

Commercial model rocket engines have several big advantages: They are consistent--same thrust and same duration from one to the next. They incorporate a reliable recovery mechanism--same delay and same ejection charge from one to the next. They don't require you to mix highly flammable powders and pound them into a tube (do you know which metals are non-sparking and which to avoid?).

Sshuggi's instructable is really true to the roots of model rocketry. Back in the beginning you HAD to make your own body tubes, because there were no ready made ones available. So a big thank-you to sshuggi for taking model rocketry back to its roots.

javajunkie1976 (author)2011-08-08

Instead of buying rocket motors and keep it within the materials found in an office, why not make this a sugar powered rocket?

sshuggi (author)javajunkie19762011-08-09

Sure, I just wanted to make an instructable showing a scenario where you only have access to the things around you. It's pretty adaptable, and if you have access to some stump remover(KNO3) and some proper equipment, you could easily make a sugar rocket. I could make an insctructable for a sugar rocket motor, but there are quite a few already out there and I'm not sure what the policy is for remaking instructables.
Thanks for the comment.

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