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
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
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.
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
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:
- Great support of the rocketry community.
- A regular club launch schedule. This helps
focus our efforts in completing projects by set
dates. With only a couple of launch
opportunities per month we try to make the most
of good weather conditions.
- Living in a moderate climate allows us to
launch all year round.
- Both of us being scuba divers has given us
access to lots of cheap compressed air along
with ground support equipment. This has made launching
rockets very easy and affordable.
- Having access to a good workshop
to make many of the components.
- Good supply of bottles from friends and
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