Ridiculously Accurate Mission Control Panel

space panel

We are absolutely blown away by the level of detail that went into this amazing mission control panel that [Jeff Highsmith] made for his son.

His kid just started school and needed a desk to do homework on. They had recently visited the Kennedy Space Center, and his son found a new interest in all things space – So [Jeff] took the opportunity to make the desk into this mind-boggling control panel. 

We saw a similar project recently, but this one seems to take it to the next level. The desk itself is hand-made from MDF sheet and with oak boards making up the structural members. He’s cut out over a dozen individual control panels, added switches, LEDs and potentiometers, and printed the labels on transparencies which give the whole thing a very professional and finished look. An iPad sits in the middle which plays a curated collection of space videos.

As far as we can tell, all the buttons actually do something. He’s using an Arduino with four I/O expanders (MCP23017) to take care of all the inputs and outputs, and a Raspberry Pi to add sound effects to the simulation.

Now all he needs is a spaceship to monitor — which apparently is in the works as well!

[Thanks Nick!]


  1. Amuse Bouche says:

    Looks perfect for Kerbal Space Program.

    • Atuday says:

      It would be great for KSP, BUT….. Judging from the pictures and the video a lot of the wiring would need to be completely redone. The micro controllers would need reprogramming. Oh and some of the panels would probably need to be replaced. After all of that a mod would have to be created to interface all the inputs from the panel to the pc for use with KSP. Normally a mod for KSP is a fun proposition. This however is completely untapped waters for KSP modding and I would not know where to begin.

      All that being said I now have a kid of my own and by the time I finish figuring out how to make it all work together she will be old enough to enjoy it. I look forward to the challenge.

  2. agjip says:

    Will it play youtube videos? I’d put this on a http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDF8gZkrEeQ loop.

  3. outburst says:

    If someone wants to go really in depth with spacecraft simulation I’d love to see a spin-off as a controller for Orbiter 2010. http://orbitersimulator.com/

  4. arachnidster says:

    Best. Dad. Ever.

  5. Lord Nothing says:

    now upgrade it to run kerbal space program.

  6. pcf11 says:

    I’m glad to see that Dad didn’t go too overboard. Wouldn’t want to overindulge, and spoil the child.

  7. rdmilligan says:

    Hope he’s programmed an escape sequence for that huge red nuke button

  8. Alan says:

    Looks good, but I’m not sure how much homework is gonna get done on it

  9. Matt says:

    Need a ‘Dad hacks’ tag, love it!

  10. Hirudinea says:

    Holy crap, that looks better than the control consoles he North Korean space program uses, but then again this guy probably had a bigger budget. This is amazing but after all these years haven’t they fixed the cryo tanks YET!?

  11. Doug says:

    Wow this is humbling.

  12. dave says:

    Mental note: DO NOT LET MY KIDS SEE THIS. very cool, but I suspect it cost way too much to build. of course, anything worth doing is worth going completely overboard doing.

  13. nathangray says:

    Forget the kids, I want this. Hooked up to KSP, of course.

  14. Ren says:

    And in a few years (months?) he can pull out one of the panels and replace it with a breadboard and STM32 Development board for his son to keep exploring.

  15. Rob says:

    Ho-lee-cow. This is amazing. I can only hope I can come up with something even half this cool for the mini carbon units (if my wife and I ever spawn)… amazing!

  16. ka9mva says:

    You got my vote for Dad of the Year! Loved the mission-accurate cryo stir and SCE Aux interactions!

  17. Rod says:

    This is ridiculous. Sell it to me. Please sell it to me right now.

  18. Flame Soulis says:

    I’ve been finishing up Steel Battalion Controller interaction for Kerbal Space Program. Now I need to make my own controller setup at some point…

  19. This beyond awesome!!!! I want one!! Well done! I especially like the Apollo 13 bit. :)

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