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#1 to #140 (Updates)

 

WATER ROCKET CONSTRUCTION - ADVANCED TUTORIALS

These tutorials show you how to build some of the components we use on our rockets. While it may not always be possible to reproduce these components exactly, many of the designs can be customized based on the materials you have available.

For a full list of all construction tutorials go to the Construction Index.

Fairings

Introduction

This tutorial shows you how to make a simple fairing for your tornado tube joined rockets. The fairing not only provides better aerodynamics for the rocket but also provides support for the different sections helping to keep the whole rocket aligned.

The space between the fairing and pressurised sections can be used to house deployment mechanisms, cameras, altimeters etc.

 

Materials

- 2 PET bottles
- Manilla Folder / cardboard
- Can with diameter slightly smaller than the bottles
- Electrical Tape

Tools

- PL Premium glue
- Scissors
- Craft knife
- Skewer stick
- Ruler

The fairing assembly procedure

Procedure

1. Remove the labels from 2 bottles and clean the glue residue off with turpentine. Clean off any remaining turpentine with a dry cloth or tissue.

The bottles should be the same diameter as the rocket.

Choose bottles with straight sides. Most will have a small ridge or raised section before they transition into the curved part of the bottle. This makes splicing the bottles much easier.

Most bottles will have this ridge on the bottom section as well. Which one you should use depends on the bottle. For these 1.25L bottles we like to use the top one.

2. Cut the bottom section off the bottles. We like to use a Stanley knife to rough cut the bottle first and then scissors to trim it to size.
3. Use caution when cutting with a knife as the bottles are soft and the knife can easily slip.
4. Leave about 5mm of the top ridge when cutting off the top sections. This will help with the splicing. If you leave a longer overlap you may have problems easily sliding one sleeve other the other.

TIP: When cutting bottles like this and you are using right handed scissors, hold the bottle in your left hand and cut along the bottom edge. You will get a straighter and more even cut.

 

5. Prepare the alignment jig. This jig can take many different forms but we found it easy to just get a can from the pantry whose diameter is just smaller than the bottles and wrap it in a manila folder until it is the right size. You may need to do several wraps depending on how close a fit your can is.

Tape the folder together so that you get a nice tube. Leave the can in the folder as this serves as a heavy and stable base while working on the fairing.

6. You may already have a tube or a section of pipe that is the right diameter so just use that instead.

This particular can-and-folder alignment jig we have actually been using for quite a while and have used it with the ring fin alignment jig.

7. Put both bottle sections onto the jig so that the lower one has the little ridge at the top. If you find that it is hard to slide the top one over the bottom one, try swapping them around, sometimes the bottles can have slightly different diameters.
8. Run a thin bead of PL premium around the bottom of the upper bottle section and then push the two together.

You can clean up the edge with a skewer stick. We sometimes use the tip of the skewer stick to force the glue into the join if it wasn't forced in all the way when pushing the two sections together.

NOTE: The join doesn't have to be air or water tight so it's okay if there are some bubbles or the glue hasn't penetrated the join all the way in some sections.  

You can probably use other glues as well, as this section isn't pressurised and hence does not need to be as strong, however, you don't need a lot of PL to make a strong join.

9. Wrap the join in electrical tape to hold it together while the glue dries. Electrical tape is a good option because it is flexible and conforms itself well over the join.
10. Slide the entire fairing off the jig and let it cure for 24-48 hours depending on the humidity.

When sliding it off, lift it by the lower sleeve.

TIP: Because of the long cure time, we normally prepare several fairings at the same time while we have all the tools on hand, and that way we have spares when they are needed.

 

11. Next we need to measure how long the fairing should be. A good fairing will have a tight fit when the rocket is screwed together. This helps keep the rocket segments aligned.

Slide the fairing onto the bottle and mark where the fairing rests on the curved section. 

12. Do the same for the other side of the rocket.
13. Screw the rocket together and measure the distance between the marks.
14. Mark the fairing with the correct length. You will want to cut off the top ridge.
15.  Draw a line all the way around. Use a piece of paper to get a nice parallel line.
16. First cut around 5mm from the line. If you don't trust yourself to cut a nice parallel line, then you can draw several lines next to each other using the paper technique above.

Try the fairing to see how well it sits. If it is too tight, trim it by a couple of mm and try again. Repeat this step until the fairing is the right length. You will now know how long to make all subsequent fairings. If you switch bottle types, you will have to perform this step again.

17. The fairing is now ready to use. You can mount cameras, altimeters, rail buttons etc. inside the fairing. This will make it easy to swap the mounts for the different devices between rockets. Simply unscrew the rocket and remove the fairing and fit it to another rocket.

If you make the fairing too loose and want to stop it from rotating on the rocket, you can add a wrap of electrical tape at either end of the fairing where it comes in contact with the rocket. If the fairing is fairly tight this is generally not necessary.

1/1/2013

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