Robust Water-Rocket Launcher Gets The Engineering Just Right

Normally when we run across a project that claims to be overengineered, we admit that we get a little excited. Such projects always hold the potential for entertainingly over-the-top designs, materials, and methods. In this case, though, we’ll respectfully disagree with [Zach Hipps] assessment of his remote-controlled soda bottle rocket launcher as “overengineered”. To us, it seems just right.

That’s not to take away from anything accomplished with this build. Indeed, we’re mighty impressed by the completeness of the build, which was intended to create a station for charging and launching air-powered water rockets. The process started with a prototype, built mainly from 3D-printed parts but with a fair selection of workshop scraps to hold it together. This allowed [Zach] to test the geometry of the parts, operation of the mechanism, and how it interfaced with the flange on the necks of 2-liter soda bottles.

Honestly, the prototype was pretty good by itself and is probably where many of us would have stopped, but [Zach] kept going. He turned most of the printed parts into machined aluminum and Delrin, making for a very robust pneumatically operated stand. We’ve got to say the force with which the jaws close around the bottle flange is a bit scary — looks like it could easily clip off a wayward finger. But if he manages to avoid that fate, such a hearty rig should keep [Zach] flying for a long time. Perhaps it could even launch a two-stage water rocket?

7 thoughts on “Robust Water-Rocket Launcher Gets The Engineering Just Right

  1. The way he’s squinting every time he arms the launcher, tells me it’s not overengineered enough.

    Why not implement remote arming as well? If that clear tube shatters while he’s kneeling right in front of it, he’s gonna have a bad time…

    1. There’s always room for self doubt:
      – Am I drinking too much coffee?
      – Perhaps I need another coffee?
      – Will this pointy thing I just made explode?

      The list of questions is endless. The only way to find out is down that last espresso (or 3) and push the button.

  2. I love all the use of professional tools for a fun project. A great teaser to show kids interested in going into tech, though I am cringing at the lack of safety concerns- not even eyewear.

    Would love to see rocket performance data!

  3. Hmmm. Choice, mousetrap too weak? Change to rat trap from same company, or use pneumatic actuator with hoses and stuff? A proper maker would use an RPi driving an Arduino driving a stepper motor driving a harmonic reduction pulling a 3D printed chain and serving up a web page so that it can be launched by any deserving internet user. Or a long string.

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