Custom Launch pads/rails

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Well-Known Member
Apr 8, 2004
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I've done a search on this and found "some" stuff, but I still don't really under stand.

I have a realitevly heavy rocket....alright so it weighs 1 lb and is 4 ft tall.
Obvioulsy I can't launch this on a standard Estes small or large size rod, and possibly wouldn't be able to launch this on any rod w/o it being rather large.
So Ive studied on Launch Rails. These seem the best route to go, but is there more than one way to do it?..can i do it reatively cheap? (i.e. around $20?)
Are they easy to build?...
I need all the advice I can get on this...seeing as how my school project is due in 2 weeks. And I gotta get this rocket of the launch pad.
So plz offer any help you can.
Thnx in advance
Check out this link to Rocketry Online about building your own launch pad.

You will notice at the very bottom of the page, in the Summary, it says "This pad has been used for rockets up to 2 lbs, equipped with G motors, and with rod sizes up to 3/8 inch."

I'm sure that if you search that site, you can find further info on using rails, where to find them, and how to set your pad up to use it.

Good luck!
I purchased my rail from McMaster Carr, and here is a link to the pad base I built for it.

The pad it's self was cheaper to build than what the rail cost. It'll easily support a 1 lb rocket. The model of the BBII that's on it in the pics weighs in at just over 2 lbs loaded up with a G80, and it has made a couple of flights off the pad with no problem.
would you need a waiver since the rocket wieghs 1 pound?
maybe just a notification to the FAA. Launch rail is the way to go.
Rails are excellent for launching rockets where the weight and size of the required rail buttons are not excessive. For your rocket, about 1# and 4 ft long, I'd recommend a long 1/4" rod and matching lugs on the rocket.

Check out your local hardware stores or metal shops until you find someone willing to sell you a 1/4" by 5' rod. Next get a 12" length of 4" X 4" from a lumber yard and at the same time buy 4 large shelf brackets, the larger the better. Install the brackets on the 4X4, one on each side and spaced so the ends of the bracket are flush with one end of the 4X4. Turn the 4X4 down so that the brackets are on the ground, this way they act as legs for the launch pad. Finally drill a 1/4" hole into the upper end of the 4X4 and insert the rod. You'll have to put some type of blast deflector on the rod to comply with the Model Rocketry Safety Code. Over the years I've seen blast deflectors made out of 12" by 12" ceramic tiles with a hole drilled in the center, tin cans with the ends removed and then cut down the side and flattened, and flower pot bases. In other words use you imagination. The whole launch pad should not cost you more than $10 to $15 dollars.

To use it you place the launch pad on the ground and insert the rod and blast deflector. If the pad is "tippy" bend up 4 "stakes" from coat hanger wire and insert them into the ends of the shelf brackets to anchor them to the ground, just like putting up a tent. The rocket can then be launched using a whatever launch controler is recommended for the motor in your rocket.

Ken Holloway, NAR #78336
Have to agree with Ken:
If you rocket is up to 1 pound liftoff weight, all that's needed is a 1/4" x 6 foot launch rod. Personally I'd suggest 316 or 316L stainless steel but that's up to you.
your launcher base can be anything from a piece of 3/4" Plywood to an elaborate all the bells and whiltles pad.
I built a 2 stage 10foot (well actually measures 119.75") demo model to show the largest model I could come up with that still tips the scales at 452g liftoff weight. Grumpy flys from a standard 6foot 1/4" dia 316 stainless rod.
If a 1/4" launch rod is what is required, you can get an Estes Parta Pad "E" - it accepts and comes with a 1/4" rod (it accepts 1/4" and 3/16" rods only without modification.) It's very wide and low profile, the legs are easily staked to the ground, and it has a nice large blast deflector.

I've launched my big Polaris off of it using the provided 1/4" two-piece rod that comes with the pad. My Polaris is pretty hefty - probably over a pound - particularly with the 4 E engines loaded and fully prepped for flight.

I'm sure there's something better out there, but I've been very happy with the Porta Pad E. I have no problem suggesting you give it a shot.
Another option is the Aerotech Mantis. It comes with a a 1/4" rod and will accept almost any size. You can find these on eBay doe any amount from $10 to $50
an old corner shelf with a 1/4" hole drilled in the middle, then 3x 3/32" holes at varying angles, then one 3/8" hole on each outboard edge for two tent stakes to firmly anchor the pad to the ground. it takes a 6' steel rod or 3/32" rod for smaller models.

it needs a smaller hole for the micro maxx rockets.

i'm working on getting one of the at mantis pads though, so i'm not totally committed to the cheapo one, though it works fine.