odin got a Scientific Explorer’s Meteor Rocket Science Kit for his birthday ( editor: i’m so far behind in posting stories that i haven’t even posted the assembly and inaugural launch video on his birthday! soon! ) which is a kit version of a “baking soda and vinegar” rocket. even though there are lots of DIY plans all over the internet, and i think i recall making one myself a long time ago, i decided the box looked cool ( usually a bad choice ) and made an impulse birthday purchase without checking the amazon reviews first ( d’oh! ).
perhaps unsurprisingly, the rocket is a bit flim-flammy ( a fact highlighted in many an amazon review ) and after it’s first solid launch ( after 14 not-so-solid attempts ) it landed in a tree and broke two of its three seemingly-intended-to-be-disposable balsa wood fins broke!
time for a little DIY rocket repair.
i’ll admit that i love doing these sorts of repairs because it’s a great opportunity to visit our local hardware store with odin and attempt to come up with A Solution from found parts while wandering the aisles. after some debate about the best option while considering weight, stability and cost we decided to get some thin, light tin flashing that we could glue on the balsa fins.
first, of course, you need to trace out the fin on the flashing ( note, the original balsa fins had useless silvery mylar-like material on them ).
i always knew the tin snips would come in handy someday!
next i applied a thin coat of contact cement ( wow. use in a well-ventilated area! ) to one side of the balsa wood fin and one side of the tin fin, waited 15 minutes or so and carefully pressed them together. man, that contact cement is strong stuff. you only get one chance to get it right!
repeat for the other side of the fin.
a balsa wood sandwich!
the fin is just a titch heavier but not much in terms fo the overall weight of the rocket. after the glue set it was clear that it was not coming apart and would stand up to lots of abuse. much better!
but what to do about that sharp tin edge? why a little duct tape, of course!
while we were repairing the fins we also thought we’d improve on the design of the stopper which fits in the business end of the pop bottle. you insert the stopper and crank down on the red thing a few times which makes the stopper more squat, increases the resistance, and prevents premature ejection ( thus allowing gas from the baking soda and vinegar reaction to build up with explosive results ).
the problem is the fancy red plastic thing quickly became stripped, preventing you from really cranking down on it and, therefore, preventing a super stellar launch.
The Solution? a 19 cent wingnut!
[ insert gratuitous macro shot of new and improved stopper assembly here ]
refurbed and ready for lift-off! note the color coordinated duct tape. a nice touch i think 🙂
unfortunately we ran out of time to actually launch the the rocket – so stay tuned!