Let's Make Robots!

Rocket launching robot - video now also on Youku available

Launching model rockets and track back the landing site of the rocket

Hi everybody,

Just working on the second version of my model rocket launching robot. The first version was remote controlled (see video), the second version is controlled by a 28-pin microcontroller from PICAXE.


The image above shows the PICAXE project board, the voltage regulator board, the control panel, the power dual h-bridge and the 27 MHz-receiver. The nose cone of the rocket will be equipped with a 27 MHz-transmitter, to transmit data from the rocket to the robot. The 27 MHz-transmitter/receiver is from a toy RC car. The transmitter was rebuilt space saving on a perfboard, modified to run with a lower voltage and additional equipped with a bright flashing LED to indicate the trajectory visual better:

On the servo will be a Sharp distance sensor and a directional antenna mounted, so it's possible that the rover not only launch the rocket automatically but also track back then the landing site of the rocket.

The two front wheels of the rover have already been manufactured:

To launch the rocket, the micro switch has to be in the right position and the pushbutton has to be pressed. After a short warning beep the count down starts, then again five short warning beeps before the rocket will be launched. The red LED indicates if the igniter is connected:

The robot is furthermore equipped with a small wireless CMOS cam, which transmits videos to a laptop in a range of approximately 50 m.






The robot got motors & wheels...

 Sharp distance sensor...


and it's rear wheel resp. rear ball...

The program for the robot is already written; as soon as the launch pad of the rover is finished, a test video will follow.





Decided to add bump sensors on the robot:

IR, sonar and lasers have blind spots with no coverage. And even Soviet Mars walking robot PrOP-M had bump sensors:





Using now the 315 MHz RX/TX Radio Frequency (RF) Link Modules from Sparkfun to transmitte data from the rocket to the rover:





My Estes RTF SkyTrax model rockets arrived today. I built in the transmitter. I use a 3.6 Li-Ion battery as power supply (from a small battery screw driver).The battery fits (after some modifications) perfect in the nose cone:

A bright blue flashing LED hopefully indicates the trajectory and landing site better...

Ok, who remember not Rambo's famous quote:

Hamid: What's that?

Rambo: It's blue light.

Hamid: What does it do?

Rambo: It turns blue.


Additional a signal will be send to the robot. In the moment the robot only response with a beep and a flashing LED if the signal will be received. Transmitting of temperature, pressure, radiation, photo, video, position etc. would be thinkable.

The total weight of the rocket with battery, transmitter and C6-4 engine is 134 g. The recommanded max. liftoff weight for a C6 rocket is 113.2 g, so the rocket will not reach the estimated altitude of 213 m with a C6 rocket engine, approximately only 150 m.





Today I finished the rocket launching robot:

Ready for outdoor test run and rocket launch. Stay tuned for the video...





Outdoor test video of RLR - drive on rough surface, rocket launch and tracking of the rocket landing site: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSD16a32keo


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Nice one.  Would there be any advantage to making your wheelbase longer / wider for a more stable run. 

Looking at the distance the payload travelled I wonder if your launch pad was truely horizontal / vertical - do you check somehow to ensure that the launch pad is horizontal when selecting your launching position?



Thanks, Pete :) I had no problem with the wheelbase regarding stability. The launch rod ( Ø 3 mm stainless steel) and rocket are shaking a little bit too much. I think I will use a kind of trail for the next version. The rocket in the video was launched vertical (90°). The launch pad is adjustable from 45° to 90°. Now only manual, later a servo will do the job, controlled by a inclination sensor, so the launch pad will always be in the right position, independed from the inclination angle of the rover. BTW, the launch angle should be not less then 60° to avoid sombody get hit/hurt by the rocket.

Wow, thanks for sharing your work with us in such great detail. The picture tutorial is amazing. I really enjoyed checking it out and will be back to see how far you have come and what else you are doing.

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Hi fine project............

May i know.......... 

how much you had spent for the rocket? 

For the robot I have not selected a rocket till know. Probably I will go for Estes RTF model rocket SkyTrax, easy to fly and some place in the nose cone for the transmitter and battery. 

For the first R/C controlled prototype I used a Chinese model rocket, around 25 RMB, including rocket motor C6-4. BTW, not so easy to get model rockets in China. It's normally only allowed for educational use and reserved for schools and universities. And this in the country which invented the rocket :(

Just uploaded a first video of the robot - obstacle avoidance and ignition system tests.

Hey, I like your tactile sensor array, very crafty.
like the wolrds wobbliest mobile ICBM platform :D
Wait till you saw it in action, hehe :)