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Apollo Guidance Computer kit - Printable Version

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Apollo Guidance Computer kit - Don Shepherd - 01-12-2018 07:02 PM

This is from the same guys who built the Enigma replica about four years ago. I know some folks here are interested in the AGC. Next year (2019) is the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. I drove to Florida in 1969 and filmed (Super 8) the liftoff.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Open-Apollo-Guidance-Computer-DSKY/


RE: Apollo Guidance Computer kit - Maximilian Hohmann - 01-12-2018 10:37 PM

Wow! This is the best news of the year so far :-)

I have been looking for parts to build such a thing myself for years. I still have not come up with a proper solution for a keyboard yet. Theirs is far from optimal but a lot better than what I have so far. I also found it very difficult to find the LED displays with the leading +/- sign. I have some, but they do not really match the other digits in size and color. I guess I will have to invest some money here - the PCB alone will save me hours and hours of soldering!

Very, very cool!


RE: Apollo Guidance Computer kit - Maximilian Hohmann - 02-07-2018 04:51 PM

Hello again,

I finally had some time to look into this kit a bit further and my initial euphoria is a little diminished now...

In order to get their specially designed parts, namely the custom "+/-" LED digits and the laser engraved keycaps one has to buy the complete kit for 500 Dollars. They are not sold separately and the basic kit (starting at 250$ and containing just standard parts which one can buy oneself for maybe 50$) does not contain them. Their wiring diagrams are so small that they are almost unreadable and in the files supplied for 3D printing once again the difficult bits are missing...

It is really a commercial product rather than a "makers" project as their instructable would suggest. And for a commercial product it is not close enough to the original piece, especially the keyboard and the LED display are way off. I also wonder why they chose an Arduino nano which is just barely capable of running the thing with no further enhancements possible. Other projects found on the internet are either more faithful to the original, e.g. by using a 4,2" TFT screen as display which can far better represent the unique slanted digits and their distinctive green/yellow color, or have some extra processing capability.

And there is Fran Blanche who was allowed to disassemble, photograph and measure out an original DSKY at the Smithsonian and who is now seeking financial support to get true electroluminescent displays like the original made (https://www.gofundme.com/apollo-dsky-display-project - it is really worth following the links and watching her videos on the subject).

Regards
Max


RE: Apollo Guidance Computer kit - Don Shepherd - 02-07-2018 05:13 PM

(02-07-2018 04:51 PM)Maximilian Hohmann Wrote:  I also wonder why they chose an Arduino ...

Thanks Max.

They probably chose Arduino because that is what they have experience with from the Enigma project several years ago.


RE: Apollo Guidance Computer kit - Maximilian Hohmann - 02-07-2018 05:32 PM

(02-07-2018 05:13 PM)Don Shepherd Wrote:  
(02-07-2018 04:51 PM)Maximilian Hohmann Wrote:  I also wonder why they chose an Arduino ...

Thanks Max.

They probably chose Arduino because that is what they have experience with from the Enigma project several years ago.

An Arduino as processor is certainly OK, but why an Arduino nano? That's the smallest one of them all and especially limited regarding memory. There is enough room for an Arduino mega which would add maybe 20$ to the total cost but provides a lot more memory and I/O lines to connect stuff.

Myself, I am not very much interested in an exact replica (which really only makes sense to me when connected to a replica Apollo Guidance Computer and that again needs a spaceship around it...) but rather a DIY calculator resembling an Apollo DSKY. Using a very limited keyboard and "verbs" and "nouns" to interact with the machine and that special three-line output. Which could be used to show the stack of an RPN calculator (it has a key labelled "ENTER"!) or three coordinates of an attached GPS or attitude sensor.


RE: Apollo Guidance Computer kit - Roland K - 02-11-2018 12:29 AM

Hello Max,
(02-07-2018 04:51 PM)Maximilian Hohmann Wrote:  I finally had some time to look into this kit a bit further and my initial euphoria is a little diminished now...

In order to get their specially designed parts, namely the custom "+/-" LED digits and the laser engraved keycaps one has to buy the complete kit for 500 Dollars. They are not sold separately and the basic kit (starting at 250$ and containing just standard parts which one can buy oneself for maybe 50$) does not contain them.
you can get the custom LED displays, PCB and keycaps for less at the kickstarter project "OPEN DSKY" (see the table under "Rewards"). I have not looked at the mechanical design yet, but it might be possible to fit a more powerful computer into the case.

Regards,
Roland