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When I was a kid, I was obsessed with control panels. I dreamed of making a spaceship capsule out of my room, covered with toggles and panel lights that I could used to launch countless astronaut and sci-fi fantasies. The closest I ever came to this was a six-pad rocketry launch controller my friends (and our dads) made.

One can only imagine what sorts of dreams this amazing backyard rocketship fuels within the kids who play in it. There are tons of cool details in this build, and that build is well-documented enough on the website that you can build your own. They call it the the Ravenna Ultra-Low-Altitude Vehicle (RULAV), Ravenna being the Seattle neighborhood they live in. “Ultra-Low-Altitude Vehicle.” Cute. [Thanks, Jon Johns!]

The Ravenna Ultra-Low-Altitude Vehicle

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Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture, including the first book about the web (Mosaic Quick Tour) and the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. He is currently working on a best-of collection of his writing, called Borg Like Me.



  1. Matthew Fort says:

    Back in my day we just used cardboard boxes to get to space.

  2. Miguel says:

    This makes my carboard box sitting on top of a washing machine while running a spin cycle with an unbalanced load and a paint stick for a control stick look like a booger.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I must say that this is a testament to a great love. I am very moved.

    I also liked the attitude controls a lot.

  4. mjklin says:

    I appreciate the old-school hardware. If you’re not averse to a little PC action, though, why not put in a small desktop computer running the Celestia software (which is awesome) and a connected joystick so your son can fly around a little in space? Just a thought.

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