This blog covers the day to day progress of water rocket development by the Air Command Water Rockets team. It is also a facility for people to provide feedback and ask questions.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Splice test #3 - Sikaflex - Success

We did a successful burst test on the Sikaflex asymmetric splice with a PL attached sleeve. (splice #5) The bottle ends were also reinforced with a jacket made from another PET bottle and held down with glass strapping tape. We learned a couple of things from this test:

The Sikaflex works great as a sealant and the width of the sleeve was more than sufficient to hold the splice together.

The final burst pressure was 190 psi! This is a better result than was expected. The actual failure was due to the strapping tape breaking, weakening the bottle reinforcing and then ultimately bursting the bottle. The sleeve still held though. The normal burst pressure of these bottles is about 165 psi.

This is a photo of the splice under test. The needle on top of the bottle was added to see how much bottle distorts close to the sleeve.

I'll make up three of these splices next and see how reproduceable the results are. I won't be testing them to destruction but pushing them to 140 psi, for an operational pressure of 130psi in actual rockets. If the results can be replicated, it would give us a nice safety margin.

I do have good slow motion video of the bottle's distortion and ultimate burst. I'll post the video with the next main website update, as I am busy the next couple of nights getting ready for this weekend's launch event.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Splice test #2 - Epoxy

After letting the epoxy splice sit for a week we pressure tested the spliced-pair to destruction today. At around 120 psi a small leak developed. We kept increasing the pressure until the splice failed at ~150psi.

This time it was the PET bottle that failed rather than the splice. It fairly cleanly tore itself off from around the edge of the sleeve. The epoxy glue though separated cleanly from the bottle that flew off. This means that the epoxy did not do as good a job of holding onto the PET, even though the 1cm x 1cm tests showed promising results.

The sleeve was glued on with PL premium.

We are now waiting for the sikaflex and PL to cure on the next splice test.

The reinforcing shells worked well and the bottles did not show any signs of stress in the neck area. We have taken them off again, and will use them on the next splice test.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Bits and pieces

We've updated the main website with some of the things we've been working on over the last month or so:

The update includes discussion of the splice variants we are currently testing as well as details of my involvement in the rocket challenge on Channel 7's 'Beauty and the Geek - Australia'.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Splice test 1

I tested the splice yesterday, but it sprung a leak at 130 psi, which was disappointing, but not unexpected for the first attempt. It was only 4 days since I did the splice so it may not have been quite long enough for a full cure of the splice. Except for the leak the splice held well though, and there were no stress marks on the bottles. All up the reinforced double-walled spliced pair was 3.15L and weighed 139 grams.

The reinforcing shells used on both ends of the rocket can be easily removed and reused for the next test since they are not glued, saving a couple of bottles there. They protected the inner bottles well during the test.

Having recently performed the 1cm x 1cm shear tests on the Araldite super strength epoxy, I've made a new splice using this glue last night, and it looks like it has a much better seal. It does not bubble up like the PL. I used very gentle heat from the heat gun to make it flow better into the corners once the splice was assembled. Tonight I'll add the extra outer sleeve and glue it on with PL.

If the epoxy fails, next I'll try the sikaflex on the inner splice for a better seal, and then again use PL for the outer sleeve.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Splices

We have been using the same symmetrical splice technique on our 2L bottles for a couple of years now, but I have never quite been happy with it. We have had quite a few failures along the way, and the no-leak yield hasn't been as high as we would like. This meant a lot of wasted bottles and wasted time. The other issue has been the relatively low pressures the spliced pairs could hold. 130psi has been the limit we could practically push them to.

We used to use 2.25L bottles as the sleeve since they fit well over the 2L bottles and no shrinking was required. But recently we have found that some of the 2.25L bottles don't fit as well as they used to so it has been difficult to use them as well. To try to stop the leaks we have been using a different glue to do the sealing in the joint and PL to hold the splice together but this made the process more complex and we still ended up with leaks although less often.

So we are currently trialing a different technique that will hopefully yield better results. The technique is not new but a combination of several different techniques used together. We are using just PL glue for this splice and only the one type of bottle. I'll post the full technique on the main site, but here is a quick run down:

We first heat shrink about 2-3 cm of one of the bottles using hot water so that it fits inside another bottle of the same type. Then curl the edge on a pan. This has the effect of giving a tight seal where the heat shrink section ends and meets the other bottle since they are the same diameter at this point. We sand and glue these sections together. We then make up a sleeve about 4 cm wide made out of the same type of bottle. Because the diameter is the same we simply cut the sleeve to turn it into a strip. We then use another section of sleeve about 4 x 4cm and glue half of it to the sleeve strip to cover the gap. We let the glue dry for a couple of days. Then we glue the sleeve strip over the splice to provide further strength to the splice.

The drawback is that inserting one bottle into the other means that the volume is smaller, but not by too much.

We have had to previously reinforce the necks of the bottles with rings made from other bottles, but it only strengthened the necks not the rest of the bottle. This time we are going to use Richard Wayman's bottle-on-bottle technique to not only strengthen the neck but a significant portion of the rest of the bottle.

Hopefully this technique will yield better sealing results and will be able to take higher pressures.

The glue is curing at the moment so tests will be carried out at the next opportunity.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

It's been a while since the last update because there has only been little rocket related development in the last two weeks.

Crestwood Fair and other stuff

Last Sunday I spent the whole day helping to man NSW rocketry association's stall at the Crestwood fair. David and Neville did a great job of organizing the stall and getting all the display materials together. We had all sorts of rockets on display, and I even brought along a couple of water rockets including the Acceleron V to sit in the corner. It was a fun day talking with people about rockets. Quite a few interested people stopped by for a chat. We gave out close to 50 fliers on the day, so we'll see how many people turn up to the next launch at Doonside.

Over the last two weeks there were also several birthday parties, accountants to see, kid's school concerts, and kids cricket games which meant a lot of time away from the rocket workshop. Now that the dust is settling down, we'll be back to more regular development. Dad is also back from Europe so we'll have more time to spent on developing the next set of rockets.

Work has also been continuing on the website extension. There is just a lot of typing to do, and it's taking a lot longer than I originally expected. There are around 70 pages on there so far.

New workshop
We had a long weekend this week, but instead of rockets I decided to concentrate my efforts on making significant progress on the new workshop under the house. The current workshop is just getting too small. Dad and I spent all three days putting up the internal walls, which I'm happy about, because those are done now and the ceiling is next. We had the electricians come in earlier in the week to put in all the power points and lighting, and we'll need them to come back to finish everything off after we have painted. There is probably 3 weeks or so more work on it, because we need to put in new doors, do the little trim bits to finish it off, and then fit it out with benches and shelving.

Coming up
Last week we've also made a booster for Paul's pyro rocket, so we are hoping to fly it this upcoming weekend if the weather improves. It will be our very first two stage pyro rocket launch.

We are bringing a couple of water rockets with us as well of course. We will fly the rocket with the camera mounted on the boom again to see if we can get a clearer view of the water behaviour in the rocket during flight. Acceleron V is currently slated to fly at the end of the month's NSWRA launch.