Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Bottle rockets. No punks.
August 26, 2009 10:30 PM   Subscribe

Pssst. Hey, kid. Check out these bottle rockets. You can make them yourself. Via: Make.
posted by loquacious (31 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holy flying shit balls. If North Korea could see that video they would be so embarrassed.
posted by smoke at 10:41 PM on August 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


That's astoundingly impressive. The camera mounted on the rocket a few minutes in really gives you an impression of quite how far up the water is pushing that thing, and it's far.
posted by Dysk at 10:43 PM on August 26, 2009


I grew up with stuff like this water rocket.

Later I saw single-bottle variations of this kind of recycled water bottle rocket, usually powered by a bicycle foot pump or a 12v car-tire pump, and those were pretty cool, but pretty haphazard and dangerous looking.

But these rockets easily challenge most Estes style prefab model rockets. I wonder if you could eventually achieve orbital velocities with something like this engineered to it's farthest extremes - or some kind of hybrid water-mass + pressure technology. Put solar or non-fossil energy sources behind it and we might have environmentally neutral orbital capabilities. (Eh, screw that. Lofstrom loop, or similar.

Also, Larry Niven's The Smoke Ring features heat-powered steam-based water rockets in a story set in a vast mostly zero-G torus of atmosphere surrounding a small secondary star. I think it's my favorite Niven book.

Clarke's 2001-3001 series eventually uses water-mass driven rockets, too.
posted by loquacious at 11:03 PM on August 26, 2009


Very cool. Second link is borked.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:05 PM on August 26, 2009


If the second link is borked - click on the period at the end of the second link. One is a Coral Cache / CDN link, the period is the raw link to the private home page of someone who probably doesn't need MetaFilter grade traffic hammering his server or account.

Choose wisely.

Or try reloading the Coral Cache link.
posted by loquacious at 11:08 PM on August 26, 2009


Cripes this is great!
posted by clearly at 11:29 PM on August 26, 2009


Good God, one of these would be awesome at the annual mass model rocket flying day they have here every year. Ha-ha, you're using wate? Are you kiddi - holy **** look at that go!"
posted by azpenguin at 11:39 PM on August 26, 2009


Water, even.
posted by azpenguin at 11:39 PM on August 26, 2009


Won't someone please fill one of these things with Coleman fuel and launch it off at night, after a light rain on Hunter Thompson's birthday?
posted by hortense at 11:50 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


But these rockets easily challenge most Estes style prefab model rockets. I wonder if you could eventually achieve orbital velocities with something like this engineered to it's farthest extremes - or some kind of hybrid water-mass + pressure technology.

I doubt it. A real rocket doesn't burn all it's fuel at once, but with a pressure system, all the energy you would use would need to be pushing against the walls of the storage vessel until you would be ready to use it. In other words, you would need to fire an entire orbital launch rocket directly into the container, sealed, and it would have to store all the pressure and energy right then and there.
posted by delmoi at 11:53 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Or another example, dump all the liquid oxygen and hydrogen used to launch a shuttle into a metal ball. Then detonate it. The ball would have to hold the resulting explosion.
posted by delmoi at 11:56 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have a problem with this post.

Namely, I have enough hobbies already, and this looks insanely cool.
posted by maxwelton at 12:28 AM on August 27, 2009


Loq, I think that you may help me achieve mom-hero status in my 12-year-old son's eyes when I show him some of this tomorrow. My daughter will groove on it, too. My boy has been trying to figure out various vinegar/baking soda versions on his own and I've been letting him experiment. I will give you credit and hope to report back our results.

Both of my kids have had the rockets that you hand pump, plus spare parts since we live in an apartment complex. This is going to be extra good because we live by a soccer field with a lot of extra space, so no roof accidents*.

*I also had a hand pump water and air rocket when I was a kid, but the rocket ended up on the roof after I didn't follow directions. And, no, my parents were not going to get it down for me. /me sulks still.
posted by lilywing13 at 1:40 AM on August 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


My kids watched that the other day and by the end of the next had fabricated bodies of their own rockets. No launcher yet. Lazy kids.
posted by DU at 5:02 AM on August 27, 2009


Of course, it takes forever to set up for launch. If you just want to have fun outside, a bike pump, "needle", rubber stopper and 2L bottle is extremely simple and fast.
posted by DU at 5:03 AM on August 27, 2009


When I was a kid, we used get 2 liter bottles and attach them to the sprinkler systems heads - but that stopped when one bottle went thru a neighbors window.
posted by bigmusic at 5:10 AM on August 27, 2009


I used to do this with baking soda, vinegar, a 2L bottle and a wine cork. Really cool, I got one to fly about 75-100 feet once. Great fun.
posted by Mcable at 5:19 AM on August 27, 2009


of course, if you build one of these now and take it to school, you'll probably get expelled.. the baking soda/vinegar combination got one of the kids in my program expelled from his home school for building a bomb....

play nice, kids...
posted by HuronBob at 6:27 AM on August 27, 2009


I used to do water rockets with 7th grade students. There's a cheap cheesy way to make a launcher out of PVC pipe and a car tire stem, but it depends on friction to determine launch time so it's hard to get a consistent launch. This has a fairly nice looking cheap and cheesy release. You can also buy a launch rig that is somewhat better.

I also had the kids use theodolites/altimeters they made to measure their launches.
posted by plinth at 6:37 AM on August 27, 2009


We used a simple protractor once.

I came back in here to comment that a dry ice version could be cool, but after reading HuronBob's comment now I'm wondering. Not about the danger (either real or of getting expelled) but about the physics. What determines the maximum pressure that a baking soda + vinegar or dry ice "bomb" can reach? I know dry ice can explode a 2L bottle. Can baking soda?

Is there a chemistry determinant or is it just an expansion factor thing?
posted by DU at 6:56 AM on August 27, 2009


I've been veery tempted to buy one of Antigravity Research's two-stage water rocket kits. Looks to be a good blend between awesomeness and low-maintenance.
posted by anthill at 7:11 AM on August 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


google "bottle bomb" watch a few videos before you encourage your kids to do this...
posted by HuronBob at 7:52 AM on August 27, 2009


When I was a kid, we used get 2 liter bottles and attach them to the sprinkler systems heads - but that stopped when one bottle went thru a neighbors window.

When I was a kid we had glass bottles. All you had to do was put them in the fridge and lie them on their sides. One of my younger brother's friends' dad was blinded by an explosion. Glass bottles were phased out shortly thereafter.

You kids had it too easy these last few decades.
posted by srboisvert at 7:56 AM on August 27, 2009


What determines the maximum pressure that a baking soda + vinegar or dry ice "bomb" can reach? I know dry ice can explode a 2L bottle. Can baking soda?

You know, I did this whole long write up solving the relevant chemical equations, sourcing the maximum pressure a 2L bottle can take, etc, and then I realized: "If this is possible, I'll bet some idiots have put up videos of it on YouTube." And sure enough, idiots on YouTube have come through for us once again.

So, the answer is yes, from both theoretically and practically.
posted by jedicus at 8:31 AM on August 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Please ignore the extraneous 'from' in the last sentence.
posted by jedicus at 8:36 AM on August 27, 2009


I don't know why I'm surprised that works, but here we are. And I guess this answers HuronBob's outrage that someone could be expelled for it.

This is also why I never drive the cork in too tightly. Although any realistic amount of jamming is going to be less than the pressure needed to pop the bottle, probably.
posted by DU at 8:42 AM on August 27, 2009


That is pretty sweet, but no I don't think a water rocket is going to challenge a solid fuel rocket anytime soon. With a multistage Estes rocket you can pretty easy break 2000 feet. I used to build model rockets, and I would love to again but I think the city of Chicago would not be happy with me launching rockets a half mile up into their air space.
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:31 AM on August 27, 2009


Bunch of info on hobby rocketry
posted by neuron at 7:12 PM on August 27, 2009


Onboard Video from Current Water Rocket Altitude Record
posted by hortense at 10:32 PM on August 27, 2009


hortense, your link is broken.
posted by pharm at 3:09 AM on August 28, 2009


Fixed link
posted by hortense at 8:52 AM on August 28, 2009


« Older Best Science Visualization Videos of 2009...  |  Aunt Feminina Boots's Char-Bro... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments