Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Make your own stomp rocket launcher

I'll admit that I love to be a "do it yourself" type of mom.  However, I'm also a very busy mom (who isn't?) with very limited living space (reason # 304 that I sarcastically <3 the Bay Area :-P).  To me, my time and space makes a purchase under $20 worth it, most of the time.

I thought since my blog was created with a goal of not taking chunks out of your wallet for science fun, that I'd give you an alternate to buying a stomp rocket kit (which was recently on sale for $10.50 over the weekend - check with Amazon: Ultra Stomp Rocket, affiliate link, to see if the deal is still good).  We used a kit for our Rocket Science Day in the park, knowing it was going to get a lot of good stomps (it even survived soccer cleats which slipped by us for a few jumps).

The cost of a Do-It-Yourself launcher is ~$10, using parts bought at your favorite home improvement store and ~30-45 minutes of set-up time (if you include going to the store for the items).  I adapted this from homemade rocket launcher, mostly altering sizes since I can't store anything large, and taking into consideration the adaptation from one of the commenters since I couldn't get the bottle cap to stick to the PVC pipe.

Materials: (~$10 if you have PVC glue and pipe cutters already)
-8 ft of ½ inch PVC pipe
-Connecters (all slip fit):
  •          1 – ½ inch 90 degree elbow
  •          1 – ½ inch cross (+) fitting
  •          2 – ½ inch end caps
  •          1 – ½ inch coupling
-1 – ½ inch CPVC transition adapter with male threads
-1 – ½ inch CPVC transition adapter with female threads
-Empty, clean, and dry 2 liter bottles (plenty since each bottle has a limited lifetime of stomps - unfortunately for my family, I gave up my 27 year soda habit).
-PVC pipe cement/glue (note all purpose pipe glue is needed if you select to glue PVC to CPVC adapters – but you might be ok without gluing that part)
-Pipe cutters (optional, but they make life so much easier)

-Cut the ½” PVC pipe into length segments of sizes:
  • 1 - 18" piece
  • 2 - 11" pieces
  • 1 -5" piece
  • 1 - 14" piece
-Dry assemble your launcher to make sure everything fits.

- Once dry assembled, take pieces apart one at a time to PVC cement them in the arrangement as found above.  It’s easiest to take apart one at a time as to not make mistakes.  I recommend not gluing the bottle piece (ie. the coupling to the 18” PVC) to make it easier to exchange 2L bottles when necessary.  I did use special all purpose pipe glue to attach the CPVC male adapter into the ½ inch coupling.
 -Attach the 2L bottle to the adapter piece, slip fit ½ inch coupling onto 18” PVC pipe.
-Take the leftover PVC pipe and cut into ~12” segments.  Use this pipe as the roller to wrap your paper around for your rockets.
-Follow directions on below on how to make a rocket for your launcher.
-Place your rocket on the vertical 14” PVC pipe and stomp/jump on the 2L bottle.  Watch your rocket fly to the moon.

Paper Rocket Instructions:
-Take ½ inch PVC pipe and roll paper around it (we used construction paper).

-Tape the paper to itself (not to the pipe).

-Figure out the best way to close off the top of your rocket.  What do you think will be the best shape? How will you do it?  A cone is a really simple shape to make: take a circle and cut a slit through ~1/2 way.  Then overlap the paper (twisting motion) until the paper forms a cone shape.
-Does your rocket need fins?  How do fins help your rocket?
-Make another rocket of a different size (bigger, smaller, more, or less paper) or with different fins and nose cones.  Note how each rocket flies.

Tada, homemade rocket
These rockets also fit on some store brand stomp rocket launchers.

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