Introduction: PVC Paper Rocket Launcher

This Instructable covers how to build the portable PVC paper rocket launchers seen at the Phoenix District 2010 Day Camp and at SHAC Jam (the United State's second largest 100th Anniversary of BSA celebration 2010). Paper rockets are an inexpensive and age appropriate activity for any Cub Scouts. It doesn't require an air source other than the cub scout himself. After some pretty hardcore QA testing by upwards of several thousand Cub Scouts (and a few Boy Scouts too), I found a few areas that will need improvement depending on how rambunctious your boys get with the launcher. I've noted them in the first image, so hover over the yellow boxes to learn more.

For our Day Camp, the scouts made construction paper rockets which I will detail in another Instructable. These are simply construction paper wrapped around a short section of 1/2" PVC pipe, taped, and then a nose cone and fins are added.

For SHAC Jam, the scouts followed a similar process, but due to the large (nearly 9000) number of cub scouts, the construction of the rockets was simplified to a basic construction paper tube (wrapped on the same short section of 1/2" PVC) with the nose end taped over, and crepe streamers added for stability. This greatly cuts down on the time to build and allows more scouts to enjoy launching without having to spend as much time building. I will detail this construction in a separate Instructable as well. Those that were at SHAC Jam on Saturday saw that a large number of boys (and siblings too) could make it through the long line in a relatively short time frame due to the basic design.

This design is free to use by anyone for non-commercial use provided attribution is given. If you have ideas on how to make it better, please feel free to comment and I'll add them to a later revision if it is cost effective and improves the design.

If you like this design, and feel inclined to show your appreciation, by all means buy me a cup of coffee here, and it'll give me some pep to come up with more PVC and Scouting related projects. As always thank you for taking the time to take a look at this.

Jason Sheffield
Head PVC Architect
Phoenix District Quarter Master

Step 1: Items Needed to Build

To build this paper rocket launcher, you'll need to acquire a few things. If you don't already have a few or even all of the items listed here, the full cost to build this should be around $25-$27 USD depending on locale, volume, and availability of the hardware.

Tools Needed per launcher:
1x Safety Goggles (first and foremost, protect those eyes!)
1x 3 foot length of 2" Schedule 40 PVC pipe
1x 4 foot length of 1 1/2" SCH40 PVC pipe
1x 5-6 foot length of 1/2" SCH40 PVC pipe (12" for the launch tube, the rest for forms to wrap the construction paper around to make the rockets)
1x piece of wood at least 10" wide and 18" long
1x 4" PVC toilet flange (open is easiest and cheapest)
1x 4"x2" SCH40 PVC reducer
1x 2" SCH40 PVC Wye
1x 2"x1/2" reducing bushing (slip type - non threaded)
1x 1 1/2" test cap
1x  2" test cap
1x 1 1/2" Cross
3x 1 1/2" caps (slip type - non threaded)
1x roll of duct tape or clear shipping tape to wrap the end of the plunger
1x roll of fiber reinforced clear strapping tape to strengthen weaker joints
1x jar of Vaseline to allow the plunger to move smoothly
1x set of Pipe cutters (hacksaw, sawzall, or ratchet style cutters)
1 ea. PVC primer and glue

Step 2: Prime, Glue, and Assemble

I HIGHLY recommend that you do the Primer and PVC gluing in a well ventilated area so as not to cause headaches, nausea, dizziness.

Prime, Glue and assemble the pieces as shown in the photo.

Step 3: Build Your Rockets, and Fire Away

Construct the rockets according to one of the other Instructables (added as soon as I get the SHAC Jam items back), slide them on, then give it a good, fast push to launch!