Today I want to share with you our development process of making two control panels and I’ll try to answer your most frequent questions.
Me and my friend (Ferrdo_Kerman on this forum) always wanted to build control panel for Kerbal Space Program, so we can have even greater experience while playing this fantastic game. This year we finally had this opportunity and time to make this happen. Ferrdo is very skilled in HW and SW so he is the one who decided which HW do we need, how to put it together and also rewrote the base code that we have used from another project. My job was less technical, I worked on design, box, switches variants and I helped with the soldering of course But let’s start from beginning.
1. Preparation Phase
We were inspired by hugopeeters project. He made excellent job and our life much more easier because we didn’t have to start from scratch. So really big thanks and credit goes to him. You can check his project with many details here:
I will not go so deep into the details because they are already covered in his project but I will just mention that for the communication with the game we used KSPSerialIO plugin which can be found here: https://forum.kerbalspaceprogram.com/index.php?/topic/60281-hardware-plugin-arduino-based-physical-display-serial-port-io-tutorial-10-06-17/
So we bought our first Arduino mega, cables, basic switches, basic stuff and started on our panels. We mainly bought items from local store with electronics and also from e-bay.
2. First steps
Ferdo started on LED bars because we assume that this can be the biggest problem and we wanted to solve this in the beginning. From start we had only bars that are now used as G-Force and Athmosphere indicators. This is how they look from behind also with integrated circuits:
Even though it went somehow let’s say a Kerbal way, it was a success!
After that we moved to display and basic switches.
3. Display and Cardboard prototype
We have continued with display because we wanted to test also basic switches and if they are responding correctly regarding the code.
While Ferrdo was working on the display and also adjusting the code, I’ve started with the basic cardboard prototype so we can manipulate with the HW easier.
In this stage we have decided that we will use another bars for fuels, mono, power etc., and that we will use these old bars as G-Force and Atmosphere indicators. Because in this phase we already know everything that will be on our control panels I have started designing the panel.
After some adjustments we ended with final version of our design:
I’ve prepared vector files based on this design and one of our colleagues helps us to make a prototype from wood so we can check if everything is OK before we will order final panel made of stainless steel from external company.
Everything was OK so we have ordered our steel panels from external company. We haven’t had good luck with the first company and they didn’t do the labels correctly. In fact they were barely visible. Luckily we found another company and they reworked our panels to the final look. This was the most expensive part of our panels and one piece cost us almost 100 euros (because of double work). But when they arrived we were finally happy with the outcome.
While we were waiting for steel panels from external company we was soldering all parts for the second panel and I was able to prepare box cases from wood.
5. Another Led bars and finishing touches
The set of five LED bars took us some time to finish because there were a lot of soldering and coding work. But finally we were really close to the end and therefore hyped. We went to the local store to buy final LED lights (I think it was 7865th visit of this store :D) and started to mounting everything to the panel. It was a really big mess of cables.
We did the final soldering and check and we finally put everything inside the box. After some finishing touches everything was functioning correctly!
Everything was a little more complicated as described here because we were learning on the fly
You can find the source code to this Arduino project at: https://github.com/ferrdo4/KerbalController
Video from action is coming soon!