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Maker Faire Rockets

For those of you near Silicon Valley this weekend, Maker Faire is a cornucopia of geek delights and sights.

And if you want to learn rocketry 101, the local rocket club – LUNAR, which happens to be the largest in America – will be running workshops throughout the weekend where you can build and fly your own rocket. Here is the schedule detail.

Maker Faire Booth

In prior years, we demonstrated the construction of some rockets at different scales… and met many interesting people. The first guy that came up to the booth asked a number of questions, and after a while, he casually mentions that he used to work for Wernher von Braun, the pioneering scientist who designed a number of rockets, from the V2 to the Saturn V superbooster that took us to the moon.

If we can rebuild it this evening, my son and I will terrorize the neighbors with his autonomous rocket launching robot:

Mobile Robotic Rocket Launcher

The runtime program uses various trigger events to move the launch platform, raise the rocket into position (like a slow hydraulic rail, but using gears) and launch it. We are still working on that last part, but I suspect we will use the current from the LED light module to flip a relay to connect a fresh 9V battery to the igniter. And we may need to add the second NXT motor controller for ignition control and a second rocket rail. Should be able to aim in any direction and angle… and ripe with potential mishap.

Here’s the Maker Faire Site for all the details.

Comments

  1. #1 Dave W.
    May 30, 2009

    Potential mishap in the form of melted LEGO, perhaps?

    I’d worry most about the teeth on that gear in back.

  2. #2 jurvetson
    May 30, 2009

    Good point. We have fashioned a protective blast shield out of an old CD covered in aluminum foil.

  3. #3 Philippe Kahn
    May 30, 2009

    Very Cool! – Philippe -

  4. #4 Dave W.
    June 1, 2009

    I think that a blast shield made from a bunch of those big LEGO struts would have enough mass to avoid actual melting (although it’d still get scorched), since the heat of launch is very temporary. The worry about the gear teeth is that they are some of the smallest LEGO bits, and don’t have the mass to distribute the heat (as if plastic transfers heat well, anyway) before dropping into a less-than-gear-like shape.

    Should be easy to test without sacrificing more than a few LEGO pieces and a few motors.

    That is, of course, if you want to be a LEGO purist with regard to the launch platform. If that’s the case, you’ll want to ensure all the electronics are strictly LEGO, too, right up to the alligator clips holding the igniter. For example, instead of a relay, use a motor to flip the switch on a LEGO 9-volt battery box.

    There are plenty of LEGO collectors and shops on the Web that sell single parts, if you don’t have a huge collection.

  5. #5 jurvetson
    June 5, 2009

    P.S. There’s a wonderful closing paragraph in Design News:

    “While waiting on the Caltrain platform for my return to San Jose, I spied a dad with two kids: a brother and sister who looked like they were perhaps 9 and 8 years old respectively. Each child held a foot-long purple rocket with an expended rocket engine still in place. The girl’s rocket had lost one of its four stabilizer fins, probably from a bad landing in the parking lot after its inaugural flight. It didn’t matter. She wasn’t letting it out of her tight grasp. She’d made something herself. She’d launched it herself. It streaked into the sky and returned to earth. Now she was taking it home. In just a few short hours, that little girl learned about the power and thrill of making something spectacular and then using it. She’d touched the exquisite creative joy that sits at the core of engineering just as the vehicle developers at the Maker Faire surely have. You could see it in the way she held her rocket. She now had bragging rights.”

  6. #6 metin2 hileleri
    May 8, 2010

    That is, of course, if you want to be a LEGO purist with regard to the launch platform. If that’s the case, you’ll want to ensure all the electronics are strictly LEGO, too, right up to the alligator clips holding the igniter. For example, instead of a relay, use a motor to flip the switch on a LEGO 9-volt battery box.

    There are plenty of LEGO collectors and shops on the Web that sell single parts, if you don’t have a huge collection.

    thanks…

  7. #7 metin2 hile
    May 12, 2010

    She’d made something herself. She’d launched it herself. It streaked into the sky and returned to earth. Now she was taking it home. In just a few short hours, that little girl learned about the power and thrill of making something spectacular and then using it. She’d touched the exquisite creative joy that sits at the core of engineering just as the vehicle developers at the Maker Faire surely have. You could see it in the way she held her rocket. She now had bragging rights.”

    thanks..nice post

  8. #8 megadosya
    August 15, 2010

    Now she was taking it home. In just a few short hours, that little girl learned about the power and thrill of making something spectacular and then using it. She’d touched the exquisite creative joy that sits at the core of engineering just as the vehicle developers at the Maker Faire surely have. You could see it in the way she held her rocket. She now had bragging rights.”

    thanks..nice post

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