Florescent light Tube Cover Rockets

 or FTC Rockets
Rocket . . Altimeter . . Launcher . . Build your own .
One way to make a rocket go higher is to reduce the air resistance.  So if you make a skinnier rocket, you have a better chance to reduce its air resistance and make it go higher.  I have started making water rockets out of tubes of polycarbonate.  They are sold for the purpose of encasing florescent lights from showering glass down when a bulb breaks.  But, they make great rockets.  In order to use them, you first have to cap both ends.  I found a way on Jon Mehlferber's web page that you can thermo-form (technical word for melting) bulkheads out of 20 oz bottles.  I used PVC to make the jig because the local hardware store didn't have the parts in copper.  I have to be carefull with the PVC jig because the heat gun can melt it too.
Here is a picture of a FTC rocket on the launcher. The clear plastic fins are hard to see.
The Bulkhead Jig
This jig is used to make the bulkheads (end caps) for the FTC rocket.  I used a piece of light tube to go over a 1 inch coupler to get the right size.  A 3/4 to 1/2 inch reducer fit inside the coupler to get it down to 1/2 inch. The half inch pipe at the end serves to slide the bottle onto and keep it lined up during heating and also serves as a handle to spin the bottle as you heat it with a heat gun.  You start with a 20 oz bottle with just the bottom cut out.  As you heat the bottle, spin it to keep the shrinkage even.  The goal is to get about half an inch or more of the bottle to shrink down nicely, trim off the rest of the wavy and curly part.

Assembled jig to make the bulkheads.

Finished product glued onto a FTC.  Ready for fins.


Bernard Willaert is where I found electromagnetic deployment for the chute

  I used Bruce Berggren's launcher design

Tim Sumrall has some good links



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