rocket hacking

We launched a model rocket this last weekend. It was a blast! (sorry, I couldn’t resist) The kids really enjoyed watching me put together the rocket, and I encouraged them to decorate the rocket as they wished. I tried to explain the basic chemistry, but they lost interest quickly. So I just focused them on how cool it would be when the rocket took off into the sky, and how the parachute would open and allow it to float down safely.

The funny thing is that the ignitor didn’t work. And this is where it got really creative — I needed to find a spark to ignite the engine. But by the time I realized that the store-bought battery-powered ignitor wouldn’t work, I had a yardful of kids waiting for the model rocket to take off. A dozen kids getting more and more impatient.

With all the kids there, I couldn’t run to the store and get a new ignitor. I couldn’t just light a fire under the damn rocket (too dangerous, especially with all these nervous nelly parents around). So here’s the hack: I grabbed an old cell phone power cord, chopped the end off, and connected it to the rocket, and plugged the damn thing in. Of course, it immediately took off, with all the electricity flowing in there. The experience of the weak ignitor though compelled me to design my own much-cooler rocket ignition station, which would first light up a bulb (a red one, preferably), and then a lever to push down to complete the circuit — so there would be an ignition switch. It would be even cooler if I could hand-roll a capacitor coil and have a kid pedal a bicycle to build up sufficient charge to get the rocket off the ground. Anyway, as soon as I’m done with my design, I’ll post the thing here 😉

In related news, this rocket launcher hack is amazingly awesome!

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