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Model Rocket Engines
Since the 1950s, model rocketry has been a wonderful hobby that has been enjoyed by many people. It provides an excellent way to bring a family together. In addition to this, it is a great way to inspire young people into learning more about science and engineering.
However, before you get too involved in the hobby, it is a good idea to have a basic idea of just how model rocket engines work. By understanding how these engines work, you will be able to select the perfect engine for your model rockets. Then you will be able to enjoy the hobby of model rocketry and be well on your way to exploring the cosmos.
Types of Engines for Model Rockets and How They Work
When it comes to the various types of motors used in model rockets, the most common type of model rocket engine is blackpowder. These engines are built from thick paper tubes capped on one end and filled with a blackpowder propellant charge. The open end of the rocket is fitted with a clay exhaust port. The blackpowder engine is usually lit through the exhaust port. As the propellant burns, the rocket flies skyward until the propellant has finished burning. At this point, the ejection charge fires and the model rocket's parachute is deployed so that it can safely return to Earth.
Another common motor used by model rocket enthusiasts is the composite engine. A composite engine is constructed in the same way a blackpowder model rocket engine is made, but it is made with a high temperature resistant plastic casing instead. The fuel also differs in that it is a pellet-like material that is similar in power and consistency to the fuel found in the full-scale Space Shuttle solid rocket booster engines. For hobbyists wanting the most realistic model rocket experience available, a rocket that uses a composite engine offers an experience that is as close as you can get to the real thing without going through astronaut training.
Properly Fitting a Model Rocket Engine
Now that you have an idea about the types of engines available and the concepts behind how they function, you need to know just how to properly fit a model rocket engine into your rocket. To properly fit a model rocket with its engine, you need to first place the closed end of the engine into the rocket. Once this is done, you need to then make sure that the engine is fully seated into the rocket with the clay or polymer exhaust port venting out of the rear of the rocket.
If the engine is not properly seated in the model rocket, you may need to place a couple of small pieces of tape over the end of the rocket in order to secure the engine into place. After doing this, use a small knife to cut a hole in any tape that may be blocking the rocket's exhaust port. This will allow you to place the ignition source into the exhaust port so that the rocket can be launched. Once this is done, the rocket is ready to be placed on its launch pad and fired.
Sources of Ignition for Model Rocket Engines
Model rocket engines typically have two types of sources for ignition. One type uses a set of electrical wires that have a small explosive charge fitted to the end of the wires that is placed in the clay exhaust port. The other type of model ignition source uses a device similar to a cannon fuse that slowly burns until it ignites the model rocket engine. Both ignition sources are very effective, although the electrical ignition device is usually safer as it gives the user complete control of when a model rocket's engine will be ignited.
Sizes of Model Rocket Engines
Model rocket engines are rated with a size from ¼ A to K. The smallest engines start at the beginning of the alphabet with ¼ A rated engines being 10.5mm in diameter and 38mm in length. The sizes increase as you proceed down the alphabet with K engines being the largest at 54mm in diameter and 204mm in length. The most commonly used engines are the C and D rated types. Size C engines measure about 18mm in diameter and about 50mm in length, while Size D engines measure about 18mm in diameter and about 77mm in length. By understanding these sizes, you will be able to find the perfect engine for your rocket.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the fundamentals of model rocket engines, you are prepared to select a model rocket that fits your needs and equip it with the perfect engine. Overall, you are sure to find that your enjoyment from model rocketry will grow as you study more about this exciting hobby.