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Music by Jason Shaw (RP-Clattertrap)
Project Inspired By:
A video by Marek Hayward I saw over a year ago. (http://bit.ly/IBMatchRocketLaunchPad) If you check out the link, please share the love and let Marek know that Grant Thompson sent you. :) Thank you!
WARNING: Although these rockets are only fueled by one match head, they do get hot enough to burn fingers, and leave scorch marks in carpets. This project should not be attempted without adult supervision, and if done indoors, safety precautions should be in place to mitigate any fire hazards. Misuse, or careless use, may result in property damage. Use of this video content is at your own risk.
Project History & More Info:
After seeing the video by Marek Hayward (which had 10,000 views at the time, and is now over 1,000,000!) I dropped everything I was doing to try this experiment.
Unfortunately I couldn’t get much success with it. The rockets only seemed to work about half the time, and the needle they were launching from would get coated in carbon and tar residues after only a couple of launches, which seriously affected the performance.
In addition, the rockets weren’t balanced, so once they fired, they wouldn’t shoot very straight.
It’s taken me over a year of prototyping and testing, and playing with different ideas to get the result you see in this video. I developed the idea into a full-on matchbox rocket launching kit, which I’m super proud of, and excited to share in the project video.
These rockets shoot consistently between 20-40 feet, and one of the biggest factors to whether the rockets work or fail, depends on how tight the crimp is on the rockets nose. Any rocket that has failed on me has almost always been because the crimp wasn’t done right, or wasn’t tight enough.
The rockets will propel the furthest if they're launched from a stable base that has little to no give. If there is any give on the launchpad, that will absorb some of the energy and the rocket won’t go as far.
Multiple tests in my house confirmed that if the rockets land on the carpet, they need to be moved within 1-2 seconds, or they will begin to melt into the fabric. The aluminum casings are heated in a flame until they reach the auto-ignition temperature of the match head, so you can expect them to be very hot, and may want to be wearing gloves when you recover the spent rocket casings as well :)
This is an awesome and exciting project whether you're a kid or and adult. It’s impressive to fire a rocket with one match head and see such power, and the smoke trail it leaves in it’s wake is extremely satisfying as well.
The project video will have a link to a template I created for making the rockets, but if you want to get one early, before the video goes live, you can get it here: http://bit.ly/MatchboxRocketTemplate