W e are a small team that builds and launches water rockets in Sydney, Australia. Dad and I do most of the design and construction and my two boys mostly help with prepping, launching and retrieving the rockets.
We first started out in June 2006 after seeing a Mythbusters episode about water rockets. We looked online and found a growing community of water rocketeers that had been flying for many years. We found plans on how to make a simple launcher and within 3 hours had a launcher and bottle ready to go. The first launch was horizontal in the back yard with just a simple bottle and no fins. That one launch was all it took to get us hooked on the hobby.
Neither of us had any prior rocketry experience so the online water rocket community was instrumental in guiding us through the early stages of design as we made many of the common mistakes. Armadillo Aerospace was also a great influence early on because of how open and detailed they were in sharing all their successes and failures. We decided we would also document our progress in detail so others wouldn't need to make the same mistakes we were/are making. The website also became our technical journal that we often refer to for past experiments when working on a new designs.
In the weeks and months following our first launch we started building more complex and larger rockets. Along with the larger rockets also came the need for new launchers and ground support equipment. These days we will often take 2 cars to the launch site to bring all the necessary equipment.
We also fairly quickly realised that we needed a reliable way of deploying parachutes on our rockets. Some of our early attempts weren't reliable enough so we started building our own electronic timers. We kept refining the entire deployment mechanism until we have now reached a point where we are quite happy with it to take up more expensive payloads.
At the beginning of 2008 we joined the NSW Rocketry Association which has been critical in allowing us to not only launch our rockets at a great launch site with all the insurance and permissions in place but has also provided us with a huge wealth of knowledge through the members on all things rocketry.
Joining the club also opened up for us a whole new world of model and HPR rocketry that has taken us to some pretty unique locations around Australia. It also allowed us to meet some great people not only in Australia but around the world. We now enjoy flying both model and water rockets and as of this writing have now done more than 700 launches.
Over the years there have been a number of factors that have made things easy for us and kept us interested in the hobby:
With both dad and I having engineering backgrounds, we've always been interested in the engineering side of the hobby as you are always optimizing designs and pushing materials to their limits. Failures are always a great way to learn something new. We try not to take ourselves too seriously though ... after all it's just a couple of guys filling old plastic bottles with air and water.
20th February 2013