Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mega Dashboards and Instrument Panels

Link - article by Simon Rose and Avi Abrams

Mind-boggling Arrays of Dials and Switches

Ever since man invented machines for transportation, we’ve had instrument panels and dashboards - from the steamships of the nineteenth century, the first cars and planes, through all the developments in land, sea and air transport throughout the twentieth century, not to mention spacecraft. For this article, I’ve avoided car and aircraft dashboards and panels, which we’re all quite familiar with, but here’s a fascinating look at some interesting, and at times mind-boggling, arrays of dials and switches.

(The S.S. Independence ghost ship' control panel. Photo by Troy Paiva, LostAmerica)

If you were sitting behind the wheel of the Model T Ford from 1923, there really wasn’t too much to distract the driver at all. Dashboards have certainly come a long way since then.

(images via 1, 2)

1. Space Craft

This shot shows the interior of the Space Shuttle. Bewildering perhaps to the ordinary citizen, but somehow those pilots can make sense of it all.

(image via, click top image to enlarge)

Another great cockpit of the Space Shuttle, this time we're inside "Atlantis":

(image credit: NASA, via - click image to enlarge)

Technology has of course advanced tremendously since the early days of space exploration. This shows the Mercury spacecraft from 1960:

(images via 1, 2)

This Gemini spacecraft from the sixties shows just how cramped the early space vehicles were. It’s hard to imagine spending two weeks or so in something like this, orbiting the earth:

(image via)

This instrument panel is from the Apollo command module used for the moon landings (below left); while picture on the right shows the Apollo lunar module panel:

(images credit: Adam Shane, 2)

This is only a fragment of much bigger panel, see the whole here:

(images via)

Click on this page to see a typical Appolo control panel, with explanation for every module. here is only a fragment:

(click to enlarge, image via)

On the Soviet side of the space race, here we have the information display system for Soyuz Spaceships (this page does neat comparisons between American and Russian control panels):

(images via 1, 2)

This is the control panel and instrument board of the Soviet Union’s Vostok spacecraft (including the three-axis hand controller):

(image via)

The "Vostok" control panel below also looks very interesting, but don't get mixed up - this is the "Vostok" analog musical synthesizer, not a spacecraft (although it might launch you into outer space with its groovy sounds):

(image via)

Here are some more Soviet spacecraft's control panels: this is interior of Russian manned space ferry vehicle TKS -

(images via)

Make sure you visit this Japanese site. It will surely satisfy all these space craft control panel maniacs out there!

2. Trains

Seemingly chaotic and intimidating "control panels" of various Russian-made steam engines from the 1920s and 1930s:

(images via 1, 2, 3)

Modern trains have significantly less confusing control panels and instruments. See these dashboards from a good old Japanese train, and modern German high speed train, for example:

(images via Christopher Denney Lane, Dominik Mann)

3. Airships

The "Hindernburg" was a gigantic, and sadly doomed, airship that met its fate in flames (more info). Here’s a member of the crew giving instructions though the speaking tube on a Zeppelin airship from the 1930’s:

(images via)

Various Hindenburg airship instruments can be seen on this site. Elevator Wheel, Elevator Panel, Ballast Board (left) and Gas Board (right):

(images via)

4. Boats and Ships

On to water and ocean going craft now. Seen in the boiler room of the the HMS Belfast, British WW2 battle cruiser:

(image credit:

Here is a neat wood finish dashboard from a pleasure boat:

(image via)

While here we see the collection of multiple instrument panels belonging to the significantly larger Norwegian Star cruise liner:

(images via 1, 2)

These two pictures might appear to be taken in a plane or helicopter, or even inside an early space vehicle, but actually depict the cockpit of a hovercraft:

(images via)


And finally, the only car dashboard featured here is the legendary instrument panel of the iconic 1966 Batmobile, from the sixties TV show. Holy gadgets, Batman, as you might be tempted to say - more info here:

(images via 1, 2, Nate Truman)

Check out this rare view of a dashboard of the MiG-29 "Fulcrum" Russian fighter (more info). Click here to enlarge for fascinating detail:

(images credit: Gennady)

Read More in "Gadgets" Category! ->

Simon Rose is the author of science fiction and fantasy novels for children, including The Alchemist's Portrait, The Sorcerer's Letterbox, The Clone Conspiracy, The Emerald Curse, The Heretic's Tomb and The Doomsday Mask.



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