I was part of a team at DesignSpark, tasked with sending a Superman figurine to Space in a SpacePod, then have him 'jump out' of the pod and free-fall back to earth. I was responsible for making a SpacePod capable of surviving the assent (-40C, wind, rain, cosmic radiation), and ensuring that the 4K cameras and GPS equipment all survived the 5m/s descent to Earth. (Other brave Superheros may apply).

I had recently just made a Card Rabbet Tool for making making fancy prototypes out of corrugated card... However, Card was not waterproof... luckily I realised that this tool also enabled me to work with Correx (like Corrugated Card - but made of out plastic, and therefore waterproof!). Correx also has a great strength to weight ratio and would absorb the shock of the landing. It was also cheap at ~£10/sq.m.

This Instructable starts right in at the deep-end, and give some insight into how to design something in CAD, and export it as a 'net' (2D template of a 3D form), so that it can be assembled from a sheet material. If you are new to using this tool, you may want to check this starter-guide out first. Once you have the idea, this Instructable can help you make a huge variety of forms, for prototype, architectural models, sculptures - and even Space Missions...

This SpacePod was designed in the style of Felix Baumgartner's supersonic freefall. Now, although this is clearly not as dare-devil as Felix/RedBull's efforts - what is amazing is the comparatively tiny cost of such a mission like this: Electronics that would have cost millions only a few decades ago are publicly available and ready to roll, from companies like Raspberry Pi [in the Sky]. It's inspiring stuff. For the full electronics low-down, read about it on the Design Spark blog, and video in Italian, here, but until you order your PCBs, do look through this Instructable and see how cheaply you can get a SpacePod together!



PS - Please vote if you think this inspired you to get more out of you favourite action figure...

UPDATE: Thanks for the votes! I appear to have made it to the finals of the formlabs competition - and bagged a super Instructables T-Shirt!

Step 1: Make a 'Net' of Your Model

Making a 'Net' is done by taking all of the surfaces of a 3D model, and 'flattening' them onto a 2D surface. This allows you to cut the shapes out - and then re-assemble them, knowing that they will form an accurate 3D shape.

I used Sheet-Metal software to design this, but many other alternatives, such as Pepakura will work too. Print everything out (use the 'tile' or poster-print function on your printer to do this for large models like this one)

Once you have your Net, lay it down on the Correx (perhaps stick it lightly with masking tape, or better yet, use a little spray-mount) and cut around it (cutting through the paper and the Correx as you go). It may require more than one cut to get each section cut free, and take care when cutting the Correx, as the direction of the fluting can make it unpredictable when applying pressure with a craft knife.

TIP 1 - Remove your paper net, and write in permanent market on the inside what each piece is. Inside is best as a. you probably won't see it and b. if you do need to remove it - washes off with IPA.

TIP 2 - if you have used spray mount, keep your Nets/templates somewhere where they cannot touch each other (I hung mine on the back of my door). Trust me, you'll regret it if you don't have some system like this to stop it all sticking together in one big mess!

TIP 3 - If you have a symmetrical design, you can just flip the nets, saving you time on printing and preparation.

<p>Hey, Jude! I love your Card Rabbet Tool idea. I tried working with corruplast earlier this year, but found it difficult to remove the fluting. I ordered your tool (both parts) on shapeways, and voted for this instructable for both contests. I also have an instructable up for the formlabs contest, so please give it a look see. It's called &quot;House of Oscillation&quot; Optical Theremin: </p><p><a href="https://www.instructables.com/id/House-of-Oscillation-Optical-Theremin/" rel="nofollow">https://www.instructables.com/id/House-of-Oscillati...</a></p><p>-Jude</p>
<p>Also voted for your House of Fun! Nice work!</p><p>I know the guys at LittleBits and I think I'm getting some Xmas Samples from them soon or in the new year, so am really looking forward to seeing what I come up with :o)</p>
<p>I got the Card Rabbet tool in the mail, and I started researching the other parts. I didn't realize Swann &amp; Morton has a purchase minimum of 50 blades. Do you think I could purchase the magnets, nuts, bolts, and a few blades from you? Can you please PM me? Sorry to be a bother. If I realized earlier (and if I were 3D skilled), I would have adjusted for X-ACTO blades and US screw sizes. </p>
<p>Hey J&amp;J, Thanks for the votes. (Just checking are you saying you found it difficult to remove the fluting before or after using the Rabbet Tool? If after, give me a shout and I can have a think... click contact on Design Modelling). How was the Shapeways parts btw? SLS right? </p>
<p>Removing the fluting was difficult with a straight x-acto, so I ordered your tool today to hopefully make it easier. I'll give you feedback when I source all the parts and give your tool a try... I watched a bunch of your YouTube videos today; thanks for publishing all that helpful info on the Ergo Mouse!... Thanks for your vote! :)</p>
<p>How far away did it land ?</p>
<p>About 10 miles away from where we started. The Pod and Superman were not too far apart from each other (only about 5 miles), which when you consider everything being from that hight, it is pretty close.</p>
<p>That's amazing. Winds at those altitudes are typically 60-80kph and often &gt;100.</p>
<p>Typically - yes, but a load of planning went into picking a less windy day. David has a load of data (beyond your average weather forecast) to do this. I was impressed it landed not that far away from where we launched.</p>
<p>Nice job! Probably the highest quality one I've seen yet and like the parachute re-entry, but you know he can fly, right? :)</p>
<p>Wow what a great project. </p>
<p>How did you recover the pod?</p>
<p>We drove around with Ham-Radio gear, to track the GPS signal the Pod/Superman were emitting. </p>
<p>This is freaking awesome! I love this instructable.</p>
<p>Soo coool!! What a fun idea! :) Thanks for making this.</p>
<p>Very happy to - was a great team to be a part of! </p><p>Thanks</p>
<p>You couldn't do that with a bird or a plane. Or could you?</p><p>Awesome!</p>
<p>Hmmmm.....Correx Planes.....that might be a nice project....</p>
<p>First time i saw something like this was also done in UK, wait, maybe it was you guys.. Wait.. lemme find the youtube video.. <br>Ah.. here it is: <iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ZCAnLxRvNNc" width="500"></iframe><br>it was quite a while ago.. so was this also yours?<br><br>Anyhow, i always wondered if i can do here in a small island in the tropics, the wind is always blowing so i guess it'll take a big luck to have it land back on the island again.. </p>
<p>oh.. i just watched it again, and they were in New York, USA.. my bad.. :)</p>
<p>This is awesome! Thanks for posting!!</p><p>It's amazing what stuff is out there online.</p><p>Always funny when you see the effect of the balloon 'pop' and the whole thing spirals out of control...perhaps we can make stabilising fins or something on the next one.</p>
<p>Were you able to recover the cameras that were left behind with the balloon? Very cool project though and I appreciate you sharing your brilliance with everyone here! Technology is just so darn cool! Once again, thanks! :o) </p>
<p>The 4K Cameras were really small (a new prototype from Panasonic not yet available on the market), so they arrived back to Earth safely. I was impressed the Correx landed without even a scratch!</p>
<p>This is too cool to be true!!! The video is awesome, and is put together wonderfully. I think it is so cool when people send things like this into space; it really makes you apprentice technology and our earth. I really hope you win.... thanks for sharing!</p>
<p>Yeah - the video is nicely done. Check out more projects on DesignSpark :o)</p>
<p>How were you able to film superman head-on during the descent? That is an awesome view and I'm curious how you were able to achieve it, thanks!</p>
<p>Yup - same as 'quader4''s comment - I'll try and get a shot of the filming rig for the decent.</p>
<p>How did you manage to film him while he was coming down?</p><p>What held the camera in place?</p>
<p>The filming was build into a rig with the parachute. It was built in a way that allowed it to stabilise the view. I'll see if they have any shots.</p>
<p>Extremely cool. </p><p>But of course Superman does not need vehicles or parachutes. He can do all this on his own. </p><p>But I'm sure he'd do this just for the coolness factor.</p>
<p>This is super cool. I always wanted to send something to space.</p>
<p>DO IT! </p><p>:o)</p>
<p>One day I will :)</p>
<p>That's so cool, it looks really great!</p>
<p>Thanks! I wonder if the Rabbet Tool will be used on other projects... It'll be interesting to see if it is modified/improved upon too. </p><p>In the meantime, I'll have to have a think about more waterproof/resistant/floating builds. I think the 'curves' can also be done on a laser cutter, so need to try that also, when I get time...</p>
<p>Spaaaaaace!</p><p>I love the twist of not only sending something up, but have him 'jump' out and fall safely back to earth. Nice work!</p>
<p>Thanks a lot mikeasaurus, it was tricky getting the 'burn-through' of the mechanism to work just right (on the Design Spark blog). </p><p>Also wanted to say your 'Dollar-Shop-Hacks' are awesome. There seems to be a trend among designers that 'you know your a designer/maker when you go to Pound/Dollar-Land for parts!'. </p><p>Nice work on the Watermelon Cake too. </p>
The pictures at the beginning are so cool! What a clever project
<p>Thanks for the reply! In case you are interested - check out the other guys who made it possible from RLAB: <a href="http://www.rs-online.com/designspark/electronics/eng/blog/hack-superman-to-the-edge-of-space-and-back" rel="nofollow">http://www.rs-online.com/designspark/electronics/e...</a></p>
Brilliant! Thanks for making the Rabbet Tool available.
<p>Pleasure! Thought it'd be great to see how it prints on other people's printers / from Shapeways. Similarly, do let me know if you see an opportunity to change the design (I think I need a blade guard, after carrying one around in a box for a while now!)</p>
How did you blast him into Space? Rocket power? Didn't see any pictures of him blasting away? Why? That would be very cool
Look again - you'll see that he used a balloon.
<p>Yup - we used a weather balloon. It was about as big as a car (on Earth) and would be double that at 22 miles high. Read more here, if you are interested: <a href="http://www.rs-online.com/designspark/electronics/eng/blog/hack-superman-launch-day" rel="nofollow">http://www.rs-online.com/designspark/electronics/e...</a></p><p>I also made Solid Rockets when I was a kid...check out Estes if you fancy a go: http://www.estesrockets.com/</p>
<p>Oh, that was super cool!<br>The video editing was spot on!<br>Oh, the guy behind the computer, your desk needs a little cleaning!<br>thanks people!</p>
To infinity and beyond is buzz light year not superman

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a Product Design Engineer, currently living in the UK. I have been fortunate to have lived, studied and worked in Hong Kong, Norway ... More »
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