How to build a fiberglass rocket, part 6: e-bay

On to the electronics bay! My pride and joy.

Actually, though, I’m going to split this into two posts, just as I did with my last rocket build. Right now, I’m just putting together the frame of the e-bay – the exoskeleton, if you will – and later I’ll do a separate, longer post once I add all the electronics inside.

black circular aluminum bulk plate for e-bay
aluminum bulk plate

The basic components here include the 11 inch fiberglass tube (which acts as a coupler), a vent band or ring around the center of the tube, and an aluminum bulk plate on each end (see above for an unnecessarily zoomed-in picture of the bulk plate). The bulk plates are “stepped” with an edge or lip so that the inner part fits tightly inside the e-bay tube, and the outer edge with its slightly larger diameter prevents the bulk plate from being pushed any further and falling in. Basically the same concept as a sewer lid.

black circular aluminum bulk plate clamped to workbench with metal shavings
drilling through metal

Each bulk plate came with a pre-drilled hole in the center, but I needed to drill several more holes through the aluminum for the all-thread rods which run through the entire e-bay and connect the two ends together. A few tips for drilling through metal:

  • Use a drop of oil.
  • Go slowly – there’s no need to rush.
  • Wear protective eye gear – this process throws around metal shavings that could cause serious eye damage.
  • Clamp down the metal you are drilling through and make sure it’s secured.
bulk plates and all thread rods for e-bay
exoskeleton of the e-bay

With the drilling complete, I attached the basic hardware. Each side has a forged eyebolt going through the center, with washers on either side of the bulk plate and a nut to secure it. I also added a dab of epoxy on both sides just to hold everything in place permanently.

Then I inserted the all-thread rods through each bulk plate; they also have washers and nuts on either side of the plate. These aren’t meant to be secured permanently, however, as at least one side needs to be removable in order to access the interior of the e-bay and the sled with electronics.

red fiberglass e-bay on workbench
looking good

Above is a picture of the completed e-bay. Nothing too complicated – again, this is just the frame or skeleton of the e-bay, without the electronics inside. But you need to start with the outer part.

I’ll put together a more comprehensive article once I figure out the sled, flight computer and battery, switch, and wiring, along with the PVC pipe on the outside for storing black powder charges, just as I did for my previous e-bay.

But first, I’m going to finish building the rocket itself. Next up: the motor retainer.

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