Ask Hackaday: How about some model rocket hacks?

There’s nothing like the smell of black powder in the morning, along with the excitement and burnt propellant in the air that comes after launching a model rocket. All those 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s kids out there may remember the classes of model rocket engines – generally A, B, C, and D sized engines used to push your cardboard tube with balsa fins skyward.

A lot has changed in the world of model and amateur rocketry in the last few years. In 2009, the Tripoli Rocketry Association won a lawsuit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to allow the sale of Ammonium perchlorate rocket engines to anyone. This lawsuit took almost 10 years to come to a head, but finally anyone can walk into Hobby Lobby and come out with D, E, F, and G engines in hand. Even our old favorite, Estes rockets, has gotten into the game by putting out a few awesome G-powered kits. With these off-the-shelf motors, anyone (in the US, at least) can launch a G-powered model rocket weighing under 1500 grams (3.3 lbs) without the need for a certification.

With that in mind, we’re putting out a call for model rocket hacks. If you put together an microcontroller-powered altimeter project, awesomeSend it in. On board video camera? Great! Even if you built a huge replica of the Titan IIIe (or the Estes Star Rider, a personal favorite), send that thing in. If you’re going for a huge Saturn V, the record to beat is a 1/10 scale model, so get on it.

Meet the TM65 liquid propellant rocket engine

While we’re reluctant to say it for fear of being misinterpreted, the new liquid fuel rocket engine being built by Copenhagen Suborbitals is one of the most impressive, daring, and nearly the sexiest machine we’ve ever seen. Although the engine hasn’t been fired yet, [Peter Madsen], Chief launch vehicle designer at Copenhagen Suborbitals, gives an amazing 18-minute-long rundown of the function of each and every tank and tube of the TM65 in this video.

When the TM65 engine begins its firing sequence, valves attached to tanks of alcohol and liquid Oxygen are opened. The Oxygen pours directly into an injector manifold that atomizes the liquid in the combustion chamber, while the alcohol makes a much longer trip down to the engine bell, flowing between the double wall of the chamber and nozzle for cooling. Once the alcohol and Oxygen in the combustion chamber ignite, two gigantic tanks of Helium are opened and the gas is forced down to a heat exchanger at the end of the nozzle, increasing the temperature and pressure of the Helium. The Helium is then routed to the tanks, pressurizing them and forcing fuel and oxidizer into the combustion chamber at 40 liters per second. This entire process happens in only eight seconds; after that, the rocket attached to the TM65 will be on its way upward.

We’re not going to say the TM65 is the best engine ever seen on Hackaday; we’ll leave you to decide that. We can’t wait for the video of the test fire to hit the Internet, though.

22 miles straight up in 90 seconds

Those little Estes rockets you built as a kid just got blown out of the water.

In response to the Carmack Prize to launch an amateur rocket above 100,000 feet, [Derek Deville] and the rest of the Qu8k team launched a 320 pound, 14-foot-long rocket through 99% of the Earth’s atmosphere.

Unlike our little toy rockets from years ago, more than half of the entire rocket is fuel. This isn’t a plastic or salami-powered hybrid rocket, though. It’s an entirely solid fuel rocket. The fuel grain is specially made for this rocket in a cylinder-with-fins shape that ensures an even burn through the entire flight.

The payload included 2 timers, an accelerometer, a cosmic ray detector (check out the Geiger tube) and 4 GPS units required of the Carmack Prize. The video from the on-board camera shows a fantastic flight, only partially obscured by the plastic aeroshroud that melted when the rocket was going about Mach 3.

Videos of the entire flight and a ‘highlights’ reel are available after the break.

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Launching model rockets wirelessly

We love ballistic trajectories and the smell of black powder in the morning, so we’re really interested in the wireless rocket launch pad sent in by [Brent Strysko].

[Brent] used an ATmega with an enc28j60 ethernet shield and wireless router to launch the rocket without a physical connection with ‘the button.’ Everything on the launchpad is powered by a 12 Volt motorcycle battery, and there’s also a flashing LED for the countdown. All that’s needed to launch a rocket is to send a command from the laptop. We think this would be an awesome project when combined with the radio telemetry build we covered earlier – the computer is already there with the range safety officer.

Although amateur rocketry is extremely safe, with no high-power flight ever hitting a person (PDF warning), there’s still some risk of from black powder engines CATOing. We think [Brent] came up with a great way to make a safe hobby even safer, and managed an interesting project in the process. Check out the walkthrough of the launchpad after the break, or check out this video of the launchpad in action.

Continue reading “Launching model rockets wirelessly”

Oxyhydrogen water rocket

[cmwslw] built a soda-bottle water rocket that uses the ignition of oxyhydrogen gas to quickly expel the water, as opposed to the usual compressed air and water mixture. His project contains excellent documentation with photos and it builds on other articles he’s written about generating the flammable HHO gas used to launch his craft into the skies. Every aspect of this project uses items most of us have at home or could score cheaply at most hardware stores.

We love seeing projects that re-purpose everyday materials into something fun. Just be sure to dodge the missile pop bottle as it speeds back to Earth!

Arduino Space Program

With the recently proposed cuts to NASA, our friends across the pond (in Northampton UK) decided to take action with a space program of their own… at least at a miniature scale. NortHACKton, a hackerspace in Northampton decided to host a rocketry day consisting of rockets powered by chemical reactions, pressurized water bottles, and even one that employed an Arduino controlled launch system, akin to a few we have seen in the past. It essentially consists of a countdown and automated ignition system. Schematics and source code are available for those adventurous enough to embark on missions of their own.