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! 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

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

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.

Step 7: Nose cone

This part was the highlight of the project for me. I've always struggled with making my own nose cones for homemade model rockets, and finally found a method that produced something I was mostly happy with. It will take some refining, but it worked reasonably well this first time around.

The nose cone was made from 1" pink foam insulation circles that were cut, glued together, and then shaped on a homemade makeshift lathe. I used a sanding block with 60 grit sandpaper to sand down the foam into the final nose cone shape.

Step 8: Parachute

Picture of Parachute
The parachute was made with polyester jacket liner and tulle in a method similar to one described in this youtube video.

I was hesitant to make a parachute in this manner for a model rocket, as both materials are fairly flammable. If the parachute is packed properly and an appropriate amount of wadding is used, it should be fine.

Step 9: Paint

Picture of Paint
The nose cone was painted with three coats of decoupage gloss to seal it prior to painting with spray paint. (Spray paint eats the foam if it is not sealed well.)

The entire rocket received a few coats of primer and then three coats of white spray paint.

Step 10: Camera bay cover

Picture of Camera bay cover
The camera bay is covered by a piece of plastic cut from a 1-liter soda bottle. It is taped in place with clear tape once the camera is turned on and placed in the bay in preparation for flight. 

I'm excited to get some great shots with it. Watch out neighbors!
1-40 of 67Next »
seamster (author) 3 years ago
Here is my first video from this rocket... probably more to follow. Thanks for taking a look!

sky-guy1 month ago

Is it necessary to have 3 engines? Will it fly with 1?

seamster (author)  sky-guy1 month ago

It might fly on only one, but it wouldn't go very high. This was a pretty heavy model rocket.

I could have bumped up to a higher level rocket motor, but I used what I had for this. :)

ok then I will us 3. Thx for the fast reply!

seamster (author)  sky-guy1 month ago

Are you planning to build a rocket like this? That's cool!

If at all possible (especially if you're new to model rocketry), I'd highly recommend building a lighter rocket and going with a single engine. You'll have a higher chance of success. Just a thought. Good luck!

this is my first scratch build

What did you use to make the nose cone template
seamster (author)  preston.ware.582 months ago

Hi Preston,

For the template, I just drew out a shape that looked "nose-cone-ish". That's probably not a lot of help, though! ;)

To draw a template, start with a rectangle where the distance across the shorter side matches the outside diameter of your rocket body. Then draw a curved shape that you like on one side of the rectangle. That's all I did. Hope that makes sense!

How did you make the nose cone template

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.584 months 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.584 months 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.584 months ago

I occasionally buy rocket supplies from this place: http://www.apogeerockets.com/

Did you use spray paint or just use regular paint

seamster (author)  preston.ware.584 months ago

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

sky-guy5 months ago

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

seamster (author)  sky-guy5 months 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?

sky-guy seamster5 months ago
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-guy5 months 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.

sky-guy seamster5 months ago

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)  seamster5 months ago
honey1816 months ago
Really very nice!! :)
builderfish248 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)  builderfish248 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.586 months ago

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

If you look at my bullet bill rocket project http://www.instructables.com/id/Bullet-Bill-Rocket/, 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 anarchy8 months ago
Really good job I can't wait to make one we have two go pro's
seamster (author)  koala anarchy8 months ago

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

cody.creed8 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.creed8 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!

Tecwyn Twmffat10 months ago

What fun! Great video!

Lee731 year ago

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

seamster (author)  Lee731 year 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!
1-40 of 67Next »