How to make a bottle rocket

Here's how to make a bottle rocket, a rocket that's simply a soda bottle partly filled with water and compressed air that actually flies. As you can see below, you'll need some sort of launching system, and that's where the work in making one comes in. The actual bottle part is easy. Don't be misled by the redness of the bottle, that's just red wrapping paper wrapped around it to make it more visible.

Pumping in air.
Pumping air into the bottle rocket.
Lift-off!
Bottle rocket taking off!
Rocket at its highest.
Bottle rocket at its highest point in flight.
Rocket about to hit the ground.
Bottle rocket about to hit the ground and land.

How to make the bottle rocket and launch pad

There are two things to make. One is the actual bottle rocket and the other is some sort of launch pad.

How to make the rocket

As shown below, making the bottle rocket can be as simple as getting a soda bottle and removing the cap. However, you probably want to add some color to it since a transparent bottle isn't very visible against the sky. You can paint it or do whatever you want. In my case I wrapped some red Christmas wrapping paper around it.

Soda bottle with cap removed.
Soda bottle for bottle rocket with the cap removed.
Wrapping with paper.
Wrapping the bottle rocket with wrapping paper.
Finished simple bottle rocket.
Finished simple bottle rocket.

How to make a launch pad

As shown below, I first find a bicycle pump that has a removable hose. I need it to be removable because I'll be putting a plug around the hose. For the plug, I find a piece of dowel that fits inside the bottle's opening. I then drill a hole in the dowel that's the size of the hose.

Pump and removable hose.
The pump and removable hose for the bottle rocket launcher.
Right sized dowel.
A dowel that fits in the bottle's opening.
Drilling a hole for the hose.
Drilling a hole in the dowel for the hose for the bottle rocket launcher.

The hose goes through the hole and hot glue is inserted into the holes at both ends to make it watertight.

The I find a PVC tube that has an inner diameter that's has a little larger inner diameter than the diameter of the dowel, and drill a hole near one end. This tube will be the launch tube part of the launch pad. The diameter of the hole is a little larger than the diameter of the hose since the hose will be passing through it. It should be large enough for the hose to move easily through it i.e. it shouldn't be a tight fit.

Hot gluing one end to create a seal.
Hot gluing one end where the hose goes in the dowel to create a seal.
Hot gluing the other end.
Hot gluing the other end where the hose goes in the dowel to create a seal.
Drilling a PVC tube.
Drilling a hole large enough for the hose in the PVC tube.

As shown below, after enlarging that hole I insert the hose. I wrap tape around the dowel until it's a snug fit when inserted into the PVC tube.

Inserting the hose.
Inserting the hose in the hole in the bottle rocket's launch tube.
Taping around the dowel.
Taping around the dowel where it will go in the bottle rocket's launch tube.
Inserting the dowel.
Inserting the dowel into the bottle rocket's launch tube.

I also increase the diameter of the other end of the dowel by wrapping tape around there too, until it's around the same diameter as the opening in the bottle.

I then drill another hole in the PVC tube where the tape is wrapped around the dowel and then put a screw into the hole until I feel it penetrate the wooden dowel a little. This is to lock it in place.

Taping the dowel's bottle end.
Taping the end of the dowel that will be going into the bottle.
Drilling locking hole.
Drilling a hole in the PVC launch tube to lock the dowel in place.
Locking the dowel in place.
Locking the dowel in place by putting a screw though the launch tube and into the dowel.

With water in the bottle rocket, I then put it on the launch tube. As you can see below, some water leaks around the tape. So I add some thinner tape, packing tape, which seems to complete the seal.

Putting the bottle on the launch tube.
Putting the bottle rocket on the launch tube.
Testing for leaks.
Testing for leaks and showing a small leak.
Adding thinner tape.
Adding thinner tape to make a better seal.

As shown below, I next get a PVC cap that fits the PVC tube and drill a hole in the end. I insert a screw in the hole and screw the cap firmly down to a piece of wood.

Drilling hole in cap.
Drilling a hole in the launch pad's PVC cap.
Inserting a screw.
Inserting a screw into the launch pad's PVC cap.
Screwing the cap in place.
Screwing the cap onto a board.

Finally I lower the launch tube firmly onto the cap, completing the bottle rocket launcher.

I take it outdoors and attach the pump to the hose, and begin pumping.

Lowering the launch tube.
Lowering the bottle rocket's launch tube onto the cap.
Attaching the pump.
Attaching the pump to the bottle rocket launcher's hose.
Pumping in air.
Pumping air into the bottle rocket.

Lift-off of the bottle rocket from the bottle rocket launcher!

Lift-off!
Bottle rocket taking off!
Rocket at its highest.
Bottle rocket at its highest point in flight.

Video - Bottle Rocket - How it Works/How to Make

The following video shows not only step-by-step how to make this bottle rocket and launcher but also explains how the rocket works.

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