SpaceX inspired edf rocket

A SpaceX inspired edf rocket with deployable landing gear, thrust vector control and a 6s 70mm 12 blade fan.

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In the beginning of this year I was really amazed by the fast and succesive achievements SpaceX made. So I decided I wanted to do a SpaceX related project. Being a SpaceX fan for a few year now, I decided to go for the Falcon 9 inspired look on my build. I'm referring to 'inspired' because i took some general proportion from the Falcon 9 rocket but had to make a lot of changes to get the "rocket" functional on the scale I was intending to build it. The "rocket" has a deployable landing gear, thrust vecrtor control unit and uses a 6s 70mm 12 blade fan capable of 2.5 kg of thrust. The thrust vector controll unit is being controlled by a Pixhawk X4 running Ardupilot V4.0.4 which is configured as a single copter. I'm essentially building a single copter in the shape of a rocket.

As mentioned above I decided to go for the Falcon 9 look but had to make some adjustments to turn this rocket into a functional one. The landing legs for example look very similar than the Falcon 9 booster landing legs but use a completely different way to deploy and retract them, simply because of the smaller scale i have to work with. I used standard 9g hobby servo's and designed a hinge mechanism to deploy and retract the legs, this means i had to make some cutouts in the body of the rocket in order for the legs to fold down nicely against the body of the rocket. All the legs are designed to lock in place once fully extended so there is no torque applied to the servos when the landing gear is under load, the forces of the landing gear are in line with the shaft of the servos once they are fully extended. 

Update 09-12-2020: after doing some more testing the landing gear seems to be not as durable as i would like it to be. I had to replace some servo's and a few 3D-printed arms broke during hard landings. I'm now looking into changing the servo's out for a small pneumatic system on the next version of this rocket. For now I'll just keep the landing gear fixed so i can proceed the testing with the current prototype.

STL and Fusion 360 source files can be found here:

The design and build video of the original landing leg system (using servo's) can be found here:

To control the speed of the landing legs and setup the max and min possitions for each leg I decided to create a small Arduino based PCB which was manufactured by JLCPCB, the sponsor of this project. The gerber files and Arduino code can be found in the files section of this project page.

I used a 6s 70mm 12 blade 2300kv electric ducted fan as thrust unit. This means I have to implement air inlets on top of the rocket, just beneath the nose/payload area of the rocket. The inside of the rocket needs to be as clean as possible in order for the air inside to flow uninterupted. So I decided to move all the signal and power cables, that run from the top of the rocket to the bottom, on the outside in a channel, this way there are no lose wires inside the body where the air needs to flow.

On the bottom side of the rocket there are 4 fins that control the direction of the air that's coming from the EDF unit. This in combination with the throttle control of the EDF enables the rocket to have 4 axis of control. These 4 fins, the thrust vector control unit, are being controlled by a Pixhawk PX4 flight controller running ardupilot that's configured as a single copter.

All the parts are designed using Autodesk Fusion 360, and are all printed with my Anet E12 and reprap prusa I3.

The maiden flight can be seen here: 

pixhawk config 11-09-2020 pid tune 1.param

Pixhawk configuration used for the rocket

param - 17.36 kB - 12/09/2020 at 18:05


Gerber_Landing leg controller V1

Gerber file for the landing leg controller pcb

x-zip-compressed - 39.22 kB - 08/16/2020 at 19:51



The arduino code for the landing leg controller (white pcb)

ino - 5.82 kB - 08/16/2020 at 19:47


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View all 6 project logs

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Lazytoad wrote 02/22/2021 at 16:46 point

Amazing job! Which firmware version are you use, Arduplane or Arducopter? and how these 4 servor functons configed in firmware?

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antony34952 wrote 01/31/2021 at 20:45 point

how did you bind the esc to the Pixhawk I cant connect mine for some reason, what wiring do you have for it 

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S-MAGNETIVE wrote 01/15/2021 at 23:42 point

Congrats, that was a pretty good tuning for the maiden flight. What’s the total weight of the rocket  with both the electronics onboard and only 3D printed body?

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amitav.kohli wrote 12/30/2020 at 16:04 point

Hi! Amazing work on the project, I am interested in building my own. By any chance could you provide a detailed diagram for the pixhawk flight controller and how it was wired? Also could you give a wiring diagram for the servos connected to the landing gear and how they were wired to the pcb and arduino? Thanks!

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lucasrozanski05 wrote 09/25/2020 at 13:04 point

I like this project a lot. I have been following it from the start. But, what are you using for control of the thrust vectoring? I have found no information on that. Please elaborate.

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Brian Brocken wrote 09/25/2020 at 20:06 point

I'm using a pixhawk PX4 flight controller, I will be updating this page in the following days.

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Spacejake wrote 08/28/2020 at 02:58 point

this is awesome!! I’ve been working on legs and grid fins but both rely on a charge to bust the elastic band. Love this build!

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Brian Brocken wrote 09/03/2020 at 14:55 point

Haha thanks man, yes i also saw some yt videos where they used elastic bands and a glow wire to burn through it but you can only use this once per flight, I think the landing gear should be as reusable as the rocket itself ;-)

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