How to make hobby rocket “sugar motors” using sugar and kitty litter, that shoot up over 2,300 feet high, and cost less than $0.50 to make.
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Project inspired by: 4 years of testing and experimenting with sugar rockets, and recently a lot of influence from the book “Easy PVC Rockets” by Jason Smiley. (http://bit.ly/IBEasyPVCRockets) If you check out the link, please share the love and let Jason know that Grant Thompson sent you. 🙂 Thank you!
My friend NightHawkInLight also has an awesome video on a different method of making a cored rocket with black powder. You can see that here: http://bit.ly/IBBPCoredRockets
WARNING: Rockets are not toys, and this project really should not be duplicated. This video is mainly for educational and demonstrational purposes. If you’re going to attempt it anyway, I highly suggest contacting local rocket clubs to become familiar with local laws, and how to stay out of trouble with the FAA, and avoid hurting any people or property. Playing with unstable rocket motors could result in serious injury, property damage and/or legal ramifications. Use of this video content is at your own risk.
You should be aware that misuse, or careless use, of rocket propellants or ignition of an incendiary or explosive material may not be legal in your area. Check local laws and inquire with local rocketry clubs on how to safely make and launch sugar rockets.
After making my video on Homemade Rocket Fuel (http://bit.ly/DIYRocketFuel) I had a lot of requests on how I built the one that launched at the end of the video. Although that rocket motor worked very well, I wanted to get the process down to a science before making a video about it.
This project video shows a slightly different approach to the sugar motor using the same ingredients, and a demonstration of how the rocket motor performs. The main difference is that this is rammed powder as opposed to caramelizing the sugar mix.
Sugar rockets are the slowest burning of all rocket fuels, and it’s highly unlikely that PVC will explode when using kitty litter plugs and sugar for the propellent. In all my destructive testing, and controlled attempts to get one to fail catastrophically, the PVC was never damaged. All that would happen is that the plugs would blast out.
Saying that, I wouldn’t use PVC with black power rockets. That is a different story altogether.
These motor blasted up over 2,300 feet high without any payload, which has been very consistent with all the motors I made for the project video.
Some people wonder how I was able to measure it at 2,300 feet high. It’s a rough guess based on my raw video footage. I was able to detect the apogee of the rocket by a timed delay mix showing the arch, then measuring the time from apogee to impact. It was just about 12 seconds exactly, and I entered that into a gravity calculator for falling objects (http://www.gravitycalc.com/) and got a result of 706 meters, which is 2,316 ft.
Although the project video shows step-by-step how to build the motors, I would caution anyone wanting to make one to take precautions. These are not toys. They can light things on fire, and fall down on peoples heads, which I imagine could cause serious injury.
You may need permits, or only be able to launch these on special experimental launch days with local rocketry clubs.
My launch was out in the middle of the dessert, miles and miles away from any people, property and anything flammable. Safety precautions were in place in case anything went wrong.
Having said that, I’m very proud of how these little motors perform, and amazed at how cheaply they can be made.