This instructable will teach you how to build a simple, ultra light rocket from household items (and of course a rocket engine)
Here's the supply list:
- 1 tube of superglue
- 1 roll of tinfoil
- 1 straw big enough to fit around your launch rod
- 1 deck of playing cards that you don't mind parting with
- 1 C rocket engine
- several rocket engine detonators + plugs
- 1 electronic detonator (and necessary cables)
WARNING: This is totally dangerous. I didn't die, but you might. It is NOT MY FAULT if you hurt yourself following these instructions.
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Step 1: Building Yourself Some Fins
The fins themselves are pretty simple, the difficult part is positioning them evenly around the rocket. To make a fin, first you'll need to fold a playing card in half hamburger style. Take your superglue and seal the folded halves together, like a sandwich. Glue is going to ooze out the sides and get all over your fingers, but just suck it up and take it like a man. Make two of these sandwiches and let the glue completely dry.
Now you can need to do a little bit of measuring, but nothing too complicated. Take one of the folded cards and put it perpendicular to the other, forming an L. Mark off the edge and cut it away so you're left with one square-ish shape. Repeat with the other folded card and, if you've done everything correctly thus far you should be left with two pseudo-squares.
Take these faux-squares and cut diagonally across from the curved corner to the corner directly opposite. You should now have four fin shapes, congratulations. Now onto the difficult part, attaching them.
Step 2: Attaching the Fins
Basically, you want the fins to be completely perpendicular to each other. I realize that this is darn near impossible, but if you somehow screw up the positioning horribly the rocket could possibly come back and hit you in the face. Take your time.
I've attached a template PDF to this step, I would recommend printing it out and using it as a guide when you're gluing. Superglue is really REALLY good at bonding cardboard, so you're only going to get one shot at this. Line up your engine, apply a small amount of glue to the edge of the fin, and take the dive. The first fin is the easiest, but every other fin has to be positioned as accurately as possible to prevent the rocket from spinning out. Again, just take your time and it should be fine.
Once you have all the fins loosely attached, apply a liberal amount of glue to the seams. You do not want one of these falling off mid flight.
Put the rocket in the sun to dry, the next step is going to take a while.
Step 3: Sculpting a Nose Cone
Take a large piece of aluminum foil, about 5" by 5", and begin to shape it into a cone. This step is a little tricky and it takes a bit of practice, but you'll probably get it after your third or fourth failed cone. You'll want to rub it on a smooth surface to work out all the kinks, and over time (with liberal amounts of elbow grease) the cone should begin to take shape. Be sure to check that the tip is centered after every few minutes of honing, if it is skewed it could also affect the trajectory of your rocket.
Once you're satisfied with your cone, just glue it onto the end of your rocket. Mine happened to fit perfectly within the cardboard tube, but it's fine if yours is a bit larger. I applied a good puddle of glue around the cone and waited for it to harden, just to ensure the cone was attached snugly.
Step 4: Attaching the Launch Lug
Cut a piece of straw about the length of your rocket's body. Carefully glue it between two of your fins, and position it parallel to the body. Wait for it to dry, and then again apply more glue. You don't want this one to fall off either, it's a pretty crucial part of the rocket.
Once your launch lug is dried on, you're all done. FInd a good open area to launch it and prepare the detonator.
Step 5: LAUNCH
Carefully insert the detonator and seal the hole with a plug. Clip the leads onto the ends of the detonator, and tilt the launch pad away from you at about a 45 degree angle. Step back, and press the button. If all goes according to plan, the rocket should shoot off the launch pad and fly pretty darn far. I've attached a video of two launches to this step; the first was a failure, but the second was a success. Just note that it was a really windy day, I would really recommend launching on a much calmer day. Have fun!