MadSci Network: Engineering

Re: How can I stablize a miniature rocket?

Date: Tue Oct 10 19:05:37 2000
Posted By: Artem Evdokimov, Postdoc
Area of science: Engineering
ID: 968809831.Eg

Dear User,

In order to stablize rockets, the fins have to be a) very straight and b) 
broad enough to provide balancing forces at the speeds which your rocket is 

By the sound of it, your fins are *not* very straight - and when you launch 
your rocket it does not have enough time to gather sufficient speed. If 
your speed is too low, small fins would not provide adequate stabilization. 
And of course, even at high speeds if your fins are not straight or not 
aligned, your rocket would be unpredictable.

Another factor involved is the centering of the nozzle. If the nozzle is 
not well centered, your reaction force vector will not be aligned with the 
directional vector of the rocket, resulting in gyrations and finally 
'bouncing along the ground;.

You should also pay attention to the centre of gravity of the rocket - 
depending on the application it usually should be towards the back of the 
rocket, close to the point where the reaction force is generated.

All in all, the smaller is the rocket, the harder it is to stabilize it 
because of the increasing effects of small errors in manufacture. That is 
why pyrotechnic rockets mostly use two simple and proven methods - the 
stick and the 'twist' nozzle instead of fins.

All the above brings us to the sad point - you should NOT be taking apart 
Estes rockets and stuffing the 'gunpowder' into makeshift constructions, 
*especially* if you lack the knowledge of how to construct reliable 
engines. Since your rockets are (hopefully) small, the danger is not too 
great, however, even a small rocket can easily destroy an eye, or set your 
hair/clothes on fire. While decorative scarring is the going rage in beauty 
world, I suspect that hideous charred scars and missing eyes/fingers are 
not going to make you very attractive to the majority of the population. 

Moral - play safe, and always wear safety goggles.



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