Model Rocket Design and Construction

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Model Rocket Design and Construction - page 1
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Model Rocket Design and Construction - page 2
Model Rocket Design and Construction Third Edition How to create and build unique and exciting model rockets that work! By Timothy S. Van Milligan www.ApogeeRockets.com
Model Rocket Design and Construction - page 3
© 2008 by Timothy S. Van Milligan. All rights reserved. This book may not be repro- duced in part or in whole without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations used in reviews. Published by Apogee Components, Inc., 3355 Fillmore Ridge Heights, Colorado Springs, CO 80907 USA. Visit us on the web at: www.ApogeeRockets.com Publisher’s Cataloging-in-Publication (Prepared by Quality Books Inc.) Van Milligan, Timothy S. Model rocket design and construction : how to create and build unique and exciting model rockets that work! / Timothy S. Van Milligan -- 3rd ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN-13: 978-0-9653620-2-3 ISBN-10: 0-9653620-2-7 1. Rockets (Aeronautics)--Models--Design and construction. 2. Rocketry--Amateurs’ manuals. I. Title. TL844.V26 2008 629.47’5’0228 QBI08-600164 Printed in the United States of America We believe the information in this book is the best currently available. The author and publisher assume no obligation or liability for any advice furnished here, or for results obtained with respect to this information and advice. All such advice is provided gratis and the reader assumes sole responsibility for results obtained.
Model Rocket Design and Construction - page 4
About the Author T imothy Van Milligan has been designing and flying his own model rockets since 1976. After obtaining his degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Univer- sity in 1988, Tim worked as a launch op- erations engineer for McDonnell Douglas Corp. In this position, he helped assemble and launch the highly successful Delta II rocket for NASA and the U.S. Air Force. The author has also worked as a model rocket designer at Estes Industries. A few of the many rockets he designed for Estes include: CATO, Skywinder, Terrier/Sand- hawk, TurboCopter, and Omloid. Currently, Tim is the president of Apo- gee Components, Inc in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. The company offers a full line of rocket kits, motors, building supplies, books, educational materials for rocketry, and the RockSim model rocket design and simulation software. Tim has written over 200 articles about the various types of model rockets for the Peak-of-Flight e-zine newsletter, which is published by Apogee Components, as well as a number of national magazines and newsletters. He has also been a competitor in national and international model rocket competitions as a member of the F.A.I. Spacemodeling team and N.A.R. His other books include: 69 Simple Science Fair Projects with Model Rockets: Aeronautics, Model Rocket Propulsion, and Second Stage Advanced Model Rocketry, Second Edition as well as video books on rocket construction. In 2000, Tim was awarded the How- ard Galloway Award by the National As- sociation of Rocketry. This recognition is given for outstanding service to all sport rocket flyers. In his spare time, the author gives educational rocketry presentations for the Space Foundation and for other educa- tional organizations. He can be contacted for speaking engagements.
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Dedication For the many forward-thinking model rocketeers who desire to have more fun flying their own designs. Acknowledgments After 30 years in this hobby, I’m still learning new stuff. I would like to thank all those modelers who went before me, blazing trails of their own into the sky, yet who took the time to point other rocketeers, like me, in the right direction. Without these people, model rocketry would not exist as it does today. Special thanks goes to those who helped with this book—Patrick McCarthy for technical review of the text and help in selecting photographs, Marc (Moose) Lavigne for encouragement, Edward LaCroix and Steven Bachmeyer for tak- ing photographs for the first edition of the book. In this third edition I also received photographs from Scott Oliver, Geoffrey Kerbel, Kenneth Brown, Kent Burnett, Bob Mosely, Moe Bertrand, John Man- fredo, and had help with illustrations from Dave Curtis and Eric Vandergriff. George Gassaway graciously allowed me to reprint some of his helicopter plans, and Mike Dorffler provided the scale data drawings of the D-Region Tomahawk and MR-20 sounding rocket. Thanks also to Sig Manufacturing Co., Inc., for use of the information on the grading and selection of balsa wood. Similarly, thanks to Dr. Gerald M. Grego- rek for allowing the reprinting of his boost glider design rules. Special thanks goes to David Flanagan who allowed me to reprint the sections on cluster parachutes, gliding parachutes and spinning parachutes. Additionally, Norm Dziedzic helped with the section on hemi- spherical parachutes. Paul Fossey kept me involved in rock- etry by authoring the Rocksim software. That software was birthed by the first edition of this book, and is motivating modelers to tackle some very complex and interesting rockets. They then ask my advice on how to achieve their rocket dreams, which is how and why this third edition came about. From a production standpoint, thanks goes to Michelle Mason for editing and proofreading and to Jeff Lane (Brandango.us) for page layout and cover design. Finally, thanks and love to my wife, Cindy, who allowed me the time to write this book in the first place.
Model Rocket Design and Construction - page 6
Contents One: Two: Three: Four: Five: Six: Seven: Eight: Nine: Ten: Eleven: Twelve: Thirteen: Fourteen: Fifteen: Sixteen: Eighteen: Nineteen: Twenty: Getting Started ..................................................... 7 Stability: Getting Rockets to Fly Straight ................. 23 Drag Reduction and Aerodynamics ........................ 55 Construction Tools .............................................. 69 Basic Raw Materials ............................................ 75 Construction Techniques ...................................... 81 Building Higher-Powered Rockets ........................ 139 Painting and Decorating ..................................... 153 Repair Techniques ............................................. 159 Streamer and Parachute Recovery Systems ........ 165 Designing for Glider Recovery ............................. 193 Helicopter Recovery Design ............................... 219 Scale Models .................................................... 229 Payload Rockets ................................................ 237 Multi-Stage Rockets .......................................... 241 Clustered Engine Rockets .................................. 257 Flight Testing ..................................................... 285 Displaying Your Completed Model ....................... 297 Starting a Rocketry Club .................................... 299 Seventeen: Rocket Engines ................................................. 265 Twenty One: Computer Aided Rocket Design .......................... 301 Appendix A: Other Design Resources .................................... 309 Appendix B: Bibliography ...................................................... 311 Glossary ........................................................... 313 Index ................................................................ 325
Model Rocket Design and Construction - page 7
1 Getting Started The Design Process The design process begins with a concept or idea. This is usually the hard- est step of the process to accomplish, because every rocket builder wants to create a new and unique model that no one has ever thought of before. Ideas are easy to copy, but new and different ones are very difficult to come up with. If you have an idea, sketch it out on paper. If you don’t, turn in this book to the section that describes the different classifications of model rockets (page 11). You can also find ideas in the section on the various methods of returning your model to the ground (page 13). These methods are called recovery systems. Other places to get ideas for concepts is in the payload (page 235) and styling sections of this book (page 17). But, if you’ve already paged through this book, you will have noticed that it is full of ideas for new types of rockets. Many great models are developed by selecting the best parts from several different rockets. Whatever your idea, first sketch out the model, or at least write down a paragraph describing it or its purpose. Second, determine the size and general layout of the rocket. At this point, you should go directly to the section on basic rocket stability (page 23), and familiar- ize yourself with all the concepts on how to make your rocket fly straight. This is the most important part of the design, as it will directly affect whether or not your model is successful. Choosing the size of the rocket is completely up to the designer (you), but you might want to consider some design constraints that would af- fect how big your rocket is. These might include: what engines the model will be powered by, the size of the field you plan on using to launch your rocket, and the P 1-1 A basic sport model. (Photo by Steven A. Bachmeyer) esigning and building successful model rockets is a step-by-step pro- cess with several different phases. This book will discuss each part in suffi- cient depth to help you develop successful rockets, but first it is important to know what makes a successful rocket flight— the goal of every rocketeer. D Successful Flight Criteria 1. Ignition 2. Lift-off 3. Stable ascent 4. Recovery system deployment 5. Safe (damage free) landing A flight is considered successful when it safely completes the five individual phases: ignition, lift-off, stable flight (including the coast phase), recovery system deployment, and safe landing. Without any one of these five phases, the flight would be termed unsuccessful. Getting Started 7
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P 1-2 Marc Lavigne preps a dual glider model for launch. available materials you will use to build the model. At this point you should be getting into the specifics of what the model should look like or how it should function. There are several sections in this manual that should help you to refine the design. “Parts of a Model Rocket” (page 21) shows the basic layout of a typical model rocket, which should help you to deter- mine which components you will need to build your model; “Drag Reductions and Aerodynamics,” (page 55) describes ways to streamline your rocket to achieve very high altitudes; and “Streamer and Parachute Recovery Systems;” (page 165) describes how to determine the recovery system’s size so that the model will return safely to the ground. Chapters 11 and 12 (page 193 and 219) give tips on design- ing gliders and models that return to the ground using helicopter recovery. Arranging these parts within your design is much easier with the use of a good computer program. I recommend RockSim, which is also a product of Apogee Components, Inc. This program will help you design your rocket and pre- determine whether or not the model will be stable when flown. It will also give you an indication of how the prototype will fly with different rocket motors, and in vary- ing wind conditions. Knowing all this in- formation prior to the actual construction of your rocket will help make the launches safer. I highly recommend this tool to aid in designing any rocket. When you’ve decided on the size and shape of the model, develop a list of materials you’ll use to build it. Again, the RockSim computer program will help make this task as simple as clicking a button. From this list you may want to order specialized parts from your favorite rocket kit manufacturer, or you may want to build these parts from materials you have on hand. If you choose the latter, the sections “Working with Paper” (page 129) and “Creating Custom Parts” (page 130) will help you. You are now in the final stage of your rocket design. Some additional sections you might want to read are “Building Higher Powered Rockets” (page 139), “Clustered Rocket Engines” (page 257) or “Multi-Stage Rockets” (page 241), if your design will include any of these special features. If you haven’t already done so, make a good drawing of your model rocket design. If your model is complex this drawing should be to scale, but otherwise it could be a simple sketch. The Design Phase 1. Generate concept or idea 2. Determine size and general layout of rocket 3. Select components and final appear- ance 4. Determine type and size of recovery system 5. Generate list of materials to be used 6. Make final drawing of rocket The Construction Phase 1. Gather all parts to be used 2. Make patterns and templates 8 Model Rocket Design and Construction
Model Rocket Design and Construction - page 9
3. Construct model 4. Apply finish or paint model 5. Apply decals Launch 1. Select proper rocket engine 2. Prep rocket 3. Launch and recover rocket Construction Moving into the con- struction phase of your project, the first step is to gather together all the materials that will be needed. Any patterns or templates should be made, and special parts should be ordered or constructed at this time. Actual construc- tion should proceed smoothly now that you are armed with your drawing and with a complete set of parts to build your model. Reading all of Chapter 4, “Con- struction,” will help you perform the actual assembly steps. Painting and decorating your model is the final phase of the construction of your model rocket. Chapter 8, “Painting and Decorating,” describes how to obtain a smooth, high-quality appearance, which by itself will make your rocket unique. With the rocket completed, you should now prepare your rocket for launch. Selecting the proper rocket engine is very important to a successful flight. Read Chapter 17, “Rocket Engines,” to find out how to properly select a rocket engine. “Repair Techniques,” Chapter 9, gives instructions on how to bring back that “showroom-new” appearance to those older rockets you have. You will find that the steps listed above comprise a cycle, where several tasks are repeated. The reason for the repetition is that by reviewing your design, you will constantly see ways to improve it. And once a change has been made, it may be necessary to repeat a step or two to make sure that one change didn’t affect other parts of the design. Take your time design- ing your rocket; it takes a lot longer to repair a problem than to do it right the first time. To help you understand a word or phrase which is unfamiliar, the final sec- tion of this book is a glossary of terms. It is one of the most extensive rocketry glossaries in print, with over 500 terms, covering not only rockets, but gliders too. Once everything has been completed, your rocket will be the envy of all those who see it. If you come up with a truly unique rocket and want to share it with others, send a photo of the model to me, care of Apogee Components, Inc., with a description of how it works; maybe a fu- ture edition of this book will display your model. I wish you success in your building endeavors! P 1-3 An assortment of unique rockets designed and built by Randall Redd (photo by Marc Lavigne). Safety Safety is the most important design constraint you must consider when de- signing and building your rocket. You are the only person who can make sure that the rocket will function in a safe man- ner. It is your responsibility to see that it is designed, constructed, and flown so that nothing is damaged when the rocket takes off. To help all model rocket designers and flyers, a code to guide and promote safety in the hobby of model rocketry was Getting Started 9
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developed over a period of 40 years by the National Association of Rocketry (NAR). Please do not skip over this important sec- tion. Read it! Understand it! And commit yourself to following it! NAR Safety Code 1. Materials: My model rocket will be made of lightweight materials such as paper, wood, rubber, and plastic suitable for the power used and the performance of my model rocket. I will not use any metal for the nose cone, body, or fins of a model rocket. 2. Engines: I will use only commercially- made NAR certified model rocket engines in the manner recom- mended by the manu- facturer. I will not alter the model rocket engine, its parts, or its ingredients in any way. 3. Recovery: I will always use a recovery system in my rocket that will return it safely to the ground so it may be flown again. I will use only flame-resistant recovery wadding if required. 4. Weight Limits: My model rocket will weigh no more than 1500 grams (53 oz.) at lift-off, and its rocket engines will produce no more than 320 New- ton-seconds of total impulse. My model rocket will weigh no more than the engine manufacturer’s recommended maximum lift-off weight for the en- gines used, or I will use engines recom- mended by the manufacturer for my model rocket. 5. Stability: I will check the stability of my model rocket before its first flight, except when launching a model rocket of already proven stability. 6. Payloads: Except for insects, my model P 1-4 A large scale model of the Saturn 1B is ready for launch (photo by Tim Van Milligan). rocket will never carry live animals or a payload that is intended to be flam- mable, explosive, or harmful. 7. Launch Site: I will launch my model rockets outdoors in a cleared area, free of tall trees, power lines, build- ings, and dry brush and grass. I will ensure that people in the launch area are aware of the pending model rocket launch and can see the model rocket’s liftoff before I begin my audible five- second countdown. 8. Launcher: I will launch my model rocket from a stable launching device that provides rigid guidance until the model rocket has reached a speed adequate to ensure a safe flight path. To prevent accidental eye injury, I will always place the launcher so that the end of the rod is above eye level, or I will cap or disassemble my launch rod when not in use, and I will never store it in an upright position. My launcher will have a jet deflector device to pre- vent the engine exhaust from hitting the ground directly. I will always clear the area around my launch device of brown grass, dry weeds, or other easy- to-burn materials. 9. Ignition System: The system I use to launch my model rocket will be re- motely controlled and electrically oper- ated. It will contain a launching switch that will return to “off” when released. The system will contain a remov- able safety interlock in series with the launch switch. All persons will remain at least 5 meters (15 feet) from the model rocket when I am igniting the model rocket engines totaling 30 New- ton-seconds or less of total impulse and at least 9 meters (30 feet) from the model rocket when I am igniting model rocket engines totaling more than 30 Newton-seconds of total impulse. I will use only electrical igniters recom- mended by the engine manufacturer that will ignite model rocket engine(s) within one second of actuation of the launching switch. 10. Launch Safety: I will not allow any- one to approach a model rocket on a launcher until I have made certain that 10 Model Rocket Design and Construction
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