Hacking an old RAF Nimrod control panel

Bought one of these things off eBay for around £35:

nimrod 110

Don’t know what it’s for. Probably some sort of comms / radio display. The reason I jumped on it – behind that dark window are 8 of these alphanumeric LED displays:

nimrod 109

These little displays are usually around the £15-20 each. Loads of LEDs:

Loads and loads of tiny LEDs...

And a little controller chip on the back of them:

... and on the back, under a little crystal window, a simple controller chip.

Little but not simple (!) – check out all the gubbins [that’s a technical term] in there:

OK, not that simple a controller chip.

Before trying to get the whole panel working, I hooked up an Arduino to a single display to get it working:

nimrod 104

Once you’ve sussed out how to get one display working, figuring out what the connections to a full display panel should be is a lot easier, even if it doesn’t look it:

Too. Many. Connections. Needed.

nimrod 105



Got it working!

Getting an expensive piece of ex-RAF equipment to say naughty words is the sort of thing that gets me out of bed in the morning.

Now that I’ve got the thing working, I’m not sure what I want to use it for. Maybe a new trip computer for the Landrover… we’ll see.

One thought on “Hacking an old RAF Nimrod control panel”

  1. Well first of all congratulations for your modding work . This control panel must be a display control for navigation computer I/O coordination’s for flight . I am a retired of Greek Air Force technician and I know that this belongs to Avionics sector. Any link to provide me to find one of this??? I will appreciate

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