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Can you teach me how to make a homemade small rocket?

  1. Sep 30, 2009 #1
    I don't know if I posted on the right forum but I know I'm on the right site.

    I'm planning to create my first homemade rocket that can fly maybe hundreds of feet or less then it will parachute down after peacefully.

    I'm not an engineer but if you willing to help me, I would feel how to become one. By the way, I'm a computer science student majoring in graphics development.

    Could you give me some instruction or maybe a site that teaches one so I know what and where to start. Is it dangerous to build one? Do I need a permit to fire it up?

    Additional, if you know how to program on a homemade small chip hardware to open a small parachute on a box, it would be great if you teach me how.

    This one is so great and I want to build one.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 30, 2009 #2

    jim mcnamara

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    1. You can buy rocket kits www.estesrockets.com that can do a lot of what you want out of the box. You want the rocket kit for LEAST skill level.

    2. Before you do anything find if there are rocket societies or hobbyists in your area. Rockets, even small ones have inherent dangers. Work along side somebody who knows what they are doing. It is more fun that way besides being safer. They also will have an area set aside for launching so you do not run afoul of ordinances.

    3. Some rocket fuel components (in the USA) require a license from the ATF to purchase or own. This is for folks who want to make custom rocket fuel mostly.

    4. Most times "chips" are used either for guidance or some type of control. You can open a parachute without a chip - a small delayed charge pops of the cone-like top.
    A small gps transponder is a fantastic idea when you want to find your rocket. I was with one guy last Fall -his rocket landed 8 miles from the launch site. It was a K class rocket.
  4. Sep 30, 2009 #3
    I dont have a background to help by you could try:

    http://www.estesrockets.com" [Broken]

    or http://www.tripoli.org" [Broken]

    or http://www.scalerockets.com/links.html" [Broken]

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  5. Sep 30, 2009 #4


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    Besides the suggestions already made here, as part of your rocketry education you may find the movie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnX6yU8PJHE"(by Homer Hickam Jr), delves in more detail, into small rocket design and choice of propellants. This part was very informative.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  6. Sep 30, 2009 #5
    Chlorine and petrol (shake it up).
  7. Sep 30, 2009 #6
    And this is why we probably oughtn't actually have people post directions here. ;-)

    You may also want to look into something called the M Prize Challenge. You may at least find it interesting. We have a thread on it here but it is quite full of arguing and such unfortunately.
  8. Sep 30, 2009 #7


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    This was my thought as well.
    A long time ago I made several homemade rockets that worked well and one that blew-up while setting it up on the launch pad. Still have scars to prove it.
  9. Oct 1, 2009 #8


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    The safety concerns given by Jim M, bear mentioning again.
  10. Oct 1, 2009 #9
    Thanks for the help everyone! I think I'll just study first those things like propulsion. Can anyone give me a good book about that? Thanks.

    I'm just wondering how Mr. Homer Hickam, Jr. became an aerospace engineer even though he was an Industrial Engineering graduate? By the way, I love that movie I wish I chose my course correctly. haha
  11. Oct 3, 2009 #10


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    Good to hear you enjoyed watching October Sky. Yet I found the book it is based on, Rocket Boys is even better. I borrowed it from the library. I don't read that many books but I enjoyed Rocket Boys so much, I read two more of his books, Coalwood Way and Sky of Stone.

    How did he become an aerospace engineer with an IE degree? You may want to write http://www.homerhickam.com/contact.shtml" [Broken] and ask him. In his military career he had a lot of practical experience working with missiles and as we know, his high school days were spent teaching himself the rudiments of rocket propulsion & design. So practical knowledge, perserverance and perhaps being in the right place & making the right contacts; may have led the way for him.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  12. Oct 3, 2009 #11
    Yeah, I really love the movie. I'm so down right now because I don't know if I can enter NASA or maybe have my own rocket company. I'm living on a poor country but I'm studying on one of the great school here in Philippines, Ateneo. I wish I can be like Homer and also John Carmack.

    There's an aerospace engineer recommends me to read this book, https://www.amazon.com/Rocket-Propulsion-Elements-George-Sutton/dp/0471326429. I don't know if it is a good book to start with rockets.

    By the way, I'm just wondering what did homer used on his first successful rocket flight? There's a person http://in.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080222081948AArqaOR" says that they used "micrograin"; a mixture of very fine zinc and sulfur. Can I just buy those thing on a drug store? Sorry, I don't know anything about chemistry. I hate chemistry when I was in High School but I realized that I need that for my dream in rocketry.

    He's so great really. If the Military in US is the only way for me to get into NASA, I'll really go with it if they'll accept me. hahaha Right now, I'm an incoming 3rd year computer science student. Maybe after finishing my college, if possible, I'll get an aerospace or mechanical engineering in USA. Will they credit some of my subject in comsci?

    EDIT: Ok I found this site http://www.angelo.edu/faculty/kboudrea/demos/zinc_sulfur/zinc_sulfur.htm, they use it. So my question is, can I just buy those things on a drug store? Is it good for today's rocketry?

    By the way, can you give me any idea on how do I make a rocket body? Is there any physics involved with that? How do I know if the metal can take the heat produced by ZnS.

    EDIT2: Can I use a https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=power+drill&x=0&y=0"?
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  13. Oct 4, 2009 #12
    Hey Sarah, it seems you are really into rocketry. You are really serious into making it a career and not just hobby and willing to do sacrifices. I applaud you for that.

    Just remember, that's not only NASA or making your own company. I really think private space flight is going to take off soon. (No pun intended) Companies like SpaceX, they already have a contract with NASA, SpaceX is going to send cargo to the ISS in the next years, so different options are starting to appear.

    And look, for me it doesn't matter if you are in a "poor" country, and it's great you are in a good school, but it's going to depend more on yourself, and I think you can't be Homer or John, because you are Sarah. :smile: You can't emulate other people, maybe learn from them, follow your own path and your dreams. Maybe you want to be Sarah, who started the first private space transport company, or promote the founding of a space agency in your country, maybe you want something else, I don't know.

    Also, rocketry is not only about aerospace or mechanical engineering, they also need electronics, and computer science guys for developing software.

    Personally, I am finishing high school and next year I am going to study Electrical Engineering, one of the things I would like to work in the future in is rocket electronics, specially the telemetry part of it. I imagine how cool it would be seeing a Mexican rocket being launch to outer space, because the last time it happened was in the 1960s.
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