Picture of GoPro Model Rocket
This is a completely scratch-built model rocket designed to carry my GoPro camera. 

It is 42" tall and flies on three "E" size Estes motors, and its recovered by a 54 inch parachute. The camera is housed completely within the main body tube (not in the nose cone), which allows for great footage on the way up, and great right-side-up footage on the way down. This also eliminates any drag issues.

I've included a video of the rocket's first flight in the comment section below. 

Thanks for looking! 
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Step 1: Rocket body tubes

Picture of Rocket body tubes
Two 18-inch tubes were made using the method I have outlined in this instructable. Each tube was made using a 3" mailing tube as a blank.

Step 2: Motor housing

Picture of Motor housing
The motor housing tubes were made using the same method described in the instructable noted in the previous step. The engine block rings shown in the first photo were made from 1/4" MDF. The two circles that hold the three motor tubes were cut from 1/8" craft plywood.

All craft plywood used for this project was cut with a scroll saw.

Step 3: Connect two body tubes

Picture of Connect two body tubes
The motor housing was glued in place in the end of one of the body tubes. 2.5 inches were removed from each tube, one to be used as a coupling and the other as part of the camera housing. 

Pieces of craft plywood were cut and glued into the tubes to act as reinforcement.

Step 4: Fins

Picture of Fins
Four fins were made from 3/16" balsa. These were glued in place with wood glue. These were made extra large to create enough drag so the rocket will fly stable.

Step 5: Camera housing

Picture of Camera housing
The camera housing was made with craft plywood along with the body tube material that was removed earlier on. Scrap foam was cut to shape and glued in place to hold the camera snug within the housing.

Step 6: Add camera housing to body tube

Picture of Add camera housing to body tube
An opening was cut in the body tube where the camera bay will be exposed. The camera housing unit was slid in from the top of the tube and glued in place.
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seamster (author) 2 years ago
Here is my first video from this rocket... probably more to follow. Thanks for taking a look!

ok i've made the first tube with six layers but they have dried while still on the mailing tube, i made sure to not glue or tape the first layer on the tube and it was pretty easy to slide off but after putting the other five layers on I cant seem to get it off, this is my second attempt at doing this please help

seamster (author)  preston.ware.5819 days ago

Hmm. You may need to just carefully cut that off and start over. The layers immediately begin to shrink as the glue dries, so it's really important to remove the new tube right after you make it and have it dry off of the forming tube.

how long did it take you from start to finish

seamster (author)  preston.ware.5824 days ago

I really don't remember, but I'm guessing about 10 hours total.

And Where did you get most of your supplies

seamster (author)  preston.ware.5825 days ago

I occasionally buy rocket supplies from this place:

Did you use spray paint or just use regular paint

seamster (author)  preston.ware.5825 days ago

I used spray paint for this. See step 9 for details.

sky-guy1 month ago

About how wide are the fins and also how did you connect the nose to the rocket? Thanks!

seamster (author)  sky-guy1 month ago


The fins were about 5 inches wide, from the body of the rocket to outside edge of the fins. The leading edge of the fins were about 6 inches long.

The nose cone sits inside the top part of the body tube.. See step 7, photo 2. You can see a bit of a lip where the cone gets wider, so it can't slip into the tube past that lip.

Hope that helps! Are you making a homemade model rocket?

Wow thx for such a fast reply! Yes I'm building a homemade rocket.
How do you connect the parachute to the rocket?
seamster (author)  sky-guy1 month ago

There is a "shock cord" (for this rocket, I believe I used a piece of 1/4 sewing elastic that was about 3 feet long) that is tied to the bottom of the nose cone, and glued into the body tube. The parachute is tied to this cord about 3/4 the way up from the body tube.

If you're new to basic model rocketry, there's loads of info online to help you out . . . I don't want to deter your effort of course, but you might want to start by building a couple of kit rockets first! :)

Here's a classic rocket kit available on amazon. Starting with a basic kit like this one will teach you a lot, so when you do jump to building your own rocket from scratch you'll have the skills you need.

I have a lot of model rocket kits but not on this scale and have never done a scratch build. Thanks once again!

seamster (author)  seamster1 month ago
Honey Sharma2 months ago
Really very nice!! :)
builderfish244 months ago
I'm buying my gopro today and am going to make this. Did you use recovery wading? If so was it below or above the camera? As I build I might come back to ask more but right now that's my only question! And good instructable. Really cool.
seamster (author)  builderfish244 months ago

Thanks! I put wadding on top of the camera carriage area, just to protect the parachute (the camera is completely sealed off from the inside of the tube.) This is a project I've wanted to revisit, but I just haven't had time. So I'm excited to see how yours turns out.

Good luck on it! I'm happy to try to help if I can.

How did you ignite all three or two rocket engines at once. Also how did your nose cone blow out if your camera mount was in the body above the engines
seamster (author)  preston.ware.582 months ago

Ah, I didn't explain that at all, did I? My apologies!

If you look at my bullet bill rocket project, in step 13 I show the launch controller I use for igniting multiple engines. You can buy a multi-clip harness for hooking up multiple engines, but I just made my own.

Hopefully that shows what you need to know! :)

Oh I see. Just forget about the nose cone question
koala anarchy4 months ago
Really good job I can't wait to make one we have two go pro's
seamster (author)  koala anarchy4 months ago

Thanks! If you make one, I'd love to see how it turns out!

cody.creed4 months ago
Good idea. The video is really beautiful. I thought it might spin or land face down but it saw everything.
seamster (author)  cody.creed4 months ago

Hey, thanks!

I've been toying with a newer version of this, but haven't gotten into it yet. Maybe someday! This was a great project, and my kids really enjoyed it. Parents + kids + rockets = fun times!

What fun! Great video!

Lee7311 months ago

Love it.... Bookmarked this one for future reference..... :)

seamster (author)  Lee7311 months ago
Thank you! I've been wanting to revisit this project for a while. Maybe try again and make a lighter version. So many ideas... so few hours in a day!
jgall21 year ago
Definently making this thanks seamstar awesome instructable!! How long did it take you to make ?
seamster (author)  jgall21 year ago
Oh boy. I have no idea. It was a while ago. But I'm glad you liked it and are going to try to make one! Good luck!
tyjc1 year ago
This looks like a great use of a GoPro! I was wondering how the rocket is internally set up, seeing that the payload is central. I couldn't figure out how you deploy the chute.
seamster (author)  tyjc1 year ago
Thanks! The chute is deployed when the motors complete the thrust phase, and then have a small explosion on the top end which pops the nose cone off. The camera housing was made to seal the camera off from the rest of the interior of the rocket body, but with a through-hole behind the camera area so the pressure from the backfiring motors can reach the nose cone. Hope that makes sense!
tyjc seamster1 year ago
Ok thanks, that clears it up.
fpolanco1 year ago
What is the internal diameter of the tube, the wieght and the thickness of the cardboard ?
I'm making a rocket that is 30 inches tall with a diameter of 10.5 mm.
But it's pretty heavy.
I was also wondering if I could use c engines instead of e
And maybe a new GoPro Rocket video :)
Can you please make an instructable on how to build a model rocket including where to put the parachute and that kind of things for the very very very noob.
(Here is homemade solid state rocket fuel very cheap but very good
Toga_Dan2 years ago
You haven't put any weight in the nose? How does it look for stability?
seamster (author)  Toga_Dan2 years ago
Good question. Stability was pretty good. I did a balance test with all the motors, parachute, and camera in place by hanging the rocket from a string at it's center of gravity, which turned out to the about 8 inches above the the tops of the fins. This felt a little too far forward, but I did a stability test by swinging the rocket around and around and it went nose-forward and appeared very stable. So I didn't need to add any nose weight before the launch.

I was worried that the slightly off-center loading of the camera might cause the rocket to fly sideways, and in the flight on the video I was initially sure this is what was going on. But upon retrieving the rocket and finding one motor had failed to ignite, and based on its location to the starting position of the rocket, it seemed obvious that the failed motor was the cause of the crooked flight. I guess I can't completely rule out that the camera contributed to the not-so-straight flight, but another flight with all three motors firing will hopefully prove to me that the camera weight is dispersed appropriately. (I'm pretty sure it is, so I'm excited for a nice, straight HIGH flight next time!)

That's a long-winded response! Sorry. Figured I'd answer the stability question in detail because it's something I really put a lot of thought into before and after the launch. Thanks for posting the question!
How high did it go? Do you use an altimeter or just light 'er off?

Just a note, you can never have the center of gravity too far forward. I'd recommend moving it up to right around the camera.

Based on my experience, I'd also recommend getting some engines with a faster burn time, preferably less than a second, perhaps around 0.75 or 0.8 seconds. The higher impulse will get your rocket moving faster off the pad and it will be less affected by wind, making it fly straighter and higher. More of your thrust will be used in getting the rocket upwards, rather than sideways if an errant gust pushes the rocket over. Also the faster burn time might be enough for the rocket to complete the burn before you leave the rail, thus not affecting the flight angle. You'd need a decent size launch rail/rod, but It might be doable.

Personally I go with Aerotech engines because they are pack a bigger punch for cheaper (A G80 for $18!) and they come in a wider variety of higher power engines which is what I'm usually building. (I have yet to fly anything on less than an E)

Great job making your nose cone! I usually buy mine so that I can store instrumentation in them more easily, your method is absolutely fantastic and I will have to use it for my FTC water rocket.

Update us when you get all three engines to ignite! You should have some amazing shots.

I've cast some nosecones hollow. See my -ible "30 rockets for $5" I don't know if that technique would be strong enough at this scale, but that would give room for instruments.

I may also have to do an ible on howto make transparent nosecones.
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