ATC Tower Simulator

A simulation of an airport control tower, using computer controlled models.
The plastic models were ~12" in length with (individually controllable, via Ir link) retractable landing gear, running lights and landing lights.The models were suspended from "trucks" that ran on an arrangement of tracks in the ceiling, and were raised and lowered by (individually controllable) stepping motors, allowing pitch control for takeoffs and landings. 
 

The major design and implementation was done by John Estlow and Jack Estlow; Glen Williamson (that's me) designed the electronics. 
 

Field Layout
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Runway 20
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Model in Rotation
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Model in Flair
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Control Tower Simulator, how it works

This is a prototype system of an airport tower simulator for, FAA sponsored, training of tower operators. This simulator uses articulated model aircraft running varied - takeoff, landing, and emergency scenarios under computer control via carrier current and infrared data links connecting the computer with the aircraft and its transporter. It also has lighting, sound effects and a graphical computer interface (GUI) for the instructor/operator. 

Simulator Data Com Network: By using a combination of frequency multiplexing and polling, this network can communicate with - and control - up to 128 devices or stations, with zero contention. Because of the hostile environment of this application and the fact that the devices or stations were dumb, protection of the system's bi-directional data integrity was needed. This is accomplished by the use of parity, echo-data-compare and a special carrier-loss-detection/data inhibit circuit, which holds "last-data" in its dual ranked data buffers if the carrier was lost during transmission. The system is simple, it sends the device address and the first data byte, which is acknowledged by the device sending either an echoed version of that data for comparison, or it sends its status register values (including "data OK" flag). Then the next packet is sent - until all three transfers are complete. If there is an error - parity or echo-data-compare fails - the data is retransmitted until a satisfactory completion or when the watchdog timer runs out, in which case the system abandons that device and moves on to the next...
 
 

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The ATC system was controlled by a PC 386 Card in an AMIGA A2000 Computer which controlled the sound effects, etc. 
Boeing 747 Model 12" in Length

 

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