Amazing Backyard Rocket Ship Tree House


If you thought you had a cool tree house as a kid, think again. Tasked with landscaping his back yard and building a tree house for his son, [Jon] decided to go all out and build him a rocket ship instead.

Rising 15 feet into the Seattle skyline, the tree house known as the Ravenna Ultra-Low-Altitude Vehicle (RULAV), is sure to be the envy of every kid in the neighborhood. [Jon] and a friend worked for well over a year on their creation, welding, grinding, painting, and riveting their way along. After the structure was built, they fabricated some custom PCBs, using them to build the ship’s 14 control panels. The entire operation is controlled by a custom OS built to run on the three ATmega MCUs that manage operations.

Not content with just a handful of knobs and switches, the ship contains over 800 LEDs among its laundry list of electronics goodies. Compressed air is used to shoot water from positioning “thrusters”, while a paint mixer spins under the ship to simulate the rough and bumpy nature of space travel. The simulated launches are capped off with plenty of authentic NASA-style audio and a sub woofer that gives everything a deep, resonating rumble.

The project is truly amazing, and a ton of work went into every little detail in order to make this the most spectacular tree house ever seen. [Jon] definitely takes the award for “Coolest Dad Ever” for this build, even we’re jealous!

The pictures certainly don’t do it justice, so be sure to check out the video below for a quick introduction and demo of this awesome project.

Thanks to [Jeremy Elson] for the tip.


26 thoughts on “Amazing Backyard Rocket Ship Tree House

  1. he should integrate a monitor in there, would be fun to have a flight simulator that showed visual feed back on a monitor instead of a matrix of 7-segs.

    but otherwise, most badass thing. ever.

  2. I have nothing but respect for what this guy did, and it definitely belongs on HAD…

    but I can’t help but feel like I would be so disappointed to get this as a kid. It really only serves one novelty function, a fake launch. It doesn’t provide much of a play space for the kid to entertain friends, or any of the things kids traditionally do in tree houses.

    After ten launches, I would get bored with all the special effects and just wish I had a zip line and a place to trade comics with my buddies.

    If the submitter is reading, I am genuinely curious as to whether the novelty of the build wore off with your son, and if any of my concerns are applicable here?

    It is a really cool build, I just wonder if it was designed more for the dad than the son.

  3. First a great project
    @biozz yea minus the tree, but the elevated play platforms have been called tree house for decades now. An every decreasing percentage of home have trees suitable for a tree house, so the tree has to be manufactured.

    The size of the craft is such that a fold up stairs, could have been used. At 15 feet a CB antenna. and or a FRS transceiver with extended audio lines could be put on top. That way the crew in the craft can communicate with the crew exploring the “planet”. In years to come the crew can bring occupants back to the craft for medical “research”, city kids don’t have barn lofts like farm kids. Perhaps the reason for the privacy killing,and uncomfortable expanded metal floor? I wonder if Jon has a man cave other than his shop, and if so what it looks like

  4. Awesome, awesome, AWESOME!

    Some ideas & suggestions:
    1. How a NASA paint job – all white with black panels so that ground control can more readily observe spin?

    2. How about a “lunar lander” type game that uses the joystick for input. Switch on the paint mixer for “touchdown”. Harder landing = more shake. Crash landing = I don’t know. I bet Dad could think up something good.

    3. I like the idea of an FRS radio system. Put one in the house, too so that “mission control” can call Neil & Buzz in for dinner.

    4. Want to adopt another kid? I’m 53, going on 11…

  5. That is epic. Cool dad. I just hope this kid has friends to share it with!

    I am in no way knocking this but when I was a kid we built our own tree fort/houses, that’s what made them really fun. Knowing it was our own creation in our own special hidden area. My friends and I built multiple clusters of tree houses and tied them together with planks and rope guides. We took the wood sand nails from a nearby suburb development.

    If the dad is here: Did your kid help you build any of this?

  6. I was reminded of a after school activity in Roskilde, where the parents got hold of a Draken AR-105 plane, mouned it on top of the roof of the roof on a hydraulic gimble, and got to work connecting it to a MS flightsim package. I can’t find any pictures, nor any updates, but you can see it on google earth, sitting on top of the roof.,+Roskilde,+Danmark&aq=&sll=55.645655,12.11144&sspn=0.001084,0.003449&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Pr%C3%A6stemarksvej+45,+4000+Roskilde,+Denmark&ll=55.647616,12.111225&spn=0.009469,0.027595&t=h&z=15&iwloc=A

    (zoom all the way in)

    Maybe the spaceshuttle could be coupled with a space simulator? Just needs some hydraulic pumps and monitors.

  7. BALLONBOY 2 – The Return of a hoax You saw first on HAD.

    As someone who lives <30miles from that whole BALLONBOY incident in Colorado, it was the first thing I thought of.

    The kid in me says "I waited a Year for this?", Okay dad thanks.__Now make me a platform and roof 15 feet in that tree over there.

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