Jump to content

Control panels finally completed!


Recommended Posts

Hello all,

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.


4. Design

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!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 9/29/2018 at 12:57 PM, Freshmeat said:

Grats on getting the thread featured in daily Kerbal. Out of curiosity, what sets of information have you chosen for orbital parameters?

Daily kerbal? I have to check all parameters but we have just basic stuff like Ap and Pe, surface speed and orbital speed, time to node, lon. and lat ... 

On 9/29/2018 at 1:43 AM, Tomicktwo said:

Can you make a wiring diagram of the controller and a list of all the parts used

Hi, we don't have wiring diagram and I will not make one. You can find list of parts in hugopeeters project. Switches are up to your preference.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

14 minutes ago, RealKerbal3x said:

If you've not heard of it, it's a weekly KSP devnote mixed in with some real space news.

I love your control panel by the way! That's some serious dedication!!

Ohh, thank you for the info :) I will be starting new KSP career soon so maybe I'll post some video directly from action :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

Awesome work, this is very impressive.  I have a question about your metalwork...

How did you get the black colouring inside the engraving on the metal panel?  Is that a service that your metal company provided?  If so what is the method called that they used to put the black colouring in there?

Is that an epoxy-based ink or something?  It looks amazing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, wossname said:

Awesome work, this is very impressive.  I have a question about your metalwork...

How did you get the black colouring inside the engraving on the metal panel?  Is that a service that your metal company provided?  If so what is the method called that they used to put the black colouring in there?

Is that an epoxy-based ink or something?  It looks amazing.

Hi, it was done by laser. I think it's a CO2 technique or something like that... 

2 hours ago, roboslacker said:

Would this work on an arduino leonardo?

I don't know.. maybe yes. We took arduino mega because we didn't know exactly what we will have on the panel from beginning and we wanted to be sure that we will be able to extend the panel if we want to  :) 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This thread is quite old. Please consider starting a new thread rather than reviving this one.

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...