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Aerospace Feasibility of pen-sized missiles?

  1. Sep 2, 2009 #1
    I'm fancying whether it's possible to build a pen-sized toy missile which could, for example, hit a street lamp at night from within 200m, just as a proof-of-concept. I would like the missile to have an infrared imaging camera, and a low-cost programmable micro-processor which analyzes the image and issues signals to the fins to adjust the flight path. Gun powders as rocket propellant would be quite adequate for my desired range. I'm not interested in doing any damage (and certainly want to re-use the missile), so the mini missile doesn't need to carry any "warhead".

    Based on your knowledge about engineering (aerodynamics, infrared imaging, microelectronics etc), do you think it's possible to build such a small device within reasonable cost for amateurs? Thanks for contributing your opinion.

    Clarification: Please do not delete the thread as "dangerous activity". The motivation is entirely academic.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 2, 2009 #2

    berkeman

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    Sure. But why?
     
  4. Sep 2, 2009 #3

    minger

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    Initially my thought was a resounding no, but then I got to thinking. From an aero side, I think if you used advanced control surfaces, you have a chance. Firstly, at that size and distance, we're talking rockets. For controling, you could use 3 tabs evenly located around the circumference of the nozzle. Depending on their depth into the flow, this has been shown to be able to vector thrust quite well.

    You won't be able to maneuver well, but as long as you aimed resonably well, you'd be alright. My thought to this approach is that having moving control surfaces, e.g. wings, fins, canards would be too bulky to have implemented. Somethings gotta move em.

    Aside from that, I'd be interested to know the size limitations enforced by the electronics. That's quite out of my area.
     
  5. Sep 2, 2009 #4
    possible: maybe
    reasonable cost: no

    The pen size is going to be the problem. Maybe if it was a fat magic marker or something, but your typical Bic is just too small to be able to control economically. instead of using an infrared imaging camera, you could possibly reduce size by using a simple ir receiver and use your launching system to "paint" the target with an ir laser. The ir receiver could then potentially pick up this signal and control from there, but at 200m, that could be tricky.

    200m is also pretty far for a pen size amount of gun powder to propel unless it was launched like a bullet from a barrel.

    I'm going to go for a total NO answer at the moment.
     
  6. Sep 2, 2009 #5

    Borek

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    Many insects will get to the target without problem... so while we don't have technology as of now, task seems to be in the range of some biomechanical system.
     
  7. Sep 2, 2009 #6

    negitron

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    Bottle rockets are reasonably efficient motors and are about the size of a motor one could fit into a pen-sized body. How far can a bottle rocket go? Not much more than a hundred feet or so, in my experience; and that's ONLY propelling its own weight. Impractical, if not a practical impossibility, I say.
     
  8. Sep 2, 2009 #7

    negitron

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    Unless they can do it by farting flaming gas, I'm gonna have to say that's not a missile.
     
  9. Sep 2, 2009 #8

    Borek

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    Have you been ever attacked by a bee that thinks you got too close to beehive? It is not just a missile, it is a homing missile :wink:
     
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