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Fly an iPhone on a Rocket and Collect Data

Data lovers, this week Make: Projects community member Mike Westerfield shared a pair of intriguing how-tos detailing how to fly a TI SensorTag and an iPhone on a model rocket to find acceleration, rotation, and pressure, then collect and analyze the data using a Bluetooth link to the iPhone and techBASIC. He includes plans for building the neat little balsa wood holder for the phone and sensor.

Love his intro:

It was a beautiful fall morning as I carefully packed the parachute, slid in the engine, and installed the igniter in my model rocket. I started the data collection program and slid the payload with a TI Bluetooth low energy SensorTag and an iPhone 4s into the payload bay.

Yes, an iPhone.

My wife’s iPhone.


Check out both how-tos:
iPhone Flies on a Rocket
Analyze Data from iPhone Rocket Flights

And Mike’s accompanying video:

34 thoughts on “Fly an iPhone on a Rocket and Collect Data

  1. Why didn’t he drill a couple of holes in the body and record a bit of video, too? Other than that, cool idea, but I woulden’t fancy using something as pricey as an Iphone…

    1. There are two versions of the rocket. The one that collects data the best flies the iPhone with the SensorTag, but the second version just flies the SensorTag, leaving the iPhone safe in your hands during the flight.

      I’ll get the plans for the other one up soon. Meanwhile, you can find out about both and see the data here:


  2. Wow.. but I feel kinda sorry with the ipod though. I’m still new to this tech stuff and I’m really interested in what does “Rocket Flight Analysis” do?

    Will really appreciate an answer. Thanks!

    1. Vance: You can find more about the Rocket Analysis program in this [|Maker project] or in this [|blog]. Drop me a note at the Byte Works support address if you have any questions or issues; you can find the link on the [|Byte Works support page].

  3. It is great to see such a creative use of the SensorTag!
    We had 100’s of creative use cases when the SensorTag was designed, but none that would be used it in this type of application. Thanks to Mike and Byte Works for the great video and blog, we look forward to seeing more. Regards from TI’s SensorTag team. More information at

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  5. While I love this idea, I can’t help but remember my days of model rocketeering. I had more than a couple rockets literally burst into flames during the second or third stage! Poor, overpriced iPhone!

    1. Wow. I’ve only had one burst into flames. :)

      But yes, I think its best to use a retired iPhone when possible. Many of us have an old phone sitting around, although not many that do Bluetooth LE (yet). I used an old one for my recent iPhone video project, for example. There is also an alternative to this project that only flies the SensorTag,and not the iPHone. And then, there’s always the option of using your wife’s iPhone instead of your own! ;)

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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