Custom Bases Make LEGO Spacecraft Even Cooler

If you’re reading Hackaday, we’re willing to bet that you either own the LEGO Saturn V and Lunar Module models, or at the very least know somebody who does. Even if you thought you’d finally outgrown playing with little plastic bricks (a critical mistake, but one we’ll ignore for now), these two kits just have an undeniable appeal to them. You might never get a chance to work for NASA, but you can at least point to the Saturn V rocket hanging on your wall and say you built it yourself.

[Ben Brooks] thought these fantastic models deserved equally impressive stands, so he built “exhaust plumes” that both craft could proudly perch on. With the addition of some RGB LEDs and a Particle Photon to drive them, he added incredible lighting effects that really bring the display to life. There are also sound effects provided by an Adafruit Audio FX board, and for the Lander, an LCD display that mimics the Apollo Guidance Computer DSKY that astronauts used to safely navigate to the Moon and back.

In his write-up on Hackaday.io, [Ben] makes it clear that he was inspired by previous projects that added an illuminated column of smoke under the LEGO Saturn V, but we think his additions are more than worthy of praise. Playing real audio from the Apollo missions that’s synchronized to the light show honestly makes for a better display than we’ve seen in some museums, and he even rigged up a wireless link so that his neighbor’s kids can trigger a “launch” that they can watch from their window.

For the Lunar Module, he 3D printed an enclosure for the Photon and Adafruit quad alphanumeric display that stands in for the DSKY. There’s even lighted indicators for the 1201/1202 program alarms that popped up as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the lunar surface 50 years ago.

While many of us aren’t old enough to have our own first hand memories of the Moon landing, projects like this prove that the incredible accomplishments of the Apollo program never fail to inspire. Who knows? Those kids that are watching [Ben]’s Saturn V from next door might one day get to make the trip themselves.

8 thoughts on “Custom Bases Make LEGO Spacecraft Even Cooler

    1. okay, if you put it that way, I’m pretty sure that the astronauts weren’t hanging onto the ladder either. And I’m also pretty sure nobody was left behind.

      But seriously now, it certainly adds to the appeal of the structure. Something static now seems to be more alive. I love it, accurate or not.

    2. You are correct, at least for the ascent engine. I couldn’t find any pictures or video of the descent engine firing, but based on the landing video any plume was pretty minimal. I finally decided that I didn’t care about being ‘accurate’, cause accurate in this case would just mean some dust getting kick up and that’s not as much fun to look at. 🙂

    3. You are correct, at least for the ascent engine. I couldn’t find any pictures or video of the descent engine firing but based on the video from inside the LM, any plume would have been pretty minimal. I originally had looked into being ‘accurate’, but decided that I was already using LEGOs and accurate was going to just mean some dust, which isn’t any fun. 🙂

  1. It would look even more “alive” if you put a windmill electricity generator on it :)
    It would sound more alive if the LEM had a megaphone blasting out the astronauts’ favourite music :)
    The structure would be more “appealing” if it had a picture of a barely clothed lady on it, as per WW2 bombers :)

    But I must admit I do quite like the Saturn V’s plume.

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