From a partner who uses our v1.0 launcher in the UK.Hidden Figures looks like it'll be a great historical film coming out in January.
We'll be lauunching all weekend at the World Maker Faire in New York this coming weekend. Come join us from 10-6 on both Saturday and Sunday. Keith and Rick will both be there with their families in our once a year Air Rocket Works reunion. Details at: http://makerfaire.com/new-york/
Our brand new v2.2 launcher got a workout at the Second Annual San Jose Mini Maker Faire at History Park in San Jose, CA. We built and launched over 700 rockets in just 7 hours! I think that might be a record. Pictured above is the San Jose Hisoric Light Tower. This was big technology in the 1880's in what is now the heart of Silicon Valley. The tower is 115' tall and nearly every rocket went much higher. It was fun to have a physical gauge. Our newest CARB (Compressed Air Rocket Bounce) flew nearly out of sight and landed with a 10' bounce. With a foam nose, lightweight body and plastic fins it's durable and sleek. We're super happy with this new rocket and you will be too!
UPDATE - 9/2/16:
We had a GREAT time at the NH Maker Faire last weekend. The timing of the SEE Exhibit project and the NH Faire aligned, and we brought the entire exhibit to Henry Law part to test it out with the kids.
Ryan assisted all day, shown above manning the launcher, and it went very well. We went through well over 150 templates, including about 60 foam noses between 10 and 4. We had a couple visitors all the way from Lake George NY, Parker and his son Parker (who really loves rockets) were interested to see and try out our rockets in person.
My Wife Tanya, daughter Lauren and her friend ran the 3D printed make your own jewelry booth, which was a big hit. My son Sean had his 130+ MPH marshmallow gun and his paper airplane launcher for people to try. The marshmallow gun does not like the warm weather, and the air pressure kept inverting the marshmallow inside the barrel, making for a gooey mess.
It was a fun day, and we will likely be back again next year.
UPDATE - 8/18/16:
Several NH Makers had some fun demonstrating our upcoming NH Maker Faire exhibits at NH1 News on Tuesday morning. Here is the link to the video posted by NH1:
Hope to see you there!
Original Post - 8/8/16:
My family and I will be attending and demonstrating the compressed air rocket launcher at the 4th annual NH Mini Maker Faire. Come by, build & launch a rocket as may times as you like, and take it home. The Faire is this August 27th from 10 AM to 4 PM. We'll be in Henry Law Park behind the museum again this year. You never know who will be there:
More info about the faire here:
Hope to see you there! Get out and launch something!
Our friends at NASA used the launcher system again, this time it was used at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. They set up right in front of the rocket garden, which made for a perfect backdrop. Video at the link below.
Above are the five high end launchers that we designed and built for NASA Launch Services Program in Cape Canaveral Florida. The project got started when David Sollberger, NASA Launch Services Program Deputy Chief Engineer, contacted us at the end of last summer about our compressed air rocket launchers. He had found our website, and liked the industrial strength design of our standard launchers. We collaborated, tossed ideas back and forth, and settled on a new version of our launcher with a solenoid valve to trigger the launch. When we started discussing the control panel, he said he had the perfect box for the job. A few days later, this arrived in the mail:
David explained to me that this box came from the Space Shuttle program, and that the serial number plate on the front indicated the NASA standard initiators that used to be stored and transported in this container. These initiators were used as igniters to start the Solid Rocket Boosters on several of the Shuttle missions! I made sure not to modify the case in any way, but designed a panel worthy of such a cool piece of history. I took out the tape measure and digital calipers, and measured up the inside of the box. SolidWorks was used to create the 3D designed panel, and the launcher design.
Once happy with the CAD model, the parts were printed on heavy paper and test fitting was done to make sure the panel would fit properly. It was much easier to cut out the paper mock-up and make adjustments to add clearance for the hinge and the lock, and make sure the cover opened and closed properly, and that there was enough clearance to mount everything.
Note the lock mechanism cutting through the text at the lower middle of the panel. Oops! Again, easily modified, and corrected before cutting metal. Once the final panel payout was completed, and we were satisfied with the look and fit, it was time to make the real thing, so I headed down to the basement shop. I used 1/8" thick aluminum panel that I had on hand. I designed the horizontal and vertical sections in two pieces that were bolted together to make the machining and laser etching easier. The roughed out panel was mounted to my CNC Bridgeport milling machine, and the holes and slots were added, and the perimeter was cut accurately.
Once the panel edges were smoothed, it was time for laser etching the text and logo onto and into the surface. A cool product called Thermark was sprayed over the whole surface of the panel. The panel was placed in the laser, and the laser fused the Thermark material into the surface of the material. The excess Thermark powder was simply washed off with soap and water, leaving a very detailed and crisp graphics.
With this complete, the panel was installed, and the master control box powered up and tested - It works!:
The launchers were next. They needed to be solid, have long wires attached, and be able to store the launch tube when it was removed. The notches in the sides of the vertical panels are used to wind the wire around. The white panel is a painted steel panel to allow the magnetic graphics to be stuck on the launcher. Six launchers were built, five plus one spare. If one launcher were to fail, it could be swapped out, and the magnetic graphics could be changed over to the spare launcher.
At the time of shipment, the launchers were sent as bare wood, and the magnetic graphics were not yet made. Also, January & February in New Hampshire is not a great time to paint anything. The final paint scheme was not decided upon until they arrived in Florida, and David did a fantastic paint job on all 6 launchers, as can clearly be seen in the top picture. The system was put through formal NASA testing, and with only a couple minor adjustments, passed the tests and was certified for use. The first opportunity to use the system was the "Take your child to work day" at Kennedy Space Center. The super cool templates of all of the current rocket systems that launch from Cape Canaveral; the Delta II, Delta IV and Atlas IV from United Launch Alliance and also the Falcon 9 from Space X, were designed by David. Over 500 rockets were built and launched at this event, starting with construction of the rocket, then the loading on the launcher, "fueling" (pumping up the pressure as seen below), and finally enabling and launching the rockets using the master control panel.
More event pictures can be found here:
Thanks again to all the folks at NASA Launch Services Program who worked with us on this fun build and especially David Sollberger who put lots of time and effort into this project.
11/1/16 - UPDATE:
The system is fully operational!
Here is a link to a video of it in operation:
We'll see how well it holds up when a field trip is at the museum tomorrow.
9/23/16 - UPDATE:
On Wednesday evening we installed the tensioner, launcher tubes and guide wires. The concept for the launcher, guide wire and passive pneumatic arrester at the top worked very well. Even at max pressure & high velocity, the rocket would only go about 1/2 way into the arrester and stop silently. It would then slowly fall out of the arrester and back to the launcher - SUCCESS!! Until the rocket fell back down the wire (as intended) but would not reseat on the launch tube for the next launch.
The remaining problem is getting the rocket back on the launcher tube. Note the rockets not seated on the launch tubes in the picture above. Partly due to the 125+ year old building with it's not so flat floors, and partly due to not enough alignment adjustment, we could not get the guide wires centered in the launch tubes. When the wire is offset, the rocket will not drop onto the tube. The taper on the end of the launch tubes shown below wasn't quite enough, so I'll be redesigning and printing fins with an inside taper to compliment the taper on the launch tube to make it align. We'll also have to shim the bases of the launchers, and also add a little more clearance between the tube and the rocket. A little air leakage from a loose fit won't be a problem as the rockets can only go up 12'.
I'm very pleased with the way the control panels and pump mounts worked out. I'm really hoping that they will last.
9/11/16 - UPDATE:
The new rocket noses with the built in wire guides and the fins have been printed, now using our custom extruded body tube.
The launch tubes have been modified with a large taper on the end of the tube, so the rocket will (hopefully) side down over the launch tube again after launch.
The other modification to the launch tubes was to add a wire clamp. A 1/4" wide slot was machined into the side of the pipe to allow a clamp part to be pressed in. It has two tapped holes for a pair of set screws to clamp the guide wire.
The clamp screws are not yet in place in the above picture.
Also, the female threaded eye-bolt was added over the tank section, so it can be bolted down to the board in the display. Here is the launcher, complete with guide wire and the rocket:
The last parts to make are two upper wire clamps, a couple plates to connect these upper wire clamps to the tensioner assembly, and the rocket arrester assembly. I hope to get them completed tomorrow night for installation on Tuesday.
9/8/16 - UPDATE:
The control panels have been etched, thanks to a friend, and they look good. Thanks to Jake for the etching, and Katie & Matt for the suggestion to use icons instead of wording for the kids. I hope my graphics will clearly show what needs to happen. If not, it can be sanded off and replaced.
I hope the laser marking material is as tough as it is claimed to be.
I finally found a couple pictures I took when Ryan spent the day cutting and welding the frame with me. We were steadily working and didn't take much time for pictures that day.
Here he is tack welding the uprights in place before we added the top semicircle. I should have moved the broom, it was a bit too close. Luckily, we didn't set it (or anything else) on fire.
9/2/16 - UPDATE:
The control panels and slide valve mounts were machined on 8/26, and installed on the frame.
Here is a video showing the last rounding cuts being made on the slide valve mounts: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B18hrRr68O3acWxEWndOZjNoQm8/view?usp=sharing
And here are the finished valve assemblies:
Two v2.2 launchers were connected up to test out the system. Luckily, everything works as expected! As the timing worked out, Ryan brought the entire functioning exhibit to the NH Maker Faire on 8/27/16. It worked great all day, and the kids had a good time launching all kinds of rockets. Here is Ryan manning the exhibit in Henry Law park in Dover:
The only remaining tasks before installation will be the modified launch tubes and the wire clamps which attach to the tensioner system.
8/15/16 - UPDATE:
The pumps have been mounted, and the control panel design is complete. Remaining tasks include securing the launchers to a mounting plate, machining the guide wire clamps, completing the guide wire tensioner assembly, machining the control panels, and making the all important rocket arrestors at the top of the guide wires to slow the rockets before they crash into the ceiling.
8/10/16 - UPDATE:
The welded frame was sandblasted and painted by Fletch's Sandblasting & Painting late last week. Ryan returned it back to my shop this morning:
The control panels and covers need to be fabricated and installed, the tensioner needs to be completed, and then the unit can be fully assembled for some testing. With luck, it will be done by the end of the month!
8/2/16 - UPDATE:
It's really coming together now!
All of the wire mesh is cut and fit, and three out of four of the panels are fully welded in place.
Lots of little welds to make sure the mesh doesn't ever come loose, and hopefully prevent any sharp edges that could hurt little fingers:
Also, here is the detail of the bike pump clamp design:
By tightening the single bolt located inside the exhibit, it draws the nut-plate toward the bolt head, which pulls the U shaped clamp inward, securing the pump to the exhibit.
Next up is completing the welding of the mesh, and installing supports for the control panels. Once that welding is done, this whole thing is headed for sandblasting and painting.
7/26/16 - UPDATE:
The build of the exhibit is progressing well, with all of the major structural welding was completed tonight. Note the heavy duty 1" steel mesh in the background. It will be cut and installed later this week.
The machining and fabrication of the pump anchors was also completed, and the mock-up of the control panels was started:
The pump clamps have one bolt inside the exhibit pulls the bent U shaped strap inward, securing the pump firmly to the exhibit. More work on the pump footplates, control box fabrication, and wire mesh cutting and welding is up next.
A HUGE THANK YOU goes out to Mill Metals in Manchester, NH. They have donated all of the steel and did the rolling of the angle steel that create the top and bottom hoops. The semi-circular angles were within 1/8" of the 8' diameter that was requested.
A shout-out also goes to Goodale's Bike Shop in Manchester, NH for donating the two Botranger Charger pumps to the exhibit.
Next week, the structure moves on to sandblasting and painting, courtesy of Fletch's Sandblasting & Painting, who will be cleaning up and painting the structure for Ryan before the final assembly takes place.
Also, the rocket design was completed, and the first prototype was 3D printed and test fit to a guide wire:
The two halves of the nosecone will be glued together, then glued into the body tube. The fins are really just for show, as the wire will guide the rocket. The concept to stop the rocket at the top of travel consists of a air cushion arrester:
Theoretically, it should not contact the rocket, and not wear out. We'll see how well this works...
Also the mounting of the launcher was also finalized, using two of the newly released v2.2 launchers:
The launchers will mount to a board in the base of the exhibit, and be secured down by a large eye-bolt. The two wires will be tensioned at the top of travel by a tensioner that is in the process of being fabricated.
Ryan and I spent 6 hours machining, cutting, fitting, squaring up, and tack welding the main structure of the exhibit today. We were so busy, I only took one short video of Ryan doing tack welding with the MIG welder.
Another update will follow in a couple weeks.
We were fortunate to be contacted by the SEE Science Center in Manchester, NH and asked to incorporate two of our Compressed Air Rocket launchers into a brand new exhibit. It will be a fun an interactive way to show how energy is transferred, starting with the kinetic energy required to pressurize the tank by pumping the bike pump, creating potential energy in the tank as air pressure that can be seen on a pressure gauge, and converting that back into kinetic energy when the rocket is launched. As we are a small company, and SEE Science Center is non-profit, we needed to create this exhibit on a shoestring budget. At this same time, Ryan Leonard, an aspiring Eagle Scout in Manchester, was asking about doing an Eagle Scout Service Project for SEE. A couple meetings were held and a few ideas were proposed, then the design started to take shape, as seen above.
Ryan contacted Mill Metals of Manchester, who graciously donated all of the steel plates and angles needed to construct the safety enclosure. They even donated the time needed to roll two pieces of angle into the 4' radii shown above. The steel was delivered last week, and machining, fitting and welding has already started. First mock-up, so far so good:
This thing is going to be big! Stay tuned for more information on this project in the coming weeks and months.
With over a thousand rockets built and many thousands launched, AirRocketWorks.com continues to be a hit at Maker Faire. This is our eighth year with the rockets and enthusiasm is only growing! We used a single v2.1 Compressed Air Rocket Launcher and it performed like a champ with not a single issue!
Rick also gave two talks on Friday and Sunday about Air Rockets and Other Launchables where he shared about current and future air rocket projects from AirRocketWorks.com.
We'll be launching air rockets all weekend (May 20-22) ot Maker Faire Bay Area 2016. Come build, launch and take home a
compressed air rocket. We'll be in the Zone 1 near The Crucible.
I'll also be sharing on the Maker Show and Tell Stage about the history of AirRocketWorks and give a sneak peak at some new products in development. http://makerfaire.com/bay-area-2016/schedule/
Friday, May 20th from 3-3:30
Sunday, May 22nd from 12-12:30.
Our friends at NASA Kennedy Space Center have allowed us to post their paper rocket templates here on our website. From left to right above: ATLAS V, DELTA IV, FALCON 9 and DELTA II launch vehicles.
Special thanks to NASA Kennedy Space Center, and in particular David Sollberger.
We will have more news in the coming weeks and months regarding our project with NASA.
Are you looking for a way to get your paper fins on straight each time? Recently Keith designed a fin guide that can be printed on a standard 3D printer. If you line the fins up on one side, you'll get fins perfectly parallel with the body tube. If you use the other side you'll get a 5 degree angle for a rifle spinning effect and launch and recovery. You can find all directions and downloadable .STL file on our Forum at: http://www.airrocketworks.com/forum/3d-printed-fin-guide.
This year we will be partnering with University of New Hampshire's STEM outreach team. We will have templates and tape so anyone can make a rocket to launch on our new improved CAR v2.1 launcher, or with a home made "Stomp Rocket" launcher. We will be located behind the museum, in the Henry Law Park area.
My daughter Lauren will be demonstrating how to make "Hexaflexagons" and my son Sean will be demonstrating his paper airplane launcher (from The Tonight Show) along with an electric bike conversion.
More info on the Faire here:
This is a video showing how the Patriots Jet Team Foundation has been teaching STEM activities using compressed air rockets with high school students. More info here:
I want to thank Mark, Kayla and RJ for making a great How-To video showing their clever way to make a quick compressed air rocket. They use a sheet of paper, a super ball, and clear packing tape to make a great rocket. One of the cool things about this rocket is that it doesn't need fins - at all! The center of mass is so far forward (the weight of the super ball at the nose) compared to the center of pressure, that it will fly straight without any fins at all.
To watch this informative video, go here:
For more information on how they built the tape cutting jig, check it out in the forum here:
Well, we had a fun time at the National Maker Faire. It was much smaller scale than we had anticipated, however we made many good contacts, including NASA and the Smithsonian, along with KID Museum in nearby Bethesda.
The cameraman covering the event got this great action shot above right as my daughter was launching a rocket - it's just a complete blur, which makes for a really neat effect. Before anyone laughs at my hat, it was 98° and full sun, and I was happy to be wearing it.
We have been accepted to exhibit our Compressed Air Rocket launcher at the National Maker Faire in Washington DC. They outgrew the White House, so this year it will be held at the University of the District of Columbia on June 12th and 13th (less than 2 weeks away!). If you are in the area, please stop by and launch something - or better yet, help us run the booth. If you are interested in helping out, send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
The tickets are free, and the event will be open to the public. Much more info available here:
Hope to see you there!
There are 75 kids in the second grade at Sean's school. We did a short presentation, and showed the soon to be published paper rocket building video to speed things up. It took a total of 2 hours - one hour for the short presentation and rocket build and an hour for launching.
Everyone was excited & we all had fun.
The maintenance man heard we were doing rockets again, so without asking he brought me the ladder as we were setting up. I only had to recover about 12 rockets from the roof of the school...
A quick update - On Friday, we received a HUGE PILE of Thank You notes from the kids - I think they really liked the rockets!!
Although Rick and I won't be attending the Bay Area Maker Faire today and tomorrow, the team over at "Curiosity Hacked" have stepped up and are running the rocket tent and launcher this year. You can find them in the South Lot, Zone 1.
While they won't have launchers available for sale at the tent, they are being sold in the Maker Shed.
Have a fun weekend and enjoy the Faire!
I just wanted to share that my son, Sean Violette, will be presenting one of his inventions on "The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon" tonight. Video available here.
My son Sean and I were looking through old pictures and updating his website showing the inventions he has thought up and that we have built together, and we added a page showing how we created the first ARG. It wound up being a brief history of how we invented the Air Rocket Glider with some funny pictures and videos.
Take a look:
Many more crazy inventions to come!
Keith & Sean
I was looking through the video recently posted from the NY Maker Faire, and I found a quick video from the "LIVE!" video feed from Sunday at the event:
Jump to 4:19:30 and you can see Rick and I give a demonstration of one of the launchers and the prototype ARG's we brought to the Faire.