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REV 2.4 - Wed Aug 18 06:48:17 2010

Home-Brew Launch Pad
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(Contributed - by Ed Bertschy) 

[Rocket Pic]

I bought everything needed to build this pad from Payless Cashways for $14.67. If you can scrounge a piece of chain link endpost and some 1/2" electrical conduit, you can built it for less than $8. One of the real advantages of this pad is that the launch rods and legs store inside the main tube for shipment. This makes it very portable, as well as protects your launch rods during shipment.


[Rocket Pic]

2-3/8" x 5'6" chain link endpost....$5.64
Two 2-3/8" chain link endcaps........$3.68
1/2" x 10' electrical conduit cut into 4 pieces.....$1.54
Four 1/2" EMT connectors........$.46
1/8" x 4' welding rod.....$1.12
3/16" x 4' welding rod.....$1.23
Two 10/24" wingnuts and bolts.....$.50

Total for this project: $14.67

Tools needed: Hacksaw, hand drill, screwdriver, and dremel.(or metal file). 


[Rocket Pic]

The key to building this project is the EMT 1

2" conduit connectors. These have a screw already mounted in them. They hold the ends of the conduit. At 19 cents a piece, they are a bargain. In the picture above, you can see all the places you will need to drill holes. This next picture shows where they will be put.:
[Rocket Pic]

The small hole in the endcap will take the wingnut. The end view shows where the two EMT connectors will go. I just took my largest drill and drilled them out. I then took a dremel and hogged out the holes till the EMT connectors fit. The connectors have a threaded end, and a nut which holds it in the hole. Even though we're talking about a curved surface and a flat pipe, it holds really well. Note the L slot which is cut in both ends of the chain-link end post. You need to cut this slot in both ends if the pipe. Both slots need to run in the same direction. These slots will allow the end caps to hold onto the pipe. The wingnut fits in the slot, and the shape of the slot allows the pipe to be turned anywhere up to 30 degrees from vertical. You just slide the endcap on, lining up the wing nut bolt into the slot, and turn the pipe until it is at the desired angle, then tighten the wingnut. To cut the slots, I drilled a hole at the bend, and a hole at the end of the channel. I then cut it out with a hacksaw.

[Rocket Pic][Rocket Pic]

I cut my chain link endpost section to 3'6". his was before I knew that welding rod comes in 4' lengths. Because the rods and legs store inside the tube, I had to cut 6" off each rod. If you use Estes, rods, which break down into two section, your pad can be a sort as the legs. My legs are 2-1/2' long. This is a 10' piece of conduit cut into four equal lengths. Since the conduit costs $1.54 per 10' piece, I figured this would be a good length.

I drilled the holes for the rods all the way through the pipe. I then found some small clamps in my junk box (not shown) to hold the rods above and below the pipe. And there it is. The whole thing assembles in about a minute, and all parts store inside the main pipe. It is heavy, but it will hold HPR birds with no problem. And it is cheap.

I would love to hear from visitors of any useful modifications or other cool cheap pad designs of their own. I will use this section of my site to present these designs to rocketeers everywhere.

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07/01 - "I've been looking for a launch pad like this one on-line for days. This pad is awesome and I can't wait to build mine. I only wish I would have come up with the idea." (D.H.)


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