Another Introduction and some witnessin'

Discussion in 'Zealot Archives' started by Retired_for_now, Jun 8, 2009.

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  1. Retired_for_now

    Retired_for_now New Guy

    Yogi here, just a retired military guy seeing how long this retirement thing will last. Meanwhile, keeping occupied. I found paper models (spacecraft and rockets especially) are great entry points with local teachers to promote science and math in their classrooms. Get the kids interested and you can't hold them back. It's also a great place to display your creations - lots of viewers and you don't have to dust them. If they take a little wear and tear, it's a good reason to build another (or use my conditions - you break it, you get to build one of your own).
    Got started in paper last winter as an adjunct to making the $10 straw rocket launcher for a teacher workshop. Little paper rockets are much sexier (or whatever is equivalent for schoolkids) than straws. You can even launch airplanes - anything you can stick a straw into/onto.
    I built plastic and created a few simple paper ships many decades ago (did the dime models from the cereal boxes too), but got hooked into this after seeing what's possible at low cost and reasonable effort (started out on Jon Leslie's site - - at the Lower Hudson Valley Challenger Center, very worthy work). It's a good break from carpentry - no sawdust.
    Most of my originals are available through Jon's web site (and a couple are out to NASA, etc to see if they'd like to use them in their outreach - the Solar Probe +, MESSENGER, and Mars Recon Observer). The lesson here is YOU can create as well as build (I ain't no Alphonso, Chris, James or Ton, so if I can do it so can you).


    The $10 rocket launcher:

    And some payloads:
    Straw Rocket Airplanes.jpg

    Or you can just do little rockets with a few strategic card washers inside to ride the launch tube:
    Paper Rockets.jpg

    Full disclosure: OK, I really build because I love creating things. The fact I can pass them on to a good cause is just Karma-polishing.
  2. BARX2

    BARX2 Member

    Great lookin models. I'm sure the kids have a blast with them!
  3. cgutzmer

    cgutzmer Guest

    oooohhh I like the launcher! get some pics in action? what kind of distance do you get?
  4. Retired_for_now

    Retired_for_now New Guy

    Thanks Joe. I don't have a picassa account, what's a good search term for your public pix?

    Chris, no action shots, sorry. Easy out is to drop by your local home center for parts and make yourself one. You'll need to hit a hobby shop for the launch tube (7/32 brass/Al tubing fits Glad straws pretty well). The plans are in the lesson book, dropped to Jon Leslie's site and listed under the misc downloads.
    You can easily exceed 60' with a quarter inch straw, 8" long, with about a 1/4 inch of clay in the nose (one or two rubber bands doesn't seem to make much difference). A little paper model of Rolands 1:288 ARES (see Jon Leslie's site) won't make it much more than 25', but does look cool.
    The paper models make great bait to bring in the kids. Then, we hook them with the launcher. Drop your rocket into a 5 gal bucket at 20', get a prize. Simon, pictured below, was a whiz. Would have cleaned us out but I gave him a little rocket instead and then just let him play.

    FWB Science Explosion 3.jpg

    FWB Science Explosion 4-Simon.jpg
  5. Retired_for_now

    Retired_for_now New Guy

    I grew up when you could still buy sulfur and saltpeter at the drug strore ... (and no, it isn't THAT long ago). Also did the iodide crystal trick in chem class. Still, your kids/grandkids/nephews and nieces might enjoy one.

    Best part if you make a few for local teachers is it's tough enough (and cheap enough) that they can let the kids play with it on their own. Worst they can do is bend the launch tube, and you can straighten that or put in a new one for a buck or so. Best comment from one teacher who "won" one at this year's workshop - had a fancy Pitsco ($200) launcher but it was too fragile for the kids and was broken within two months (good use of my tax dollars??@*!!). This one uses 1/4 inch straws at 2 cents a piece and goes together for $10 at the hardware store.

    I still find it curiously satifying to "pop" a few straws and small paper rockets across the garage or out in the yard (banned from the house - no damage but too much temptation for the doggies). I'll take my therapy where I can.

  6. Maico Shark

    Maico Shark Guest

    You can still buy sulfur & saltpeter around here. Saltpeter is used to burn out stumps. Anyway I'm intrigued by your straw rockets. What I'm wondering is if the same method could be adapted to mini paper gliders? I have a glimmer of an idea....

    Could you maybe make a video of your launcher in action?
  7. Retired_for_now

    Retired_for_now New Guy

    Not into the video age yet - sorry. However, you can see from the pix above if you print out the Fiddler's Green Cub at two pages per sheet (letter size paper), build it from 20# bond paper, and add some weight (I used bits of copper wire) to the motor box to put the center of gravity about a third back from the leading edge of the wing - it will fly. The NASA shuttle glider (either full size or printed at two pages per sheet size - works out about 70%) just needs a straw (or half for the smaller glider) shoved up in the back end and it works well. Hardest part is sometimes just figuring out how to attach the straw "engine." Didn't have much luck with a reduced P-40 "dime model." It just didn't have the aerodynamics. Carefully built, the Cub has a very nice airfoil shape to the wing.

    If you check out page 30 in the plans/lesson book (at the LHVCC - - under downloads, miscellaneous, bottom of the page) there is a simple design for a flat glider (triangular backbone around the straw) that flies very well.

    Back to your original conjecture - it should work well to launch any lightweight paper glider (or small rocket - 1:300 scale or so). Just launch gliders at 5-15 degrees above horizontal. In fact, it gives nice, repeatable results you can use to refine your glider. Easiest way to see it is to drop by your local home center with $10 in your pocket and build one.

    Yogi (digital video challenged)

    Shuttle glider

    1:300 / 20lb bond paper rockets (LHVCC or Landsbergen)
  8. Maico Shark

    Maico Shark Guest

    I'm gonna do it!
  9. Retired_for_now

    Retired_for_now New Guy

    Build two and pass one along!
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