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 reloadable and relaunchable. 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.
How To Build A Rocket From Scratch
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 Xacto knife. A boxcutter, 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 nosecone, then use 150 grit to rough up the sides of the bottle as well. Alright, let’s move on to building the screwlock, motor mount, next. You’ll just need a 34 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 12 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 SonicDad. 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 2part 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 12 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 34 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 inline 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 doublecheck 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 reuse 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 1512 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 Xacto 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 straightedge, 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 knifeedge 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 signboard, 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 1512, 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, inline 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 inline 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 hotglue 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 doublecheck 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 2030 seconds. Do the same thing with the other 3 fins, then take a look from the back to see if they’re straight, and inline 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 inline 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 launchlug. 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 nosecone. I got some 14, 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, posterboard 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 nosecone. 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 nosecone, until the glue cools. Do the exact same thing with the other shockcord 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 dollarstore 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 tutorials. 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 nosecone over the two hooks, then close them up. With the cords attached, and doublechecked, 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 68 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 tutorial. With your parachute tucked snugly inside, simply collect up any excess cording and push it into the nosecone. 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 ScrewLock Sugar Motors made in a previous project. However, a safer and more reliable method is to use commercially available rocket motors, like an Estes D123 or an E96. 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,.