• Genuine missile status indicator lights, found on eBay. "Missile Away!"
  • Airliner surplus cockpit loudspeaker
  • "Nuclear Consent" cockpit switch, used in flight simulators.
  • LCD Screen (for movies and photos)
  • Ominous LED countdown timer will go here. (Useful for the kitchen)
  • Airliner surplus, found at a Tucson scrapyard
  • Bank of randomly-blinking LEDs goes here
  • Surplus indicator dial
  • Possible photo card reader
  • More blinky lights

Control panel mockup

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This is a very rough mockup of the Cold War-style control panel I want to build for our kitchen this summer. I'm aiming for a look that's part-Batcave, part-Dr. Strangelove.

Some of the parts shown here are real, other are just paper printouts, positioned for size and placement. I've been gathering parts for about 2 years... the next step is to figure out how to wire it all together so it does something... and nothing.

feralboy, Matt Fitzwater-Stevens, and 10 other people added this photo to their favorites.

  1. travísimo ages ago | reply

    Hahah... you obviously have the same cold war tech fetish as I do. :)

  2. feralboy ages ago | reply

    Oh, man.. that is so hot.

    Did you see this watch? I would say it's right up your alley.

  3. Matt Fitzwater-Stevens ages ago | reply

    Todd, given the sources of your parts, please be very sure that it does nothing. ;-)

    Instant fave. Fun idea.

  4. jurvetson ages ago | reply

    By far the coolest home remodeling idea I have ever seen.

    Make 2 while your at it, and you could make a tidy profit on the whole project.... ;-)

  5. travísimo ages ago | reply

    Heh. Steve's right.

    ...although I'd imagine that collecting all the parts for multiple panels would involve considerable effort. :)

  6. Nell M ages ago | reply

    Awesome project. Hope you post a photo of the finished product.

  7. The Rocketeer ages ago | reply

    I agree with Steve... you could make some profit on this idea. You have one of the coolest homes I've ever seen. I'd love to do some of the things you have done with your home. Keep up the good work.

    While I'm recouperating, I'll dig around in my junk bin and see if I can find some old 12 volt counters that increment digits when triggered (from the cold war era).

  8. travísimo ages ago | reply

    I suggest using some Nixie tubes. :)

    For those who aren't familiar with the term, I mean those old tubes that had a separate cathode for each of 10 digits that would glow when brought to a fairly high voltage relative to the anode. The "display" portion of the tube looked like this:

  9. Matt Fitzwater-Stevens ages ago | reply

    So that's what they're called. I've always associated them with electronics from my youth. My dad had one of the first electronic calculators--a big old thing covering the area of a modern tablet PC, but many times heavier. It used nixie tubes for its readout, and the entire device used to fascinate me. I still remember its hot-electronics-and-plastic smell.

    EDIT: Anybody over the age of 30 or so will know from personal experience what I mean when I say "early electronic calculator." But I recently realized that a lot of adults don't remember the days of rotary-dial phones, 5-channel monochrome TVs and analog records. So, now I describe these things.

  10. Telstar Logistics ages ago | reply

    Speaking of Nixie tubes, check out this entry on the FANTASTIC Finkbilt blog. Lots of info on how to build/use Nixie tubes.

  11. Cranky Media Guy ages ago | reply

    Seems like all you guys are into Cold War stuff. In that case, you'll LOVE conelrad.com .

  12. Telstar Logistics ages ago | reply

    Of course we love conelrad.com!

  13. Matt Fitzwater-Stevens ages ago | reply

    I checked out your set of "after" photos for your house (fantastic, BTW), but the kitchen photos didn't show any blinky self-destruct panels. Did you ever have the chance to build this thing?

  14. Telstar Logistics ages ago | reply

    No, Matt, I haven't. The kitchen control panel more or less migrated to the living room media rack, shown below. The top panel, for example, is a hybrid of a vintage control panel from a training simulator, with a blinky clock that I added myself. Likewise, I also added the row of yellow lights you can see in the photo to an old Marconi Noise Generator. (Here's what it looked like before.)

    In other words, many of the "zones" I planned to build into the original "all in one" panel have diffused throughout the media rack.

    Within the rack, I still plan to scratch-build one panel that will integrate some of the other elements shown above - esp. the old missile launch indicators, shielded switches, and perhaps a small video screen. (it would replace the chrome thing below the oscilloscope in the photo below.) It'll happen... soon. I promise. Really.

    For the kitchen, I've got a new idea: I want to build a "Cold War Kitchen Timer" -- basically, a small metal enclosure with a burly rubberized keypad on the front, and a big red LED countdown indicator sticking out of the top. It'd work like a regular kitchen timer, but when the timer strikes zero, it would play an audio file of an air raid siren. It's a fun idea, but seeing as how I have no idea how to do the actual electronics, that one might take me a bit longer to figure out! But what is life without silly projects to keep us inspired, eh?


  15. Matt Fitzwater-Stevens ages ago | reply

    They keep us inspired, too. By the way, ever think about using two keys, turned at once, to start that timer? :-)

  16. bsmif ages ago | reply

    Hey I recognize that spare meter!

  17. paperrobots1999 ages ago | reply

    Oh man, these are incredible. I need one for my desk, I don't even care what it does. How come no one makes phones like these?

  18. feralboy ages ago | reply

    the patron saint of nerds, steve wozniak, has a nixie tube watch!

  19. intenstinal_fortitude ages ago | reply

    If you ever get to Orlando/Winter Park, FL - you need to check this place out. Little bit of this- little bit of that...


  20. The Rocketeer ages ago | reply

    intenstinal_fortitude I drove past that place two weeks ago when I was there! If I had known it was a haven for blinky light panels and switches, I might have stopped and drooled a bit...

    I'll be back one day...

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