High power rocketry is similar to model rocketry, except you are building rockets that exceed the legal limit for model rocketry by total rocket weight or amount of propellant. I have achieved both a Level 1 and Level 2 High Power Certification from the National Association of Rocketry. Both certifications require building a rocket and the Level 2 certification also requires passing a written exam about safety, rocket building practices, and legal guidelines. These certifications allow me to build rockets with larger weights and larger propellant amounts. I hope to pursue my Level 3 Certification in the coming years.
During high school, I became involved in rocketry. I launched my first high power rocket to achieve a level 1 certification and with that certification broke Mach 1. These were small builds, no more than 4 ft tall and 54 mm in diameter; not including fins. I employed fiberglassing and 3d printing in these builds but it was fairly limited and the construction methods I used were more standard practice.
My level two build began late senior year of high school and I finished the summer after my freshman year of college. There was a test launch in the summer before my freshman year with a motor roughly half the size of the final launch. For my Level 2 build the rocket was roughly 8 ft tall and 4.5 in diameter. It has a see-through nose cone to hold a camera, two parachutes, and two payload bays.
For my level two build, I decided to challenge myself and experiment with different construction challenges. My level 2 rocket; MDX Heavy; is made of standard materials to include Blue Tube and large portions of 3d prints and fiberglassing. I decided I wanted a tapered rocket base. This allowed me to lower my center of pressure and thus have a larger nose payload. The tapered piece is actually a 2 part 3d printed assembly roughly 10 inches in length that was glued into the fin can. It acts as a motor tube and centering rings and is significantly lighter than a plywood construction which is the standard. The entire fin can and fins are fiberglassed to reduce damage on landing.
All the bulkheads are plywood but instead of being permanent I used threaded inserts that can be removed if they need to be replaced or if the body tube needs to be replaced. To go along with the replaceability of the bulkheads the couplers are also mounted on with custom 3d printed brackets that allow me to replace them in case I get zipper damage from the shock chords.
The electronics bay is probably my proudest piece of design. It has three different sleds designed to hold the electronics. It has a battery sled that can hold two nine volt batteries. Currently, it only needs one but could be set up to use the second as a backup or to run future electronics. It also holds a jolly logic (Bluetooth enabled sensor) as well as an ejection timer and flight controller. The ejection timer is only necessary if I wanted a 4th charge as the main flight controller can run two separate charges and the motor can run one. I designed all of the electronics bay parts specifically for the electronics I wanted.
The nose cone while unconventionally flat, was on purpose. I use an acrylic dome to act as a nose cone which then holds a GoPro. This gives dizzying footage going up and a view of all the body sections on the way down and I’ve included a video from the level 2 launch of the rocket. Finally, There is a payload bay at the top of the rocket that can hold up to a quarter pound payload even with the GoPro in the nose cone.