The Apollo Education Experience Project

Happy New Year 2021!

Well, we have successfully shown 2020 the door, and I’m sure many are saying it is none too soon! We have had challenge after challenge thrown at us all year long. I don’t recall a year when the New Year celebration was anticipated more than it was a few days ago.

The Project has had its own challenges, some of which I’ve documented here. At the same time, though, it has had some great successes. The single most iconic portion of the Command Module interior – the Main Display and Control Panel (MDC) – is complete and installed. Also, two universities have come to shoot scenes for two films in the CM depicting portions of the Apollo program, which will help educate future generations on Apollo’s legacy. Even though the Project as a whole is way behind schedule, at least my original intended schedule, it has come a long way.

So – where do things stand now, and what’s coming up? As the year came to a close, a few more challenges have crept in to disrupt the Project a bit. The GoFundMe for the Project raised just under $6000 of the $7500 goal, which I think is very respectable. However, at the beginning of October, GoFundMe changed their payment processor to a company based in the Netherlands. As part of that change, GoFundMe started requiring my Social Security Number before they would send any donations received after September 30. They gave a justification for it, but after reading the laws they cited (which do NOT require SSNs for this purpose), it appeared to be just an excuse to collect SSNs. Although GoFundMe itself is a US company and subject to US laws regarding data protection, the Netherlands-based processor is not. So it was with great reluctance and sadness that I had to bring the GoFundMe to an end and refund about $400 in donations to new supporters.

Another challenge is an injury to my hand. I thought I had broken a bone in my hand following an impact injury back in September, but X-rays showed no fractures of any kind. What it turned out to be was some pretty severe tendinitis to two tendons, causing them to create nodules which felt like pieces of bone “floating” under the skin. The doctor says this was due to overuse, especially from hand tools. Gee, I don’t know when that could have happened, seeing that I was only using hand tools nearly every waking minute to get the CM ready for the film shoots! Now one of my fingers is in a splint, and I have to take it easy on my hand for the next couple of months. This of course means that construction on the CM has come to a screeching halt for a while.

But time away from construction will give me time on the computer. With the GoFundMe shut down, I will no longer be sending out Nanos with the updated software for the Open DSKY. Since the demand for the code is still there, I’ve already started using the downtime to work on polishing up the source code in preparation for releasing it on github as a fork of Scott Pavlovec’s code. Most of that involves cleaning up the mess and providing internal documentation, but there are a couple of minor bugs to fix, so the released code will be better. Following that, I want to start work on further memory optimization and addition of new functions. First among those will likely be the functions I added for the film shoots.

Also, with the GoFundMe shut down, the Project has no current source of revenue. To fix this, I’m talking with S&T Geotronics about collaborating on potential products for sale. Some of these may be stand-alone items, but others may be tied in with the Open DSKY. There are some exciting things going on behind the scenes – stay tuned for updates on these!

Future educational opportunities are coming as well. First on the list is that the Project has been contacted by ANOTHER university about an Apollo project their students are working on. I don’t know yet how much I can say about it or even how much the Project will be involved in it, but what I can say is that their project is very ambitious and exciting, and I’m looking forward to working with them on it.

One thing that visitors to this site are aware of is the lack of construction updates. With the downtime I now have, I’ll be able to go back and fill in the gaps. I have somewhere in the neighborhood of 250 photos that I will need to categorize, process, and upload to the site in post-sized articles, so it will obviously take some time. Just so I can get them out there for you, what I may do is create posts with only the photos at first so I can get them all organized, then write up the articles afterwards. To preserve the sequential nature of the construction, I will be back-dating the posts based on when each section was actually completed, as determined by the dates on the photos themselves.

When construction resumes after my hand is better, the first things to complete will be those interior components whose absence make the interior look unfinished (well, because it IS unfinished). These are mostly wall sections, but also two major panels remain. Following that will be coming up with a design for a totally new section – the docking tunnel. This will be a removable section which will mount on top of the two halves when they are mated together.

There are a number of other very interesting things that I’m expecting for the Project. But as you can see, there is already a lot to look forward to in 2021! Thanks to everyone for your support of the Project!

2 thoughts on “Happy New Year 2021!

  1. Hi Bill,
    Just touching base thanks to Mark at S& T Geotronics. If you haven’t heard of me I just Auctioned off at Sotheby’s my Block 2 AGC. I would like for us to communicate in the Future.
    Take Care,
    Jimmie .

    1. Hi, Jimmie,

      I followed your work on restoring the AGC (Apollo Guidance Computer), and I have to say that was far and away more amazing than building a replica CM since you were working with the actual hardware!

      Thanks for the recent emails, and I hope we can actually meet up one day.

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