Start Your Apollo Collection with an Open Source DSKY

Given that there have been only six manned moon landings, and that almost all of the hardware that started on the launch pad was discarded along the way, getting your hands on flown hardware is not generally the business of mere mortals. Such artifacts are mostly in museums or in the hands of very rich private collectors. Enthusiasts have to settle for replicas like this open source Apollo Guidance Computer DSKY.

The DSKY, or Display and Keyboard, was the user interface for the Apollo Guidance Computer, that marvel of 1960s computer engineering that was purpose-built to control the guidance and navigation of the Command and Lunar Excursion modules. [ST-Geotronics] has made a decent replica of the DSKY using 3D-printed parts for the housing and bezel. There’s a custom PCB inside that houses a matrix of Neopixels for the indicator light panel and seven-segment LEDs for the numeric displays. Sadly but understandably, the original electroluminescent display could not be reproduced, but luckily [Fran Blanche] is working on just that project these days. The three-segment displays for the plus and minus signs in the numeric displays proved impossible to source commercially, so the team had to roll their own for that authentic look. With laser cut and engraved overlays for the displays and keycaps, the look is very realistic, and the software even implements a few AGC-like functions.

We like this a lot, although we could do without the sound clips, inspirational though Kennedy’s speech was. Everything is open source so you can roll your own, or you can buy parts or even a complete kit too.

Thanks to [Paul McMaster] for the tip.

20 thoughts on “Start Your Apollo Collection with an Open Source DSKY

  1. That’s pretty cool and it’s open source! Unfortunately if I were to make one I would have to correct a few problems like the fonts, key sizes, and other various things not matching the original. *Sigh* I have a feeling I have another project to add my list.

    1. I want to redo the whole numeric section replacing all of the 7seg modules with the printed mask scheme they came up with. PnP’ing all of the LEDs is not only easier, it’s an opportunity to fix the font.

      1. I was thinking that too…
        It should be possible to get pretty close with families of 7 segment and alphanumeric displays, and then just vinyl-masking out the characters to make the +/- segment look proper.

  2. Oh, joy, another Kickstarter.

    This DSKY has LED displays, 3D-printed ABS parts, a lithium ion battery, and an LCD touchscreen….just like NASA used to build them 50 years ago, lol.

    I wouldn’t call this a “replica”, more like a movie prop.

    How is this project related to Fran’s detailed one? Or is this the project that “borrowed” much of Fran’s work to make a few bucks on eBay?

    1. Projects like this one obviously draw heavily on the research done in projects like Fran’s. The kickstarter does provide a link to Fran’s Gofundme in recognition of the critical role her work plays in any kind of serious attempt at reproducing the DSKY – even a relatively casual one like this.
      …Yeah, I hesitate to call this version a “replica” as well. I’ve taken to calling it a “functional model”.

    2. Projects like this one obviously rely heavily on the work done by people like Fran to research and document the DSKY. And this is why the “Open DSKY” project acknlowedges Fran’s work, and links to her fundraising page from its own.
      But yeah I hesitate to refer to this thing as a “replica” as well. I’ve taken to calling it a “functional model”. It’s like an approximation… Like a toy version, really. But that kind of approximation can still be fun, and accessible to people who would never be able to justify buying or building a truly faithful replica of the unit.

  3. I saw the one that Telemetrics is making and WOW!!! Much more advanced and uses every single AGC command plus it can be used with space simulator software like Kerbal! It’s not just some night light.

      1. I saw those Telemetrics DSKY replicas at the Spacefest in Tucson. They are available in Aluminum too! They are the most accurate DSKY in the world other than the real ones but dont forget all the “Magic” is done in the Apollo Guidance Computer and the DSKY is really just a Keyboard, a Display, and a Status Lamp panel. This is not hard to recreate, the hard work is getting an AGC fabricated. The Telemetrics DSKY has an included embedded AGC built in and does every command the real AGC did because it uses all of the real, actual MIT/NASA code. It comes with it and runs even Launch and Landing Scripts as a bonus. It is just plain AWESOME! If you search on Google, you will find images of it and the way you can tell it is a Telemetrics Replica is that it looks “NEW” and like the Original in the museums. The difference is that the Telemetrics DSKY actually works.

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