The Project’s Christmas List

Ok, getting any item on this list for Christmas would be GREAT! However, I really just have been meaning to put a list together of some of the outstanding hardware items I need for the ol’Cupola Project. This list is mainly for my benefit but, I have been asked by some VERY generous people what I was looking for. So, donations are always welcome and come with a free drink and meal at the #SpaceBar!


  • 7 LCD mounting brackets – these don’t have to swivel but need to be identical.
  • VGA extender cables. Depending on length of the cables, I’ll need 7 @ around 20′.
  • Rack Mount or small form factor PC’s with graphics that support DirectX 11. The servers I have can’t be upgraded to the necessary specs to drive the ISS monitors. They will drive consoles and automation equipment.
  • Space Shuttle Simulation software.  I have X-Plane and Orbiter. Any recommendations for anything else?
  • Flight pedals for the PC. Did I mention that I was building a shuttle cockpit too?
  • Throttle control for PC.
  • Nice to have – Touch monitors – any size. These are for cockpit and simulation control interfaces.

Shuttle Cockpit/ISS interior hardware

  • 2 Aviation chairs (or reasonable facsimile.) – I’d be happy to build ones like the shuttle. Anyone have some good plans/pix?
  • Any sort of interior/spacey details to add to the realism. I’m not going for movie quality but just to give you an idea.. I have installed some “hand-rails” on the ceiling for the cupola. I’m talking switches to lights to anything. The more authentic the better.

Well that’s about it. I know it’s a lot and I’m not really asking for anything but this does give you an idea of where I’m at. The physical cupola and false ceiling have been built. I have monitors and projectors for the shuttle and ISS (for the most part). I have a few PC’s. (bummer Dell and HP servers don’t support upgraded video!!) and a nice air cooled server rack for them to go into. I have network cables and routers and switches! I have flight sticks and some cameras (going to be able to record the missions after all!). I even have a nice flown flag framed to go in the cupola!


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Gone but not forgotten!

Hey folks! I just wanted to let you know that while I haven’t posted for a very long time that this project is not dead! Sure, I wasn’t able to raise the funds via KickStarter but that only means that things progress more slowly. Most of my electronics will be used at the Curious Kid’s Museum through the Spring of 2011 and that has put a damper on progress. On the bright side, this gives some great software folks out there time to write some awesome simulations software I can take advantage of! So, stay tuned and as always, if  you have a suggestion or are willing to donate some elbow grease (or paint!) just let me know!


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Parts of Project Cupola to be part of museum exhibit

I’m in the process of loaning various computers and other components to the Curious Kids Children’s Museum as part of an upcoming exhibit. The “Curious Kids in Outer Space” exhibit will have various computer kiosks and displays, most of which form the heart of the Cupola Project. I will also loaning various space related artifacts and art pieces from my collection that will be on display along side items loaned from NASA and the Kalamazoo Aviation Museum (aka the AirZoo).  The exhibit starts later this month and will run through sometime in March (details to follow). Here are some photos of the space station modules being constructed along with some of the spacesuits from the AirZoo’s collection.

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This Week’s Poll

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Parts of Cupola Simulator to be on Public Display

Tentatively, pieces of the Cupola Simulator may be on display as part of an upcoming exhibit at the Curious Kids Museum in Saint Joseph, Michigan. I’m working with Pat Adams, director of the museum to include artifacts from my personal collection along with some of the computer equipment that will be part of the cupola simulator. The computers will be used for accessing NASA websites and software as part of the display. I will also be speaking in September at the museum about the history my company, Whirlpool, played in manned space flight.  I’ll post dates and times later. Stay tuned.

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Of Cables and Windows

As a maker, I get great satisfaction out of seeing progress on my projects. When my I’m actively building something I either have a look of deep concentration or bliss on my face. What I have on schedule for tonight’s work is just one of those things that doesn’t sound very exciting nor produce much visible progress – I’m talking about cable management. Tonight I’m rerouting my cables to the computers that will form the heart of the space station simulation and planetarium.  My goal is to get the computers in their “home” and as neat as possible to get them into the corner and out-of-the-way for the next phase of construction.  If all goes well, this weekend will mark the beginning of construction on the main truss for the LCD’s that will be the “windows” in the cupola. This will mark the next major bit of construction. Based on previous attempts, I won’t estimate that this will be a single weekend project. Stay tuned.

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Aiming Too High?

It is possible that I have set my funding goals too high for a crowd-funded project with limited publicity or soliciting. However, I view the whole project as a learning experiment on several fronts. First, I’ve never built a false ceiling before. I’ve never built any sort of ceiling before, let alone on that houses a replica of part of a space station. Also, I’ve never asked others to help support any of my projects before.

This whole project has been filled with “aha!” moments (and one injury) and I’m fairly certain it has a few more of both left for me before it’s completed. In 29 days my funding project will end. If I don’t reach my goal by then, no funding.  I won’t be stopping the project or giving up if this happens. I will just continue, tweak something and try something else.

Asking others to help fund something like this project is is a funny thing.  If someone is passionate about it and wants to help, I’d be happy for the support. I’ve had one person even donate a networking switch! One way or the other the project will happen, the funding just ensure it happens a lot faster but also its a way for people to connect and be part of something. It’s that last part that I think is really something neat. I’ve been on Twitter for over a year and through it I’ve met all sorts of wonderful people. Directly because of these people, I’ve had some of the best experiences and days of my life. I’d like to believe that through this project I can share my love of space and in the process get to meet and connect with more incredible people.  Which is why the project will take a donation of $1. Frankly, the best possible way I can imagine this project being funded is entirely by $1 donations. That would mean that I get to meet a lot more cool and interesting people and a whole lot more people get involved in something space related.

So, help the projct by spreading the word. You never know where these sorts of things may lead.

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