Model rocketry and electronics go hand-in-hand. While it's entirely possible to launch a model rocket the old-fashioned way - light blue touch paper and retire - it's more common to see electronic ignition systems alongside on-board telemetry packages, just like full-scale rockets. It's the latter which forms the focus of maker Calum Macintosh's latest Instructable: an Arduino-powered rocket data logger, also suitable for use with other aircraft including drones, quadcopters, and balloons.
Based around the popular Arduino Pro Mini, Calum's design focuses on reducing weight. The heavier a rocket is, the larger the motor required to launch it - and the more fuel is expended in the process. This is as true for model rockets as it is for full-scale versions: everything that gets launched into space has to be account for, and a small increase in weight makes for a big increase in fuel. Despite boasting a fully-functional inertial measurement unit (IMU) and Bluetooth radio for connection to a smartphone - a wire tether being somewhat incompatible with a rocket soaring into the sky - Calum's design weighs just 35g and logs data to a micro-SD card for later review.
The project doesn't end with the data logger, though: Calum walks the reader through building an entire model rocket, based around D-size motors - the seventh-largest model rocket motor - and featuring a design put together in the popular Sketchup 3D modelling program. Even if you've never considered launching your own rocket, it makes for a great introduction to the subject - and an excellent launching point (sorry) for breaking into the hobby.
This Instructable will show you how to make a model rocket with a data logger payload. The data logger uses an Arduino Pro Mini and a GY-86 IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit - typically used in quadcopters) to record altitude, temp, pressure and G-force. The data is stored on an SD card and also broadcast via a Bluetooth module. The live data can be seen on your Android smart phone using an app called Talking Serial Monitor.