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.

9 thoughts on “Dad-Built Rocket Control Module

  1. An awesome dad!
    This reminds me of a traffic light intersection my dad build me in his spare-time when he went to the Gulf-war.
    Things like these are among the best memories I have.

    1. Yeah, this is the sort of thing kids remember their whole lives. Heck, wouldn’t surprise me if it fostered a life-long love of rocket stuff beyond idle play.

      Your dad made it back from the war ok, right? ;_;

  2. I think its great that Dad took an active interest into his kids fun, and helped to realize something for them in an interesting manner, but I do have to wonder if some small aspect of their imagination hasn’t been compromised?

    If before they were playing, imagining the layout and controls of the “ship” they piloted, that ship could have the controls anywhere, and they could do anything. They weren’t fixed with a singular layout, and the sound effects became whatever they could come up with…

    I liken this to a couple of things I have experienced (albeit this would be as an adult) – how your concept of characters change depending on whether you read a book then see a film adaptation of it, or vice-versa. Something always seems off; rarely does the author’s intent get translated to the screen completely or properly (sometimes not at all – Stephen King’s Lawnmower Man, for instance – two completely different works); if you watch the movie first, then read the book – the characters in the book take on the persona of the on-screen characters.

    Similarly – I find that when I watch anime, if I watch with english subs, I can’t watch it with english dub later – it doesn’t feel right to me (and vice-versa as well – I’ve found that I can’t watch the english sub version of the old anime “Warriors of the Wind” comfortably, because I first watched it in english dub when I was a child decades ago).

    Maybe as kids, it doesn’t matter as much, but I wonder…?

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