Sunday, April 21, 2013

Video Tutorial: Making a 22mm Launch Tube with O-ring seal

Our latest Tutorial Video details the process of creating a Launch Tube for Water Rockets which may be used with different styles of launchers and release mechanisms. The tutorial shows the construction of a 22mm diameter PVC Launch Tube, but the process can be adapted for Launch Tubes with virtually any diameter.

The 22mm Launch Tube in this construction tutorial is ideal for use with unrestricted nozzles such as the mouth and neck of soft drink bottles typically used to make Water Rockets, and is the ideal size for high altitude flights which depend on maximum acceleration.

This video is the first in our launcher tutorial series, and will be followed up by other videos which will explain how to build various launchers using this design as the core.

You maye have seen this type of Launch Tube before in the web tutorial we published several years ago on our website. This video series is similar in design, but we have improved and simplified the process of making this Launch Tube in the years since we first produced the design. If you would like to see the original tutorial, you can find it on our website at the following link:

On our website, you will find that we have several other updated construction tutorials, and many more on the way. A complete list of all of our web tutorials can be seen at the following link:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Electronics Tutorial: How to remove and replace the MSP430 Launchpad Headers for use with Breadboards

Starting with MSP430 Launchpad Version 1.5 and newer, Texas Instruments has been shipping all MSP430 Launchpads with male headers factory soldered to the board so that MCU Boosterpacks can be used without any soldering required. Users who prefer to build their projects using breadboards have been disappointed with this change, because their breadboard jumper pins do not mate with the male header pins.

Texas Instruments has provided a pair of female headers in the package with each MSP430 Launchpad, which are the correct gender for mating with breadboard jumpers. In order to use the female headers, the end user must desolder and remove the male headers, and then install and solder the female headers. Changing the headers can be very intimidating for a user who has limited experience with a soldering iron, since it is not terribly difficult to accidentally destroy a printed circuit board when extracting components.

The U.S. Water Rockets team designs and builds several projects using the MSP430 Launchpad which require the removal and replacement of the male headers, so we created a tutorial to share our simple method for changing the headers. Our tutorial method is intended to make it extremely easy for anyone of any skill level to remove the male headers without damaging the circuit board, and replace them with the female headers provided.  We encourage you to check out the tutorial and see how easy it can be, and go ahead and try it yourself!

This tutorial will also be of interest to anyone using the MSP430 Launchpad as a parachute deploy timer with our ServoChron firmware, because that project is much easier to build when the headers are removed.

If you found this tutorial interesting, you may want to take a look at some of the other electronics and rocketry tutorials we have on our website. Click here to see a complete list of all of our online tutorials.