DIY Rocket Launcher
Make a simple water bottle rocket launcher out of PVC pipe fittings and a bike pump! This was the sixth kit in the Monthly Make It
How It Works
We are going to build a simple water bottle rocket launcher. The launcher consists of a PVC stand, a tube with a valve to connect the launcher to a bike pump, and a cork which fits inside a soda bottle. The cork is drilled out and attached to a bike tube valve and a length of vinyl tubing. This is what we’ll use to pump air into the bottle. When the pressure builds up it will force the cork out of the bottle. If there is water in the bottle the air will “push against” the water and launch the bottle into the sky like a rocket.
All PVC is 1/2” diameter
5 x 5” PVC Schedule 40
2 x 2” PVC Schedule 40
1 x PVC Tee (with hole)
1 x PVC Tee (no hole)
3 x 45* PVC elbow
3 x PVC endcaps
1x cork, 1x bike tube valve
2’ vinyl tubing (5/16” outer diameter)
Soda bottle (not pictured)
Cardboard for wings (not pictured)
Assemble The Kit
We’re going to build a simple PVC frame to hold our rocket in place.
Step 1: Assemble the frame
Attach 2 lengths of 5” PVC to opposite ends of the pre-drilled PVC Tee
Attach non-drilled Tee and 2 2” PVC lengths to the other end of one of the 5” PVC lengths
Attach 3 45 degree joints to the 2” and 5” PVC ends
Attach the remaining 3 5” PVC lengths to the 45 degree joints. Put endcaps on the ends.
Step 2: Attach the pumping mechanism
The pump consists of a cork with a hole in it, a bike valve, a vinyl tube, and a bike pump (not included). Here’s how it all comes together!
Press the bike valve into the end of the vinyl tube. It should fit snugly. Type of valve doesn’t matter; you can use either Scharder or Presta.
Slide the vinyl tube through the hole and press the other end into the cork. This connection should also be pretty tight! If you need to seal it, wrap it with electrical tape.
Congratulations, you’ve built the launcher! Time to attach the water bottle.
Step 3: Attach the water bottle
Fill your bottle with water no more than 1/3 of the way. This will provide something for the air to push against and will launch your bottle in the air! Flip the whole assembly upside down and press the lip of the bottle into the cork. It should fit snugly. Final assembly should look something like this!
Grab your bike pump and test it out! Grown-up supervision is required for launching. Make sure you have your safety goggles on before you start.
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