Rubber Band Powered "Hot Wheels" type Car Launcher

Picture of Rubber Band Powered "Hot Wheels" type Car Launcher
Ever wanted your toy cars to really go? Wanna new way to race? Want an excuse to build something really cool for your kid? Or do a fun project WITH your kid? You don't have to go buy a new cheap plastic toy, make your own fun from leftovers from prior projects!

This is a not too complicated project that easily modified to use materials you have on hand. For ours we used scrap wood, scrap plastic, and a rubber band from an asparagus bunch! It does require basic carpentry skills, but nothing too usual or complex. You'll notice there are a lot of steps in this instructable, that's mostly because I was trying to be thorough, so don't let it scare you.

This prototype is a single car launcher, but could easily be modified to launch 2 cars at once for racing purposes... that will probably be the next project! It also is designed so that you can attach it to your hot wheels tracks (not shown here).

Hope you enjoy!

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Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
Most of this was just scrounged around our basement. After reading through the instructions, feel free to attempt substitutions if needed.

You'll need:

A few Hot Wheels, Matchbox, or similar cars to ensure size and for testing.
Block of wood, taller/longer than your cars.
Short screws (4 top, 4 bottom, 6 sides)
4 finishing washers (optional)
I eye screw
Scrap plastic as wide as your wood block, and a few inches longer (or stiff cardboard, or thin wood, or even an old circuit board!)
Scrap clear stiff plastic (either recycled from some packaging, or lexan, or even shrinky dink material) about the size of your wood block.
Rubber bands (at least one, various sizes are nice) We used one from some asparagus.
String or twine (optional)
"Bumpers" (little rubber/plastic feet) for the bottom (see step 11)

Hardware requirements:
Saw for cutting the wood
Dremel or Drill
Business cards or other similar scrap cardstock (try junkmail!)
Utility knife
Straight edge
Sharpie/marker (for marking plastic)

baso534 years ago
you stole that from kipkay!!! :@
DotatDabbled (author)  baso534 years ago
Ah, just did a little googling, and apparently you're accusing me of ripping off my own design. The Make Magazine video, with kipkay, is of him demonstrating how to build this design, which was published in the kids issue of Make last year. Which I wrote. So dude, perhaps you should do your research before accusations of theft.
DotatDabbled (author)  baso534 years ago
I'm sorry, but I would hardly be surprised if someone else out there has thought of using rubber band power to launch a hotwheels car. It's not exactly a complex concept. For the record, the concept for the design was mine, for the rubber band contest in 4/09 here on instructables. The design was my husband's, and all the photos and instructions are done by me. I wrote an article for Make Magazine, published in Dec of last year, on how to build one yourself.
 I notice that an adult is holding the launcher as the child pulls the band back. Why not put a handle on top so that one person can easily launch the cars?
DotatDabbled (author)  sdlizardwizard5 years ago
That was mostly because our child was a little young for doing it by himself at the time (age 3).  Now he's 4 and can do it himself.  Also we've added the track connector now (see this month's issue of MAKE magazine) and he works that fine by himself.

But a handle is a good idea!
master key5 years ago
Does this hurt the car in any way shape or form.
DotatDabbled (author)  master key5 years ago
Can't see how it would. unless you shot the car into something, same as if you threw it.
thing 25 years ago
i like it! good work!
iectyx3c5 years ago
This is very cool. The clear plastic could be just a hunk of wood, or even pegboard - but the Lexan lets the kid see and anticipate the launch action. Gets my VOTE.
ItsTheHobbs5 years ago
Good job, that's neat!
DotatDabbled (author)  ItsTheHobbs5 years ago