Lock Simulator


About This Project

The Soo Locks are the commercial ship traffic gateway between Lake Superior and Lakes Michigan and Huron.  There are four locks on the American side of the St. Mary's River but only two are in operation.  The lock that is closest to the shoreline is the MacArthur lock.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains and operates the lock system and recently did an upgrade and modernization of the electrical system and operator panels.  The original 1943 MacArthur lock control system had four operator panels, two on each end of the lock, and were pulled from service.  An idea was formed to use the old operator panels to give visitors an experience of becoming a Soo Locks lock operator!

DIGITAL has breathed new life into this World War II era operator panel.  After a fresh coat of paint and an energy-efficient "green" upgrade from incandescent bulbs to LED lamps the physical lock panel was ready for it's new modern electronics!  We used five synchronized media players, a full DMX LED control system, five 42" LED commercial-grade display monitors and a lot of elbow grease in cleaning and rewiring the operator panel.  

When a visitor approaches the operator panel, a screensaver time-lapse video is playing on four of the monitor displays, which emulate "windows" in your operator panel.  A fifth display is above the "windows" and give instructions to the visitor on how to begin the experience and while playing which controls to operator in the proper sequence.  The LEDs light on and off to indicate the status of the lock gates and valves, while the industrial grade switches and levers give the visitor a manual input to affect change in the simulation.  This exhibit has been very popular and can be seen on display at the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center in Superior, Wisconsin.  A second lock experience is planned for installation in 2020 at the Soo Locks Visitor Center in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

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Project Highlights

  • Five 42" commercial grade LED displays
  • Five 4K class media players
  • Full DMX lighting control system
  • Green upgrade from bulb to LED lamps
  • Interactive switches and handles
  • Retrofit of 1943 artifact to be interactive