My new LaunchPad

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Apr 1, 2009
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Wanting to move up from my basic estes pad, I set my eyes on something that could handle larger rockets and various conditions(wind mostly). I looked briefly at the Mantis, but the reviews kept me away.

There are a lot of home built pads out there, and I know I captured a few ideas that have been done before.

I wanted something that was stable, sturdy, a bit off the ground, and easily portable. The ability to easily change launch rods, and to leverage some of the things I already owned.

I was at first put off of PVC, because it can tend to be pretty flexible, but it won out in the end with ease of construction and lightness. The variety of connectors made it fun and one can see a lot of possibilities for add ons.

One nice thing, I was able to put it all together and try it out before gluing!

I used 3/4" pvc.


5 4 way connectors
4 90 degree connectors
4 45 degree connectors
4 3 way "T" connectors
3 10' lengths of schedule 40 PVC
1 Jacobs Keyless drill chuck
1 10MM fine threaded 3" bolt
2 lock washers for the bolt
1 Racheting PVC pipe cutter (optional but worth it)
1 blast pad (reused from Estes)
2 36" steel rods, a 3/16 and 1/8th.

The drill chuck and pipe cutter were the most expensive parts,the drill chuck was around $18 and the pipe cutter was $11. Most of the pvc connectors were around $1.75 and the 10' lengths were about $2.80 each

I started off by sanding my blast pad clean of old blast residue and marks. I then hit it with high heat black spray paint that is used for BBQ grills. I gave the same treatment to the launch rods.

I cut 16 3" lengths of pvc and 4 2' lengths of PVC.

I took 1 4 way connector and drilled a hole through the center. I pushed the bolt through the center. I then cut about a 1" piece of PVC pipe and slid that over the bolt, then screwed the bolt onto the drill chuck.

I started assembling the launch deck and it looks like this:


It's very strong and packs away just like that. But it's also hiding a secret.

Launch pad articulation! I wanted to be able to pivot into the wind. I decided a single axis pivot would suffice. You can take 2 of the 3" lengths of pvc and cut them down slightly, so that they bridge the gap, but can retract if necessary.

Take a look at this next picture:


The two lengths marked <-> can bridge the gap when stability is needed, and retract when a launch angle into the wind is desired.

Next, take 1 of the 2' lengths of PVC, at one put the T connector on, and at the other end, connect a 45 degree, then a 3" length of PVC. You should end up with:


and then the money shot with a Pem Tech Kraken no less!


This will break down into 4 legs, the launch deck, and then the launch rods and blast pad. It was very manageble for me in the field.

You may notice that two of the 90 degree elbows have a 1/2inch screw connection. As well as a few other odds and ends. You could easily mount another launch rod and blast pad on there as well. So, chalk those up to some leftover parts and future expansion.

I will probably paint it black with yellow accents.

Comments and suggestions welcome! I hope it stimulates ideas.
Put some kind of blast deflector on it to prevent the inevitable melt down of the PVC. Otherwise, looks nice!
Very groovy Glenn!
Your design looks like one I would be interested in building for myself. You know, there is a market for this kind of thing...

Great job on the Kraken as well. The replacement parts, we previously discussed, will go out tomorrow from Manchester TN.
Southern Thunder here we come!
Began construction on mine tonight, based on Glenn's design.

I decided to go with 6" pieces coming out from the base's 4-way connectors, then 45 degrees down to 1' pieces terminated by T's. Yeah, it's lower to the ground, so I'll have to kneel to setup rockets, but, it's got a nice low CG and wide base so it's not gonna tip I think.

The hardware store was low on 4-ways so I just dry-fitted it with T's in place of 2 of the 4-ways just to get pics. They'll have more on Thursday they said.

This will serve as the launch pad for my first-ever launch in about 22 or 25 or so years. Yup, another BAR here. :D

Can't wait.

Very nice guys!
And, IMHO, I agree a blast deflector/insulator for the PVC would be a good idea. Maybe a flatened pizza box wrapped in aluminum? :p Oo! Or better yet! Leave a slot to put the pizza in for hot snacks as you fire rockets sez the PemTech guru, Layne. :D

PemTech Art Department and general layabout
Very nice guys!
And, IMHO, I agree a blast deflector/insulator for the PVC would be a good idea.

I'm planning to buy/make one. :)

In Glenn's first post, he lists a blast deflector from his Estes pad as one of the parts. I think he's just taking pics with it off, so people can see the drill chuck used as the rod retainer. :)
If you're looking to purchase a PVC pad, I have them available with the keyless chuck for $50 + S&H. They're a tripod design, based on the old NCR pads from back in the day. They have an all steel adjuster assembly for rod angle adjustments. Here's the URL for the TRI-Pad section, but the rest of my site is down right now, but will be back up by the 18th.


I can not wait to see you new pad. I am deifinitely going to be a customer for one of your pads.
Here's the top part of my old pad. I got the bottom of design from someone else on TRF1, then I modified it to have the adjustable tilt mechanism and rod holder shown.

I have since replaced it with a PVC pad made of a 4" pipe and legs that unscrew and fit inside for storage. The head mechanism is not as nice, though, since it is made out of plywood. Neither pad is particularly stable since the legs come straight out of the base and sit flat on the ground. They won't tip over, but the legs are flexible enough to let the pad tip a lot. In the 4" pipe design, I drilled four large holes in the bottom of the pipe and glued the pieces that hold the leg screw fittings in place to a X coupler in the center of the 4" pipe. Despite being wobbly, the leg attachment looks very professional.

IMO, a drilled and tapped galvanized pipe with eye bolts is the best way to make a rod holder. It is easy to attach a blast deflector to the top with a flange, and the bottom can be attached to PVC with an adapter. I don't think I even had a drill press when I made the first one.
a great looking pvc pad, your's was one of several I studied as I planned mine, over the last 3 days my chicken scratchs on a piece of paper have taken shapemy pvc pad.jpg