In a collectspace.com forum, I found the following (merged) thread containing images, questions and answers: http://www.collectspace.com/ubb/Forum29/HTML/000962.html The two images below are intriguing as they use symbolic iconography.

Two posts from user mercsim in 2011 say:

The characters represented a status between that station and the capsule. Reading like a book from top left, Command Control, Telemetry reception, Capsule Communications(air-to-ground), Radar, Reporting, Acquisition Aid, Ground Communications(Voice), Ground Telemetry.

The stations are fairly well published but it took a little digging to interpret the status symbols. (source: This New Ocean). An operator sat at a console (Network Status) and controlled the lights with a switchboard.


The information is actually in a table in Appendix G: "Ground Instrumentation Plan for Project Mercury." I found another slightly different version somewhere else. I can't remember the source but I have the table printed out in one of my nerdy reference notebooks. With a little detective work, I was able to piece the puzzle together.

I have a special interest in the original control center so it has actually been an ongoing project for me...

What is "appendix G" and how can I read these displays like a book to see the correspondence with the explained meanings?

Images displayed below have been zoomed and sharpened, originals are captured here: 1, 2.

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These can also be seen in this image:




1 Answer 1


Appendix G: Ground Instrumentation Plan for Project Mercury looks like a feature matrix for each ground station in the Mercury comm network.

In the display panel, each block consists of a 3-letter station code (CNV = Canaveral, BDA = Bermuda, etc.) above a 3x3 array of lights corresponding to communication features supported by the station. As your first blockquote indicates, they are, in top-to-bottom, left-to-right order (i.e. "like a book"):

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  • Command Control (C-in-C icon)
  • Telemetry reception (T-M icon)
  • Capsule Communications (air-to-ground) (C-V icon, V for voice)

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  • Radar (R icon)
  • Reporting? (o icon)
  • Acquisition Aid (A icon)

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  • Ground Communications (Voice) (L-V icon)
  • ??? (C icon, only present at Canaveral)
  • Ground Telemetry TTY (T-T icon)

The presence/absence of the icons doesn't seem to match up with the advertised capabilities in the appendix, but I imagine the capabilities at each site changed over time.

I'm not sure what green vs red vs unlit states indicate.

The station codes should be, in eastbound order from the launch site:

  • CNV - Canaveral
  • BDA - Bermuda
  • ATS - Atlantic Ship
  • CYI - Grand Canary Island
  • KNO - Kano, Nigeria
  • ZZB - Zanzibar
  • RKV - USNS Rose Knot
  • IOS - Indian Ocean Ship
  • CRO - Carnarvon, Australia
  • MUC - Muchea, Australia
  • WOM - Woomera, Australia
  • RTK - Range Tracker?
  • CTN - Canton Island
  • HAW - Kauai, Hawaii
  • CSQ - USNS Coastal Sentry
  • CAL - Point Arguello, California
  • GYM - Guaymas, Mexico
  • TEX - Corpus Christi, Texas
  • $\begingroup$ TTY is just the abreviation for tele type writer, see wikipedia. TTY is used also for the current loop interface used for very long cables where RS232 is not useful. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 12:22

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