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50 Model Rocket Projects for the Evil Genius 1st Edition

14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0071469845
ISBN-10: 0071469842
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50 Model Rocket Projects for the Evil Genius + Handbook of Model Rocketry, 7th Edition (NAR Official Handbook) + PVC Rocket Engine: A do-it-yourself guide for building a K450 PVC plastic rocket engine.
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Editorial Reviews


This full-size (8" x 11") paperback book written by Gavin D. S. Harper was a fun read for this longtime rocketeer (since 1966). True to its title, the book is focused on various aspects of model rocketry and continually emphasizes safety. Even with fourteen years in HPR, I found the material interesting and informative. The projects and information described in the book vary from simple to quite complex. Projects include basic model rocketry, staging, clustering, launch systems, recovery systems, wind tunnels, payloads, and more. The work is well illustrated with both pictures and schematics. In addition to step-by-step instructions, there are good technical tips, and it is all written in an easy-to-follow order. There are also numerous other features in addition to "build" projects. A brief discussion of rocketry history starts the book, ranging from the invention of black powder to the U.S. manned moon landing. Real rocket science interspersed in each chapter simply but accurately explains much of the physics of rocketry. The more technical aspects of our hobby are presented toward the end of the book. These features include rocket math, flight computers, and camera rockets. This book works well with fun parent/child activities. Simple motors can be put together from 35mm film cans with propellant components such as vinegar and Alka-Seltzer tablets. More complex motors using hydrochloric acid with hydrogen peroxide are also detailed. The wind-tunnel segment was very practical, and I wish that I'd had this available in my younger years when designing my early models. Chapter 5 is a particularly valuable section for the beginner. There are descriptions and pictures of the construction techniques of all parts of a simple model rocket. It then goes on to cover multistage rockets, boost-gliders, cone rockets, and flying saucers. Probably the most difficult part of successful rocketry, whether it be of model or mid- or high-power, is the recovery system. Chapter 6 has a very good series of sections on various recovery methods and even includes a descent-rate table. The end of Chapter 6 includes articles on constructing strobes for night launches. Chapter 7 covers launching of model rockets. Again, some very good parent/child projects are described in word and illustration. Several practical launch controllers and pads are described, including construction of a tower launcher. More advanced items, such as clustering and igniters, are also detailed. The latter chapters discuss more advanced subjects, such as rocket math, aerial photography (still and movie), Barrowman stability, altitude determination, and flight computers. Some of the features I found most interesting were the items about making black powder and the explanation of nozzles and aerodynamics. The book is an easy read in both the length of each feature and the writing style. Do not expect any HPR information, simply enjoy the book for what it is: a good beginners guide that also is interesting to the experienced rocketeer. If you are a high power enthusiast who is into EX/research motors, ignore the warning on page 9 of the book. To find out what that is, check out 50 Model Rocket Projects for the Evil Genius. Rockets Magazine 20070801

From the Back Cover


Yes, it really is rocket science! These 50 projects offer thrills and chills to everyone who loves model rocketry, from, newcomers to countdown veterans. In fact, these 50 fantastic projects can turn a beginner into a model rocket expert, one project a time! And if you already are a sophisticated model rocket scientist, the more advanced projects provide plans, ideas, and inspiration guaranteed to launch you on new adventures in space!

Model rocket enthusiast Gaven Harper delivers everything you need, including complete, easy-to-follow plans; clear diagrams and schematics; and lists of parts and tools. 50 Model Rocket Projects for the Evil Genius gives you:

  • Illustrated instructions and plans for amazing pre-tested rocket projects The opportunity to discover, build, and deploy an onboard flight
  • A history of space exploration
  • Companion Web site with SpaceCAD software
  • Directions to get your own FREE model rocket
  • Coupons for saving money on model rocket components and kits

* Hydrogen-fueled rocket * Photographic rocket that takes pictures from space * Movie camera payload for film from space * Alien atmosphere tester * Your own UFO * Launch and ignition systems * Rocket motors and engines * Recovery and touchdown systems * Rocket tilt and rotation detectors * Exhaust temperature monitor * Split-stage timer * Speed and acceleration gauges * Much More!

GO TO: for:

  • Downloadable code from the book to help you launch your rocket
  • SpaceCAD software (a limited download)
  • Link to get your FREE model rocket!!!

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Product Details

  • Series: Evil Genius
  • Paperback: 198 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education TAB; 1 edition (August 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071469842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071469845
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.4 x 10.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #666,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gavin is the author of a range of books. He has written extensively on sustainable technologies. Many of his books contain practical projects, or experiments. His books have been sold internationally and translated into Italian, Chinese and Korean.

He lives near Machynlleth, Wales and is a Trustee of the Centre for Alternative Technology; an educational charity which seeks to inform the public about sustainable technologies.

Gavin holds two honours degrees in Engineering & Technology from the Open University. A Masters degree in Sustainable Technology from the University of East London, another in Renewable Energy from Loughborough University another in Business Research from Cardiff University and an MBA from Keele University.

He is concluding his Doctoral Research at Cardiff University into the Business Models Manufacturers are using to introduce Zero Emissions Vehicles to the UK and hopes to return to writing books again shortly afterwards!

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Richard A. Nakka on October 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
Despite its peculiar title, this book is worthwhile for those who wish to get more out of model rocketry than your average kit-builder. Welcome emphasis is placed on building parts from "scratch" as an alternative to simply buying "off-the-shelf". This approach to the hobby serves as an excellent transitional step from model rocketry to amateur experimental rocketry (AER), for those who later wish to pursue the ultimate in scratch-built rocketry. This book encourages the reader to explore beyond the conventional, through projects such as a self-made wind tunnel, launch controller, rail launcher, rocket cameras, flight computer, apogee sensors and other sensor projects. Details tend to be minimal, although this is likely intentional, leaving the reader to gain more benefits (and rewards) from the projects by using their own resourcefulness. A couple of nice touches to the book are the numerous historical accounts relating to various aspects of rocketry, and the emphasis placed on the importance of math to the rocketry hobby.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By calvinnme HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
The evil genius series of electronic hobbyist books tends to be a mixed bag of quality. Sad to say, this is not one of the better books in the series. It is way too elementary for any adult remotely interested in the science behind the hobby. For example, the chapter on rocket math is junior high school level and the chapter on the flight computer was woefully inadequate. The book is also short on explanations in general, and I found the illustrations to be lacking. If you want a really good book on model rockets, might I suggest the updated version of the "Handbook of Model Rocketry" by Stine and Stine. The senior Stine, G. Harry Stine, was a range safety officer at White Sands Missile Range who built and flew various model rockets in the 1950's and then devised a safety code for the activity based on his experience at the range. The instructions and diagrams are very clear, and the authors go the extra mile with technical details that are missing in Harper's book. The following is the table of contents for the Evil Genius book on rockets:

Chapter 1: History of Rocketry

Chapter 2: Rocket Science

Chapter 3: The Model Rocketeer's Workshop

Chapter 4: Model Rocket Stability

Chapter 5: Constructing Model Rockets

Chapter 6: Recovery Systems

Chapter 7: Launching Model Rockets

Chapter 8: Rocket Math

Chapter 9: Model Rocket Photography

Chapter 10: Model Rocket Movie Cameras

Chapter 11: Rocket Mail

Chapter 12: Introduction to the Flight Computer

Chapter 13: Educating with Model Rocketry

Chapter 14: Model Rocket Clubs


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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on November 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is an excellent place for the young evil genius to start thinking about rockets - with one exception.

First the exception. The first project is 'Making Black Powder.' DON'T. Black Powder is extremely sensitive. The slightest spark from a buildup of static electricity and you no longer have black powder, just a boom. Too many people have been killed by black powder to play with it. DON't, just DON't. On the next page he starts talking about commercially available rocket engines. Start here.

The book is a combination of descriptive information along with detailed projects. Perhaps the Evil Genius should start with a couple of kit rockets (such as the FREE model rocket you can order), but then this book will move him along to the next step. If nothing else, the armchair rocketeer will find the book to be fascinating reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JMGrant on October 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I volunteer at our local school, mentoring a science and technology after school program using model rocketry as a learning tool. Being an avid hobby rocketeer for more than 40 years, I've decided to broaden my own horizons, as well.

While looking for material to serve both interests, I stumbled across "50 Model Rocket Projects for the Evil Genius," by Gavin D.J. Harper. I was familiar with some of the other similarly titled books, but oddly, none of the local bookstores carry this title, so I ordered it on

Mr. Harper has taken an already exciting hobby and said, "Hey, if you think that's fun, try this!"

The name suggests this book is not written for the absolute beginner, true, but even though you do need experience to construct some of the more advanced projects, Mr. Harper has a writing style that anyone should be able to follow along with and get an idea of the skills they should be developing. By the same token, if you're an evil genius, you'll find a plethora of ideas that you probably never thought of, or that needed updating.

And as an instructor, you'll find another great resource of how you might share information and inspire your students to be competing in various arenas. Whether it's a science fair, industrial arts, or even an international category, this book definitely has ideas for some very competitive projects with enough information and detailed plans to get the project accomplished. And, where they'll shine, and what the competition should be about, is demonstrating their mastery of understanding and skills.

In short, Mr. Harper's "50 Model Rocket Projects for the Evil Genius" should inspire our children to learn, and give us old guard something new to experiment with; either way, it'll be a welcomed addition to anyone's library.
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