Monday, June 8, 2015

Testing New Water Rocket System

Water rockets have really been a popular activity that I have done with a large number of students, from the start I invested in a good quality water rocket launcher which has worked well. Considering how cheap water rockets are to construct, I feel it has been a good investment but I have been looking for a cheaper launcher. I spotted the Quest Water Rocket System priced around $40 and purchased it, I failed to buy the corresponding Water Rockets set thinking I could use my water rocket design.

My Water Design on Quest Launcher

Water Rockets and Launcher Needed

Quest Nozzle Adapter

Water Rocket Box Contents

Rubber Washer Inside Adapter

Closeup of Latching Mechanism

String to Release Rocket

Launcher Tilted

When I put the launcher together I discovered that the opening in the Quest launcher would not fit the plastic pop bottle opening, I theorized that the rockets must have a special adapter for the bottle. I purchased the 6 rocket set and sure enough there were 6 adapters for 6 rockets. As soon as I got back from the hobby shop I put one of the adapters on my 24 ounce bottle water rocket and did some launch testing. Unless you had a funnel with a really small outlet, it will be necessary to take the adapter off the bottle to fill it. The adapter has to be on tight or it will leak, by design it should leak after 80 psi to prevent putting too much pressure in the bottle.

Quest Launcher in Action Note Smaller Stream

Adding Weight for Balance

Comparing Length of Nozzles

Rocket Landed  Out in the Weeds

Lucky to Find Rocket in the Weeds

Another thing I really hadn’t considered was how the stability of the rocket would change as the thrust nozzle was now farther down on the rocket. First couple attempts at launching and the rocket was doing spirals in the air, sure sign that it was not stable. The only thing I could think to correct at the field was to cut a slot in the top of the rocket and put some coins in through the slot to change the balance point. First I put in a quarter, then a penny, and finally another quarter. It did really help but the rocket was going too horizontal from launch. Changing the fin design might help my design but next I want to try to build the rocket with the included materials for fins and nose. The distance was pretty good on the last launch but it landed in really tall weeds and I was lucky to find the rocket.

Aquaport Launcher Larger Stream

Aquaport Launcher Clamps bottle in Three Places

As a comparison I took out my PITSCO Aquaport launcher and the same rocket launched near vertical. The stream that comes out the Quest launcher is smaller but still accelerates my rocket design really fast. If the included rocket is used I think it will be slower because of the greater drag in the rocket design, which might not be a bad thing. I plan to report on this again after I have new rockets to try but I am optimistic it will work well as designed.

Large Parachute Rocket

Parachute Fails to Deploy

Pieces Shatter from Crashing into Road

Since my testing was over tall weeds, I brought out my latest rocket with parachute recovery. This rocket was based on another one that had worked well but this one crashed on the first launch breaking the fins off.  As my luck would have it this rocket went darn near straight up except a little behind the launch spot and did not drift with the wind at all. The parachute did not come out and it looks like it was going to hit my parked vehicle but crashed on the blacktop directly behind it. This time the fins didn’t come off but the rocket broke in several other places. Rockets aren’t always easy.

Bill Kuhl


  1. Need to add glider as payload. Old school folding wing.

  2. The rocket does need weight in the the nose would be fun to try someday. Video from launch last evening.