How To Build A Rocket (From Scratch)
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How To Build A Rocket (From Scratch)

January 8, 2020

For this project I’m going to show you how
to build a rocket, from scratch. These homemade “Randomizer” rockets, launch over 1,000
feet high, and eject a little parachute to bring them safely back to the ground. They’re
re-loadable and re-launch-able. And you might even be able to build one, with things around
your house. For this project you’re going to need a
bottle of gas relief pills, and a plastic champaign glass, like the kind you’d get at
the dollar store. Pushing the bottle into the glass, you can
see they make a perfect fit, and you’ll see why that’s important in just a few minutes. Now plastic champaign glasses usually come
in packs of two for a buck, but they don’t always look like this one. Some have slightly different textures, or
extra decorations for special occasions. But with a little ingenuity, you can probably
make any variation work. Now you might have already guessed, this is
going to be the nosecone for the rocket. And we don’t need the base, so let’s go ahead and chop it off now, with something like a hacksaw. Make sure to leave about half an inch at the tip, then find a sheet of sand paper, so you can carefully begin sanding the plastic stub down, until it follows the contour of the glass. I’m using 150 grit sandpaper, and after a couple of minutes, you can already see the nosecone starting to take shape, and looking a lot more aerodynamic. Now if you go one step further, and sand the whole thing with 400 grit, it’ll help the paint stick better. But either way, before you paint the nose cone, it’s a good idea to rough up the inner wall, near the top. Roughing it up now, will save you a step, when we attach it to the rocket later on. Alright it’s time for a paint job, and I went with this yellow gloss spray paint, because it’s made for bonding to plastics, and dries in 15 minutes or less. I recommend going outside and holding it with something like a foam noodle when you spray it, because this way, you don’t make much of a mess. Alright with the nose cone drying, let’s move on to modifying the plastic pill bottle next. You can find these bottles at your local super center, for around 88¢. And if you pull the label slowly and carefully enough, you should be able to get it off without leaving any sticky residue behind. Now we’re only after the empty bottle here, so unless you’re having issues with gas, go ahead and get rid of the pills any way you think is safe. Next you’ll need to carefully, cut the bottom of the bottle, and for that I’m using an X-acto knife. A box-cutter, or pair of scissors will work as well. But whatever you use, the goal here is to cut the edge as straight, and cleanly as possible. Now the threads on the bottle neck have to come off as well, and I found a good tool for removing them is a flat metal file. Set the bottle on a flat surface and grind
away at the threads until they’re flat. But try to keep the bottom ridge, untouched. And while you’re here, go ahead and sand
a rough patch into the inner wall of the bottle, like you did for the nose-cone, then use 150
grit to rough up the sides of the bottle as well. Alright, let’s move on to building the screw-lock,
motor mount, next. You’ll just need a 3/4” PVC coupling,
which you should be able to find at any hardware store. And it’s important to get the one
that has the threads, on the inside. Use your sandpaper to rough up the outside
of the casing, then cut 1/2” off the tip, of the threaded end. This piece will become the “quick connect”
adaptor that our sugar motors will screw onto when we’re getting the rocket ready for
launch. Now the body tube of the “Randomizer”
rocket, is made with a plastic golf club protector, you can find at any sporting goods store. And while you’re out running errands, stop
in at the dollar store for a roll of wrapping paper as well. You don’t actually need the
paper though. Just 4”, of the the brown paper tube that’s inside it. And one roll,
will give you nine of them. Alright the next thing we need, is the fin
cutting template, which was designed and donated, by my friends at And I’ve
put a link in the description to where you can get it for free. Go ahead and cut out the “Fin Location”
template as well, and wrap it around the golf club tube, then tape it so both ends, meet
perfectly together. Now measure 20” up from the end of the tube,
and use the edge of the paper template as a cutting guide, for making a clean cut. Your body tube should be 20” long, and if
it is, then rough up the inner walls, of both ends, with 40 grit sandpaper. Now get your 2-part epoxy ready, because the
time has come, to cement it together. Before you epoxy anything, it’s always a
good idea to do a practice run, to see how everything’s going to fit. So, slide the 4” brown tube inside the rocket
body first, followed by the PVC motor mount. Which you can see, is actually a bit to wide. But check this out. You can stretch out the
bottom of the tube using the tip of the nose cone, and just like that, your PVC coupling
makes a perfect fit. Ok let’s go ahead and mix a generous amount
of epoxy, but be prepared to work fast, because you really only have about 5 minutes before
it hardens up. I tried using a popsicle stick, to apply a
copious coating to the outside of the brown paper tubing first, then added a coating to
the outside rim, of the motor mount next. The paper tube goes inside the rocket body,
until it’s about 1/2” past the end. And after adding a coat of epoxy right below it,
you’ll need to push the threaded PVC coupling in next. You probably noticed I’m using a 3/4”
PVC riser, to guide the motor mount inside the tube. It’s a good tool to use because
you’ll have a lot more leverage, for making sure your motor goes in straight. Clean up the epoxy with a paper towel, but
before it hardens, it’s really important to set your rocket tube on a flat surface,
and roll it back and forth. Watch the PVC riser, and make minor adjustments
to keep it straight, because that’ll help ensure the thrust, is in-line with the center
of the rocket. 5 minutes later, you can go ahead and connect
the parachute container, to the other end. Now to accommodate the mouth of the pill bottle,
you’re going to need to spend a bit of time working this other end over the plastic cone
a bit, to stretch it out so it’ll fit. Push the parts together to double-check they
actually fit, and if they do, then go ahead and add some epoxy, and push the two together. Give the bottle a little twist, for better
adhesion, then go ahead and clean up any overspill, with a fresh clean paper towel. With the epoxy starting to set, let’s prep
the bottle for painting, and all I’m using to protect mine, is a piece of paper and some
masking tape. Spray paint the bottle black, to match the
rocket body, then set it in a safe place where it can sit for about 20 minutes, undisturbed. Ok, with the paint drying on the bottle, we
can get to work, making the rocket fins next. You’re going to need a large piece of medium
weight poster paper from the dollar store, and a black, coroplast sign board, which I
found at a local sign supply company, for $1.88. If you want to save a couple of bucks, you
could always re-use those plastic signs that seem to be everywhere after a local election. It’s a good idea to stick your “Fin Cutting”
template and the “Shock Cord” templates onto a piece of poster paper before you cut
them out. And while
you’re here, you may as well cut a strip of poster paper, 4” wide by 15-1/2” long,
because we’ll be needing that later on. The rocket fins are made out of the signboard,
and for best results, I recommend using a black sharpie, an X-acto knife, and an old
hacksaw blade. Place the template on the sign board, so the
leading edge lines up exactly with one of the corrugated lines. Then make sure it doesn’t
move. Carefully trace the template with a fine tipped
marker, and make sure you get the little notch there on the side as you do. Now if you use the back of your hacksaw blade
as a “straight-edge”, it’ll help guide the blade of your knife, and give you the
straightest and cleanest cuts possible. Do the same thing 3 more times, so you end
up with 4 fins. And take time to do it right, because quality counts. Alright, now that you’ve got your 4 basic
fins cut, it’s time to add some extra features. Carefully cut out the corrugated rib on the
leading edge, by sliding your blade along the inside edges. When it’s removed you should be left with
an extra deep channel, at the top of the fin. Now try to crease the leading edge, by sliding
your thumbnail up along the top edge of the plastic. And as you do, you should see the
tip bends slightly inward. When you’ve done the same thing to the other
side, your rocket fin will have a nice little “knife-edge” point to it. Now to make these fins look extra awesome,
let’s try adding some stickers, to give them a bit of color. I printed these custom decals on a sheet of
label paper, and sprayed them with a clear, weather resistant coating. And when they’re folded over the leading
edge, and pressed down flat on both sides, they’re finished. You can see how adding decals will give your
fins a really clean and professional look, as well as keep the edges, sharp and aerodynamic
at the same time. Ok, with all the fins finished, there are
just a couple things left to do to get our rocket ready for flight. Cut off a piece of scrap sign-board, the same
width as your hacksaw blade, then pull the guts out of a plastic disposable pen, and
cut them all, into 1” pieces. You’ll need two of each, so set them in
a safe place, then bring back the body tube, because this is the part, where it all comes
together. Roll up the 15-1/2”, piece of poster paper,
you made earlier, and shove it down inside the tube. Making sure it overlaps slightly,
and locks into position, just underneath the rim of the pill bottle. Now if you still have your ”Fin Location
Template” on the tube, slide it to the bottom so it’s about an inch above the motor mount,
then use your sharpie to mark the top and bottom of each line. Remove the template, and use your hacksaw
blade to carefully scratch straight lines into the plastic, in-line with the marks you
just made. And while you’re here, it’s a good idea
to scratch two more grooves, at 1 inch, and 12 inches from the bottom, exactly in-line
with each other, and perfectly centered between 2 fins. Just for fun, I tried heating up a screw driver,
and poked holes into the plastic where the fins connect. This simple modification will bind the rocket
body to the fins, making sure they don’t come apart without a fight. Alright, the time has come to grab a hot-glue
gun, and stick everything together. Look closely at your fins for the little marking
you made when you traced it out, and line it up exactly, with the bottom of the rocket
tube. Add a dribble of hot glue, from the marking
on the fin, all the way down to the tip. Then add another bead of glue, along the line you
scratched, into the rocket body. Now double-check the marking on the fin is
at the back of the tube, and carefully press the base of the fin in place, and hold it
securely for 20-30 seconds. Do the same thing with the other 3 fins, then
take a look from the back to see if they’re straight, and in-line with each other. If
they are, then go ahead and attach the launch lugs next. I glued the 1” pen pieces to the sign board
scraps first, then glued the improvised lugs, to the two other markings, scratched into
the body tube earlier. Before your glue hardens, make sure the pen
tubes, are perfectly in-line with each other, simply by looking through one end, and checking
the symmetry. At this point you can add the body tube stickers,
which I like to center, alongside the upper launch-lug. The last sticker goes around the base of the
rocket, just above the fins, and with that, you’re just about done. All that’s left
to do is attach the parachute and the nose-cone. I got some 1/4”, braided elastic cording,
from the craft section of a super store, and tied a simple knot into the end, so it formed
a loop. Now the tighter you can pull the knot, the
better it will hold. And to clean it up a bit, just use a pair of scissors to trim off
the excess. Measure and cut the other end at 8”, then
go ahead, and lay a bead of hot glue down the center of one of the, “poster-board
reinforced”, shock cord mounts. The open end of the elastic cord needs to
be pressed into the glue so it stretches across two of the squares. And it’s helpful to lay two more beads of
glue along either side of the cording so you can fold the end piece into the center, trapping
the cord and glue inside. Fold it again so you’re left with a single
square, then press it together firmly, to finish it off. This 8” cord, is the one that attaches to
the nose-cone. So add a liberal amount of hot glue to the back of the pad, then press
it to the rough patch on the inside wall of the nose-cone, until the glue cools. Do the exact same thing with the other shock-cord
mount, but this time, use a 16” piece of cording, and mount it to the inner wall, of
the plastic pill bottle. The very last step is to add one of the parachutes,
I showed you how to make in a previous project. These “Simple Chutes” are made from dollar-store
table covers, and not only work for the “Randomizer” rocket, but can be used to make “Sky Balls”
as well. I made eight of them for $1, and I’m confident
you can as well. So look for how to make “Simple Chutes”, and “Sky Balls”, in other project
videos. Now the parachute attaches to the rocket with
two swivel clips, for redundancy. So you’ll need to thread the loops from the rocket body,
and the nose-cone over the two hooks, then close them up. With the cords attached, and double-checked,
go ahead and fold your parachute up, by grabbing in the center, and pushing all the air out
first. I folded mine in half, then rolled it up to
the strings, and held the bundle together simply by wrapping the lines around the outside
of the chute. But before you push the parachute into the
rocket, make sure to use about 6-8 pieces of rocket wadding first. This will help protect
your parachute, from the blast of hot gases that shoot out during the ejection charge. And of course there’s a cheap and easy way
to make your own rocket wadding with paper towels and baking soda, which I’ll show you how to do, in a separate project
video. With your parachute tucked snugly inside,
simply collect up any excess cording and push it into the nose-cone. Then gently slide the
cone into position, at the top of the rocket. With that, you’re finished! You just built
your own homemade rocket, from scratch. So, let’s go see what it can do. Your “Randomizer” rocket is designed to
be powered with the “Screw-Lock Sugar Motors” made in a previous project. However, a safer
and more reliable method is to use commercially available rocket motors, like an Estes D12-3 or an E9-6. Commercial rocket motors are a lot more expensive,
but they’re probably the better choice for amateur rocketry. Especially if you’re just
getting started. And remember your rocket will shoot over 1,000
feet high, and can take up to 5 minutes to float back to the ground. So make sure to
use common sense where, and when you launch, because any project you try, is at your own
risk. Well now you know how to convert a plastic
champaign glass and a handful of other random materials, into a powerful “Randomizer”
rocket. And if you try making a whole bunch at the
same time, you might be surprised to find out, they only cost around $5 each. Well that’s it for now. If you like this
project perhaps you’ll like some of my others. Check them out

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  1. Instructions not clear my rocket blasted on ground… Oh I fitted the rocket motor upside down and now I have a large hole in my parachute

  2. I even made a cheaper way with body made of normal cardboard, clay body for containing matchpowder or any other explosive powder.
    It flew atleast 2000 ft above atleast

  3. That Was Awesome, But What If We Connect To Rockets With Each Another What Will Happen Then??? Do They Go More High In The Sky?

  4. This helped me and my friend so much with our science fair project on rockets. It is so sad to hear about Grant's death.

  5. Just did this project in red and black. It looks great and will hopefully fly as well. Thanks for the inspiring us all…RIP.

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