Wednesday, 31 December 2008

10litre - MAXTOR II 382ft

We launched MAXTOR II again but we didn't reach our personal best! The MAXTOR II has a different style of fins to MAXTOR I and the new style of fins aren't as effective as the old fins because if you watch the launch in slow motion you can see the fins flap. If the fins flap it creates more drag so it won't reach as high altitudes! So the next thing is to make the old fins again and see if it goes any higher.

In the video you can hear our Dads laughing and shouting because they have never seen our rockets go above 300ft!!!

Here is the video of the launch:

click here if this video doesn't work.

capacity:     10L
water:         1.6L
pressure:   110psi
weight:       654g
nozzle:        10mm        (350mm launch tube)

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

10litre - MAXTOR II launch

We launched the new MAXTOR II today and all the launches went very well except for one little problem, the altimeter had ran out of batteries, but we didn't realise until we were in the field and the rocket was already pressurised so we didn't bother to abort the first launch! The first launch was a little unstable because one of the fins detached from the rocket at launch. We sorted that problem before the second launch but we didn't have enough time to straighten the fin so that is why the onboard is a little blurry (it spins a lot!!!). We estimated the altitude of the second launch by looking at the onboard footage and how long the flight time was, we estimated about 450ft (This is only a rough estimation). We will get a new battery for the altimeter and try to launch it again as soon as possible!!!

Here is a video of the launches:

capacity:    10L
water:     (specified in the video)
pressure:    110psi (For all launches)
weight:       645g
nozzle:        10mm   (350mm launch tube)

Friday, 26 December 2008

NEW 10litre - MAXTOR II

Here is our new 10litre water rocket, MAXTOR II  :

This new MAXTOR rocket is huge but only weighs 645grams and it has been pressure tested to 130psi and could possibly hold more. We will probably launch it at 110/115psi (to be safe) with 2 litres of water. The Clifford Heath simulator estimates that it will reach 460ft at 115psi !!!

The only bad thing is that there has been alot of wind today and the weather forcast says that it will be windy for the next week or more!!!

Thursday, 25 December 2008

8 litre 408ft (129.36m)

We have set a new personal best altitude of 408ft!!!

Here is a video of the launch:
if this video doesn't work click here.

Sorry about the video of the launch because the camera ran out of batteries when the rocket was descending!!!

capacity:      8L
water:          1.6L
pressure:     115psi
weight:         540g
nozzle:          10mm

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

8litre 392ft (119m)

We launched the new 8litre (MAXTOR) rocket again yesterday and we have set a new personal best (to date). The last launch of MAXTOR was only at 100psi but yesterday we launched it at 110psi with a little more water. We did two launches yesterday and both launches were good but the 2nd launch landed in a tree because it drifted with the wind and it blew into a tree. we have got the rocket back but we spent about an hour searching for it!!!

The parachute system that we had on this rocket has been replaced by an even lighter one, it now weight 10 grams less than the one we used yesterday. The onboard camera was on the 2nd flight but it failed to save the video because it ran out of batteries because it was in the tree for too long which is a shame because that was our best record to date!

click here to see the launches!

capacity: 8L
water: #1= 1.5L #2= 2L
pressure: 110psi
weight: 545g
nozzle: 10mm

Altimeter graphs

Monday, 22 December 2008

8litre 325ft (99.06m)

Today we launched the 8 litre rocket with the same fins as the 6litre but these new fins were bigger. The launch was a lot straighter than the 6L launches but due to strong winds it pitched over as it got higher so it still wasn't a straight as we would like it to go. The parachute was set at the right timing but there was a delay before it properly deployed because the rocket wasn't traveling fast enough to get enough air to fill the parachute. The top speed was 102mph (45.5m/s) so it was a little slower than the 6litre (6litre was 129mph) but thats because the 8L weights about 90 grams more. 

We named this new rocket "MAXTOR" because it is the lightest rocket that we could make for its capacity, we tried every possible way to save weight for example the fins are made out of one layer of cereal cardboard and the parachute deployment system is made from polystyrene.  So it will probably be our highest record holder for quite a while. The name MAXTOR won't just stay with this same capacity because we might make a MAXTOR II which could be a 6litre or a 10litre! 

Here is the video of the launch:

If this video doesn't work click here!


capacity:         8L
water:             1.4L
pressure:        100psi
weight:            545g
nozzle:             10mm

click here to see the altimeter graph.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

6litre 306ft (93.27m)

Today we launched the 6 litre rocket again but at 100psi. The launch was a little straighter because we didn't add as much water, so the rocket wasn't so tail heavy (too much weight at the bottom). The weather was the same as the 276ft crash, there was absolutley no wind and it was freezing cold. This launch is our highest record to date but we hope to beat it again in the next few days. We are going to use a launch tube on the next launch and this should increase the takeoff speed and increasing the altitude. The top speed on this launch was 57m/s (129mph). We calculated that the G forces at take off were 11G's. To find out how we calculated this click here.

Here is the video of the launch:
If this video doesn't work click here!


Capacity:  6L
water:       1.25L
pressure:  100psi
weight:      435g
nozzle:       10mm

click here to see the altimeter graph.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

6litre 276ft

Today we launched the new rocket but this was a 6 litre instead of a 4L. The rocket was only pressurised to 90psi and it reached 276ft. The rocket would have gone a bit higher if it didn't fly at such an angle and if it didn't crash then I would have launched it again! The parachute did deploy from the rocket but it didn't fully open because it got tangled in the fins. At first I though the rocket was going to be alright but it kept on accelerating towards the ground until it crashed. We plan to launch this rocket again in the next few days, we are going to launch it at 100psi or more! our target for this rocket is at least 300ft but the simulator calculates 326ft.

Here is the video of the launch:

If this video doesn't work click here.


capacity:   6L
water:      1.5L
pressure:   90psi
weight:     430g
nozzle:      10mm

click here to see the altimeter graph.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

New Idea

Yesterday, we had another attempt at launching the rocket with boosters but we didn't have much luck. The rocket had the same problem as when we first launched it, one booster didn't release, but we thought we had fixed that a long time ago. So until we fix that, we are going to take a more simpler approach to beat our old record, set with a 4litre. We have made a new 4L that weighs 345g (with 60g payload, camera and altimeter) whereas the old 4L that set our old record weighed 350g (with just the altimeter). if this new rocket beats our old record then we will probably make it bigger to a 6litre. If the 6L beats the record again, which it probably will, then we will move onto an 8litre. According to the "Clifford Heath simulator", the 8L will reach 354ft at 100psi, which is good enough for me...

Here is a picture of the new style rocket...

The coupling is made from an iron bolt that has been drilled through as wide as possible and the nut has been cut in half to reduce as much weight as possible (the coupling weighs 20g). We were going to make aluminium couplings but the aluminium wouldn't make a BIG difference anyway (5g maximum).
The fins are made from cardboard and weigh 30g (10g each) whereas the old fins weighed 81g.

The booster rocket idea is still in our minds but we won't launch it again for a few month.  we won't launch it because its winter and its to much work to carry all the stuff out to the field and then not be satisfied with the launch.

Oh yeah, the FTC rocket doesn't leak so that's good. But it probably won't be launched for a few more months because we need to make a new launcher. It will be using a 22mm nozzle, we used to have a launcher for 22mm nozzles but it got wet a rotted!

Thursday, 27 November 2008

FTC rocket

We have started to make an FTC (fluorescent tube cover) rocket and we have already made the pressure chamber. We need to test it for leaks, if it leaks then we will probably scrap that idea. The rocket won't have a parachute so it will be extra light, but it does have another type of recovery system, it will be designed as a sideglider/sideslider. A sideglider/sideslider is a rocket that has its CoG (Centre of Gravity) and CoP (Centre of Pressure) very near to the centre of the rocket so when it is descending it descends on its side, which increases drag to slow the rocket's descent. The rocket is still a prototype and may take a while to make.

We still haven't launched the booster rocket because we have been busy over the past few weeks.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

booster rocket fins

The new fins and booster pins should work a lot better because we have made the main rocket less tail heavy (more stability). The new fins are straighter so the rocket won't twist, so the onboard camera footage will be clearer because we are going to mount the camera horizontal to reduce drag.

We have attached the fins onto a removable sleeve with some copper plate that's been bent into an "L" shape. The tubes for the boosters are stuck onto the sleeve with some gaffer tape (Duck Tape) that is rapped round the tubes tightly for extra strength. The sleeve slides on and off of the rocket so we can replace the rocket without having to make some new fins. The rocket is fully finished and all we need to do now is wait for a non windy day.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Booster fins and pins

We have tried to fix the old problem with the boosters by remaking all the booster pins again and we have also rebuilt the whole fin unit (booster tubes). The fins are a lot lighter so the rocket isn't as tail heavy as before so the stability should be a lot better. The rocket is pretty much being rebuilt completely from scratch because we are just finishing of the new parachute deployment system, which is designed to be easier to replace if we have a crash. We haven't been able to launch the rocket for a wile now because it has been terrible weather, the weather forecast for the next few day is just lots of rain and lots of wind (not good rocket weather).
Otherwise the launcher is working perfectly, its just the fine tuning that we need to sort out e.g. the boosters and recovery system.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Booster problem solved

We have found out what was going wrong with our booster rocket. When the boosters separate from the main stage they don't all separate at the same time because of friction. All the booster fall off in less than half a second but that is enough to through the rocket off balance and flip. So to stop this happening we are going to tie all the boosters together with a piece of string so if one falls of then it will pull the others off with it.

have a look at this video:
If this video doesn't work click here

Thursday, 30 October 2008

booster rocket tests (crashes)

Today we tested our new launcher but we had a few problems. We have found out what those problems were and have tried to fix them but that could also lead to another problem. The first problem is quite obvious in the video, the stability of the rocket isn't good. The reason why it isn't stable is because we didn't attach the boosters to the main stage properly so it just spiraled out of control. The second reason why i didn't work is because the main stage was leaking a lot so we didn't pressurise it so no separation happened and so it was to tail heavy. The parachute didn't deploy because the timer was set only for high altitude flights but because it didn't go very high the parachute didn't have enough time to open.

if this video doesn't work click here

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

how it works?

If you want to no know how our booster rocket launcher works then we have added a video of how we set it up:

If this video doesn't work click here.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Launcher Complete

Finally after 2 months of building the launcher we have finished! The launcher has been rebuilt from the last problem and has now got a guide rail. The new launcher is made from plywood instead of MDF and it has now got 3 layers of paint on it. Although the guide rail might look short, well it is, but that's because it is only used to keep the rocket up straight when it is sitting on the launcher. We still don't know when we will launch it but we will do some test soon if the weather is good. We have rebuilt the release system and this time it is easier to release. To see more pictures of the launcher click here!Here is a closer view of the launch mechanism and guide rail.
We still haven't thought of a name for the rocket yet. so if anyone would like to suggest a name please add a comment.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Bad Weather

We still haven't finished our launcher because we have been very busy over the past week. The launcher still needs to be rebuilt and tested before any launch and that could be quite a while because it hasn't been good flying weather (windy and rainy) for the past week or two. On Sunday 12th we were meant to fly it but it was bad weather and we haven't finished the launcher yet anyway.

We will try to update as much as possible.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Plywood Launcher Base

We were going to repaint the MDF launcher because if it got wet again then it will be harder to fix, so we are going to use some different wood. This time we're going to use plywood because plywood doesn't go as soggy as MDF when you spill water on it. We're still going to paint the plywood just to make sure that it doesn't go soggy over time. We are also going to add a guide rail to keep the rocket straight when it launches and also to prevent the boosters leaking or getting stuck on the launcher. The new launch day will hopefully be on 12/10/08 but we can never say for certain because we still haven't test it properly yet. The reason why we haven't tested it yet is because the launcher turned soggy even before we had done any test launches.

Friday, 3 October 2008

launcher problem

We thought we had finaly finished our launcher and were hoping to fly the rocket this sunday but when we tested it for leaks we had a problem with the paint. Because the launcher is made from MDF which isn't very good when mixed with water, which is stupid because this is a water rocket launcher, so we had to paint it. although it had 2 layers of water proof varnish, it still didn't protect the MDF so we will have to take it all apart and repaint it again. If that doesn't work then we will get some other type of wood that is water proof. The target date for the flight was ment to be this sunday (5th october) but seeing as we have to repaint it, the new target date will have to be some time next week unless we have enough time this weekend to repaint it.

Monday, 29 September 2008

parachute deployment

We have just uploaded details of our parachute deployment system. If the video isn't very detailed then please comment and we will put more details.

How it works:

-The parachute is packed and is spring loaded for quick and reliable deployment.

-The door has an elastic band on it and when the door is shut, the elastic band stretches round the rocket.

-The elastic band hooks onto a wind up toy (remember to wind the toy around 1 or 2 times first so it doesn't stop before it releases).

-Then wind up the toy (timer) about 1 or 2 times, depending on the amount of time you want.

-The timer is held in place by a piece of wood, at launch the piece of wood is pulled out and the timer starts.

-When the timer releases the elastic band, it releases the door and the parachute deploys.

... and the rocket is safe.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

New plans

We have got a new plan for our booster rocket, the main stage is going to be a 4L and the boosters are going to be 1L each. This is going to be our first test rocket because there is a lot less risks with a smaller rocket than with a bigger rocket. When we get this working properly we will then move onto a bigger rocket. We are almost ready for a launch but we still need to do a few test, so we will probably launch it next weekend.

We need to choose a name for this new rocket so if anybody would like to suggest a name for the rocket please write it in the comments section.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Launcher almost complete

The launcher that we have been working on for a very long time is almost complete all we need to do is paint it to stop the MDF going all soggy from the water and then we need to add the pressure tubes that supply the air to the rocket. We will hope to fly it in the next month or two but we can never say definitely. We are also going to try to make some aluminium Robinson Couplings on our new lathe instead of the heavy steal couplings, this should reduce the weight and add a few more feet in altitude!

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

New Nozzles and launch tubes

We have just finished making the nozzles and launch tubes for our booster rocket. The nozzles are made from light weight aluminium and when assembled with a bottle top lid they should weigh 11grams each. Most of our launcher is ready but we still have to make the air supply tubes that will be under the launcher.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Onboard Camera

This camera is used in all of our onboard footage. It only weighs 37g (not including 3g memory card) and it is 1.3 mega pixels. The camera is mainly meant for RC planes and helicopters but we use it for our rockets. The camera might look very fragile but it has survived a few crashes from at least 200ft.

Here are some links for the cheapest place to buy:

Saturday, 30 August 2008


I strongly recommend this altimeter to anybody. It is accurate to 1 foot and has everything thing you need to use it. It is designed for RC planes so it doesn't need to detect a 40m/s speed acceleration to start recording so if your rocket has a slow take off then it will still record the flight. It doesn't include a battery holder so i had to cut the wires and then attach them to a battery. If you want a light weight battery then use an A23 battery.

here is a link to the main website:

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

booster rocket design

We have changed the design of the booster rocket a bit. It will still be a 6Litre main stage but the boosters will be 2 litres instead off 1litre. The boosters will be two 1 litre bottles that will be coupled together (bottom to bottom) and the boosters will contain 0.8litres of water.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

New Compressor

We have finally got a new compressor after our old compressor broke. It will be great to use for the booster rocket and all the other rockets. It can only reach 116psi (8bar) but that is enough for now. The compressor doesn't have a tank so it is very portable, if we want to add a tank then we just connect one on. We can't bring the compressor out to the field because we would need a power supply, so we will fill a 43litre compressed gas tank to 116psi and bring that to the field.

Friday, 22 August 2008

New TDF team T-shirts

The TDF team have now got their own team T-shirts. The T-shirts will be worn by all the TDF members on every launch day. The T-shirts have the TDF logo on the back and will display the name of the member on the front.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

New launcher

Today we started to make the launcher for the rocket with boosters. We only made the base and sliding platforms for the boosters. The next thing to make is the booster nozzles and launch tubes. The booster aren't locked down, they are simply held down by the main rocket just like Aircommand water rockets. The base will be raised up about 12cm for all the air hoses underneath and it will sink through the long grass in the field to create a level platform.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Booster Rocket Project

We are starting a new project. We are going to make a water rocket with boosters. The boosters will be mounted on the side, a bit like Aircommand. The booster will be three 1 litre bottles that are held to the main stage with some pins. The main stage will be 6 litres and will weight about 430grams. The main stage will use a 5mm nozzle for maximum thrust time and the booster will use an 11mm nozzle for maximum thrust. The booster will also have a 23cm long launch tube for an extra boost and maybe another 50ft higher. The simulator says that it will go 437ft but i will be happy with just 400ft. If you want to see how this will work click here. I wont be able to make anything else for the rocket because it is still in the tree but i can start building the launcher.

New Aerodynamic Rocket

Today we started to think about the aerodynamics of a rocket and we have made a prototype to test how important the aerodynamics really are. This rocket is an aerofoil shape, its tapered at the back for drag reduction.
The picture shows the air flow as it passes over the rocket.
The capacity of the rocket is only 3 litres and it will use an 800mm long launch tube with a 10mm nozzle. The rocket is also 80mm diameter so it is thinner than the 100mm bottles that we normaly use.

Tree problem over

Today we spent all day preparing the long thin pole that was going to pull the rocket down. The pole had to be 25ft (8.8m) long because I only had a 5m long ladder. The pole had to be very strong and very light for me to hold whilst I (Tom) was up the ladder. I had a couple of goes to get it down but all i could do is poke it. Then Fred made a hook to go on the end of the pole to pull it down. Fred quickly made a hook out of a coat hanger we and tried again. This time we were successful, we pulled down the rocket and checked that the altimeter was alright. Everything was alright.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Problem with the tree

On Monday we had a big problem with one of our 6 litre rockets, it was being pressurised when it launch without knowing, so we only caught the rocket descending by parachute on the video. It flew straight into a large tree and is about 45ft from the ground. The problem is, it contains the parachute deployment system and the altimiter so we wont be able to beat the record until it comes down.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

New Logo

This logo was created by Daniel.

If you didn't know what TDF stands for, it means:

Tom (T)

Daniel (D)

Fred (F)

These are the TDF members and are the creaters of all the rockets.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

4Litre water rocket record

Today we set a new TDF water rocket record. Our old record was only 238ft but our new record is 266ft. Our next aim is to reach 275ft. After the launch the wind started to pick up so we didn't launch again that evening but we did adjust the rocket a little. We maneged to reduce the weight by about 15grams so we could beat the record tomorrow. To see this rocket fly click here

It looks like an excellent flight but when we checked the altimeter data it wasn't a smooth line to apogee, the suddenly stopped and started to descend. This could only mean that the parachute deployed too early, if the timer was a bit longer then we could have reached 275ft.

Stability Problem

We had a problem with the fins, it kept on spin violently out of control and the nosecone was wobbly. We could only reach 226ft, so we went back to workshop to rebuild the fins and nosecone. The video shows that it wobbles quite a lot so the rocket wasn't as efficient as it should have been. To see the rocket fly click here