The Apollo Education Experience Project


One of the next things I tackled was gauges. There are two basic types of gauges on the CM – round gauges and rectangular or “edgewise” gauges. They’re called “edgewise” because instead of observing the movement of the gauge rotating like a clock from the front, you’re observing the movement from the side or edge. On these types of gauges, the movement appears vertical instead of rotational.

I started with the round gauges, since I thought they would be easier. Using Blender, I created a two-piece housing – a bezel and an insert. The insert will hold a couple of pieces of 2mm acrylic along with a few layers of paper and transparency film printed with various parts of the gauge. I measured the original drawings of the control panel, and found several different sizes of gauges. I scaled the original model up and down to get all the sizes. While I started 3D printing the housings, Marc Tessier of S&T Geotronics ( laser-cut a number of the acrylic circles in the various sized I needed.

Two different sizes of round gauge housings and corresponding acrylic circles.
(Photo: Apollo education Experience Project)

I then started work on the layers I needed to make the faces. After some study of several photos, I determined that three layers would work – the gauge scale printed on paper, the needles printed on transparency film, and an outer face printed on cardstock.

Many of the gauges are actually dual gauges – two separate gauges in one unit with two scales and two needles. I started with these. I managed to find a very high-res photo of one of these gauges from an auction site, and used it to create templates for the different gauges. The outer face is the same for all, so I just printed a bunch of them. I studied some more photos to get the legend, scale markings, and scale values for the different gauges, and printed them on 20# paper. I specifically used lightweight paper because I intend to backlight the gauges, and I need light to shine through the white parts.

Of course, the gauges aren’t going to be functional, but I wanted them to at least look as though they’re operating. So, after designing the needles, I came up with several different orientations for them and printed a variety. That way I could randomly select one set per gauge, and all the gauges will not only look different but look like they’re actually working.

Printed outer faces, needles, and scales for the dual round gauges.
(Photo: Apollo education Experience Project)

Cutting the pieces out was easy – since they had to fit in the same size opening as the acrylic circles, I placed one of the circles over each item, then ran the knife around it. Because the needles are “free-floating” (or so they appear), I printed them with a thin circles representing a cut line so that the needles would be oriented correctly over the scale and not offset one way or another. The outer faces had a problem similar to the layers of the FDAI – the thickness of the cardstock allowed the white of the cut edge to show pretty prominently. And like the FDAI, I used a sharpie to turn the cut edge black so it blended in.

Outer faces, needles, and scales for the dual round gauges after being cut out.
(Photo: Apollo education Experience Project)

Now that I had all the pieces, I started putting them together. I started with the scale, followed by one acrylic circle, then a set of needles, the outer face, and another acrylic circle. I placed the stack on the housing insert, then carefully lowered the bezel onto the stack. The resulting 3D effect is astounding!

Two completed dual round gauges.
(Photo: Apollo education Experience Project)

There are six total dual round gauges on Panel 2 of the main control panel. Since I’m getting ready to start on Panel 2, I went ahead and finished those six gauges. In the photo below, they’re arranged somewhat like they’ll be installed on the panel.

All six dual round gauges for Panel 2, completed and awaiting installation.
(Photo: Apollo education Experience Project)

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