Introduction: Gasoline Powered Soda Bottle Rocket Launcher. Designed & Tested by C.L.Raub

Picture of Gasoline Powered Soda Bottle Rocket Launcher. Designed & Tested by C.L.Raub

Step 1: What You Need.

Picture of What You Need.

You will need the following items.

2- 3" PVC pipe 15" long
3- 3" PVC Clean outs with caps
1- 1/2 12" long plastic threaded pipe
1- 3" PVC pipe cap
1- 3" PVC pipe coupler
1- 2" PVC 90 degree
1- 14" piece of 1/4" copper tubing
1- primer bulb
1- on / off / on momentary switch or off / on momentary if you use a piezo igniter.
1- coil , condenser , relay or piezo igniter.
1- 12 volt portable air compressor
1- can PVC glue
1- roll solder
1- small tank for gas 1/2 to 2 oz
1- small one way valve
1- pressure gauge minimum 50 PSI (air pump may include gauge and air T ) .
1- air T
1- 4 feet tubing 3/8 OD 1/4 ID for air
1- 4 foot small gas tubing that will fit in the big tubing , the smaller the better.
1- 4 foot spark plug wire
1 7.2 to 12 volt stick pack battery, available at hobby shops.

Step 2: Introduction to Assembly

You will need various other parts: Super glue, wire, battery connectors, nuts and bolts,etc.
If you decide to build this project you may need to improvise on various parts and construction.
All the parts I used may not be available to you, or you may have a better idea about how to construct this project . Either way , you need some building skills and good old fashioned rigging. good luck.

WARNING :this project has the potential to be dangerous as you will be igniting compressed gasoline vapor and using a high voltage coil which could result in shock. If you make this gas powered soda bottle rocket, please use your head ,wear safety glasses and protect your hearing.
I have shot the rockets for years and have yet to get hurt, but if you're careless , someone could easily get hurt.

Step 3: Construction: Step 1

Picture of Construction: Step 1

Glue both clean out caps on the pipes
Make sure they're pressed on all the way.
DO NOT glue the other caps on yet.

Step 4: 2

Picture of  2

Drill a small hole through both the clean out fittings .
Make sure the fittings are lined up and you don't drill where the caps thread in.
Bolt the two sides; together finger tight , you will have to loosen it later.

Step 5: 3

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Place the front caps on the pipe. You may have to shorten the capped bottom pipe by an inch to make it easy enough to remove. Lay the pipes on their sides on a level surface and drill a hole for a nut and bolt. Make sure the hole is as far forward as possible. You have to glue the bolt in the bottom cap.
After the framing is done, bolt or screw the bottom cap on.
Do Not Glue The Cap - You may need to fix it later.

Step 6: 4

Picture of  4

Make sure the two pipes are bolted together. With a hole saw drill a 2" hole in the back of the top pipe. Make sure that you have clearance for the elbow pipe.
After the hole is drilled, glue the elbow pipe in.

Step 7: 5

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Remove the air pump from its housing.

Step 8: 6

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Place the air pump in the front of the bottom pipe; you may have to cut a hole for the air pump head in the PVC pipe if it won't fit. The air line should run out the back of the bottom PVC pipe. The power wires should run out the front.

Step 9: 7

Picture of  7

If you're using a piezo igniter you can skip step 8 and 9. Note: piezo igniters don't work as well as a coil.
You will need a coil that will fit in the PVC pipe; a motorcycle coil will work best.

Step 10: 8

Picture of  8

Place the coil in front of the air pump. The high voltage lead/ spark plug wire should run out the back. The low voltage wires should run out the front.

Step 11: 9

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Relay and all wiring in front hooked up according to chart 1.
If you're using a piezo igniter you don't use a relay.
The relay is used to make continuous spark.

Step 12: 10

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Drill 3 holes about 2" apart for pressure gauge, switch and primer bulb.
If your using a piezo igniter drill a another hole for it.
Make sure you have room in the pipe where you're drilling.

Step 13: 11

Picture of  11

Fuel tank: you need to find a fuel tank small enough to fit in the PVC pipe.
I used a small 1/2 oz car vacuum chamber.
1/2 oz will give you about 40 to 50 shots.

Step 14: 12

Picture of 12

Install your fuel tank wherever you have room.
Remember you have to fit a battery in later.
You should have your coil and air compressor wiring coming out the back of the bottom PVC pipe.
Depending upon where your fuel tank is mounted now might be a good time to install it. Make sure you have a way to fill it.

Step 15: 13

Picture of 13

Install gauge, switch, primer bulb and, if used, piezo igniter.
It may be easier to wire up the switch before installing it. The same goes for the gauge and primer bulb.

Step 16: 14

Picture of 14

Due to how different the parts you may be using are, you're on your own on this step .
The main goal is to run the fuel and the ground line through the air line to the launcher.
Make sure you run the ground, fuel and air line 3 feet.
One end of the tee goes to the gauge the other two go to the pump and launcher.
Note: go heavy on the super glue!

Step 17: 15

Picture of 15

Drill two holes in the bottom back clean out , one for the air line the other for the spark plug wire.
The other line is for filling the gas tank.

Step 18: 16

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Install wiring according to chart 1.
Connect the one way valve to the fuel line entering the air line. The other end goes to the primer bulb output.
The primer bulb input comes from the bottom of the gas tank.
All the grounds and negatives are shared.
Leave room for the battery.

Step 19: 17

Picture of 17

Cut the copper tubing about ½ " longer than the 1/2 " plastic pipe, about 12.5 "
You can solder a barb fitting on the copper pipe for the hose, but keep the length at 12.5 "
Solder the igniter end closed (refer to chart 2). Put a small pin hole in the copper tubing right below the solder.
The black mark is how far the fuel line comes up in the copper air line.

Step 20: 18

Picture of 18

Drill a hole in one of the caps so that the pipe can thread into.
Make sure it is centered, then glue it.

Step 21: 19

Picture of 19

You can use less than 3 feet (2.5 feet should work) of the tubing and spark plug wire. Just make sure you have enough to unscrew the launcher with a bottle on it.
Run the fuel line up through the copper tube about 2.5 " from the top.
Connect the air line to the bottom of the copper tube. You have to cut some of the air line to do this (refer to chart 2.)
Cut the ground line the same length as the air line. Splice the wire and connect it to the copper tube.
Run the spark plug wire along the copper tube stopping about 1 1/4 " from the top
Glue the spark plug wire to the copper tube. Insert a piece of piano wire in the center of the spark plug wire sticking out about 1 1/4 " . Put a small bend at the top towards the copper tube. After all measurements are made, glue the air line to the copper tube with super glue.

Step 22: 20

Picture of 20

Put the copper tube and spark plug wire through the 1/2 " plastic pipe.
The copper pipe should stick out about 1/2 "
Fill the end with hot glue.

Step 23: 21

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Put a bottle in the PVC pipe to hold the 1/2 " pipe straight while the glue dries.

Step 24: 22

Picture of 22

Use a hose clamp as a stopper for your bottle so it does not hit the igniter.

Step 25: 23 IMPORTANT !!!

Picture of 23   IMPORTANT !!!

Wipe super glue around the base of the launcher starting at the pipe clamp going up about 1.5" , LET IT DRY then check the fit of the bottle in the glued area. It should fit fairly tight and when tested with air pressure it should come off with about 50 PSI, the idea is to keep the bottle in place while being pressurized to 35 PSI. When it is fired the pressure will well exceed 50 PSI and the bottle will release. DO NOT GLUE THE BOTTLE ON THE PIPE !!!!!!
If the bottle is too tight it may explode when fired. If the bottle does explode, most of the time, it just blows the front of the bottle off with a loud bang. If it fails to fire DO NOT GET IN FRONT OF THE BARREL. Wait a few minutes and unscrew the back and remove the bottle.

Step 26: Fire !

Picture of Fire !

Firing instructions

1. Make sure there is no bottle on the launcher.

2. Fill the gas tank by turning it up side down putting the filling hose in gas and pumping the
primer bulb until all the air is out of the line and gas starts to run out of the copper tube.

3. Make sure you don't have a bottle on the launcher.

4. Run the air pump to expel any excess gas from the vaporizer assembly.

5. Now you can put the bottle on the launch tube and press down until it hits the stopper.

6. Press the primer bulb 1/2 pump you should see the fuel run into the vaporizer tubes.

7. Turn the compressor on and pressurize the bottle
to 25-35 psi.

8. Any higher is at your own risk.

9. Fire!!!

10. Repeat 4-7

11. IF it does not fire, don't get in front of the
launcher. Wait a few minutes, then unscrew the launch
tube and remove and replace the bottle
(the bottle may be flooded)

Try putting a few ounces of water in the bottle, this will give you a nice boost.

You can also shoot this from the hip if you feel confident enough after a few firings,
I don't however advise shooting from your shoulder unless you devise some facial
Shielding, or other protection.

Step 27: Tray

Picture of Tray

The bottles don't carry too far (due to their weight) but they're not supposed to, the object on the front (water balloon, etc) is the payload.

You have to make a launching tray out of another soda bottle just chop the bottom off about 1/4 up.

You can also put water in the rocket bottle (about 1/4 full) for some extra kick.

Do not fire objects over 6 oz.

Wear safety glasses and ear plugs.

And Most Of All Use Your Head!!

Think about where you are and who is around when you decide to start firing!!!


Step 28: Chart 3

Picture of Chart 3


Step 29: Chart 1

Picture of Chart 1

chart 1

Step 30: Chart 2

Picture of Chart 2

chart 2


Masher007 (author)2014-04-28

Danger: See link: This is not spam, but a warning. PVC will fail suddenly after a while. This was band member that hurt badly by a T-Shirt launcher explosion.

See the pictures and never use PVC to hold air, Please.

Housedog (author)2012-05-25

Why have you disabled the videos of your ible?

Dr.Bill (author)Housedog2012-08-25

Yeah I was looking forward to seeing them.

el_roboto_loco (author)2010-12-29

dude...where did you get that air pump?

akatsuki666 (author)2009-07-19

im sry,im new at this stuff lol. one more thing. how do you run the air t to the launcher as stated in step you connect it to the air tube which connects to the copper which has the gas line running thro it? If thats it it looked quite clear but i dont wana blow the thing up once i turn it on. thanks agin

akatsuki666 (author)2009-07-19

let me get this right if im wrong correct me. the gas line is inside the copper tubing. there is a spark thingy with piano wire that is like 1/4 in from the copper. so the gas is inside the copper tubing, the spark goes from the wire to the copper, the gas explodes..but the end of the copper tubing is soldered shut.. so how does the little boom thing make the bottle go up?

smeata (author)2008-06-03

Gasoline dissolves plastic, especially pvc.

Biopyro (author)smeata2009-06-10

Gasoline does not dissolve PVC!

covey12 (author)Biopyro2009-06-10

actually it does, it won't dissolve ABS which can't hold pressure at all, because PVC is not made for chemicals and ABS is

firebird11692 (author)2009-06-02

you have more of a mortar setup. still awesome though.

mortso (author)2009-06-02

Dude, shock is the least of your worries. You are using Sched 40 PVC I think, maybe not, but it's max rated pressure decreases with size. In your 3" size it's only about 120 PSI. When your compressed fuel/air ignites you're probably pushing 1200 psi. A high speed camera might indeed show the chamber swelling like a balloon. You need to use Schedule 80 PVC, completely sterile and clean glue area, 48 hours cure time, then wrap the whole thing in a blanket or get a shield. I've done this for a long time, had some cannons blow all to hell just missing my face and once sticking the piezo igniter in a tree behind me!! You have a great design it's just under-built for the pressures. My 2ç worth!

Actually the pressure is never contained in the pvc, The ignition chamber is inside the soda bottle, the only thing that may rupture is the bottle in which case the ejecta will shoot out the front of the bottle. This isn't a spud gun. It isn't built to hold pressure its just a launch assembly. Thanks for the warning though.

I need to look more closely... my apologies.. but Sched 80 would be safer just in case... You can buy Clear PVC in short lengths but it's hella expensive, like $15 a foot for 2"... might be cool to build a demo gun out of that—it would be totally transparent for videos etc. Anyway, you've got a cool design and sounds like you're pretty safe... just remember Murphey's Law... "What Can go wrong Will go wrong"... I put my stuff behind an old Plexi MC Windshield now.. lol

mr builder (author)2009-04-26

i going to buid it how much is it going to cost$$$

You can find all the parts for under $50 even less if you scrounge around.

vince q (author)2009-03-09

i know it's been a while since you posted this but i've just found this. about how much did this cost you?

BlueFusion (author)2007-06-21

Very cool. I have also been building something like this, using compressed air only. Very interesting hybrid of a compressed air type cannon and a traditional spud cannon with fuel. I did try launching bottles using internal combustion (hehe) by putting the bottle on my butane torch, waiting and then lighting the torch, but it didn't work as well as this. What is even more interesting is that if you use water as well, it becomes a triple hybrid of air cannon, spud cannon and bottle rocket launcher. This is such a creative, well designed hybrid build that it definitely deserves to win. Everybody vote for it, NOW!

evanwehrer (author)BlueFusion2008-10-31

I made something similar but in an over the shoulder type form.

gotja (author)BlueFusion2007-09-03

i been just using air (my parents would never let me use gassoline) lol and i shot a tenis ball agians a brick wall and hte tenis ball got destroyed lol and i got to 50-75ish psi any ideas how to change this into a all air one?

BlueFusion (author)gotja2007-09-06

stop saying "lol" you're not laughing out loud

moomoomossop (author)BlueFusion2007-09-22

yeah seriously why do you care if gotja says "lol" or not? everyone COOL says lol so there! lol :P [Molly xx]

gotja (author)BlueFusion2007-09-07

it realy wasnt a laugh maby it was a laugh to some1 but it was like a hehe kinda laugh btw y do u care

Thanks. I have a lot more projects if this one goes over well. I have been making all kinds of things since I was about 5 years old. My brother talked me into entering this one.

Outlander (author)2008-06-06

Maybe it's just me, but where does the gasoline come in? I see a tube thats being pressurized by a pump and lunching a water bottle. So what does gasoline have to do with any of this?

orangesrhyme (author)Outlander2008-07-16

The pressure increased the fuel's combustion qualities. You can see the smoke from the gas in the vid if you look close.

space-cow (author)2008-06-10

You should try Kerosene its a little more powerful than gas plus Nasa actually sent up a rocket using it.

mkamchin (author)2008-06-04

how much did it cost you?

ilikebombs (author)2008-01-12

hey if u used denatured alchohol or something else instead of gasoline would it take more pumps of fuel for the same effect as gasoline?

pbpenguin5 (author)2007-06-05

that's crazy, nice job. and no one died firing that?

Nope not one .

jleemero (author)2007-06-06

Wait a second... Cool, really, but I do believe that PVC is soluble(spelling?) in gas... So, probably don't want to leave any gas in there for too long or anything... Not sure really...

Kiteman (author)jleemero2007-06-06

"Polyvinyl chloride (PVC): A polymer of vinyl chloride. Tasteless odorless, insoluble in most organic solvents. A member of the family vinyl resin, used in soft flexible films for food packaging and in molded rigid products such as pipes, fibers, upholstery, and bristles."

Kiteman (author)Kiteman2007-06-06

"Add some fuel (denatured alcohol; PVC is soluble in gasoline)"

Make your own flame-thrower... Hmm...

ilikebombs (author)Kiteman2008-01-12

thatts probably a good idea not to use gasolin then since everyone who likes homebrew cannons uses pvc knows,pvc is not detectable in x-rays.

you can experiment with other fuels, i have found that gas gives you more bang for the buck. Also you shouldn't have any gas pooling or setting in the barrel or anywhere else, the only place the gas is expelled is as a vapor in the soda bottle, the vapor is then burnt off during launch, you may get a small amount of unburnt fuel misted inside but i have never had any problems with the pipes softening or cracking. The launch rod with the vaporizer/spark assembly is made of a rigid plastic that is unaffected by the gasoline vapor.

I am going to post a longer more extensive video that goes through all steps of launch. Ill make sure to get some closeup shots ( using the Macro setting) and possibly a nice slow mo video during launch. Look for it in the next few days.

ilikebombs (author)2008-01-12


kishida (author)2007-10-06

Very detailed instructions, but could you add a chart and/or description of the path of the air and fuel?

qdogg (author)2007-10-04

How about just hooking up a can of starter fluid (ether) to the tube & dispensing w/ all the associated priming & vaporizing hardware? If you use metal pipe you could use acetylene gas w/some air & get some righteous action (provided the bottle doesn't melt!)

darkblood (author)2007-06-18

I got something like this: BBQ Sparker at my local hardware store for about 20 bucks. It uses a flyback power supply and a single AA battery to make sparks to light a BBQ. The beauty of it is, you can hook it up across two points about a quarter of an inch apart, and it will fire hundreds of sparks per minute as long as you hold the button down. Makes an easy upgrade to a spud gun.

el_roboto_loco (author)darkblood2007-06-29

I bought one of those on the net after I read your comment. It's something I needed for a project and would be one less circuit to build, unfortunately mine doesn't work. It uses a single AA. I would send it back, but I'll open it up and make it work, and see how they made it, although I know how it works, but I want to see the transformer. It's sealed up pretty tight and it'll be a job just cutting it open.

taimaster2005 (author)2007-06-12

I got my launcher to successfully launch today! There are still some improvements I need to make though. I usually have to push the launch button several times to make the bottle launch because (even with a relay) it only sparks when I let go of the button. I'm thinking about using a 555 timer to make the pulses so it continously sparks. Also, I'm using my rc car gas (nitro, alcohol, and oil mix) instead of gasoline. Gasoline is stinky and is rough on the plastics. Thanks for the design! I can't wait to get out to a field to see how far I can get stuff to go.

BlueFusion (author)taimaster20052007-06-23

You need to hook the relay's power up through its own normally closed connections so when it switches, it immediately switches back. No 555 timer needed, 60+ times per second switching.

The relay should work unless the coil draws to much power and there is not enough to open the relay, as the relay opens it cuts it's own current and the coil field collapses (it sparks) then repeats. I have glow fuel 20% nitro I will try it.

taimaster2005 (author)2007-06-13

I'm still haveing trouble getting my launcher to fire everytime. Sometimes it fires and sometimes it doesn't. I don't know if i'm putting enough fuel in or the oil in the glow fuel is causing issues. Also, right after I charged the battery (12v) I got a continuous spark but when it drops below 12v (which happens pretty fast) I don't get the continuous spark. I have a 9v relay sitting here, do you think that will give me the continous spark since it's a lower voltage relay (but will be overvolted)? Can you test your launcher with the glow fuel so I can see whether that is the problem or not?

I'm using a 6 volt relay, 12 volts doesn't seem to hurt it, it's only on a very short amount of time. The relay contacts will burn up before the windings. Maks sure your fuel is well vaporized, you should only use about 1 ml of gas or 2 ml of glow fuel. Try gas it's cheaper anyway and go with the lower volt relay.

Technical Renaissance (author)2007-06-12

What's the range? Noise level? Great design.

600 to 1000 feet 5 oz water balloon, noise is not to bad.

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