Let's see your launch towers!

The Rocketry Forum

Help Support The Rocketry Forum:

GrouchoDuke

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2016
Messages
828
Reaction score
146
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!

Screen Shot 2017-08-15 at 11.17.13 PM.png IMG_2295.jpg IMG_2297.jpg IMG_2298.jpg IMG_2299.jpg IMG_2302-2.jpg IMG_2301-2.jpg
 
Last edited:

Cl(VII)

Chris Bender, Lab Rat
TRF Sponsor
Joined
Feb 22, 2013
Messages
4,218
Reaction score
327
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.

 

Wayco

Desert Rat Rocketeer
TRF Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Mar 23, 2011
Messages
3,399
Reaction score
301
Location
Goodyear, AZ
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.
 

GrouchoDuke

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2016
Messages
828
Reaction score
146
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!
 

Cl(VII)

Chris Bender, Lab Rat
TRF Sponsor
Joined
Feb 22, 2013
Messages
4,218
Reaction score
327
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/showthread.php?121149-Launch-Tower-Plan-and-Parts-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.
 

ChrisAttebery

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2014
Messages
2,339
Reaction score
55
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-Launch-Tower-System/p/52604059/category=11909535
 

Wayco

Desert Rat Rocketeer
TRF Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Mar 23, 2011
Messages
3,399
Reaction score
301
Location
Goodyear, AZ
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.
 

GrouchoDuke

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2016
Messages
828
Reaction score
146
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.


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.


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. :)
 

GrouchoDuke

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2016
Messages
828
Reaction score
146
What material are those brownish rings that hold the 1010 rails made of? Is that plywood?
 

manixFan

Not a rocket scientist
Joined
Feb 15, 2009
Messages
1,588
Reaction score
615
Location
TX
Chris - Are those custom L-brakets that hold the EMT to the supports? Very nice either way. I really like the design.


Tony
 

ChrisAttebery

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2014
Messages
2,339
Reaction score
55
Yes, they are. I cut the 1010 rails to match the radius of the EMT too.

Thanks,


Chris

Chris - Are those custom L-brakets that hold the EMT to the supports? Very nice either way. I really like the design.


Tony
 

GrouchoDuke

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2016
Messages
828
Reaction score
146
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.

IMG_2539.jpg IMG_2542-2.jpg IMG_2549.jpg
 

Cl(VII)

Chris Bender, Lab Rat
TRF Sponsor
Joined
Feb 22, 2013
Messages
4,218
Reaction score
327
Looks great. What plastic is that printed in? Infill %?
 

GrouchoDuke

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2016
Messages
828
Reaction score
146
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.
 

Cl(VII)

Chris Bender, Lab Rat
TRF Sponsor
Joined
Feb 22, 2013
Messages
4,218
Reaction score
327
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.
 

GrouchoDuke

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2016
Messages
828
Reaction score
146
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.
 

GrouchoDuke

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2016
Messages
828
Reaction score
146
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.

IMG_2645.jpg
 

Buckeye

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2009
Messages
2,355
Reaction score
275
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.

View attachment 328129
Nice.
 

GrouchoDuke

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2016
Messages
828
Reaction score
146
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
 

Rockiteer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 13, 2017
Messages
108
Reaction score
0
Thanks for the photos and ideas. Great stuff and thank you.
 

retortec

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2015
Messages
192
Reaction score
13
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.

View attachment 328129
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.
 

Attachments

GrouchoDuke

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 18, 2016
Messages
828
Reaction score
146
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.
 
2
Top