Fun & Games Rockets Science
Rocket motor design software
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BurnSim ($39) is a solid rocket motor ballistic simulation program (Windows only) now in its third version.

In a nutshell, input your motor, nozzle and propellant characteristics and BurnSim calculates the Kn (kilonewton) through the burn and predicts estimated chamber pressure and motor performance. Once your motor design is in BurnSim, you can tweak the parameters such as nozzle diameter or grain core diameter and instantly see how the Kn, chamber pressure, and motor thrust is affected. BurnSim will also optimize your nozzle design.

BurnSim 3.0

4 thoughts on “Rocket motor design software

  1. As you might be able to tell from the website verbiage, this is a pretty nice simulator for people who know what they’re doing. If you really want to get into motor building, go for it, but do your research, ask questions, don’t cut corners. To be blunt, sloppy or only partially informed execution will likely result in what is euphemistically called a “bad day”.

    In contrast, Model rocketry and High Power Rocketry use manufactured motors, and have an excellent safety record. Unless you really are into building your own, it’s a lot less trouble and risk to buy them. (No judgment here, just listing options for the interested).

    This would be classified as Amateur Rocketry, which is a separate category, and not for the faint of heart. Or the stupidly gonzo either.

    I’ve read too many news stories of the rocket engine/fuel dude who blew him self up and/or burned the house down due to a small error in motor manufacturing in his garage (which isn’t a good place for this begin with). All that said, if you approach it with rigor and educate yourself (there are classes available, usually about once a year) it can be safely done. But if you’ve never dealt with a hazardous undertaking (i.e. welding gases, explosives, fireworks, etc.) Or live in an apartment, I’d really suggest that you go for a high power rocketry certification first, and think hard about it before jumping in.

    My own experience, which includes haz-mat and most of the things listed above, combined with home ownership, has decided me to limit any motor dabbling to very small hybrids or sugar motors, if I ever get around to even that. But I’ll have a shed away from the house for such activity. And a type III Magazine for storage. And a really big fire extinguisher of the correct type. And a LEUP permit from BATF…

    Or more likely, I won’t. Too many hobbies, too little time. Not really my “burning” desire, but I salute others in their pursuit of happiness and an efficient thrust/weight ratio.

    Happy skies-
    -RG

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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