Back in 2018, Mattel created a real-life version of the video game Rocket League where a pair of remote control cars knocked a ball into each other’s nets in a small arena. It was fun, but lacked one of the best parts of the game: the cars’ ability to jump and rotate in air: a challenging feat that one YouTube hacker managed to perfectly recreate with a custom RC car.
In the Rocket League game, the vehicles use some kind of explosive device to catapult themselves into the air across the arena. YouTuber mrak_ripple figured that was probably a bit too complicated and dangerous for their attempt at making a leaping RC car, so they set out to design and build their own custom mechanism. After some challenges with custom 3D-printed vehicle frames that simply snapped in two under the forces of a spring being released, they managed to get the car off the ground, but the results were nowhere near as graceful and impressive as they are in the video game.
But in engineering you don’t always have to reinvent the wheel. In fact, it’s often much easier and cheaper to adapt existing components or devices to work with your project, so mrak_ripple scrapped their original designs and simply cannibalised the spring mechanism from a New Bright R/C Stunt Jumping Spider toy at a cost of just $25.
From there the RC Rocket League vehicle had to be lightened to actually get off the ground with the new launch mechanism installed, and to accommodate an added flywheel (a large weight bolted to a motor) that would spin up to speed before the car jumped and then slam to a stop causing the vehicle to roll in mid-air. Is it as graceful as the vehicles in the Rocket League game? Not at all, but those also appear to benefit from reduced gravity on whatever planet those competitions take place, and something tells us an anti-gravity machine isn’t mrak_ripple’s next project… unfortunately.