1) Build a realistic a DSKY using 3D printing.
2) Have the DSKY operate running the original assembly code.
2a) Standalone operation using an internal simulator.
2b) Connect to an AGC to drive the DSKY.
I have been working for two years on another project to build an Apollo Guidance Computer. I built a hardware level simulator that runs the actual assembly code provided by Ronald Burkey. https://www.ibiblio.org/apollo/ Ron created an assembler and has most versions of the source code on his web site. I modified his assembler to output Motorola S-Record files that can be burned into EPROMs. Ron also provides a simulator, but his simulator does not drive down to the hardware level. I built a hardware simulator that utilizes the Control Pulse Matrix to control the simulation. From this effort I developed a set of schematics that utilize 7400LS TTL chips. I am in the process of wiring chips together, a long, slow and tedious process.
Part of the AGC is the DSKY. I have a working DSKY using TTL chips driving 7-segment LCDs and 19 generic keys. I learned a lot about the use of TTL chips, but I am unsatisfied with the look of the DSKY. After building a paper model of the DSKY I decided to put my modeling skills to work to 3D print a realistic model of the DSKY. Fortunately there are a number of people on this site that have 3D printed a DSKY using the actual NASA documents as reference.
The first decision was do I use the guts of the AGC DSKY to drive a simulation or utilize more modern technology? If I use what I already have developed for the AGC project then this model will only work with the AGC attached. If I use modern microprocessors to drive a pair of LCD screens then I get a better looking model and I have the ability to run the simulator software internally, thus providing a working standalone model as well as a DSKY for my AGC project. I will go down the modern processor path.
The second decision is do I drive everything with a Raspberry Pi, Arduino or combination thereof? My Earth Rover project utilized a Raspberry Pi as the "big brain", providing a web site to drive the rover and an Arduino as the "small brain" to interface with all the sensors and motors. This is the perfect solution for this project. I got a 3 for 2 deal on Arduino Nano Everys and decided to use a Nano to drive each of the displays and the third to drive the keyboard. The Raspberry Pi can set up a WiFi hotspot so can remotely log in and control the simulation.
To accomplish this project I needed to learn a CAD program and how to 3D print. The CAD program I chose was AutoDesk's Fusion 360 as this is free if you are a hobbyist and not a for profit company. The learning curve for what I needed to do was relatively easy. I purchased a 3D printer from FlashFusion, the Guider 2S. The printer needs to be large enough to print a part that is 8" x 8.25" x 3". After a few screwups on some smaller parts, I got the hang of it quickly. Note that some of the larger parts take over 34 hours to print.
As a software engineer, my favorite language is Java, therefore the Raspberry Pi software is mostly Java. Ardiunos have their own language which is C based and easy to use. Most every device you purchase for this sort of hobby has Arduino libraries, making coding very straight forward. I created my own simple protocol between the Raspberry Pi and the Arduinos. For Java development I would suggest a free IDE such as Eclipse or IntelliJ Idea.