Saturday, June 13, 2009

Project 3000 Flight Testing and Water Rocket Launcher Construction Tutorial: Part 12

 Hello again everybody. This week we are going to have a brief update in our tutorial on building our Water Rocket launcher. The update will be somewhat truncated, as we have had a launch window this afternoon and we were able to perform some additional flight tests on Project 3000 that we were not expecting to get done so soon. The forecast for the day was for rain and wind blowing in the wrong direction, but there was a brief period of time where the sun was out and the wind had not shifted and we decided it was suitable weather for a test launch.
As you can see from the above photograph extracted from the on-board camera we flew today. the test flights went very well. Overall, we are very pleased with the progress of Project: 3000, and we were happy to have been able to get the rocket launched with only a small time window available for launching.

We must credit the teamwork and the skill of the entire U.S. Water Rockets Team for getting these launches done so rapidly. The procedures for prepping each launch have been optimized and refined by each team member over the years as we have continued to compete in the WRA2 World Record Competitions which stipulate that a record consists of an average of two flights within a 2 hour time period. The practice and skills the whole team has gained in this competition has paid off today with a total of three test launches in under 1 hour and 53 minutes! Great work, guys!

Now that we've bored you again with our launch discussion we will get back to the launcher tutorial we have been bringing you. This week we are going to start to show you how you can add some great finishing touches to your launcher to really make it stand out in the crowd of water rocket launchers. You have worked hard on your launcher up to this point and now it is time to really make the hard work pay off.
To start off the launcher upgrades we will be adding some nice rubber foot pads to the launcher, so the launcher can be used on any surface without slipping or sliding around. The rubber feet will also work well when you store your launcher because they will not scratch anything you set the launcher on in your home when not in use. For our rubber feet, we picked some that came with screws to hold them in place. You may wish to simply get some self adhesive feet for your launcher, but we liked the shape and size of these feet so we went with them.
The one issue with these particular feet is that they came packed with screws that were far too long for the legs of our launcher and had we used the included screws then they would have protruded right through the legs. Instead we bought a small bag of self-tapping screws that were the proper length for our legs.
The first thing we want to do is mark out the locations for the rubber feet. We chose to center them on the ends of the legs in a nice symmetrical way. Here is a neat trick to locate the center of your boards. The first thing to do is mark a line the same distance from the end of the board as the width of the board. This will create a perfect square shape with the width of your board as the length of each side. You will do this for all four legs on the bottom. If you happen to have a leftover piece of the wood you used for the leg, you don't even have to measure with your ruler because you can just use the piece of scrap wood to mark off the width.
Once you have marked off the square you will take your ruler or a straight edge of a board and draw the diagonals for each corner of the square you just scribed onto the board. The result will be that the diagonals will intersect at the exact center of the square and produce a perfectly centered location for the rubber foot. Do the same thing on each leg of the launcher and locate the remaining feet.
The next step is really simple. All we need to do is use a small drill bit to frill out some pilot holes to locate the feet at each intersection of the diagonals. We chose to drill a pilot hole on each leg because the rubber foot covers the lines we just drew and so even though it is possible to put in a self tapping screw without a pilot hole we decided that it would be best to use them so we can be positive that the screws were in the exact spot we wanted even though we could not see the marks under the feet.
Now we can put the screws in. We made sure to use stainless steel for all of our metal components because it really resists rusting. We highly recommend it even though the cost is slightly higher.
After you add all 4 feet, the launcher should look like the bottom view photo shown above. Pretty nice looking, don't you agree?
Above you will see the completed feet in use. The launcher looks that much cooler now and will not scratch the table. Another benefit is that if you use the launcher on a hard or abrasive surface the feet will actually protect the launcher from coming into contact with the surface and getting all scratched up.
That's it for now. We are planning on spending the evening analyzing the test data we acquired from the launches we did today. We hope you will come visit us again next week when we will bring you our next update.
Thanks for visiting!

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