High power rocket construction: part 2 (e-bay)

This post is largely meaningless because I’m not actually including any electronics into this rocket, at least for its first flight. I should probably have titled it “How to build an electronics bay without any electronics.”


Electronics bay wooden sled
Starting point for building e-bay: the sled

So first, what the hell is an e-bay?

An electronics bay (or “e-bay” for short) is where you attach any electronics that you want to fly in your rocket. It’s also sometimes called an avionics bay.

What kinds of electronics would you want to fly? Well, there are a lot, and it can get pretty interesting. A few examples of things are:

  • Altimeter. Measures the maximum height of the rocket (i.e. its apogee).
  • Explosive charge. If you put black powder on the outside of the e-bay and wire it up with some electronics on the inside, you can manually detonate the charge and cause the rocket body to separate on descent, for another parachute. This is called dual deployment, as you’re deploying two parachutes.
  • Camera. A GoPro camera can be installed on the outside of the rocket body, wired to electronics stored inside the e-bay.
E-bay mostly assembled: sled and coupler tube
E-bay mostly assembled: sled and coupler tube

The e-bay is actually pretty easy to assemble. It’s just a few pieces of wood, and some metal screws, washers, and nuts. You start by gluing together the wooden “sled,” and then sliding two very long metal screws through the slots, along one side. Each end has a circular piece of wood with an eyebolt (which can hook to other things like shock cords and parachutes) and it all stays together with some washers and nuts.

E-bay completed and assembled.
E-bay complete! Minus any electronics.

Now, if I actually had any electronics in this thing, it’d be more interesting. But I built it anyway for two very important reasons:

  1. It’s necessary to act as a coupler and keep the rocket body together so it can fly in one piece. Without this, there’s nothing to connect the top and bottom halves of the rocket.
  2. I plan to add electronics to this rocket for future flights.

So there you have it. Not your granddad’s e-bay.