Saturday, July 18, 2009

Water Rocket Launcher Construction Tutorial Part 12

This week we have been very busy going over our experimental data which we were fortunate enough to obtain during the recent period of favorable launch winds. As a result of the data analysis we have concluded that we need to redesign the tail section of the rocket we are constructing for Project 3000. This is a minor setback, but the results should be worth the extra effort. We are planning a series detailing the experiments and the results which we will share with you in the coming weeks. First, we have to get back to our nearly finished tutorial on the launcher construction we had left hanging a few weeks ago.

This week we are starting to show some of the ideas we have come up with that you can apply to your launcher or your rockets to make them stand out from the crowd. These ideas are really just the finishing touches that we came up with when we were inspired by the finely crafted water rocket and launcher designs we have seen posted on the Water Rocket Forum by some of the members such as Batkiter and Skuula.

To begin with, we want to present you with a really interesting little detail that has not been given any attention and that is the cable ties. We have discovered that there are some really funky looking brightly colored cable ties on the market now, and they can really dress up your launcher if you would like to add them in place of the standard ties.
This particular package contains a rainbow assortment of day-glo colored cable ties and those would be a fun addition to any water rocket launcher you are making. The kids really go for the brightly colored launchers and so if you are looking to make something that will be appealing to children then these ties would be a great addition to your design.

Note: this particular style of cable ties is not listed as suitable for outdoor use so bear in mind that they are not UV resistant. If your launcher is made from PVC pipe then you already are aware that the pipe itself is not UV resistant, so you should not be storing it outside where it can be exposed to the sunlight for prolonged periods of time. UV light will eventually cause the PVC pipe and the cable ties to become brittle. A failure of the cable ties would likely result in a harmless self-launch of the rocket but a failure of the pipe could produce an injury. Always be careful with your launcher and check it frequently for signs of wear or damage to prevent accidents.

Most of you are never going to store your launcher outside in any case, because you are going to be so proud of the way it turns out you will proudly display it in your trophy cabinet inside your house (just kidding!)
If you are building your launcher out of CPVC or metal parts, then it can be stored in direct sunlight because these materials are designed for outdoor use. In that case, you will want to find cable ties which are rated for exterior use, such as the ones we originally made our launcher from. Typically, you will find that the ties which are black in color have UV protection, so if you are having trouble locating UV protected ties, look for black ones which should narrow your search.

Our next idea we would like to present is finishing the base of your launcher off with some nice paint. Of course we don't mean to just go out and slap a coat of house paint on like you would a patio chair or deck. We suggest you treat the launcher as you would a finely crafted model, and give it the appropriate attention to detail that will make it really professional looking.
By now we have told you to sand the base smooth enough times that you have a really nice smooth finish on the wood. If you do not, you will need ti sand it right now before you go on! The reason we want the base sanded is because we are about to apply a wonderful product we have been using on our nosecones called "Aero Gloss". This is a sealer for wood which will give it a really nice smooth hard finish and help prevent the grain of the wood from showing. We highly recommend using this product on wooden parts of your rocket, especially balsa wood parts. It will prevent them from absorbing moisture and gaining weight in the process. If the air is humid you will want to dry your parts in an oven before sealing them, just to insure they are as light as possible. For parts that do not fly on the rocket you don't have to worry about dryness.
What you will be doing now is painting a nice coat of the sealer on the wood. Pay close attention to the ends where the end grain of the wood is exposed, as this is the most absorbent part of the wood  and needs extra sealer to fill it in.

You should allow the sealer time to dry according to the directions and once it has dried completely you will sand the surfaces with very find sandpaper and reapply the sealer again for a second coat. If you have some tack cloth you can wipe down the surface after sanding to make sure no dust or fibers are left before you apply the sealer for each coat.

We plan on applying several coats of sealer to our launcher base, which is going to take several days time to cure and sand. We will have to leave with this much progress for the week and hopefully we will have time to complete the base for next week's update.

Thanks for stopping by. We will see you next time!

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