Stefan Jones

Stefan Jones

Latest from Stefan Jones


Last year I assembled a “Light Brick” kit (MAKE Magazine #18, Well, I actually just completed the circuit board. I had trouble finding the materials for the cast plastic “brick” locally. Then I found, in the trash, a “tea candle” lantern with frosted panels. The light brick panel, placed... Read more »


My new dog is terrified of fireworks. This wouldn’t be a problem outside of July 4th — if I didn’t fly model rockets. But she can’t tell the difference between an Estes B6-4 and a Joyous Family Whistling Fountain, so rockets terrify her too. This makes weekend trips to the... Read more »


Modern commercial igniters can send a rocket soaring with just a touch of current. When inserted properly they’re very reliable. Unfortunately, they are fragile, and folks new to the hobby sometimes ruin them by inserting them improperly. Packs of spares are expensive, and not all outlets carry them. There’s a... Read more »

This starter kit has been the standard introduction to high-power rocketry (motor types H and above) for 20 years, and for good reason. The Initiator rocket is big (39″), looks sharp, and can handle a wide variety of motors with its 29mm reloadable motor casing. You can put the kit together... Read more »

Astra 1

Hobby rocketry leader Estes Industries makes more than a dozen inexpensive launch sets (launch pad/rod, launch controller) for beginners, but their included rockets are either pre-built or not much of a challenge. For a good first build, I’d instead suggest the Quest Astra 1. Its balsa fins are mounted “through... Read more »

Hi-Tech H45

If you want a more challenging high-power build experience, I like the Hi-Tech H45 kit. It’s big (2.63″ diameter and 49″ tall), with sturdy plywood fins and a durable plastic nose cone, and it can handle motor types F through I. I got my first high-power certification on this model back... Read more »

Big Daddy

A few rungs up the ladder toward high power is Estes’ Big Daddy, a chunky, 3″- diameter model. While designed for D and E solid rocket motors, it can easily handle AeroTech’s 24mm F motors. It’s not much more difficult to build than the Astra, but bear in mind that an... Read more »