Projects | Education

Happiness Rocket (2021)

A Little Inventors Challenge

The Happiness Rocket is a concept from a young person in Curve Class at Ellesmere College in Leicester. It was developed in response to a Little Inventors challenge to develop new ideas relating to space and space travel. Sean Clark from Interact worked with Little Inventors, Attenborough Arts Centre and Inspirate to help develop the concept further. Funding for the project was provided by the UK Space Agency, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, and Arts Council England.

The Concept

Joy - The Happiness Rocket

"Joy the rocket flies around space spreading happiness to all the people around the world. It will protect any negative energy that people are thinking about and let them think of a positive energy instead. Joy the rocket can defeat evil aliens by using flames to destroy them."

Sean Clark's Approach

I really like the Happiness Rocket concept. It is something that could be used in play and story-telling, with the potential to have its own character and personality. I could also see it being used in digital making projects. In particular, I was immediately interested in using it in conjunction with a BBC Mico:bit controller so that electronics could be added to it.

I started by prototyping some 3D models in TinkerCAD and 3D printing them. While I wanted to be true to the young person's design, I also had to consider safety, strength and the eventual uses of the rocket.

Happiness Rocket Prototypes

Assorted Happiness Rocker 3D printed prototypes.

I rounded off the edges and reduced the points on the fins and set a size limit of 200mm high (to suit common 3D printers). I gave it a strong cylindrical core that was wide enough to hold a Micro:bit snuggly.

The Happiness Rocket 3D Model

The Happiness Rocket 3D printable model.

The full-size (200mm) Happiness Rocket is can be 3D printed as a single model, or printed as multiple 50mm high modules that can clip together. This allows it to be printed on smaller 3D printers and makes it very user-configurable. You can make a small rocket, with space for a BBC Micro:bit, with just two of the modules, or 3D print all four modules and make a rocket the same height as the full-size Happiness Rocket. Makers can customise the design and make even bigger rockets if they wish. The use of the Micro:bit means you can install electronics inside the rocket. Perhaps lights, or sensors or even a flame thrower (maybe not!).

A Happiness Rocket with Embedded BBC Micro:bit and LEDs

A full-size 3D printed Happiness Rocket containing a BBC Micro:bit and LED lights.

The smaller versions of the rocket (100mm and 50mm) are for play and are much quicker to 3D print than the full-size model. The small one should take less than one hour. You can experiment with the model and print it in different sizes.

A Fleet of Happiness Rockets

A fleet of 3D printed Happiness Rockets waiting to spread happiness!

Finally, I wondered what the Happiness Rocket could look like if I didn't have to worry about making it 3D printable and suitable for embedding a Micro:bit. "HR MK2" is a more "characterful" visualisation of the original rocket. It that was produced by 3D designer Anthony Clark. I think you can imagine it starring in its own video game or computer-animated cartoon.

HR MK2: The Next Generation

HR MK2. Ready to spread joy throughout the galaxy!

3D Printable Model

The Happiness Rocket 3D printable model can be found on TinkerCAD. You can download it as an STL file for 3D printing. The large version (shown below) is 200mm high, the medium one 100mm and the small one 50mm. All three versions have a 2mm body width for strength. You may want to print with a raft to prevent the model from slipping on your print bed.

Modular 3D Printable Models

The modular version of the Happiness Rocket is a work-in-progress but is very near to completion. If you register with TinkerCAD and go to Sean Clark's TinkerCAD Profile you will be able to download the parts. A basic rocket system consists of a Fin Module, a Microbit Module to hold the BBC Micro:bit and a Cone Module on top. Plus a Link to connect the Micro:bit Module to the Fin Module. You can also print an Engine Module to connect to the bottom of the rocket and a Window Module and second Link to add height. It's actually possible to 3D print just a Cone Module, a Fin Module and an (optional) Engine Module and install the Micro:bit in that. This is a bit cramped, but is quite cute! Get in touch if you have any questions.

Embedded Micro:bit

The full-size and modular 3D printed Happiness Rocket is designed to hold a BBC Micro:bit. As a starting point, we have connected some multi-colour Neopixel LEDs to our Micro:bit (on pin 2) and embedded them inside the rocket. There is lots of potential for making new and exciting programs Perhaps make spacey sounds? Or use the built-in accelerometer to trigger different effects. The sky (or space) is the limit!

Future Enhancements

The Happiness Rocket is a fun concept and Interact Digital Arts is looking forward to developing it further. Now that the 3D models and Micro"bit code have been shared on GitHub maybe you can add to the project further? The mission has only just begun!