When I went to my first couple of launches, I noticed that a lot of people had stands to hold their rockets while they prepped them for flight. There were metal and wooden cradles that worked well. I also saw a PVC cradle that looked easier for me to build.
PVC pipe is easy to work with. It is like putting together tinker toys (that reference dates me, I know). As this rig will not be holding any water pressure, buy the PVC glue that does not need a primer. That eliminates a lot of the mess.
PVC Rocket Cradle
You can make this cradle with three or more upright supports. The more supports you use, the longer the cradle becomes. This cradle was built with 3/4-inch PVC. I think it is the perfect size as it is easy to cut and light enough to move around easily.
- Approximately, 16 feet pipe ( I had some in the shop and bought a 10-foot piece)
- Cross connectors – 4 each
- 90-degree elbow connectors – 4 each
- Tee connectors (not in the picture below) – 4 each
- End caps – 8 each
- 6 feet of foam pipe insulation
- Tie wraps
- Cut the pipe for the crossed uprights. I cut these to a length of 6 inches.
- Cut the pipe for the runners on the bottom of the cradle. I cut these to a length of 12 inches.
- Glue the four six inch tubes into each of the crosses.
- On each cross, glue a cap on two adjacent arms.
- YOU ARE DONE WITH THE GLUE. I just pressure fit the rest of this for a couple of reasons. The first reason is you can then take it apart to pack it for a launch. The other reason is that if you glue the rest of it together, it is VERY likely the parts will not align and you will have an uneven cradle.
- On two of the crosses, slide 90 degree elbow connectors on to the two free arms.
- On the other two crosses, slide the tee connectors on to the two free arms.
- Now connect a cross with the elbow connectors to a cross with the tee connectors using the 12-inch tubes.
- Next, attach the last cross with the elbow connectors to the assembly.
- Finally, attach the last cross with tee connectors to the assembly.
- Set the cradle on the ground, and twist it to get it to sit flat.
- Cut the pipe insulation to fit the arms that will touch the rocket. Attach each piece with two tie wraps.
- I had extra pipe insulation so I added it to four of the runners at the bottom of the cradle.
- Crack open a beer and celebrate a job well done.