Dad-Built Rocket Control Module

Like a lot of parents, [justbennett]‘s kids like to play rocket and spaceship command. His kids’ imagination-assigned controls kept shifting from this LEGO to that banana to the dog’s tail, so [justbennett] did what he had to do: make this Dad-built rocket control module for them.

The module supports all of the vital sub-modules required for rocket and spaceship administration. There is a launch status indicator, an acceleration vector resonator (AVR), and a com-link. He used mostly parts on hand, and the Arduino count is zero. He built a NASA-grade Plexiglas enclosure to avoid juice box incidents. The two pieces are connected with aluminum angle bar so that he can make repairs or modifications.

The analogue joystick was a thrift store find. [Justbennett] wired the trigger and thumb buttons up as the AVR which activate a recycled PICAXE 08M project of his. The PICAXE senses the button pushes to flash an LED and play an ascending or descending tone. Long-pressing one button will result in an explosion noise as you might expect.

The launch status indicator is a potentiometer wired to a second PICAXE and three LEDs that light up in sequence. In the future, [justbennett] intends to add haptic feedback with a tiny vibration motor. The com-link packet messaging system is a Radio Shack recording module and two big, tempting buttons. The control module ships with a message from Star Command that explains the controls.

Cheap and easy top-down camera quadpod


We keep waiting for evolution to give us that third arm but in the mean time, this may be the solution for holding the camera while you document your projects. [DHagen] has made a four legged tripod (quadpod) for his camera in order to use it as a digital copy machine. We’ve spent many a night trying to get a steady and sharp video of an LCD or array of LEDs in action to document our weekend tinkering and this will make that all a lot easier.

His build uses materials that will total between $10-$20 at the hardware store down the street. A chunk of scrap wood is connected to the camera using a bolt in the threaded tripod hole of the camera. Two L-brackets are attached to the wood so that one is on either side of the camera lens. This leaves two mounting holes on either side of the lens to attach threaded rod using nuts. The assembly is capped off with a square of acrylic (plexiglas).

Quick and clean. It’s not the cheapest camera mounting solution we’ve seen, but it sure does a good job.