Step 7: Make a Launch Trigger

closeup of spring mechanism made from 2-liter bottle middle, zip ties, 1.5-in. PVC tubing and string
Photo: Ask This Old House TV
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Using scissors, cut the top and bottom off a 2-liter soda bottle. Flatten the bottle section without creasing it and cut a 1¼-inch hole through both sides. This spring will hold the trigger in position until you're ready to launch.

Drill a small hole in the side of a short scrap of 1½-inch PVC pipe. Thread the end of a 4-foot piece of string through the hole and tie a knot on it to keep it from coming out. This pipe is the trigger.

Remove the bottle from the end of the pipe. Slide the plastic spring onto the pipe, over the cable ties, and up against the pipe clamp. Then slide the 1½-inch PVC scrap over the pipe and cable ties. Thread the string through the holes in the plastic spring. Tape the other end of the string securely to the pipe with duct tape.

Test this trigger mechanism by pulling on the string. The PVC trigger should drop, allowing the cable ties to open up. When you let go of the string, the spring should push the trigger up and over the cable tie ends.
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    Tools List

    • hacksaw
      hacksaw
    • drill
      drill/driver fitted with a ½-inch bit
    • adjustable pliers
      pliers
    • utility scissors
      scissors

    Shopping List

    1. 10-foot length of ½-inch PVC pipe
    2. ½-inch PVC tee
    3. two ½-inch PVC end caps
    4. 2-inch-long scrap of 1½-inch PVC pipe
    5. PVC pipe cleaner
    6. PVC pipe cement
    7. replacement valve for a tubeless tire
    8. plastic cable ties, aka zip ties
    9. birthday candle
    10. duct tape
    11. clamp for 1½-inch hose
    12. two 2-liter soda bottles
    13. string (regular twine or cotton string is fine)