I'm setting up this GoFundMe project to help provide the funds needed to build a full-scale replica of the Apollo Command Module, to transport and display it at schools and other locations in the area, and to cover other related items along the way.
As you are no doubt aware, 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11's historic moon landing. NASA, the Smithsonian, and even the US Mint are still celebrating the anniversary. The various Apollo Command Modules have been on display wherever they may be, including the Apollo 6 CM at the Fernbank Museum in Atlanta. Unfortunately, because of their historical significance and their fragile nature, they can only be viewed from a distance. Even the AutoDesk personnel who scanned the Apollo 11 Command Module "Columbia" for the Smithsonian were not allowed to touch it and had to come up with novel ways to digitize the interior.
Which leads me to this project. The goal of the project is to build a replica of the Apollo Command Module that kids can touch, enter, and explore rather than simply view from a distance. Kids will be able to see and experience first-hand just how small the CM's crew cabin really was, and appreciate how we were able to go to the moon at a time when the level of technology was unable to produce a basic calculator. Also, this replica will have some limited functionality so that it is not just a static display but an interactive one. Obviously, the replica cannot fly so things like the engines won't work, but there are a number of electronic items that will.
The top of that list will be a pair of DSKY replicas from S&T Geotronics ( http://www.stgeotronics.com ). These replicate the look and operation of the "Display-Keyboard" or "DSKY" that was the astronauts' interface to the guidance computer. While they're not exact functional replicas of the real units, they do have some interesting and fun features, such as a real-time clock, an intertial measurement unit, a GPS, and an MP3 player for replay of several iconic sound clips, such as "Houston, Tranquility Base here - the Eagle has landed!" S&T Geotronics is a partner on the project and is helping with the cost, as well as providing additional assistance with replica parts, but the DSKY units still cost several hundred dollars each. Some of the funds raised here will go towards them.
The lion's share of the expenses of the replica itself will be in construction materials for the structure of the Command Module. I'm not a metalworker, so I'll be building the structure mainly from wood. The replica CM is designed to come apart into three main sections for transport: two halves for the main section with the crew cabin, and a top section with the docking tunnel. I'm using computer-aided design to model the framework.
I am fortunate that the local Brookwood Home Depot store has chosen to partner with the project as well. The discount they're offering is generous, but the costs to the project will still be pretty large. The structure will need to be sturdy, as it will eventually be holding three people in the astronaut couches and perhaps one more as a photographer. The plan is to build it and the couches strong enough to support 3 "astronauts" weighing up to 200 pounds each - that should cover pretty much all kids through high school. It will also need to withstand the rigors of transportation.
Another significant cost component is the switches and electronics. I'm designing and building a number of different electronic items to include in the replica. Also, the replica will have every single toggle switch, pushbutton switch, rotary switch, and level control that the real CM had (somewhere around 400 switches and controls total). The real CM used standard-size toggle switches, but the replica will be using miniature switches for two reasons - cost of course, but also a wedge-shaped extension will be added to the switches to simulate the originals. Accurately-scaled extensions on standard switches wasn't feasible, but they work perfectly on miniature switches. S&T Geotronics is 3D printing the extensions.
S&T Geotronics is also laser cutting and etching the control panel overlays, such as the one on Panel 15 above and the panels for the Navigation Station and EMS below, using acrylic from the Project's latest partner, Johnson Plastics Plus ( http://www.jpplus.com ).
Other planned or proposed interactive features of the replica CM include:
- simulated Entry Monitor System (UPDATE: Done!)
- simulated docking window displays (flat panels with looped video)
- working Mission Timers (WORKING):
- working cabin lights
- working control panel lights (in process)
- simulated COAS crosshair (docking target)
- simulated caution and warning lights (in process)
- dual power supplies ("Main Bus A" and "Main Bus B")
- additional programming for the DSKYs: (UPDATE: Done! ... although MORE may be coming!)
- add more audio clips
- simulated launch
- simulated moon landing (no, the CM didn't land - it's just for fun)
- who knows what else might be possible!
After the costs of construction are met, additional funds will go toward transportation and display at schools. I'm currently seeking a partner or partners to share the costs for transportation and/or logistics, but I'm sure the costs will still be significant.
In addition, if this GoFundMe winds up being really successful and raises funds beyond the original goal, additional funds will go toward other related items to help with the display of the Command Module and presentations of educational materials. I've already received a number of interesting suggestions from people interested in seeing the project completed. Some of these items could potentially include:
- printed signs with educational or "fun facts" about Apollo
- samples of dehydrated "space food" to hand out at presentations (in process)
- "space suit" costumes for the kids to wear when being photographed
- a replica Apollo A7L spacesuit for a presenter to wear (in process)
- who knows what other good ideas may come along!
UPDATE: Al Warner of Al's Arcade has generously donated two domain names, server space, and his valuable time to set up a Wordpress site to make it easier to post project updates. The new site is at http://www.apolloexperience.com and http://www.apolloproject.us - either address takes you there. I'll be copying the material from the DeviantArt site to the new site over the next few days, as well as posting new stuff.
I don't use the Book of Face, so instead I have created a DeviantArt page to give status updates and to show off progress on the construction. That page can be found here:
Granted, it is not the easiest place to navigate, and the photos are sorted by category, not chronologically, but it was easy for me to set up and to maintain. I'll also post significant updates here as well.
I would like to believe that most people would contribute to the Apollo Project simply because it is a worthwhile endeavor. Even so, I would like to offer some incentives/rewards for contributing to this project.
UPDATE: The newest version of the customized software for the Open DSKY is now available as a special incentive for supporters of the Apollo Education Experience Project who have their own Open DSKY replica. For a donation of $60 or more (plus $24 shipping if you have an address outside of the U.S.), you will receive a package including:
- the updated Open DSKY software pre-loaded on an ATmega328P (Arduino Nano clone), ready to be installed,
- a micro-SD card with all of the audio clips used by the software, and
- a custom-printed user manual "Apollo Open DSKY Command Reference" with a cover in your choice of one of 5 colors and exclusive "flight plan" pages to complement the launch and landing simulations.
You can read and see more details at http://apolloexperience.com/2019/08/28/new-incentive-for-gofundme-supporters/
For those living in (or can travel to) the North Atlanta area, the following incentives are available:
- $25 or more, you can be photographed with the CM
- $100 or more, you can be photographed in the Commander's seat
- $250 or more, you and 2 family/friends can be photographed together inside the CM
Of course, being photographed in the astronaut couches will be contingent on the physical limitations of the CM itself (approximately 6 feet tall or shorter, and under 200 pounds). I will post an itinerary of locations the CM will be publicly displayed as soon as each date/location becomes available. If there are enough individual contributors, I may try to schedule a private "Donor Appreciation Day" for only those who contributed to the project.
For all donors anywhere, both near Atlanta and far away, I have some special bonuses. As mentioned above, the U.S. Mint has been involved in the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. They have produced a variety of very beautiful limited-edition coins celebrating the event. I bought several of these coins for my personal collection, but I am willing to give them as gifts to the generous donors to this project:
- for $150 or more, a 2019 Apollo 11 uncirculated half dollar
- for $175 or more, a 2019 Apollo 11 proof half dollar
- for $250 or more, a 2019 Apollo 11 uncirculated silver dollar
- for $300 or more, a 2019 Apollo 11 proof silver dollar
- for $2000 or more, a 2019 Apollo 11 uncirculated gold $5 coin
- for $2500 or more, a 2019 Apollo 11 proof gold $5 coin
I have only a small number of these coins available as gifts, so they will be given on a first-come basis, and only one coin per donor so that more contributors can get one. All coins come complete with their original U.S. Mint packaging and the Certificate of Authenticity.
The actual anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing was on July 20, 2019. I knew going into this that completing the CM by that date was unrealistic, but more to the point of the project, school is not in session in July, so I didn't consider it necessary to have it complete by then. I had planned on an earlier completion date, but real life challenges as well as various project-related issues have affected that. The current target completion date is the 50th anniversary of Apollo 13 in April 2020. This is an important date not only because of the amazing mission it represents, but there are a number of requests to have the Project's Command Module present at events commemorating it.
I would first like to thank every one who has shown enough interest in the Apollo Education Experience Project to have read down this far.
I would like to offer thanks in advance to anyone who is generous enough to contribute to this project.
I would like to thank those who have already partnered with the Apollo Project:
- S&T Geotronics, Columbus, Georgia - https://www.stgeotronics.com/
- the Brookwood Home Depot, Suwanee, Georgia
- the Staples Print Department, Suwanee, Georgia
- Johnson Plastics Plus, Burnsville, Minnesota - https://www.jpplus.com/
- Al Warner of Al's Arcade, Atlanta, Georgia
- KI4RK, North Carolina
And finally, I would like to thank my family and friends for their support of me and this project.
- Sid Jones
- David Shaw
- T. Bultman
- Jed Christiansen
- Joseph Guarascio
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