Control Panel for LEGO Apollo Sets

Add an extra dimension of play to the LEGO Apollo sets!

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I set out to make a Christmas present with a bunch of switches and lights for my 2-year-old son to play with. Rather than have it just do things locally, I figured why not make it actually control something? My previous LEGO project seemed like an obvious fit. The end result is a Particle Photon controlled mission control ‘console’ for that project. Obviously, a large amount of ‘artistic liberty’ was taken, but I tried to incorporate as many real and accurate things into it as I could.

Link to Previous LEGO Project

At the end of the day, this is a dressed-up group of switches and LEDs tied to a microcontroller. No ground-breaking code or design involved. That being said, I had a blast trying to incorporate as many ‘real’ and fun things into the design (accurate font, NASA logo, moon landing plaque, JFK quote, SCE switch, Status Report lights/polling, console names, etc.). A bunch of 2-way and 3-way switches and a handful of LEDS later I ended up with this:

As mentioned above, I went with a Particle Photon for the microcontroller (what I had lying around and am used to coding). However, I needed MANY more pins than it has leading me to incorporate several multiplexers into the design. Figuring this general project (panel with lots of switches and LEDS) is something I might make variations of in the future, making a ‘shield’ PCB for incorporating the Photon and Multiplexers into a tidy package (versus a ton of hand-soldering) seemed like a fun side-project in Eagle. (Side Note: I made 10 of these PCBS but will likely only ever use a couple. Message me if you’d like me to send you one to make this project)

A bunch of soldering and coding out how I wanted it to work and I ended up with a finished project.

cd4051b datasheet.pdf

Datasheet for CD405xB Multiplexer

Adobe Portable Document Format - 1.46 MB - 12/04/2019 at 17:16


  • 1 × Particle Photon
  • 4 × CD405xB Multiplexers
  • 1 × 3D-Printed Components
  • 1 × PCB For mating the Photon and Multiplexers
  • 4 × Covered 2-way switches

View all 11 components

  • Success!

    Ben Brooks12/16/2019 at 18:53 0 comments

    I gave it as an early Christmas present to both my son and our neighbor's kiddos; definitely a hit! Unfortunately, after playing with it we realized that one of the large switches on the bottom (the abort to be specific) that I had to modify to fit the case is no longer working (guessing that the heat generated from the grinder and/or the soldering process damaged an internal contact). Luckily it's the least 'important' switch, so I'll probably wait to replace it until something else invariably breaks (whether due to my design or rough handling :) ).

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  • 1
    Print Components

    With a big enough 3D printer and ample filament (I think it used about ¾ of a roll), printing the console should be fairly straight-forward and easy; changing filament color mid-print for the panels and lights is the most complicated part. Everything can be found on Thingiverse here.

  • 2
    Solder up the boards and switches

    Using the PCB I made (or something similar) is definitely going to save you some time wiring things up, but there are obviously other ways to get all the switches and LEDs wired up to a microcontroller of your choice. While I created a schematic for the PCB, I didn’t create any kind of guide for the wiring of the switches. If you’re getting stuck, let me know and I can throw something together.

  • 3
    Assemble everything

    Assembly will ideally be pretty quick and easy. One hiccup I ran into (my own fault), is I failed to make sure there was enough clearance below the Abort and Landing switches. Ultimately, I had to grind a bit off of them in order for it all to fit. If I were making another, I’d make the console a little deeper to avoid needing to do that.

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