Dad builds kids the ultimate NASA spacecraft simulator

Spacecraft includes LED lights, sound effects, switches, dials, and more

Remember that adventure you had as a kid when you jumped into that cardboard box and used it as your own personal spaceship to soar through the stars? Although that was most likely tons of fun, one awesome father took imagination to the next level with his homemade NASA simulator.


Highsmith’s NASA spacecraft simulator. Image via

Earlier this year, the handy and creative Jeff Highsmith designed and built a mission control desk for his two sons. As if that wasn’t cool enough, it now interfaces with his new spaceship simulator, thanks to a fully functional intercom system. The spacecraft features LED lights, a robotic arm, real switches, buttons, and dials that trigger flashing along with sound effects, an iPhone mount that plays real NASA footage, and the best part: it also includes a bass shaker in the floor so the mini-astronauts on board can feel the rocket blasting off. 


One of Highsmith’s sons operating the mission control desk. Image via

So how’d he do it? Highsmith designed the different sequences of lights and sound effects to be coordinated by Arduino boards and a Raspberry Pi. The simulator is wired to be adjustable and expandable so that there’s always room for more exciting features. See what the inventor himself has to say about the creation process in the video below.

According to Highsmith, the point behind building the desk and ship was to spark imagination and inspiration in hopes of getting his sons interested in building and programming when they’re older. No doubt about it, Highsmith had a fun time putting the ship together, and even built part of it large enough so that he could squeeze in too. Hey, who wouldn’t want to hitch a ride to Mars in this thing?

Jeff Highsmith is a self-proclaimed “tinkerer extraordinaire.” His monthly video series, “Making Fun with Jeff Highsmith” on showcases imaginative ways to play with gadgets and toys.

Story via

Written for Electronic Products.


  1. charlypriest · August 2, 2014

    Unreal Nicole, I can tell you this only happens in the great USA

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