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rec.models.rockets FAQ Part 14 - Amateur Rocketry

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Archive-name: model-rockets/amateur
Rec-models-rockets-archive-name: rockets-faq/part14
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 1997 September 25

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Rec.Models.Rockets Frequently Asked Questions: PART 14 of 14


    The following information does not constitute an endorsement of
    amateur rocketry in any way, shape, or form by the editor(s)
    of this FAQ, or the general readership of rec.models.rockets.
    Due to the number of requests for information on this form of 
    rocketry, the following information is provided.
    Pursue at your own risk.

14.2  How do I make my own rocket motors?

    Many among the readership have an interest in this subject, and discussion
    threads about amateur rocketry activities always appear. 
    Even though the name of the newsgroup, rec.models.rockets, suggests that 
    the newsgroup is for model rockets only, this is not entirely true.  High
    power rocketry is a favorite topic among r.m.r. denizens.  And similarly,
    amateur rocketry is also discussed, albeit in a limited way.
    However, questions like:
    "What should I mix together so that I can make my own rocket motors?"
    "Anyone know of any good formulas for rocket propellant?"
    are STRONGLY DISCOURAGED.  Discussion about rocket motor design and
    fabrication is beyond the scope of rec.models.rockets.  Most of the
    participants of rec.models.rockets buy commercially available model and
    high power rocket motors for use in their rockets.  Few have the expertise
    to instruct you on the intricacies of rocket motor design and construction,
    and most likely will not instruct you on rec.models.rockets.  
    Rocket motor construction is a non-trivial task.  It is a task that goes
    much beyond merely having a propellant formula to use.  
    You need to know much more than you might initially suspect, and even
    then you might make a mistake and get seriously injured or even killed.  
    Even knowledgeable professionals have been known to have accidents.
    If you are having difficulty obtaining commercially manufactured rocket
    motors, and think that you can simply make your own, please think about it
    more, and please give these warnings some serious consideration.  Inquire
    as to the availability of commercially manufactured motors.  Check out the
    list of manufacturers in Part 2 of the FAQ.
   From (    
	  " I suppose that an article on cheap model rocketry would not be complete
    without at least some comment on the sorts of advertisements that read
    "build your own rocket engines for only pennies apiece."  While I personally
    am not the sort of person who would categorically condemn those people
    interested in making their own rocket motors, I do feel that model rocket
    motors are one of the places where you do get your money's worth.  While it
    may be possible to build your own motors using only a few cents worth of
    chemicals, there is a lot left unsaid.  Some of these unvoiced gotchas

     1) In order to get to the pennies each price range, you have to buy your
        chemicals in large amounts, so your out-of-pocket expenses are high.
     2) You have to make or buy various special tools for making the motors.
     3) You'll need assorted amounts of safety equipment and test fixtures,
        beyond the actual construction tools.
     4) You'll need a relatively large land area for your testing.
     5) You'll probably be engaging in what the local police will consider
        illegal activities, both in making your motors, and in using them.
        It doesn't take much of a lawyer's time to cancel out your savings!
     6) The finished "cheap" motors are unlikely to have delay or ejection
        charges, and will vary a great deal from motor to motor in performance.

    "I'm also interested in amateur pyrotechnics, and recently bought a copy of
     "The Best of American Fireworks News, Volume 2."  There are a couple of
     excerpts in there that are particularly telling.  One article mentions using
     commercial A8-3 rocket engines as a "quick and easy way" to make skyrockets.
     This is followed up by another comment that includes:

           "I have made rocket engines from scratch for years, but
            have just recently discovered that the time savings,
            reliability, and better performance of commercial engines
             make them a viable alternative."

     "These are discouraging remarks for the would-be motor maker, but the most
     important reason NOT to make your own motors is implied in item (5) above -
     "Model Rocketry" enjoys certain legal exemptions because it has shown itself
     to be an exceptionally safe hobby over the years.  If you make your own
     motors, you are no longer protected under those exemptions - you are no
     longer participating in "Model Rocketry".  If you happen to have or cause a
     major accident, the press won't be clued in to this distinction, so aside
     from the people who actually got hurt, the reputation of the hobby will be
     damaged, and we'll be another step closer to having model rocketry outlawed."

    Have you read Part 1 of the FAQ yet?  Here are a few repeat items to
    From Buzz McDermott (
       "Finally, the editor of this document wishes to get on his soapbox for
   just one moment and add the term 'stupid rocketry' to cover all those
   who attempt to casually produce their own rocket fuel and/or motors
   without the benefit of very serious study, and implementation, of the
   processes involved and safety measures required. Especially note
   that this comment is NOT aimed at serious amateur rocketry
   organizations, college level research, etc. End of soapbox."

   In summary:
    The bottom line is that rec.models.rockets is primarily a newsgroup for
    discussing *consumer* rocketry (which covers model rocketry and high
    power rocketry). Some amateur issues are discussed, but these are not
    the primary focus of the group. Manufacturing your own rocket motors can
    be a very dangerous thing to do, unless done properly, and with extreme
    care. The odds are you will not make motors that are of any higher quality,
    total impulse, reliability, or cost less than pre-manufactured consumer
    rocket motors.

    It is the opinion of the editor(s) of this FAQ that you should NOT try
    to manufacture your own motors. If, however, you insist on partaking
    in amateur rocketry, then the editor(s) of this FAQ urge you to get in
    contact with an established amateur rocketry group for guidance and

14.3  My primary interest is in amateur rocketry.
      Where can I find information about amateur rocketry? 
      Aside from going to college and earning an aerospace engineering degree,
      there are organizations dedicated to the serious pursuit of research and
      development in the field of amateur rocketry.  The editor
      suggests contacting one of the organizations listed below.  These
      suggestions are not endorsements, and the author of Part 14 of the FAQ
      is personally unfamiliar with these organizations.
    Mojave Rocket and Technical Society
    Pacific Rocket Society                    Well-established amateur
    1825 North Oxnard Blvd., Suite 24          rocketry association.
    Oxnard, CA 93030                          Established in 1946.
    Reaction Research Society                 Well-established amateur
    P.O. Box 90306                             rocketry association.
    World Way Postal Center
    Los Angeles, CA 90009
14.4  Amateur rocketry on the Internet

      In case you haven't read any other part of the FAQ yet, amateur rocketry 
      on the Internet IS NOT rec.models.rockets.  Read Parts 1 and 14 of 
      this FAQ.
      Questions related to rocket motor propellant formulation, rocket
      motor construction, etc. should be posted on rec.pyrotechnics. 
      Discussion threads about these subjects always appear there.
      Get their FAQ for even more information.

      The AmRocNet mailing list is for the discussion of all aspects of "amateur
      rocket and motor construction". This includes discussions relating to
      amateur rocket designs, making motors, safety, laws, events, experiences,
      news, reviews, commentary and other items which could be described as of
      general interest to amateur rocket people.
      To join the AmRocNet mailing list send the following Email:

      -----<begin sample Email to listproc>-----

      To: <>
      Subject: .

      subscribe amrocnet Your Real Name

      -----<end sample Email to listproc>-----
      From Tim Patterson (
       I have recently created a new rocketry web page. It has info and links
       regarding High Power solids, amateur liquids and other interesting
       stuff. Check it out at:
      How to Design, Build and Test Small Liquid-Fuel Rocket Engines
         is a small (66 pages) booklet published by ROCKETLAB in 1967.
         As such, it is somewhat dated, but is nonetheless interesting.  
         You can read it at:

      Tom Peregrin's Pyrotechnic Web page
          Tom routinely contributes to rec.models.rockets whenever
          pyrotechnic issues arise.

      Greg Gallacci's Pyrotechnic Journal

      Blue Sky
          a website devoted to composite rocket motor making

      Tom Dimok's Pyrotechnic Web Page
          loads of links, information, and advice

14.5  Manufacturers, suppliers, publishers, and consultants

    The following addresses do not constitute an endorsement of
    amateur rocketry in any way, shape, or form by the editor(s)
    of this FAQ, or the general readership of rec.models.rockets.
    Due to the number of requests for information on this form of 
    rocketry the following addresses are provided as potential sources
    for more information. Pursue at your own risk.

    Aerocon                                  new and used aerospace hardware,
    P.O. Box 432                              parachutes, books, liquid motors,
    Los Gatos, CA 95031                       and more...
    (408) 450-0704                           Catalog - $2.00
    Commonwealth Displays, Inc.               Chemicals for solid propellants
    12649 Dix                                  
    Southgate, MI 48195                       Catalog: $3.00
    (313) 282-1055

    CP Technologies                           Books, videos, and supplies for
    4010A South Poplar, Suite 23               building ammonium nitrate
    Casper, WY 82601                           composite propellant motors
    (307) 265-5895                            Catalog - FREE (see website)

    Digatek                                   black powder and composite
    Suite 200                                  propellant formulas and motor
    2723 West Butler Drive                     making information
    Phoenix, AZ  85051                                    Catalog - FREE
    Firefox Enterprises                       Pyrotechnic supplies, amateur
    P.O. Box 5366                               rocketry supplies.
    Pocatello, ID 83202                     
    (208) 237-1976                            Catalog: $3.00

    Gas Dynamics Lab                          publishes a book on rocket motor
    P.O. Box 465                                 design
    Watkinsville, GA  30677

    Journal of Pyrotechnics                   technical journal on pyrotechnics
    1775 Blair Road                             published twice yearly
    Whitewater, CO  81527                       
    (970) 245-0692
    Prodyne, Inc.                             Solid rocket motor fuel grains,
    P.O. Box 12806                              chemicals, processing
    Ogden, UT 84412-2806                        equipment.
                                              Catalog: $2.00

    Propulsion Systems, Inc.                  Books, software, chemicals, and
    Amateur Rocketry Division                   hardware for composite
    P.O.Box 130077                              propellant motor design and
    Edmond, OK  73013                           fabrication.
    (405) 478-5806                            Catalog - $3.00
    Rogers Aeroscience                        PC software for rocket flight
    P.O. Box 10065                             prediction includes drag modeling
    Lancaster CA 93584-0065                    thru the hypersonic regime;
    (818) 349-4825                            * free info *

    Rosenfield Consulting Services            Consulting service for fuel
    1955 South Palm Street, Suite 15            formulations, gov't approval 
    Las Vegas, NV 89104                         processes, etc.
    (702) 641-9478 (voice)
    (702) 641-1883 (fax)                      FREE brochure and price list
    email: 73624.224@CompuServe.COM

    RPS                                       Rocket motor kits, tooling,
    207 Lewis Drive                             and info on making rocket 
    Richmond, KY 40475                          motors

    Skylighter, Inc.                         Pyrotechnic supplies
    PO Box 480-W                              chemicals, books, equipment,
    Round Hill, VA 20142-0480                 supplies, etc.
    (540) 554-4543
    (540) 554-2849 (Fax)                     Catalog - $3.00 (USA) (Email)                  (see website)
    Systems Solaire                           Plans for an amateur rocket
    4414 Notre Dame                             motor which utilizes
    Chomeday, Laval, Quebec                     gasoline as the fuel source.
    CANADA H7W-1T6

    Teleflite Corporation                     Information and supplies for
    11620 Kitching Street                       making your own rocket motors
    Moreno Valley, CA  92387-9978                 black powder motor making
    David G. Sleeter <>  Catalog - $2.00
Copyright (c) 1996, 1997 Wolfram von Kiparski, editor. 
Refer to Part 00 for the full copyright notice.

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM