Jeff Highsmith sent us this kind message about the excellent project write-up he just launched over at MAKE:
When Adafruit started offering a free Raspberry Pi with orders over $350, I thought I’d never be able to justify ordering that many
components at once. I asked myself, “what could I possibly even do with $350 worth of switches, LEDs, breakout boards, etc?” Months later, I dreamed up a project big enough in scale that I not only crossed the free Pi threshold, but I had a blast building and learned a ton in the process. I built a homework desk for my son that flips up to reveal a Mission Control style console built from a big box of Adafruit parts, among other things. I thank you for the excellent selection and service, and I thank John De Cristofaro for his terrific guide to photographing LEDs, which helped me show off the 12-segment bargraphs to their full awesomeness. Incidentally, I did the build right at the tail end of the bargraph availability, and didn’t order enough in time, so if you see the blank spot in my INCO panel, it will soon be filled when I order another pair of those cuties. Thanks for bringing them back, I’m intrigued to try the i2c controller with them.
My older son recently started school and needed his own desk for doing homework. I wanted to make something nicer than a simple tabletop with legs, and realized that I could also build in a bit of fun for when the homework is finished. Both my boys and I still had space travel on our minds from our summer trip to Kennedy Space Center. For this desk project, I decided to go with a NASA theme. I researched the Apollo Program as well as NASA’s Mission Control Center, and designed my own console roughly based on those. I say “roughly” because the actual Mission Control does more monitoring than controlling, and isn’t awash in the whiz-bang rocket noises young kids appreciate. I took great liberties and made more of a “space-themed” play console than an accurate simulator. My goal was simply to provide some extra ideas and sound effects for my two sons to play “space” together.
The desk resides under my son’s loft bed (which I also built), and stays closed until the homework is finished. When playtime begins, the lid flips up to reveal the Mission Control console (see below).
As I mentioned in the video, I painted the underside of the lid with magnetic primer. The world map was applied over that, allowing my handmade spacecraft magnet to be moved around the map to represent the current position of the spacecraft in orbit. When I get a chance, I’ll add some recovery ship magnets and perhaps some cloud magnets to represent weather to avoid during launch and recovery….