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  1. #1
    Join Date
    18th October 2016
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    492

    Let's see your launch towers!

    I'd love to see what everyone uses for their min-diameter rocket launch towers (or towers for whatever rocket you happen to use them for).

    I have a few min-diameter rockets now and I'm getting going on tower designs. I have my first design done & assembly is almost complete. I've seen mostly old tiny little grainy pictures of towers here & a few other places online. It seems people use all kinds of structures: plywood, 2020 rails, T extrusions & more.

    I'm planning on designing & welding an adjustable all metal tower, but I haven't started on that project yet. For now, my v1.0 tower is fixed for 29mm rockets & it uses EMT conduit, some L extrusion and 3d printed end supports that slide onto a 2020 rail. The 3d printed parts are nearly solid & have metal bolts embedded as strengthening supports for the EMT conduit. I did a test fit of all the pieces tonight, but everything isn't pushed all the way together yet.

    Here are some photos of my tower - let's see yours!

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    Last edited by GrouchoDuke; 16th August 2017 at 07:37 AM.
    TRA L2. I-class record: "Vanish 29" with an I224, 14,596ft, Mach 1.92. Video here.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    22nd February 2013
    Location
    Garland, TX
    Posts
    3,683
    Mine is fully adjustable for diameter, limited to 3 fin and sets up at either 6' or 8' long. Changing the rocket diameter is a PITA, but can be done in the field in 30-45 minutes. The base plate is stainless and the rings are aluminum. I used 1010 rail for the outer supports and 1010 curved profile for the inner. Here it is in 6ft 38mm configuration with a 38mm MD leaving about 40 seconds before it became a burrowing machine.


    So much of my rocket building time has been diverted toward my "other hobby": Race Timing

  3. #3
    Join Date
    23rd March 2011
    Location
    Goodyear, AZ
    Posts
    2,878
    I built mine using 3x 8 ft. pieces of 1010 rail. The base plate is 1/4" steel plate with short pieces of 1010 rail to adjust the diameter. The upper triangles are 1" aluminum angle with 1/4" all-thread to adjust, which is somewhat of a pita.
    NAR 92675 L-3 TRA 14800 KG7IUN
    I may be getting older, but I refuse to grow up.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    18th October 2016
    Posts
    492
    Chris- Those rings look like a good way to do it. Did you machine those from aluminum plate?

    Wayco- It looks like you don't have any external supports that hold the base & two triangles alinged (except for your rocket guide tubes/rods/rails. Does that work ok or is it wobbly when you move it around (or launch)?

    Nice guys, thanks!
    TRA L2. I-class record: "Vanish 29" with an I224, 14,596ft, Mach 1.92. Video here.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    22nd February 2013
    Location
    Garland, TX
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    3,683
    Quote Originally Posted by GrouchoDuke View Post
    Chris- Those rings look like a good way to do it. Did you machine those from aluminum plate?

    Wayco- It looks like you don't have any external supports that hold the base & two triangles alinged (except for your rocket guide tubes/rods/rails. Does that work ok or is it wobbly when you move it around (or launch)?

    Nice guys, thanks!
    At the time my Dad had access to a water jet that was used to cut the rings and the base plate. I did a kind of "build thread" at the time. Here: http://www.rocketryforum.com/showthr...arts-Completed

    I'll say it is almost embarrassingly over engineered. Happens whenever you try to make a one size fits all (diameters) solution I guess.
    So much of my rocket building time has been diverted toward my "other hobby": Race Timing

  6. #6
    Join Date
    16th February 2014
    Location
    Gilroy, CA
    Posts
    2,199
    I designed my tower systems to handle 3 or 4 fins, 29mm - 5" OD. It can be reconfigured in about 15 minutes. It uses 3/16" steel rings and 1" EMT conduit for the rails. I changed the design to use a solid 3/16" steel base plate instead of the ring pictured here. It isn't cheap, but it's probably the easiest to configure tower of any on the market.



    http://ape-rc.com/#!/Adjustable-Laun...egory=11909535
    Chris Attebery
    TRA 6602 L3
    Personal best: 37,789' 1335mph

    www.ape-rc.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    23rd March 2011
    Location
    Goodyear, AZ
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    2,878
    Quote Originally Posted by GrouchoDuke View Post
    Chris- Those rings look like a good way to do it. Did you machine those from aluminum plate?

    Wayco- It looks like you don't have any external supports that hold the base & two triangles alinged (except for your rocket guide tubes/rods/rails. Does that work ok or is it wobbly when you move it around (or launch)?

    Nice guys, thanks!
    My first version of this was made using 3/4" electrical conduit, and it was a bit wobbly. The version you see has 1010 rail and is much sturdier. I have made another improvement, using 1010 hardware to reinforce the connections to the triangles and the base plate, making it rock solid, and easier to adjust. I just don't have any pictures of it.
    NAR 92675 L-3 TRA 14800 KG7IUN
    I may be getting older, but I refuse to grow up.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    18th October 2016
    Posts
    492
    Quote Originally Posted by Cl(VII) View Post
    At the time my Dad had access to a water jet that was used to cut the rings and the base plate.
    Water jets are awesome. There's a place here in Vegas that I used a long time ago to water jet an airplane panel. Maybe I should look them up again for some nice rings.


    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisAttebery View Post
    I designed my tower systems to handle 3 or 4 fins, 29mm - 5" OD. It can be reconfigured in about 15 minutes. It uses 3/16" steel rings and 1" EMT conduit for the rails. I changed the design to use a solid 3/16" steel base plate instead of the ring pictured here. It isn't cheap, but it's probably the easiest to configure tower of any on the market.
    Yeah, I've seen your page & your towers look great. It's great to see some commercially available. I hope you're selling quite a few.


    Quote Originally Posted by Wayco View Post
    My first version of this was made using 3/4" electrical conduit, and it was a bit wobbly. The version you see has 1010 rail and is much sturdier. I have made another improvement, using 1010 hardware to reinforce the connections to the triangles and the base plate, making it rock solid, and easier to adjust. I just don't have any pictures of it.
    Cool, thanks. Mine is also 3/4" EMT. I have slots in my 3d printed end supports for 2 sections of extruded L (or T) and a single 1010 rail. I'm hoping that's enough to keep it steady. It sure would be nice to have an adjustable one tough. One day!

    For my 29m rockets, the biggest motor that the tower will ever see is a CTI I224. That's a lot of ummph for a little rocket, but still on the small side of what others are launching with towers. Hopefully that sized motor doesn't over stress the plastic parts. Each 3d printed end piece of mine is about a pound of plastic plus some metal. With 3d printed parts from a home/hobby printer it's pretty much impossible to do any real engineering analysis. Overall, they feel about as strong as PVC the same size. PVC rings have worked for several of people, so I'm going to try it. That said, I'm really looking forward to a nice adjustable metal tower. Something with a single hand crank for adjustments would be sweeeeet.
    TRA L2. I-class record: "Vanish 29" with an I224, 14,596ft, Mach 1.92. Video here.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    21st January 2009
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    1,586
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    Justin Farrand
    L3 Tripoli 9513
    Chicago Rocket Mafia, "The Eyes"

  10. #10
    Join Date
    18th October 2016
    Posts
    492
    What material are those brownish rings that hold the 1010 rails made of? Is that plywood?
    TRA L2. I-class record: "Vanish 29" with an I224, 14,596ft, Mach 1.92. Video here.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    21st January 2009
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    1,586
    Quote Originally Posted by GrouchoDuke View Post
    What material are those brownish rings that hold the 1010 rails made of? Is that plywood?
    3/16" G10/FR4 plate... just like fin material.
    Justin Farrand
    L3 Tripoli 9513
    Chicago Rocket Mafia, "The Eyes"

  12. #12
    Join Date
    18th October 2016
    Posts
    492
    Very cool. Thanks.
    TRA L2. I-class record: "Vanish 29" with an I224, 14,596ft, Mach 1.92. Video here.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    15th February 2009
    Location
    North Texas
    Posts
    567
    Chris - Are those custom L-brakets that hold the EMT to the supports? Very nice either way. I really like the design.


    Tony
    why do people put so much stuff in their sigs?

  14. #14
    Join Date
    16th February 2014
    Location
    Gilroy, CA
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    Yes, they are. I cut the 1010 rails to match the radius of the EMT too.

    Thanks,


    Chris

    Quote Originally Posted by manixFan View Post
    Chris - Are those custom L-brakets that hold the EMT to the supports? Very nice either way. I really like the design.


    Tony
    Chris Attebery
    TRA 6602 L3
    Personal best: 37,789' 1335mph

    www.ape-rc.com

  15. #15
    Join Date
    19th January 2009
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    3,394
    Purpose built towers for min dia O and P motors.
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  16. #16
    Join Date
    18th October 2016
    Posts
    492
    For completeness, here are a few more pictures of my tower. I trimmed down the EMT conduit to be 44" long, which lets me use the full length of the aluminum L pieces I put on for extra strength while still being plenty long for my 29mm rockets. I still need to pick up 4 machine screws for the L extrusions, but that's it.

    I haven't flown off it yet, but hopefully that'll change this weekend.

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    TRA L2. I-class record: "Vanish 29" with an I224, 14,596ft, Mach 1.92. Video here.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    16th February 2014
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    Gilroy, CA
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    That looks great. Good luck with your flights out of it.
    Chris Attebery
    TRA 6602 L3
    Personal best: 37,789' 1335mph

    www.ape-rc.com

  18. #18
    Join Date
    22nd February 2013
    Location
    Garland, TX
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    3,683
    Looks great. What plastic is that printed in? Infill %?
    So much of my rocket building time has been diverted toward my "other hobby": Race Timing

  19. #19
    Join Date
    18th October 2016
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    492
    Quote Originally Posted by Cl(VII) View Post
    Looks great. What plastic is that printed in? Infill %?
    Thanks guys. It's eSun PETG. The infiltration ranges from 40 to 95%, depending on the area. The bottom & top sections are 40% and the middle area is 95 using Simplify3d's hexagon fill. The EMT holder part of the 3d prints also have a long bolt through the middle of them to help strengthen the plastic. It takes almost a full 1kg roll of PETG to print the two pieces.

    I've had a couple people PM me asking for the STL files so they could print their own. For now, I don't want to share it because I haven't tested it and I really don't know how strong it'll be with the plastic parts. Sorry - maybe later.
    TRA L2. I-class record: "Vanish 29" with an I224, 14,596ft, Mach 1.92. Video here.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    22nd February 2013
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    Garland, TX
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrouchoDuke View Post
    Thanks guys. It's eSun PETG. The infiltration ranges from 40 to 95%, depending on the area. The bottom & top sections are 40% and the middle area is 95 using Simplify3d's hexagon fill. The EMT holder part of the 3d prints also have a long bolt through the middle of them to help strengthen the plastic. It takes almost a full 1kg roll of PETG to print the two pieces.

    I've had a couple people PM me asking for the STL files so they could print their own. For now, I don't want to share it because I haven't tested it and I really don't know how strong it'll be with the plastic parts. Sorry - maybe later.
    That is a really long print. They look great, and I suspect you will be just fine on strength.
    So much of my rocket building time has been diverted toward my "other hobby": Race Timing

  21. #21
    Join Date
    18th October 2016
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    492
    Quote Originally Posted by Cl(VII) View Post
    That is a really long print. They look great, and I suspect you will be just fine on strength.
    Yeah, I think they were around 30 hours to print each. I think they’ll be fine too. We’ll see!

    i just noticed that autocorrect must have changed my “infill” to “infiltration” in my earlier post. Way to go, autocorrect.
    TRA L2. I-class record: "Vanish 29" with an I224, 14,596ft, Mach 1.92. Video here.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    6th September 2009
    Posts
    1,648
    Here's my clunky build. The design kept evolving through this thread. I limited myself to Home Depot parts and hand tools. Worked OK the few times I used it, including my personal best altitude.

    http://www.rocketryforum.com/showthr...ighlight=tower

  23. #23
    Join Date
    6th September 2009
    Posts
    1,648
    Instead of hauling the above monstrosity around, I now just use this:

    http://cart.amwprox.com/images/stori...ct/3button.jpg

  24. #24
    Join Date
    18th October 2016
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    492
    I put a flight on my tower today with a CTI I224 & it seemed to work really well. There's a little bit of black residue on the plastic parts, but it looks like everything held together really well. I didn't manage to get any DSLR shots of the rocket leaving my tower, but here's a GoPro screen grab.

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    TRA L2. I-class record: "Vanish 29" with an I224, 14,596ft, Mach 1.92. Video here.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrouchoDuke View Post
    I put a flight on my tower today with a CTI I224 & it seemed to work really well. There's a little bit of black residue on the plastic parts, but it looks like everything held together really well. I didn't manage to get any DSLR shots of the rocket leaving my tower, but here's a GoPro screen grab.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Nice.

  26. #26
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    22nd February 2013
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    Excellent work
    So much of my rocket building time has been diverted toward my "other hobby": Race Timing

  27. #27
    Join Date
    18th October 2016
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    492
    Thanks guys. Looking at the slow-mo video, it doesn't really look like the tower budged or flexed until the rocket cleared the tower. Pretty cool to see!

    If anyone's interested in making their own, I added my 3d printed end bracket to Thingiverse:
    https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2538353
    TRA L2. I-class record: "Vanish 29" with an I224, 14,596ft, Mach 1.92. Video here.

  28. #28
    Join Date
    13th July 2017
    Location
    East Coast
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    108
    Thanks for the photos and ideas. Great stuff and thank you.
    TRA #17397
    Graduate of the University of Hardknocks
    and Academy of Life Experiences


    "Vestibulum victus aptet"

  29. #29
    Join Date
    27th December 2015
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    Hailey, ID
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrouchoDuke View Post
    I put a flight on my tower today with a CTI I224 & it seemed to work really well. There's a little bit of black residue on the plastic parts, but it looks like everything held together really well. I didn't manage to get any DSLR shots of the rocket leaving my tower, but here's a GoPro screen grab.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Very cool! I like your design with the halos mounted on the rail. I have been plugging my mid to small towers into my universal base for years with adapters. Just using the rail means one less thing to bring to the range.👍 Well done.
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    NAR Member
    Class D water rocket world record 417 feet 130 mph..
    Machbuster #8 Mach 1.71 on a G80 5260 feet.
    NAR Member

  30. #30
    Join Date
    18th October 2016
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    492
    Quote Originally Posted by retortec View Post
    Very cool!.
    Thanks. If I could have found some big PVC like yours, I probably would have gone that way when I built mine. I'm really happy with my tower though. I'm building a 24mm one next.

    TRA L2. I-class record: "Vanish 29" with an I224, 14,596ft, Mach 1.92. Video here.

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