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Carbon dioxide cartridge rockets

Posted: Fri Aug 23, 2019 12:31 am
by Rendermaniac
My son would really like to build a simple rocket that we can fly in a local park. I found a few videos of powering a rocket with a carbon dioxide canister - normally used for carbonating soda. However a comment caught my eye that making one of these may not be legal under the firearms act. Is it legal to make one of these?

A water rocket is an obvious alternative, but the launch system seems a lot more complicated (I have few tools or DIY skills!)



Re: Carbon dioxide cartridge rockets

Posted: Fri Aug 23, 2019 11:08 am
by air.command
Hi Simon,

If you are looking to try water rockets, I would recommend building yourself a "Clark cable-tie launcher". A few pieces of PVC tubing, some cable ties and a hose clamp or two. Very easy to build, and there are many tutorials on line. As an air supply all you need is a bicycle pump.

- George

Re: Carbon dioxide cartridge rockets

Posted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:39 am
by Aquaman33
Hi Simon,

Welcome to the forum.

Rocketry is great hobby for you and your son to enjoy together. I am sure you will both have lots of fun and learn a lot.

I have no idea about the legalities, but I do have a few issues with the CO2 rockets in that video:

1. A lightweight paper rocket with a heavy CO2 cartridge sticking way out the rear is very unstable. As you can see in the video the rocket flies off at a horrible angle. This is unpredictable and somewhat dangerous. To learn more its worth Googling the relationship between Centre of Pressure (CP) and Centre of Gravity (CG).
2. The rocket doesn't have a parachute or any sort of recovery mechanism which means:
a. It will come down quickly which is quite dangerous. I wouldn't want your son to be hit by a falling CO2 cartridge.
b. The paper rocket probably won't survive the landing, so your hard work will be destroyed. Not a great way to keep kids interested.
c. You miss out on one of the great pleasures of rocketry, which is seeing a parachute open and watching your rocket float down in a controlled manner. Kids really get a thrill from this.
3. The rocket doesn't fly very high, so the flight is very short. Not much fun, especially for kids.
4. The launch mechanism doesn't look particularly safe, especially with kids around. It could easily be launched prematurely.

As George suggested a simple water rocket launch mechanism is not that complex to build. Probably easier to build than the medieval CO2 cartridge piercing mechanism in the video. :D

If you don't want to go with water rockets then consider black powder rockets. Estes make some great starter kits that include a simple to build rocket, a launch pad and a launch controller. Lots of people get nervous about black powder, but its quite safe if you follow some simple safety rules. I would argue that its much safer than CO2.

I am not sure where you live, but its worth investigating if there is a rocket club in your area. Clubs hold launch days where you can:
1. Learn lots from other members.
2. See loads of other interesting rockets fly.
3. Get your rockets checked by an experienced safety officer.
4. Use club launch systems.
5. Fly with the reassurance of the club's insurance.

Good luck on your journey and keep us updated. This a great place to ask questions.



Re: Carbon dioxide cartridge rockets

Posted: Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:48 am
by Aquaman33
George is way too modest to link to his own website, so I will do it for him.

This is one of the best water rocket resources on the internet.

Re: Carbon dioxide cartridge rockets

Posted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 6:21 pm
by Rendermaniac
I think the way to go may be to buy a commercial water bottle rocket launcher. Building one seems complicated and it is the rocket (and parachutes) that we are really interested in.

Thank you for all the advise!


Re: Carbon dioxide cartridge rockets

Posted: Sat Nov 30, 2019 9:39 am
by Voyager
Totally agree with what Derek & George have suggested. That CO2 rocket is very unstable and potentially dangerous. Building a basic water rocket & launcher is no more difficult that the ones in the video.

Re: Carbon dioxide cartridge rockets

Posted: Sat Jan 11, 2020 8:56 pm
by Rendermaniac
We ended up getting a Rokit kit for Christmas, and it worked really well. We even managed to put a cheap action camera on it and it survived! (without a parachute). Getting a parachute on it is probably the next priority - is there any information on a very simple setup?

We also got a BBC Microbit (well my son did, but it may become communal...) which has an accelerometer and a compass on it so it might be fun to try some data logging. I don't know if it will log fast enough. I was also wondering about using my fitness tracker GPS, but I don't think it is anywhere near good enough sampling. Is there something that will plug into a microbit or something pretty cheap?

Anyway here is the video of our first few decent flights. We had 4 cameras running (2 phones, 2 cheap action cameras - one of which was strapped to the rocket). Video edited by by son (this is his youtube channel) - and yes his intro is rather long! ... VLrolg6nsc

thanks for the advice!


Re: Carbon dioxide cartridge rockets

Posted: Sun Jan 12, 2020 8:31 am
by Aquaman33
Love the video.

Never seen anyone attach a camera to a small water rocket, but you got some good footage.

Keep up the good work.

Re: Carbon dioxide cartridge rockets

Posted: Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:32 am
by air.command
Very nice work Simon. Glad to see you had good fun with the water rocket. I was surprised at how well the camera survived on the rocket without a parachute. I hadn't seen these particular cameras before they look nice and compact, how much do they weigh?

Re: Carbon dioxide cartridge rockets

Posted: Tue Feb 18, 2020 9:53 pm
by Rendermaniac
I have moved our latest launch video to the Water Rockets section as this thread seems very off topic now!


I think the nose camera was this one: ... on/2717301

Although now we have a parachute I may risk our slightly better cameras (Hawkeye Firefly 8S - about $120)

I also have one of these on order - you can't really go wrong for the size and under $9! ... id=1527929