This blog covers the day to day progress of water rocket development by the Air Command Water Rockets team. It is also a facility for people to provide feedback and ask questions.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Polaron G2 Progress Update

We've been continuing with the Phase 2 development of the Polaron G2 rocket over the last couple of months. I've added a number of photos to the build log here:

I've also included a video of how we reinforce the spliced bottles with fiberglass. All the fiberglassing is now done so next we need to do some pressure testing on the segments. We have also been making progress with the new launcher we are building for the rocket.

Here is a mockup of the final rocket configuration, with the boosters just taped to the side because the retention mechanisms are not finished yet. ... we're going to need a taller ladder, or use the tree.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Quick update

Although we haven't done an update for a while, we've been continuing to work slowly in the background on a couple of projects. The delays with the updates have been mostly due to not being able to launch at the regular Doonside launches with our local rocket club because of the total fire bans here in Sydney. There have been many bush fires in the area recently. We could launch at the local park but the launch site is a little too small for comfort.

My wife also spent a week in hospital after surgery and so I've had to do more work around the house with the kids and helping them with their school activities. Life is settling back to a more relaxed pace now so I'll have time to do updates on a more regular basis again. When I have limited time for rockets, I prefer to build them than write about them.

We've been fiberglassing more spliced-quads for the Polaron G2 rocket over the past week and have been discussing with dad about the launcher modifications we'll need to make for the rocket. We'll post more on this in the Polaron G2 build log in the coming days.

Last month we also did some static tests on another rocket as a part of the upcoming test flights at the next launch. We'll post the video of these tests at the same time as the flight tests when we've had a chance to actually launch the rocket.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Gravity Mechanisms

We had a great launch weekend last week with beautiful weather conditions. We also finally flew an experiment that we've been wanting to do for a while.

One of the things that we see quite often are designs for parachute deployment systems based on "gravity" mechanisms that attempt to detect apogee when the rocket tips over.

So we flew a couple of experiments that show what actually happens to these mechanisms in flight:

The full write up of the experiment is here:

This includes photos and a highlights video from the whole day. We also had a go at using the 240fps mode on the GoPro which turned out quite well. We're not quite game yet to put the GoPro on a rocket. We could probably protect it from impact, but the real danger is getting it stuck up in a tree.

We are going to fly a few more mechanisms in the coming weeks to demonstrate how they behave.

Monday, June 17, 2013

7 Years of ....

In order to celebrate 7 years since our very first launch we've put together a video of some of the valuable lessons we've learned over the years. Unfortunately hundreds of bottles were harmed in the making of this video.

We've also had another good launch last weekend with the Inverter and the Axion G4 rockets. Here is a full update with a highlights video:

Monday, May 27, 2013

Finding Rockets and Projects update

We have updated our main website with the progress of what we have been up to over the last couple of months.

LaRF (Laser Rocket Finder) 
We have successfully tested a simple laser device for helping to find lost rockets in tall grass. It is mostly designed to find small pyro rockets that typically don't carry other forms of trackers or GPS transmitters, but it is equally useful for finding water rockets. Full details of how the LaRF works are here:

Shadow II Repairs
The Shadow II has been repaired and is ready for flight again. We still need to do a pressure test to make sure everything is good. The Shadow II build log has been updated with the more photos:

Launcher Upgrades
We have upgraded our quick launcher to be completely tool-free now so it is easy to quickly change configuration depending on the types of rockets being launched. The update includes a video.

Macquarie University Astronomy Open Night
We again helped out with the NSWRA stand at the open night. It was a very busy night with lots of people to talk to.

Sydney Observatory
NSWRA also had a stand at the Sydney observatory this year. There was also great turn out for this event.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Painting The Sky

This week we launched the Inverter rocket again a couple of times. This time though, we filled the middle 3 spliced-pairs with different coloured water to see if we could change the water stream colour mid flight. (As opposed to 3 simultaneous colours as we sometimes fly in boosters) The results turned out fairly well and we were able to get the colour to change from pink to blue to green.

Here is the full flight report from the day:

We also attempted the Materials challenge again, but this time with fins that were attached better. We were happy with the results, and achieved a flight time of 8.8 seconds. More details are also available in the flight report above.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Materials Challenge and Clark Cable tie launcher

Almost two weeks ago we had a go at one of the 10 challenges we set a while back - the Materials Challenge. Basically you have to build a water rocket using only PET plastic bottles. You are not allowed to use any glue, tape or any other materials! It was a fun challenge and things didn't quite work out as we planned but we'd like to visit it again to improve a couple of things in order to get more performance.

The full report with details of how the rocket was made is here: (video included)

Because we couldn't use our regular nozzles for the challenge (they are not made of PET), we also built a Clark Cable-tie launcher to launch the rocket. We've also put together a tutorial on how to make the launcher. It fits a standard Gardena release head so it can be used it with our regular launchers.

The tutorial is here:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Shadow II CATO, Good Inverter flight

I've put together the most recent flight report of the last launch day.

We only had two launches on the day. The Shadow II had fun scattering itself around the launch pad, but it's unusual CATO was interesting to see and has given us some more insight into possible failure modes of high pressure water rockets. It also drives home how much energy is inside these rockets and why it's important to remain at safe distances at all times. The report goes into some detail about what we think happened.

The Inverter rocket behaved itself this time and had a great flight. The flight report contains lots more photos and two videos from the day.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Shadow II and Inverter Flights

Last weekend we had the opportunity to launch the Shadow II again. The Shadow had a couple of minor issues. One was a small launcher leak where the hose quick connector screws into the launcher, and the second was that the on-board camera didn't record. The flight went really well though and we ended up with a new altitude PB. We will have another go at the next launch.

We also flew the Inverter rocket for the first time. It also had some issues and ended up getting some damage when it hit hard. Overall though we were very happy with the flight as a lot of things did work.
We learned that the overall concept works especially with all the internal restrictions. It flew nice and stable and the rocket segments didn't twist around the rocket axis. We are already half way through the repairs and should be ready to fly again in a couple of weeks.

The full flight report with pictures and highlights videos is here:


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Projects Update

We've updated our main website with the state of some of the current projects as well as a couple of new projects. One of these is the Inverter rocket that we hope to fly this upcoming launch on the 26th. We have made up a separate build log for this rocket here:

The projects update is here: In the update we also describe and show the damage done to a rocket that had been stuck in a tree for around 392 days. It had been exposed to rain, wind storms, cold and hot temperatures. It even survived a grass fire a few months ago.

We also talk about our recent visit to ANSTO with the NSWRA to do some demonstration flights.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Fairing Construction Tutorial

Happy New Year Everyone!

It's been quite a while since the last blog entry, so we thought we'd get this year started with a simple tutorial on how to make fairings that fit between bottles joined with tornado tubes. The step-by-step tutorial including video is here:

We haven't been sitting too idle (well maybe a little) during the holidays, but we have a few new projects to present this year. There are some new and some big rockets being worked on. We'll do running build logs for these again like we did for the Shadow, which makes it easier to follow progress. There are some new experiments to be flown in the MicroLab and some high pressure static tests to be done that we hope will show some interesting results.

We are planning to launch the Shadow II again on the first available opportunity this year which is Jan 26th (weather permitting). We will attempt to launch it at a higher pressure than last time.

We wish everyone all the best for the new year and good luck with your projects!