Low-Power Starter Guide
So You Want To Get Into Model Rocketry?
Model rocketry is an awesome hobby and can be a gateway to
great engineering, education and careers
or just a fun thing to enjoy on your weekends
Where to Start
You’ll need a rocket kit or parts, some motors, wadding, and a launch pad and ignitor. You’ll also need a launch site, preferably larger than 150m square.
You can purchase these from any Rocketry Supplier, you can find a list of some of the New Zealand suppliers at the end of this list.
These are re-usable rockets you can fly many times by fitting a new rocket motor.
If you want to launch on your own you will need a “Launch Kit” which includes the launch pad and launch controller, these will require either 4x AA or 1x 9v batteries.
If you fly at an NZRA or Christchurch Rocketeers event then you will not need your own launch pad or controller.
We recommend starting with an RTF (ready to fly) or E2X (easy to assemble) kit
These are expendable, so you’ll need however many you want to launch!
It’s recommended to start on the lowest motor recommended by your rocket kit and then work your way up once you’re comfortable with the height and distance it travels.
This is needed to protect your rockets parachute from the exhaust gases during ejection. You can either purchase these, or make your own (see guide at end of list)
We recommend a local park or school field that is clear of sports games and is at least 150m2. Model rockets are authorised to launch in controlled airspace without any notification as long as you use engines that are less than D15, are under 2.5kg, and follow the Model Rocketry Safety Code (See at end of guide). Some councils ban “projectiles” at their parks, so best to flick them a call unless you know of someone else launching.
Launching your rockets
Set your launch pad up in the centre of the field (if no wind) or on the windward side if it’s breezy as your rocket will drift downwind in the breeze once its parachute deploys. Add your wadding to the rocket body tube, fold the parachute as shown in the instructions of the kit, fit the motor and place on the launch pad/rail. Connect the leads from the ignitor. Check the area for flight safety, no planes/helicopters or persons within 5m of the launch pad. Give a nice loud countdown from 5 so any onlookers know what’s happening. Push and hold the launch button and watch it fly!
Congratulations you are now a Rocketeer
Model Rocketry Suppliers
Homemade Rocket Wadding
This can easily be made with household items:
Mix 1 teaspoon of Baking Soda to ¼ cup of water and stir until dissolved
Soak 1 Handy Towell sheet at a time and hang to dry
Once dry, split the multiple ply’s and then cut each into 4 equal squares
This is a sure fire way to make your own fireproof wadding, as the baking soda ignites it releases Carbon Dioxide essentially snuffing out its own flame. At less than a cent per sheet it is far cheaper than Estes recovery wadding.
Model Rocketry Safety Code
Model rocketry is recommended for ages 8 and above, with adult supervision for those under age 14. This code applies to:
Model Rockets - Motor Power Range A to D. You may fly with permission from the property owner using these rules as a guide.
Large Model Rockets - Power Range E to F and weight lower than 1.5kg. Must be flown in accordance with the NZRA Model Rocketry safety code.
High Power and Experimental rockets in the range G and above have a separate High Power Safety Code which is listed in the section below.
MATERIALS. I will use only lightweight, non-metal parts for the nose, body, and fins of my rocket.
MOTORS. I will use only certified, commercially-made model rocket motors and will not tamper with these motors or use them for any purposes except those recommended by the manufacturer.
IGNITION SYSTEM. I will launch my rockets with an electrical launch system and electrical motor igniters. My launch system will have a safety interlock in series with the launch switch and will use a launch switch that returns to the ‘off’ position when released.
MISFIRES. If my rocket does not launch when I press the button of my electrical launch system, I will remove the launcher’s safety interlock or disconnect its battery and will wait 60 seconds after the last launch attempt before allowing anyone to approach the rocket.
LAUNCH SAFETY. I will use a countdown before launch and will ensure that everyone is paying attention and is a safe distance of 5 metres away when I launch rockets with D motors or smaller, and 10 metres away when I launch larger rockets. If I am uncertain about the safety or stability of an untested rocket, I will check the stability before flight and will fly it only after warning spectators and clearing them away to a safe distance.
LAUNCHER. I will launch my rocket form a launch rod, tower, or rail that is pointed to within 30 degrees of the vertical to ensure that the rocket flies nearly straight up, and I will use a blast deflector to prevent the motor’s exhaust from hitting the ground. To prevent accidental eye injury, I will place launchers so that the end of the launch rod is above eye level or will cap the end of the rod when it is not in use.
SIZE. My model rocket will not weigh more than 1,500 grams at lift-off and will not contain more than 125 grams of propellant nor produce more than 320 N-secs of total impulse.
FLIGHT SAFETY. I will not launch my rocket at targets, into clouds, or near airplanes, and will not put any flammable or explosive payload in my rocket.
LAUNCH SITE. I will launch my rocket outdoors, in an open area at least 100m2, and in safe weather conditions with wind speeds no greater than 32 kilometres per hour. I will ensure that there is no long dry grass close to the launch pad, and that the launch site does not present risk of grass fires.
RECOVERY SYSTEM. I will use a recovery system such as a streamer or parachute in my rocket so that it returns safely and undamaged and can be flown again, and I will use only flame-resistant or fireproof recovery wadding in my rocket.
RECOVERY SAFETY. I will not attempt to recover my rocket from power lines, tall trees, or other dangerous places. I promise to read and follow the Model Rocket Safety Code.