Tips on finding materials to build Level 1 / 2 cert rocket.

Discussion in 'High Power Rocketry (HPR)' started by Ben Schultz, Jan 19, 2020.

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  1. Jan 19, 2020 #1

    Ben Schultz

    Ben Schultz

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    Hey all, this is my first post since I couldn't find anything recent / in my price range while looking around.

    I am in going into college next year (for Aerospace Engineering :) ) so I need to keep the cost down.
    I want to build the rocket from scratch so I can use it for resumes, so I just wanted tips on where to find the materials.

    Up until now, I've used cardboard tubes on my rockets and poster board for fins. I want to make my rocket so it can be used for both level 1 and 2 certifications.
    Where do you all suggest I get affordable parts that can achieve this? Affordable would be like no more than $150 for the whole build, but hopefully cheaper. I hope that is not impossible. Also, what sources do you recommend for learning to construct higher power rockets? I understand most of it from LPR stuff, but what else is there to know moving up?
    Thanks!!
     
  2. Jan 19, 2020 #2

    K'Tesh

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    Binder design is a good source for body tubes, AV bays, nosecones and centering rings.

    They use aviation grade plywood for their wood parts.
     
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  3. Jan 19, 2020 #3

    Igotnothing

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    Scrounge for materials. A cardboard tube from a large roll of plotter paper is thick, heavy, soft and generally disappointing as a rocket body, but it works. Other things like plywood, fasteners, glues, sandpaper, paint and some PVC pipe fittings to make a nose-cone-ish thing are at the hardware store. Unless you can sew, you need a parachute, and some kevlar. Aerocon Systems has some surplus recovery stuff. And 1010 size rail buttons - you might need those depending on how your club feels about launch rails and rods for a J motor rocket.
     
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  4. Jan 19, 2020 #4

    jlabrasca

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    Hi Ben

    Take a look at Mike Westerfield's Make: High Power Rockets. When last I priced the bill of materials (in August), excluding consumables the parts for the L2 rocket came to about $180 shipped. Substituting cardboard for the Quantum Tubing (tm) and, and fabricating your own centering rings and fins will save you some money.

    FWIW, the parts for Westerfield's L1 rocket came to about $80 shipped -- and it wouldn't cost much more to build it longer, and with a 38mm motor mount, if you wanted to send it up on a J motor for an L2 attempt.

    If you've got access to the right tools, and know how to use them, you could build an L2 rocket around a piece of 3" shipping tube for a lot less than $100.
     
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  5. Jan 19, 2020 #5

    tomsteve

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    what ive found is the largest price per part in scratch building is the nose cone. if you can find someone with a lathe to turn a nose cone, it might cut cost a bit.
    however with the experience at construction stated being cardboard tubes and posterboard fins, i would encourage you to look at a kit. $150 can get quite a few varieties of kits from different manufacturers. a kit would help to gain the experience of construction techniques for larger rockets pretty quickly.
    i suggest quite often the loc mini magg for people wanting an L1/2 kit. $123.5 plus shipping. $135.80 shipped to me in west metro detroit. that leaves a bit of room to purchase epoxy and soem sandpaper or ??
    https://locprecision.com/product/minie-mag/
    upgrading the mmt to 54 on initial construction then add a 54 to 38 motor mount adapter, many motor combinations can be used.
    its also possible,when ready for L2, to get a length of body tube and a coupler to lengthen the rocket.
     
  6. Jan 19, 2020 #6

    Flyfalcons

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    $150 for materials for a scratchbuild L2 rocket from traditional rocket supply vendors is going to be difficult.

    However, I highly recommend getting your supplies from traditional rocket supply vendors. So, yeah........
     
  7. Jan 19, 2020 #7

    John Taylor

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    +2 Binder Design
     
  8. Jan 19, 2020 #8

    jlabrasca

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    Not to gainsay what you just wrote, but since you just gainsaid what I wrote in #4 >smile<

    https://www.rocketryforum.com/threads/is-this-too-much-for-my-first-lpr.147384/page-2#post-1806770

    Assuming the OP wants to build one rocket for both L1 and L2, and that he plans motor eject for deployment; I was able to source all the parts from Rocketarium, apart from the plywood stock for the fins (which ships free from Amazon) for $126.75 before shipping.

    That one sheet of 6mm plywood would also be enough to fabricate the rings and bulkheads (if the OP lays out the cuts carefully) dropping the bill to $118.60

    Z-clips and threaded inserts from the hardware store, in place of Rocketarium's fancy steel washer retainer, a surplus pop-chute in place of the Rocketarium chute... I am pretty sure I could get it down to less than $100 if I was inclined to shop.

    The OP will have to be little bit smart about the build to get something that will be safe off the pad on an H but which won't disappear forever on a J -- but its not that tricky a needle to thread. If he can borrow a Jolly Logic Chute Release for the L2 attempt it gets a lot easier.

    Not for nothing, I scratched two rockets for my L1 attempt for less than $200 (less than $150, I think).
     
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  9. Jan 20, 2020 #9

    hartlch

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    Give a thought to where you plan to do your L1/L2 flights. Check out the field(s) that your local club uses - how high can you comfortably go with single deploy? Don't forget you can use an I motor for L1 if you end up building a little heavier to keep the J flight reasonable. Play around a bunch in openrocket to get an idea of what you need to build for your flight parameters. Then figure out how to do it cheaply. Asking around your club might turn up some bargains. Is your time vs money a constraint? How much time and effort do you want to expend scrounging a body tube and fabricating some sort of matching nosecone? As others have already said, having a nice collection of tools available is a big help.

    Oh, and the numerous build threads on here will give you a bunch of ideas on high power construction techniques.
     
  10. Jan 20, 2020 #10

    dhbarr

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    3in plastic nosecone from either Estes ( Big Daddy ) or Mercury ( Big School Rocket ).

    Two mailing tubes from the UPS store.

    One piece of reasonably thin scrap plywood ; alternately just laminate layers of paper and cereal box.

    Use wood glue for everything.

    You -can- use some reasonably thin cordage and make your own chute, but as with the nosecone I would just buy a harness and canopy.

    h100 for the L1, j270 for the L2.

    Presto, economy class L2. Would I recommend this approach to everyone? Not at all, but it fits the constraint of extremely inexpensive L2.

    Note that you could save further by making your own nosecone, chute, & recovery harness ; and borrowing motor casings if someone at your club is inclined to loan them. MVIMG_20190827_201923.jpg
     
  11. Jan 20, 2020 #11

    David Schwantz

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    I have not read that anyone has suggest a flight sim program yet. Open Rocket I believe is free to download. You can design, check for stability, fly dozens of motors, right from your basement.
     
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  12. Jan 20, 2020 #12

    Buckeye

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    I get it, you are a college kid, and you want to go cheap. However, with your $150 budget, you can easily find a kit from Apogee, Binder, LOC, etc. An Apogee Zephyr is $90. It is designed to fit together accurately, proven to fly, includes everything, and good instructions. Even as a college kid, your time is worth more than days of dumpster diving to save a few dollars. Sourcing individual parts from various suppliers is not likely to save you any money when you throw in shipping costs.

    I never quite understood the attraction of making rockets from garbage.
     
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  13. Jan 20, 2020 #13

    jlabrasca

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    The OP wants to scratch-build the rocket.

    Where to source materials: As Buckeye notes, sourcing everything from one supplier might save you enough on shipping to make your budget -- even if you aren't getting the lowest price for every component.

    eRockets is a good place to start shopping http://www.erockets.biz

    Just off the top of my head some other places where you could source most of the parts for a finished build (not an exhaustive list, just places where I've done business)

    Balsa Machining Service https://www.balsamachining.com will have almost everything you need

    Rocketarium https://www.rocketarium.com/Build

    Aerospace Specialty Products https://www.asp-rocketry.com

    Chis' Rocket Supply https://csrocketry.com/

    If the OP decides to drop back in on this thread, it would be interesting to know how he is set up for parts fabrication. The strategies for building a rocket out of repurposed not-for-rocketry parts will be different if he is working with an Xacto knife, coping saw, or a Dremel; than if he has access to shop tools (drill press, band saw, etc); and different still if he has access to a 3D Printer, CNC router etc.

    Since this is meant to be a portfolio piece (for his resume) a build that shows off design and/or fabrication skills would seem to be desirable.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
  14. Jan 20, 2020 #14

    Zeus-cat

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    If you use actual rocket components they will fit together without a lot of tweaking. If you assemble the rocket from parts you find dumpster diving you may need to do a lot of tweaking to get things to work. Also, you run the risk of your rocket being rejected for safety reasons. The RSO at a launch has ultimate authority to allow you to launch or to reject your rocket. High power flights, especially cert attempts, come under a lot of scrutiny.

    And don't forget you need to buy high power motors which are pretty expensive relative to your $150 budget.
     
  15. Jan 20, 2020 #15

    Buckeye

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    Whoops, missed the scratch-build focus. Sorry. Got this thread confused with all the "Which L1/L2 kit should I buy?" threads.
     
  16. Jan 20, 2020 #16

    Kelly

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    Depends on what sort of shop you have access to. I did my L1 and L2 (different rockets) almost completely with stuff I got at the hardware or office supply store. Paper mailing tubes are cheap, and plenty strong for HPR. Fins, centering rings, etc. can all be cut from plywood. I actually built my nosecones using insulating foam overlaid with fiberglass, but this is a lot of work - you might look at turning one from balsa, or make this the part of the rocket that you buy premade. Cheap chutes can be made from fabric store nylon, or even discarded umbrellas. Rail guides can be assembled from hardware store parts. I think the only parts of these rockets that I got from a rocketry supplier were the motor mount tubes (but I have also rolled motor mount tubes from kraft paper, so even these can be DIY). Search this forum for more details on these techniques/materials, or post your questions here.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
  17. Jan 20, 2020 #17

    dhbarr

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    Disused umbrellas make decent chute canopies.
     
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  18. Jan 20, 2020 #18

    Kelly

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    Ack, that's what I meant. Discarded umbrellas, not discarded parachutes. Fixed; thanks.
     
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  19. Jan 20, 2020 #19

    boatgeek

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    You'll probably want a 3" rocket/38mm motor mount for maximum cheapness. A smaller body tube will send the rocket higher under the J, possibly enough that you'll need tracking (aka not cheap).

    Some ideas for scrounging/cheap solutions:

    Body tubes: Marmoleum (an old-school linoleum flooring) comes on 48" long tubes that are 3" ID. Try calling a flooring store that installs Marmoleum and they might give you a tube from a project. They're thicker wall than standard rocketry tubes, so you'll have to bevel the forward end.
    Nose cone: You might just be stuck buying this. Alternatively, if you have a Rockler store (or similar) nearby, they might let you use their lathe if you buy your wood stock there. Tell them about your project and ask politely--the folks at our local store were super-receptive to that kind of thing. Buying the wood may be more expensive than just buying a nose cone though.
    Parachute: Used umbrella for the canopy, covered above. 550 paracord knockoffs are fine for shroud lines if a little big, but can be easily sewn and is readily available pretty cheaply.
    Motor mount: You might just be stuck buying this. Some large size plastic wrap tube cores are 1.5"/38mm ID, so you might look at that. LOC Precision has pretty cheap shipping.
    Centering rings: It's probably worth buying them, especially if you buy your motor mount tube.
    Hardware: Quick links and U-bolts are available at Lowe's Depot or Ace. Get creative in the picture hanging section for motor retention. A couple of T-nuts may also be helpful for motor retention.
    Fins: I think Lowe's Depot is your friend here as well--buy the smallest piece of birch plywood you can. You can cut centering rings out of this material if you have the tools.
    Glue: Some 5-minute epoxy will be fine, maybe also a set of 15-minute if you're feeling fancy.
    [edit] Recovery harness: 1/2" tubular nylon is pretty cheap and not too hard to find. Wrap in electrical tape and/or masking tape to make it ejection charge resistant at the motor end.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
  20. Jan 20, 2020 #20

    jlabrasca

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    I think we are pretty close to saturation on this thread, but a couple of things for those still inclined to chime in.

    The OP's profile says he won't be 18 until next April.

    The OP mentioned building LPR with poster board fins.

    Something the OP did not volunteer: "I am a NAR and/or TRA member and I fly with a club."
     
  21. Jan 20, 2020 #21

    mccordmw

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    Old thread of mine. I scratch built a 3" rocket that happily eats I-280 motors. The total cost to build it was somewhere in the range of $20. I used a 3" heavy-walled mailing tube I already had on hand and scrap plywood for the fins and rings. I also had spare epoxy sitting around. The only items I bought specifically for this rocket were the nosecone and retaining ring.

    If you don't have epoxy, paint, nylon cord, or a chute, you're probably in it for another ~$50. Motor deployment will be good for your L1. For your L2, you'll need to work on deployment bays w/electronics or a JL Chute Release. That stuff will add more cost; say $75-200 depending on how you go about it all.

    https://www.rocketryforum.com/threads/scratch-built-3-mail-tube-3fnc.135881/#post-1615566
     
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  22. Jan 20, 2020 #22

    David Schwantz

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    I'm sorry, but you do not NEED electronics for an L2 cert flight.
     
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  23. Jan 20, 2020 #23

    boatgeek

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    +1 Electronics are a barrier for people <18 (because of BP purchase issues) and also for cost. A Chute Release is nice, but not needed on a decent sized field.
     
  24. Jan 20, 2020 #24

    Kelly

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    Designing your rocket to fly low and slow also reduces the need for electronics.
     
  25. Jan 20, 2020 #25

    Buckeye

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    An L1/L2 rocket combo usually ends up too heavy/draggy for L1, or too light/aerodynamic for L2. There is a just small sweet spot of motors that meets both if you have wind, a small field, or no electronics budget.

    If you are investing in electronics, I would start with a tracker as first priority and a dual deploy altimeter as second priority.
     
  26. Jan 20, 2020 #26

    jlabrasca

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    As @hartlch mentioned upthread, there is no rule that the OP has to cert on an H. I think there are a few kits that straddle the L1/L2 line, yes? Rockets that'll go on an I or a J.

    Even going for a low-cost build you shouldn't have to do anything too controversial to end up with something that could pass cert on a I280 DMS and on a J270 DMS (of course, the I280 is a sparky -- which might be a concern >smile<)

    Also per @hartlch-- the OP could build a convertible; adding a length of airframe for the higher impulse flight.
     
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  27. Jan 20, 2020 #27

    boatgeek

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    Motors-wise, the 38mm DMS J (J270) is only $5 more expensive than the smallest 38mm RMS Js at list prices, so I think it's hard to beat the economy of the DMS versus buying a casing and a reload. The same thing goes for the L1 motors: the DMS I140W and H219T would make fairly nice L1 cert motors.
     
  28. Jan 20, 2020 #28

    David Schwantz

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    Don't think sparky's are allowed on cert flight, might be wrong. But I flew my L1 with a LOC 4" Phoenix and an AT H283ST, Flew same rocket for L2 with an AT J250W. There are many kits out there that can do the same. Look at a 54mm Go Devil, fly it on a baby H with 38mm adapter and no payload section. Super simple, then you could add payload section and nose weight and fly a small J. Mach 1 Black Holes the same.
     
  29. Jan 20, 2020 #29

    John Taylor

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    Binder 3" dual deploy Excel with 38mm. 98.00.
    Includes everything! Only need epoxy. VERY sturdy tough rocket.
    Can use for level one and level two.
    J 270DMS motor will give an altitude of well under 4K.
    Just use a chute release or dual deploy.

    4" Excell dual deploy with choice of 38 or 54mm mount is only 134.00 complete with chute, thrust ring, motor retention, rail buttons, thick plywood centering rings and thick fins. Strong airframe. All inclusive and extremely strong if built according to instructions. Easy to build.
    Check them out, you will be very pleased with the quality and all inclusiveness.
     
  30. Jan 20, 2020 #30

    David Schwantz

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    I applaud the OP with wanting to design and scratch build his rocket. My comments were only to show that it can be done how he wants. Was not suggesting he did what I did. But I have scratched many rockets with LOC, Madcow, Mach1 parts. I have even used concrete forms from Home Depot.
     

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