Launching rockets and recording video

Since we put out a call for model and amateur rocketry hacks, we’ve been getting a lot of submissions on our tip line. Here’s two that found their way to us yesterday:

Upgrading an original

Back in the early 70s, Estes released a rocket with an 8mm movie camera attached to the nose of the rocket. It was called the Estes Cineroc, and is an excellent demonstration of engineering prowess to fit a movie camera inside a cardboard tube. The Cineroc is somewhat of a collector’s item, so of course there’s a reproduction kit with a payload bay large enough for [Bob Marchese]‘s 808 key fob video camera. His launch video looks awesome, has color, and doesn’t need to be mailed off to Estes to be developed.

Much better than a lightbulb and a button

Remember the old yellow (or blue, and I think maybe a red one) push-button launch controller? Equipped with an arming key (a piece of wire), batteries, and a button, that controller wasn’t much to write home about. [Joe Niven] built his own launch controller with multiple LED lights, buzzer, continuity checker, and a battery tester. Not bad for a 555 and a pair of 4000-series logic chips.


  1. Brian, please see my comment on the previous story. It’s not a classic hack submission, but a request.

  2. Random Man says:

    I had one that shot 35mm still pics. I still have it somewhere 20 some odd years later.

  3. DainBramage1991 says:

    I remember in the 80’s that Estes made a rocket that used standard 110 film. Does anyone else remember that one?

  4. John says:

    I’ve launched many a rocket and would love to add a camera, even an old cell phone, but since I lose 99% of my rockets on the first launch, I’ve never done it. Maybe I should launch them in a forest, but hey, that’s where I live.

  5. Kirk says:

    I built one around 2000 out of a small AA flashlight shell. I got tired of losing rockets, so I built this one to be traceable. It held a smoke bomb (the cheap 4th of July ones) and the parachute discharge would lite the fuse and leave a smoke trail back to where it landed. The smoke staining also ended up giving it a very interesting design. Launched it probably a dozen times, which was a record for me. Never lost it, but the chute didn’t discharge one day and I haven’t repaired it since then, still in my garage though!

  6. John says:

    doh. “Should‘nt

  7. Bob Marchese says:

    The video wasn’t the best out there, but it was my first try and for much less than the stupid expensive eBay collector prices for a Cineroc. The amount of roll was a little disappointing. Trees are less of a problem at the sod farm MDRA uses. Next launch I’ll try both stages.

  8. drewb0y says:

    Did anyone manage to get a mirror for the launch controller link at before it nuked itself? I’d like to see that if possible.

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