Introduction: Professional Water Rocket Guide

Picture of Professional Water Rocket Guide

This Instructable will show you the how to build and fly water rockets. Featuring two stage rockets and drop away boosters, and also some basics.
This instructable is based on my knowledge of water rockets, that I have learn in the past few years.

I am not responsible for any damage you infict on your self or others from launching or building water rockets

Have fun building and flying!

Step 1: Lets Get Started

Picture of Lets Get Started

A water rocket is propelled by pressurised air forcing water down though a nozzle. This creates thrust.

If you took a standard two litre fizzy soft drink bottle and pressurised it to120 psi the rocket would reach about 100 or so feet.

But then if you took 2, two litres bottles and pressurised it to 120 psi again the rocket would go about 150 feet or so because the rocket has more air in it therefore creating more thrust. The rocket will only go 50 feet more because of the added mass. You can stop this by making a two stage rocket. A two stage rocket will work better because it would not have to carry the full payload on all of its flight.

Step 2: How to Build a Fins and Nose Cones

Picture of How to Build a Fins and Nose Cones

In the next few steps you will be shown how to build the basic needs of a bottle rocket.
This step is to get to grips on what a rocket needs.

Step 1: nose cone

cut the top and bottom off a 1.25 litre bottle. Then cut the neck off the top.

Step 3: Step 2: Nose Cone

Picture of Step 2: Nose Cone

Step 2:

Cut a ping pong ball in half with a craft knife,
Then glue half of the ping pong ball into the top of the 1.25 litre bottle 'top'.

Use a Plastic adhesive glue, Or if apperance doesn't matter you could just tape it on!

Step 4: Step 3: Nosecone

Picture of Step 3: Nosecone

Glue or tape the nose cone to the top of the rocket.

Adding wieght to the nose cone may help, It will move the centre of gravity higher, thus being more stable.

Step 5: Fins

Picture of Fins

This stage is still the basics of how to make a water rocket but may help in later projects.

Step 1:

Print off the fin template from the link below... Or design your own..

Then glue the fin template on to cardboard, then cut it out or use it as a template for corregated plastic.

Step 6: Attach the Fins

Picture of Attach the Fins

You can attach the fins by

1. Glueing them on

2. Taping them on

To glue correx fins to the rocket use PL premuim or a plastic glue.

To glue Cardboard fins on use PL premuim or gorrilla glue.

Step 7: Now for the Professional Water Rockets

Picture of Now for the Professional Water Rockets

Professional water rockets can vary from big one stage rockets to 2 stage rockets with drop away boosters.

This stage of the instructable will show you how to make a big one stager and how to couple or splice bottles together.

step 1 : coupling and splicing

How to couple bottles

first drill a hole about 7-8mm in width in the bottom of one of your bottles.

Next screw the male end of a plumbing coupling which is about 8mm in width into the bottom of the bottle, then seal it with a sealent glue. Next drill an 8mm hole in the other bottle cap and then insert the male end in to it. Whist the bottle cap is off the bottle, screw the female end into the other side of the bottle cap (side facing the inside) If you want you can seal it with glue as well.

Step 8: Splicing

Picture of Splicing

How to splice

To join two bottles together like in the picture to create an air tight seal you need three bottles

first cut the bottom ends off two of the same sized bottlles

Then cut both ends of the same sized third bottle and place that in the two exposed ends of the bottle

Next glue the third bottle in the 2 exposed ends.

Step 9: Launchers

Picture of Launchers

The laucher that my water rockets are made for was designed by Nasa.
The launcher lets you vary the nozzle size so you can get better performance from your rocket.

The next few steps will show you how to make it.

PDF from NASA  below

Step 10: Launcher Parts

Picture of Launcher Parts

Below are the materials you will need for the launcher

qty part
1 1/2 inch wood (any type)
2 10mm bolts
1 10mm metal drillbit
1 10mm wood drillbit
6 10mm nuts and washers
1 presta bike valve (you can get this from an old inner tube)
1 rubber bung
1 bike pump
2 tent pegs
4 L (shaped) brackets
2 nails

Step 11: How to Make the Launcher and Nozzles.

Picture of How to Make the Launcher and Nozzles.

below is the link for the pdf for making the launcher.

The launcher can hold any type of pressure depending on the rubber bung.
If you have a different nozzle size then you can adjust the nuts on the bolts so the pins can line up with the hole in the 90 degree mending plate and the neck of the bottle.

Step 12: Two Stage Rockets

Picture of Two Stage Rockets

The mechanisim I use to stage my rocket is different to Air Commands or any other two stage water rocket.

I have tried to make the stager compact. The stager can link to a servo or a pressure switch.

The instructions for it are on the next few steps.

Step 13: Stager

Picture of Stager


QTY Material
1 22mm pipe any lenth over 15cm
1 plywood or you can use plastic. (to hold the bottle in place)
1 inline non return valve..... One from a ballon pump will do
1 a 1st stage of a bottle rocket and a 2nd


1. insert 2cm of the 22mm pipe in to the 1st stage. ( pic1)
2. use epoxy or pvc sement to seal it. (pic 1)
3. insert a non return valve into the pipe and glue it. out the dimensions of how long and wide the plywood or plastic needs to be, to hold the bottle in place. Then cut it out using image 2 to help you. The hinge is mounted on the pipe clamp.
4.when you slide the bottle on (use vaseline to seal it) make sure the pipe clamp is right next to the neck on the first stage. This will have your hinge on, next clip your hinge onto the bottle neck so it is tight and won't fall off.

Step 14: Drop Away Boosters!

Picture of Drop Away Boosters!

These boosters are so easy to make because they are only held on by the upthrust of the bottles.
These drop away boosters are differernt to Air Commands.

For the drop away boosters you will have to make three of the launchers.

Instructions(drop away boosters)

1.measure your drop away booster bottles against your main rocket. Make a mark (dot or line) where the top of the booster meets on your rocket.
2.use pic 1 to help you, where you marked a dot on the booster glue the advanced fins together and stick the bottom of the fins on the marked dot with duck tape or glue. The Advanced fin template is on step 15.
3. test the rocket!

Step 15: Advanced Fins

Picture of Advanced Fins

These advanced fins are for bigger rockets and are very good for two stage rockets and rockets with drop away boosters.

for fins print off the template below

Step 16: Payloads and Parachutes

Picture of Payloads and Parachutes

The next few steps will show you how to make a parachute system followed on by a payload bay


The parachute system used by me 'OscarThompson' is a simple gravitational deployment.

The nose cone is fitted on the rocket loosely and when the rocket reaches its maximum altitude the rocket will fall back to earth nose first and as the nose has a weight in it, it falls off deploying the parachute inside.

Step 17: Step 1,2,3,4 of Parachutes

Picture of Step 1,2,3,4 of Parachutes

Step one:
Find a payload bay for your rocket. any size to fit a parachute

step two:
Build a nose code like as shown in steps 2 and 3. Your nose cone either needs to fit loosely on top of the payload bay or loosely in it.

step Three:
cut a hole in the payload bay and the nose cone so a string can fit though it and be knotted.

step four:
tie the parachute string to the string you have tied to the nose cone and the payload bay.

Step 18: Payloads Steps 1,2,3

Picture of Payloads Steps 1,2,3


payloads are used to carry equipment such as altitude meters, accellerometers or even a slug (wierd, but the g-forces can kill it!)

Step one:

cut the bottom off any size bottle.

step two

cut two disks the same width as the bottle out of corregated plastic

step three
cut a strip out of plastic the same width as the bottle but a little bit smaller in length than the bottle

Step four:

Glue them together and when dry put your payload into the payload section of the rocket.

Step 19: Rocket Designs

Picture of Rocket Designs

You are free to look at these pictures if you need help for a design.

Step 20: Thank You for Reading

Picture of Thank You for Reading

If you have any problems please leave a comment


SAMT129 (author)2017-11-13

this is too hard can u make one with less steps that still flies

tj007akki (author)2016-11-09

how to make launcher

bluel1 (author)tj007akki2017-09-07

ones like this: work really well

Iat21604 (author)2016-09-30


Nathanael 46 (author)2015-12-05

hey i've never made one in my life any advice?

AmanB30 (author)Nathanael 462016-08-22

only advice, pressure is a beast in a locked up cage, handle it with care... :)

Talal Aziz (author)2014-01-27

i cant understand how the parachute will open ???

there is no parachute. you just let it crash, make any repairs and go again

knex r awesome (author)2015-11-10

WOW, I have built bottle rockets before, but, this is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

10 out of 10

AlirezaJ (author)2014-11-11

oh i made it some years ago later

Da_Mooseman (author)2014-07-13

I think they are referring to the fact that he may have placed an illegitimate copyright tag on his work. Doing so without first acquiring a legal copyright is illegal in the US, I believe. Yes, he may own some or all of the ideas/photos, but he is not automatically awarded a copyright or patent. I'm no expert but I think US law provides that he must first go through the process with an official agency (US Patent Office) to determine if this work is not only his own, but that it is copyright-worthy (or patent-worthy). The comments above are questioning the fact that he acquired an official copyright with such an insignificant amount of work.

Da_Mooseman (author)Da_Mooseman2014-07-13

I just looked into this further, and I was wrong on the point of automatic awarding of a copyright. According to "Your work is under copyright protection the moment
it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible
either directly or with the aid of a machine or device." However, I after reading more of this article, I believe people are confusing Copyrights with Patents. It depends on what he is trying to protect, as Copyright does not cover ideas, facts, systems, or methods of operation. If he wants these protected he will need to look into getting a patent or some other type of protection. The big deal here is that he's claiming a copyright on material that he is intending to be public. Which is just making him look like a jerk.

kitty cat445 (author)2014-04-09

that looks intense

Dude is this okay.

What are you doing?

but cool

DOWNESJE (author)2012-08-10

cool rocket

firezone (author)2009-12-20

do you actually own the copyright to these diagrams, i highly doubt you have gone through what is needed to have the copyright for them and putting that little "copyright OscarThompson" in your pictures doesn't actually do anything

DOWNESJE (author)firezone2012-08-10

don't be mean to the person it is a good rocket

leiamme (author)firezone2011-05-22

He is just putting acknowledgment that it is his.

Ian01 (author)firezone2010-03-05

I'm pretty sure you get copyright automatically, even if you don't claim it.

oscarthompson (author)firezone2009-12-20

I have only put it in so people can't use my pictures, unless they want my name on it. The my pictures as i drew them on paint, it really doesn't matter too much that i havn't copyrighted them.



paulmtchj (author)2012-06-02

hello oscarthompson could i plz have ur email because i have a few questions on specific aspects of the project :) thank you

Chemdude118 (author)2012-05-19

I use small sections of threaded lamp rod for my water rockets, but I don't know about oscarthompson.

enzo aspire (author)2012-05-12

nice project do you have a video of it flying i wana see how it fly's so i know if it worth making

he who crashes often (author)2012-03-01

except that you are wrong. think of the difference between throwing a cottonball and throwing a marble the same size. there is the same air resistance on each, but the marble goes further because it has more inertia and is better at penetrating the air because it is heavier. now think of an arrow. there is weight on the tip, so that it flies straight because there is more drag and less weight at the back (feathers and no metal tip). there is a reason airplanes are more stable when nose-heavy than tail heavy. i think you are confused because the thrust is coming out the back and you think that weight in the nose will make it try to point lower and wobble around. but remember, the thrust will only spin the rocket around if it has a loose nozzle that will try to keep going the same way while the rocket spins. i see why you were confused though. your idea would work great in a vacuum with gravity but no air (like the moon) so there would be no drag, but not in atmospheric conditions.

cbills (author)2011-10-27

nice water rocket
do you have a web site

oscarthompson (author)cbills2011-11-06

Unfortunatly not. You should check out aircommand water rockets though!



connoboarder (author)2011-08-19

i like it!! definately gonna make sumthin like this one

teenuvibhav (author)2011-07-15

verry good ilike

leiamme (author)2011-05-22

What kind of plumbing coupling?

famos_amos (author)2011-01-18

what with the picture?

rocketman20 (author)2011-01-16

how long will the pressure hold

Matrix-technician (author)2010-12-15

Wow, this is amazing! Keep up the good work!

Kryptonite (author)2010-08-13

Wow, nice build!

popscott3 (author)2010-06-29


needfortoast (author)2010-05-27

What kind of glue should I use

I used bostik soft plastics glue and it works fine for me. Although you can use PL premuim, but this is a bit more expensive and harder to get hold of in the UK, but it may give you better results.


jason.buckmann (author)2010-04-26

who cares if he has a copyright?!?!? this is a great instructable that i used to spend a few hours with my daughter AND an instructional speech for my speech class. but the instructions you put on here were clear and easy to read. and i researched the launcher online for several hours and i believe this to be the best one.

i used the 2 bottle design and i used gorilla glue (which is stronger than hot glue). the thing reached 15 to 20 feet in the air and the reason for this failure was my choice of glue. the glue expanded like it is designed to BUT this glue is not a good adhesive for the plastic in the bottles.

i can see the potential if i just follow instructions (this was a problem for me growing up). i always think i can improve the process, but once again i am wrong. but my daughter had an awesome time, i had a great time, and we got the whole family together for the launch so the project was still an overall success. i will be building bigger and better in the near future.

thanks for the great instructable oscarthompson!

I used to make make water rockets when I was a kid.  All I ever used was a 2 liter bottle, duct tape, and the valve stem from a tire.  Drill a hole just slightly smaller than the valve stem in the plastic lid and jam the sucker through it as far as you can, wrap the bottle with duct tape (just one layer is fine) - this is a "better safe than sorry kinda thing" -  never had one blow up.  Fill the bottle about 1/5 of the way with water, use a hand pump or air compressor to add about 45 psi, turn upside down and unscrew the lid.  Mine usually went above 100 feet easy, of course I used a bit more pressure.  ;)

Thanks, you made my day !

TSC (author)2010-04-16

I'm gus this does not go high   it looks to big to go high!!! But any way sweet!!! 5stars!!!!!!!!

Lowney (author)2010-04-07

Can we see a video of your big rocket?

max0506 (author)2010-02-07

what do you mean with rubber bung in the part list of step 10

oscarthompson (author)max05062010-02-07

rubber bungs like the ones in wine bottle's but rubber. Type it in to google images


max0506 (author)oscarthompson2010-03-05

I see thanx

juanpedro132 (author)2010-02-23

i like the idea but i don't konw anything.
How can i do for fill the boosters?
do i have to put their a valvle each?
and are the boosters gonig to fall down?
if yeah how will i do it ?
thanks for the  ideas.

You can fill the boosters by putting the water in the top of the bottle. The bicycle valave will help prevent leakage.
The boosters will fall down when the thrust of the booster can no longer beat the air resistance thus gravity pulling the booster down.

This can be achieved by making three of the launch mechanism's just on one Pad ( two for boosters one for main)


rhendric (author)2009-12-04

good so far, but the diagram for this step cannot be viewed properly at the current size, and even when viewed at the right size, it is very hard to understand.

m_debator (author)2009-11-25

This is AWESOME!  Its the John Holmes of water bottle rockets.

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to make instructables which are fun to build or make. I'm interested in bikes, science and rowing. send me a message if ... More »
More by oscarthompson:Make a stage! - With roll out bed!Duct Tape Hammock!Simple Marquee lights
Add instructable to: