$25 PVC Launch Pad

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Well-Known Member
May 10, 2011
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Today I bought some PVC parts, 2 hose clamps, and 20 feet of 1 1/4" PVC pipes. With only those pieces, I made an LPR, MPR and HPR launch pad. It should be able to take up to 4" diameter rockets as is, and once I fill the legs with sand it should be able to take a 5" or 6" rocket. It consists of 5 3' long PVC pipes, a 6" long PVC pipe, a 4 way pipe connector, a 3 way pipe connector, 2 hose clamps, a piece of scrap metal, a 1/8th, 3/32d, 1/4 and 3/8 launch rods. And a few end caps for the PVC pipes. All this costs: $24.97.

OK. Heres how to do it:

cut all your pieces to lenth with a hacksaw. Dont worry about ragged edges, they dont show. stick 3 of the 5 long pipes into the 3-way connector. Stick the short pipe into the other space, and attatch the 3-way connector to that, with the third connector pointing up. Put the 4th and 5th pipes into the 3 way connector also. Make sure one of them is facing up. Now you have a base and small tower. You can cut the tower part longer if you are taller than I am (5' 2") Then bend the tower over (this should be easy.) untill the tower touches the ground. lay a launch rod onto the tower, with about 6-12 inches on the pipe. Put the two hose clamps over that, and tighten them untill the launch rod is secure. then drill a hole in your sheet metal, and slide that on.

Ill call the piece that sticks up the tower, and the thing it connects to at the base the tower leg. Just clarifying.

Take a drill with a 1/8" bit in it, and drill a hole in the 3-way connector, about 1" from the base of the tower. Drill one on either side of the tower. Then drill another hole in the 4-way connector where the tower leg sticks in. Then drill 3 holes in the 6" pipe. Put some 1/8" nails in the 3 holes in the connectors. This keeps the tower from falling over. When you want to load your rocket on, you just remove the nails (they should slide loosley) from thier connector holes and put them in the holes in the small pipe. Then you can slide it over and put your rocket on. when you are ready to launch simply put the nails back in. Not bad for 25 bucks!!!!!!!!

This whole thing took me about 10 minutes to assemble. Sorry I cant post pics, they are too big. If you give me your Email (no, I dont send SPAM), I can email some pictures to you. They make it easier to visualise. I got all the parts at Rocket Depot (Errrr... Is that "Home depot".....). $24.97. Not bad. I was considering making these to sell as part of MMHPR, but my dad and I think that as soon as someone sees one they will know how to make it, so it is kinda pointless. I may make some to sell later, but hey. I am busy enough with my first batch of kits!
compress or crop the pics. but, I imagine it is like most of the other PVC launch pads
However you do that........ How DO you compress them? My dad doesent know, my mom doesent know, and I certainly dont know.... I know how to crop, but it needs everything in the picture to make sense (I think). Ill TRY to post one, but it WONT work, trust me... Just as I said... Tooooooo big. Oh well. Tell me how to compress them and I will.
I dont know how you do it on other computers, but on my mac I just go into iPhoto and tell it to do what I want. I can do vitrually anything its pretty easy. I cant help you with other programs though but I am sure someone here could
Neil - what operating system are you running? If it is Windows XP you probably have MicroSoft Photo as part of the package. At any rate, if you have *any* photo editing software, look for a resize option. Try to resize down to something like 640 X 480. Save the resized image. That should get it down to something small enough in disk space size so that you can post it.
I have a '98.... slow, annoying, and doesnt come with much. But hey, we got it for free from an uncle. Cant complain. At least it can do Rocsim.

I took a video of the pad, and blanket-saved the frames, which makes them small enough to post... Here goes!

I'm probably doing it all wrong...but it works!

When you bring up a photo in "Windows picture and FAX viewer" there is usually an icon on the bottom menu that show "closes this program and opens this image for editing (Well, at least it does on my computer)

When you double click on it, it then closed the program and opens the image in "Paint"

Go up to top menu "image" pull down the menu and click on "stretch/skew" I go to the "stretch" part and reduce the image size by ohhhh 60 or 70% then pill down the "File" menu.

Go to "save as" give it a name and in the pull down at the bottum save it as a jpeg.

Sounds complicated but...if a computer handicap such as myself can do it, I'm sure a 12 year old can do it!

I have windows XP

And another one.... Annoying how you have to wait 30 seconds between posts...
OOOPS. That blanket-save took up a LOT of space... Better delete those after I post em....
What!? Hey!!!!! GAAAAAAAAA! I forgot to post the first two, and I deleted them!!! Oh well... Of I go to do it allllll over again.... I only posted the 3 blast deflector angles.
OK. I figured out how to resize them. (I think....) Heres a few of the BETTER ones.


Takin another shot at this... Making it VERY small....
Heyyyyy.... thats not too bad.... Came out bigger than I thought it would..... Ill post some more!

Ohhh... I get it. I was saving them under "highest quality" before. I just have to change it to normal and resize it... Now I get it!
Heres the tower joint. THis is before I put the nails in, ill post another pic with arrows pointing to where they go....
The blue dots are where the holes go.

BTW, nails go in the holes, not screws... Sorry for the confusion...
you could just copy and paste then resize in ms paint... i use adobe photo delux but its like a $300 program...
GASP! $300!? EEEEEEEEEK! I think I got it all figured out now. And I really dont want to spend three hundred bucks just to resize a photo. Thanks guys.

(BTW, whaddaya think of the pad?)
This can also be easily turned into a rail pad, too! theororetically (I havent done this yet) you could put some strong rail guides on the tower, about a foot apart, and put a Giant Leap rail on there. Then you can just glue or screw the rail in place, and use the other slot in the rail to put your rocket on. Just a thought. I will proabably try this once I have some more rail-guide equipped rockets.
It looks good, except the joint that sticks up to hold the rocket kinda worries me... what if the tee slipped? Or what if it just broke? I would be afraid to fly anything bigger than an H off of this pad, personally. Could you also add a standoff to it, so the rocket didn't sit flat on the deflector? I've had rockets get torched at the base because of this.

Other than that, looks pretty good. Let us know how it works out!
The joint wont slip, I have some nails in every joint that holds it up, and those are NOT coming undone in a hurry, I can tell you.

This is quarter inch thick PVC were talkin about here... This stuff doenent "just break" unless you are REALLY deliberately abusing it.... I am sure I could break it with a sledge hammer, but not an I motor. a J motor in a heavy rocket, I might begin to worry, but not an I.I might put cement in the legs, and I could put some in the joint too. That might help. I have givin the pad a good shaking, and it is very strong. The nails didnt even show signs of wanting to budge, and the PVC wasnt creaking either.... I s'pose I could put some PVC glue on it, but it doesent seem practical to me. Its plenty tough, I am not at all worried about it for L1 powerd rockets. Besides, I dont even have a field big enough for L1 powerd rockets yet... Once I get my drivers licence I can drive through the countryside looking for large hayfields with nice owners.... Heh heh... Gotta be REALLY nice owners to let anyone fly rockets in thier fields. and I would have to fly during the early spring late-fall winter months. Dont want to catch a hayfield on fire....

This looks like an OK ModRoc pad, but I'm afraid there's not enough beef for HPR and I would even question its use for mid-power.

It looks like it would be good for up to a 1 or 2 pound rocket. Heavier than that and the "tower" will be swaying in the wind. A bad situation. I'd be concerned that the extra vertical arm without radial support could enhance the effects of rod whip. Also, the blast from anything above about an H will be mighty hard on the PVC.

Can you quickly go from a 1/8" to a 3/16" to a 1/4" launch rod without tools?

Can you easily alter the rod angle from vertical?

I don't know about the field you fly on, but where I fly, the surface is nothing like a concrete floor in my house. There are pebbles, clumps of grass, small bumps and depressions, etc. The radial legs of your design would cause this pad be very unstable which would be cause for great concern when flying rockets from it. A tripod desigh would rest much more solidly on the ground.

I'm afraid there are a number of PVC pad designs I've seen that would suit most rocketeers needs better. If you want to design your own pad, I suggest looking into these for ideas. Enhance your prototype and actually take it out into the field and test it out to see which of your design ideas are good and which are not.

Last year I built myself a PVC launch pad. I tried to launch a rocket that weighs just about 2.2 pounds off of it, and the legs of it and the middle support were bending like crazy. I don't feel like launching much off of it, especially said 2.2 pound rocket! You'll likely be OK with your pad if you launch smaller rockets off of it, but I would NOT launch a HPR rocket off of a PVC pad...I'd build myself a Gardei Superpad or something like that! :)

In this attached pic, you can see the PVC pad that I built. It's the one on the left.

Originally posted by jetra2
... but I would NOT launch a HPR rocket off of a PVC pad...I'd build myself a Gardei Superpad or something like that! :)

:) Hehe. Looks like I have an admirer... :D. That makes a great metal shop project. You get to use a welder, tourch cutter, saws, brazing set, mill.... and with that pad, and my knife project... I did more than enough for my senior year in that class... :D
Nice attempt at a pad Niel. Looks like you have some inventor in your blood!
I'm sure as you use it you'll find ways to modify it that make it more suitable for your particular application, but that's half the fun! It's great to see young people designing, building & learning. Keep it up.
Vance in AK.
Originally posted by jetra2
... but I would NOT launch a HPR rocket off of a PVC pad...I'd build myself a Gardei Superpad or something like that!

I would, and have,...

PVC is cheap, easy to work with, and allows you to be as creative as you want, without paying for all of those welding and machining fees...unless of course you are a welder and have plenty of stock lying around.

I built the HPR PVC pad to handle 30 + pound rockets, and to fly a possible impulse up to L (not as yet tested)...to date, I have only flown (6) G's, (3) H's (2) I's, and (3) J motors from the pad. The heaviest rocket mounted on the pad to date weighed in ready to fly @ 18 pounds.

My HPR PVC Pad has been pictured at this site: https://www.pvcplans.com/pvc-pipe.htm

...and I have done a long winded how to on this forum.

The Gardei Superpad is a great pad, but to the average flier, would probably be quite costly to mfg...HPR PVC Pad was a mere $48 less the rail.

Great work Neil, my only change would be to drop the center of gravity down a few inches... ;)
I am going to put some legs on it to make it sit off the ground about half a foot. I am also trying to figure out how to put some support on the tower. Ill keep you posted....
Yeah, methinks I need to cut the tower down a foot or so! And stake down the legs...
using PVC glue might not be a bad idea. It actually melts the PVC and then rebonds it togethere for ana amzingly strong bond that will not break. With the nails, over time the holes may enlarge and you could get some movment
True, but then how would I tilt the pad? D'ya think that PVC glue would hold a fin onto a big rocket? Some guy (non-rocketeer) suggested that I use PVC sheet for fins, and just use PVC glue. Is this a good idea? Does anyone know the melting point of PVC? How close can the motor mount be to the PVC airframe?