Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Making a rocket launcher with PVC pipes

The final Rocket Launcher

Kids love it

I must admit, this project is a bit more than just upcycling PVC pipes like you saw in a previous post, but it makes something really entertaining... A Rocket Launcher !
This kind of rocket launcher already exists on the market and  I wanted to share with you a "toy" that my son really enjoyed making and playing with. We made it for it's B-day party and kids loved it.

Why kids love it?
First they have to learn how to make the rocket out of paper, and then they can launch them by pressing a button, like the real stuff!! The tutorial show that you can also use a manual valve, but it's to hard for a 4 year old to activate.

Making the rocket launcher looks complicated but don't be fooled, it's not tricky as long as you get the right stuff!

What you need:
The Material: PVC pipes, pvc cement, electric valve, a switch and a 9v battery to activate the valve, a tire valve.

The valve described here is a manual one (ball valve)
And an electric sprinkler valve to make the launching more dramatic.

Sprinkler valve

The switch (made with PVC pipe)

By connecting the 2 wires of the sprinkler valve to a 9v battery, you activate the valve that will release the pressure from your pipes

The tools: A drill, a PVC pipes saw, a bike pump to put pressure in the launcher.
PVC pipe saw
How to make it:
It's just like a lego game, nothing difficult when you have all the right pipes to fit. You just have to glue them together, the valve is just screwed not glued.
The length of the pipes don't have to be exactly the same.
The tricky part is to insert the tire valve (from where you will inject air with the bike pump), you'll have to use a drill to make a hole big enough for the valve to fit, so you'll have to be careful to make the right size hole.

How to use the Rocket Launcher?
To fully enjoy it, you'll have to make the rockets. They are safe, since they are made of paper, but I recommend parents to supervise the kids anyway.

How to make the rocket:
To make the rocket you need a piece of regular paper for the body, 3 fins made of cardboard, and a piece of foam or paper tissus to make the tip of the rocket. Nothing fancy, but this rocket can go very high (100-200 feet high). Don't go too high with pressure (20-30 psi), you can control the pressure by looking at your pump manometer.
The pvc pipe is used to give the perfect shape to the rocket
The Launcher in action:

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