Experimental Rocketry



Home   ||   High Power Rocketry   ||   Experimental Rocketry 


  This is the index to my experimental rocketry pages.  Experimental Rocketry is now referred to as Research Rocketry by Tripoli.  It is also referred to as Amateur Experimental Rocketry.  Currently these pages explain homemade model rocket motors homemade high power rocket motors (or engines if you prefer).  This web site currently focuses on sugar propellant using potassium nitrate (KNO3) and sugar -- sucrose, dextrose, sorbitol, xlyitol, erythritol, etc. -- often called caramel candy propellant or fuel, sugar propellant, rcandy, rocket candy, and others.  I have specialized in smaller rocket motors using PVC for the motor casing and quickset concrete such as Rockite or Durham's Water Putty nozzles and using a recrystallized method of making propellant.  Recrystallization is nothing more than dissolving the components in water to mix the ingredients and then driving off the water by heating.  I work on these web pages frequently and add additional pages frequently so check back often.  The latest additions (March 2008) are the pages on the law, wirewound igniters, and my projects, plans, and direction.  


Overview, Discussion
and Details

Rocketry Overview

Types of Rocketry

Model Rocketry

High Power Rocketry

Experimental Rocketry

Rocket Motor Basics

Motor vs. Engine

Rocket Propellant

How a Motor Works

The de Laval Nozzle

Propellant Configuration

Inhibited Surfaces

Ejection Charge



Types of Propellants

Compressed propellant


Black Powder


Composite Propellant

Propellant Preparation Methods



Mortar and Pestle

Coffee Mill

Ball Mill

Dry Compressed

Black Powder

Sugar & KN


Dry & Wet Heating

Cold Mixing


Caramel Candy Propellant


Basic Formula

Alternate Formulas

Corn Syrup


Iron Oxide

Methods of preparation

Dry Heated

Dissolved & Heated

Heating Methods

Directly on a Burner

Double Boiler on a stove

Kitchen Oven

Toaster Oven

Electric Skillet or Wok

Deep Fryer

Double Boiler in a deep fryer


Casings, Nozzles, & Headers

Casing Types




Nozzles & Headers


Compressed Bentonite Clay

Quick-Set concrete

Retention Methods for Concrete

Caps & Other Fittings

Circumferential Holes

I.D. Ring


Screws / Pins


Ignition & Igniters

Ignition Time.  What's the Difference?

Anatomy of an Igniter

How an Igniter Works

Igniter Calculations

Current and Power

Battery Draw Down


Example Igniters

Electric Matches and Igniters


The Law

4-4-2008 -- This is being re-written.




The Science, Equations & Math


Free 1979 Homemade Black Powder Rocket Motor Manual

"How To" Pages & Experiments

Designing Rocket Motors

What is your motive?

What is your purpose?

Design Tables Instead of Motor Design

Three approaches to motor design

What you need to know

Design a 1" PVC Motor

Propellant Properties and the Burn Rate Formula

Other Formulas


Motor Design Tables

PVC Motor Specs for Sucrose Propellant

Motor Designations by Size & Grains

1/2" Motors with 1/4" Bore (1,2,3,4,5 Grain)

3/4" Motors with 1/4" Bore (1,2,3 Grain)

3/4" Motors with 3/8" Bore (4,5,6 Grain)

1" Motors with 3/8" Bore (1,2,3,4 Grain)

1" Motors with 1/2" Bore (5,6 Grain)

1-1/4" Motors with 1/2" Bore (1,2,3,4 Grain)

1-1/4" Motors with 5/8" Bore (5,6 Grain)

1-1/2" Motors with 1/2" Bore (1,2,3 Grain)

1-1/2" Motors with 5/8" Bore (4,5)


Inhibitor Sleeves

What are Inhibitor Sleeves?

Why are Inhibitor Sleeves Used?

How to Make Inhibitor Sleeves


Grain Casting Fixture

Casting Types

Casting Fixture Goals

Fixture Design

Fixture Fabrication


Propellant & Grain Preparation

Setup Grain Mold and Supplies

Propellant Preparation

Weigh Your Ingredients

Stir the Mix

Blurping Stage

Mashed Potato Stage

Casting Stage

Cast grains

When is it ready?

The Casting Process


Finished Grains

Desiccator -- storage


Casings and Motor Preparation


ID Rings & Fittings

Circumferential holes

Nozzle Mandrel

Forming the Nozzle

Sealing the Nozzle

Loading Propellant Grains

Time Delay



Homemade Wire-Wound Igniters


NC Laquer

Black Powder

Mixing the Pyrogen

The Lead Wire

The Igniter Wire (Bridge Wire)

Wrapping and Soldering the Wire

To Solder or Not to Solder

Applying the Pyrogen

Dryng the Igniters

Safety Short the Leads

Modifications for Larger Motors

Firing a 9V Igniter


Misc. Tables

PVC Pipe Schedule 40

PVC Pipe Schedule 80

Standard Gauges for Wire and Sheet

Electrical Resistivity of Selected Metals and Alloys

Current vs Temperature (current required to heat nichrome wire to a specific temperature)


Testing & Test Fixtures



My Projects, Plans, & Direction

What Exists

Large Composite Propellant, PVC Pipe Motors -- John Wickman

Black Powder, Paper Casing Motors -- David Sleeter

Sugar Propellant, Metal Casing -- Richard Nakka

Sugar Propellant, PVC Casing --

Dan Pollino, Chuck Knight, Jimmy Yawn

Where are the holes?

Small Reliable PVC Sugar Motors

Batch Fabrication

Nozzle Types and Retention Methods

Best Method to Make Propellant

Ratio Differences Quantization and Characterization

End Burning Motors

Other Combinations

Other Questions

Effect of Caramelization

Effects of Time on Propellant

Strength of Casings and Nozzle Material

Test Methods

Future Developments

Steerable Parachute Recovery

Mile High Rocket

Brown Iron Oxide & End Burners

Caramelization Effects


Retention Experiments




Home   ||   High Power Rocketry   ||   Experimental Rocketry        

Amateur Radio Licence: KE7QMV

ATF LEUP: 9-WA-077-34-1E-00686