Last spring [Mike] built a foam rocket launchpad which was a hit with the kids in his neighborhood. But the launch system was merely a couple of buttons so the early enthusiasm quickly wore off. He went back to the drawing board to make improvements and really hit the jackpot!
The original launch system had one button for building up air pressure with a second big red button of doom for launching the rocket. The problem was a complete lack of user feedback; all the kids could do is guess how long they needed to hold the button to achieve the highest launch. This revision adds flashing LEDs to hold the attention of the wee ones but to also function as a gauge for the new pressure control system. The visually fascinating control board also includes a removable key to prevent accidental launches.
The particulars of this are as you’d expect: it’s a bunch of plumbing to manage the air pressure, an Arduino to control it all, and additional electronics in between to make them work together.
We’re especially impressed by the leap in features and quality from the first version to this one. It’s a testament to the power of quick proofs-of-concept before committing to a more involved build. Great work [Mike]!
We’ve seen rocket launchers for adults and some neat mission control panels but [Mike’s] kid friendly launch controller really is out of this world (sorry, couldn’t resist). You’ll find a video demo of this launcher after the break.