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  Apollo Guidance Computer user interface

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Author Topic:   Apollo Guidance Computer user interface

Posts: 39
From: Chelmsford, MA
Registered: Oct 2000

posted 08-15-2012 10:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for edorr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A while back I wrote a web app for the iPhone/iPod Touch that I called iDSKY. It was "A Simulation of the Apollo Guidance Computer User Interface." I really enjoyed writing it because in doing so I learned so much about the AGC software and hardware. Once I "finished" it (software is never really finished, of course) I debated sharing it, but ended up deciding it was redundant in view of Ron Burkey's Virtual AGC.

Now I'm getting a Nexus 7 tablet, and have considered revisiting iDSKY to make use of the additional screen real estate of that device. And I'm rethinking whether it would be of interest to others.

Ron Burkey's Virtual AGC is a fabulous emulation, but has a couple of drawbacks:

  1. You have to install it. Not a huge deal, but some people don't want to go through the hassle of installing an application.

  2. Since it is an emulation, the lack of real (or simulated) hardware (gyros, rocket engines, etc., etc.) prevents one from doing some of the really interesting things.

  3. There are some platforms (notably IOS) that there's no pre-built binary for.
iDSKY is a simulation, but a very faithful one. You don't need to install it to run it, since it is a web app. Just click here (or put into your browser) and, voila!, you've got a functional DSKY on your screen.

Being a simulation, iDSKY has a couple of scenerios that you can run — launch and TLI (it's pretty cool to watch a video of the Apollo 16 launch while running the launch scenario — the numbers displayed track pretty closely with the audio commentary). In addition, it has a built-in reference section that lists verbs, nouns, programs, etc.

And finally, you can run it on any platform that has a reasonably modern browser.

I'm now thinking that not all Apollo enthusiasts are computer programmers, and that maybe some would get a kick out of playing with iDSKY. For those who are programmers, it's all implemented in JavaScript, CSS and HTML; and the source code may provide some interesting insights. And for readers of Frank O'Brien's simply tremendous book, The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture and Operation, iDSKY might prove to be an interesting adjunct.

I spent a lot of time making sure iDSKY did basic things accurately, comparing its functionality keystroke by keystroke with Virtual AGC. It does a complete implementation of all the display, monitor and entry verbs, plus a handful of other useful verbs. It uses the actual noun tables from the real software to implement all the defined nouns.

So, if you're interested, head on over to my iDSKY page.

Disclaimer: this is only a toy; not to be used in real space flight situations.

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