Turning Kerbal Space Program Into A Proper Space Simulator


Kerbal Space Program – the game of freakin’ space Lego and incompetent little green men – has seen a lot of popularity since it was on the Steam Summer sale. Now, in a bid to out do the flight sim aficionados who build 737 cockpits in their garage, a few enterprising Kerbalnauts are building custom controllers for this wonderful introduction to [Tsiolkovsky], [Goddard], and [Evel Kinevel].

[vladoportos] thought KSP could use custom gaming controllers to provide switches for staging, attitude hold, and reaction control system commands. In the game, these are toggled by keyboard input, but this unfortunately destroys the immersion of being a rocket-powered angel of death for your Kerbal volunteers. He rigged up an Arduino Leonardo to send USB HID commands to his computer whenever he pressed one of the buttons connected to his breadboard controller. It’s a work in progress, but [vladoportos] has some big plans that include a physical nav ball to show his ship’s orientation in space.

USB input is one thing, but that’s only half the problem. If you want to build a real Kerbal ship simulator, you’ll need to get data out of the game, and into your glass or analog displays. [voneiden] over on the KSP subreddit has the solution for you. He’s been working on a ‘mission control’ app that runs in Python, connects to a Kerbal Space Program plugin over TCP, and displays flight information such as speed, altitude, longitude, latitude, apoapsis, and periapsis.  The code is up on his git, ready for some individual to bring this over to a Raspi and a character LCD display.

6 thoughts on “Turning Kerbal Space Program Into A Proper Space Simulator

  1. This post tipped me off to KSP and I love it. Can’t stop playing with it now.
    Anyway, reading the posts I see a lot of people wanting to make controllers and displays and some people even trying to figure out how to make a physical NavBall.

    As the NavBall needs to display variable/programmable info such as targets and needs to be fairly responsive I had the idea to use a pico-projector to back-project the NavBall into a dome. I think this solution could provide the best of both worlds, ie. be responsive and adaptable to the information required as well as being off screen and pseudo-physical.

    I post this here because, a) I don’t have a reddit account or a KSP forum account and I can’t be bothered making them and b) I’m neither a big enough KSP fan (yet?) nor do I have any spare free time to make this myself. I hope someone sees this, likes it, implements it and then reports back to hackaday so I can see it :)

  2. Interesting. But after you try things manually a few times, go get MechJeb. It’s basically a flight computer add-on and lets you do things with more precision so you can take it to the next level. Also, Kethane so you have something to do and Kerbal Attachment System so you have an easier way to move around the Kethane and refined fuels.

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