When I was at the Bay Area Maker Faire earlier this year I saw a display that had a compressed air paper rocket launcher. Kids would make their own paper rockets, load them onto a launching tube and fire them into the sky. I thought it was pretty cool, but wanted something more dangerous different.
So, how do you make compressed air rockets better? By making exploding compressed air paper rockets!!

Using simple Chinatown fireworks, combined with an elastic deployment system to eject a small toy parachute action figure, I designed a rocket which jettisons the parachute man from altitude. I made 3 test rockets which were designed to test and calibrate the compressed air launcher and 6 live rockets which were intended to test the theory and intent of my design. Unfortunately, it didn't quite turn out the way it was supposed to. All 6 live rockets exploded, melted or malfunctioned and no parachute men were successfully deployed.

So, instead of this being a how-to it's more of a how-not-to. Check out the video where all the spectacular failures are captured:
Obviously working with fireworks, compressed air, power tools and rockets is dangerous business. Use common sense and work within your ability.

Enough talk, let's explode some rockets!

Step 1: Tools + Materials

  • hacksaw
  • wood saw
  • drill + bits (various sizes, wood bits)
  • scissors
  • hobby knife
  • PVC glue
  • lighter
  • masking tape
  • bicycle pump

  • pvc pipe
    • 1 x 2" diameter pipe (roughly 24" long)
    • 1 x 2" cap
    • 1 x 2" diam to 1.5" diam. bushing
    • 2 x 1" threaded coupler
    • 1 x 1" diameter pipe (roughly 24" long)
  • launch platform
    • scrap wood uprights
    • scrap 1/4" plywood base
    • scrap 2x4" for blocking
    • scrap 2x4" for launcher stabilizer
  • sprinkler valve (1" ingress/egress)
  • compressed air-gun trigger
  • Schrader valve (inner tube valve)
  • paper
  • cardboard / cardstock
  • elastic bands
  • threaded rod + wingnut
  • cable ties

<p>Is this for beginners? I want a rocket for beginners. Also I want a rocket that flies very high. Do you know how to make a rocket that flies extremely high for beginners?</p><p>THX in advance</p>
<p>This project is pretty good for beginners, but there's also <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1620877309/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1620877309&linkCode=as2&tag=wwwmichaelsau-20&linkId=ATUVSKRYZCVL3SQH" target="_blank">this!</a></p>
<p>ok. THX again</p>
<p>when i was a boy, i had a friend who used rockets from a rocket model shop; once showed me a rocket engine that looked and worked like cracker, round piece with a match cord. I then found out that these paperback rockets can even be bought as kits with several stages of ignition and cost around 30 bucks upwards, but come with a stand - if i was about shootin a rocket into the atmosphere with a cam as payload for example, i'd probably use something like them.</p>
<p>actually, i was lookin for something similar and imo your ible is great. But as parachutes don't work, why don't you take glitter as payload?</p>
<p>That's an excellent idea! Next time I make compressed air rockets, this is what I am doing. If you try it out, please share some pictures here :) I'd love to know how it looks.</p>
<p>uh, well, basically i would. We had tons of glitter on the last juggling convention and i told the boss of my idea yesterday, but he said no as, this year after the con, he got into trouble with the technicians.<br>As well, I always wanted to do something with rockets or a crossbow (like the ipad7-ible) on a festival in hungary as well as the workshop area where i'm working is on top of a hill and the stages in the valley, but 1. that won't happen before next year, 2. i'd need a secure plan and ask for permission. But i'm quite pessimist about a glitter-payload as the whole area is grassland for a sheep flock. But on the other hand i also found an ible yesterday about edible glitter, which basically is colored baked sugar - i'm just not sure, if it's shiny enough for a rocket.<br>But maybe you find out?</p>
<p>Glitter is something you never want to ask permission for because the answer is always no- better to beg forgiveness :)</p><p>Also, the idea of sheep eating glitter and producing sparkly poop is something worth exploring.</p>
<p>certainly funny, but the plastic got sharp edges and can cut your guts inside afaik. And a shepherd who owns the festival area and knows me as an artist working on his festival, i don't want to piss him off this way.<br>And today i remembered that someone once told me that if you throw a cent coin fro Cologne cathedral and it hits straightwards someone standing in front of the cathedral with its edge, it can break through the head-bone. Thinking about Newton and so on - and how would that be with sugar crystals and is it possible to grind sugar that fine that it rather floats down? And what about powdered sugar? D'uh, i have to find me a cracker and find out...</p>
<p>so i made on and the valve seems to release very slow. Batteries are good. anyone</p><p>know what the problem may be???</p>
<p>The sprinkler valve should have instantaneous release of all stored air. If you are getting a slow release are you using the right valve?</p><p>There are no batteries with this system.</p>
awesome, i saw that very same exhibit at that very same maker faire and thought something along these lines. well done. couple things though: <br><br>-slightly larger images of the payload assembly might help<br><br>-Did you do this on top of a building? in a city? next to skyscrapers? do you know how illegal and dangerous that is? one of these could have easily blown out one of those shiny windows. im not sure what psi you are using, but if its anything like the rocket launchers at maker faire, they have considerable range. great build, just shoot it off somewhere else next time. <br><br>other than that small safety rant, nice job! <br>DAE (ilpug)
No. Paper &quot;rockets&quot; are not taking out the safety-glass of high-rise buildings. Sorry. Not gonna happen. <br> <br>The ones the kids typically build, even when over-taped, are 15-17 grams. They might crack window glass at point-blank ranges, _maybe_, but even right up against it they're just going to smush on safety glass. <br> <br>We've flown them with cameras at more than double the pressure the author of this I'bil notes. Although the muzzle velocity is high, the mass just isn't there.
Yeah, I see that now... Still, not the best place, especially with fireworks attached.
oh man THAT is absolutely fantastic!
epic i can't wait to build one you should put a smoke bomb or bolt bomb in it !!!!!!
Using an air nozzle for the trigger is a brilliant idea. Could you explain in further detail how to replace the solenoid with the compressed air nozzle? Also, where did you get the nozzle?<br><br>Thanks!
This is my version of the Compress Air Rocket Launcher. I've incorporated the launch stand into the air chamber and added a gauge to control pressure. Using 40 lbs of pressure, the rocket shown here has flown to 300 ft.
Why exactly did it ignight?
I have something much like this but you can buy a kit from the Makershed! These things are awsome. Good work!
Great idea but I think you need to modify your firework usage to get a better ...explosion. When we were kids we used to make &quot;flower bombs&quot; out of those fireworks you have pictured. <br>To avoid posting how to make things go boom on a public forum I'll send you a PM.
Did you do this on top of a building??
Where did you buy the valve and the trigger? i cant seem to find one online
You must have a lot of time on your hands. Pretty cool
Nope, the one thing I don't have is time on my hands. But I'm glad you like it.<br /> <br /> Also, the thing in Step 7 is an animated GIF, check out <a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/Making-animated-GIFs-in-photoshop/">how to make one.</a>
How did you make the video thing on step 7
Sound like you had fun at least, better luck on your next project!
Great job, again! I have to make these.
"A" for effort! As long as it's For Science, nothing is a failure!<br /><br /><br />....unless you accidentally created an overpowering army of intelligent man-apes bent on taking over the world.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm Mike and I make crazy things at Instructables HQ in San Francisco. Follow me and try a few of my projects for yourself!
More by mikeasaurus:Fix a Hole in Drywall DIY Zero Clearance Table Saw Insert Easy Table Saw Sled 
Add instructable to: