Tricorder Tutorial Isn’t Just For Starfleet Cadets

For many of us, the most difficult aspect of a project comes when it’s time to document the thing. Did you take enough pictures? Did you remember all the little details that it took to put it together? Should you explain those handful of oddball quirks, even though you’re probably the only person in the world that knows how to trigger them?

Well, we can’t speak to how difficult it was for [Mangy_Dog] to put together this training video for his incredible Star Trek: Voyager tricorder replica, but we certainly approve of the final product. Presented with a faux-VHS intro that makes it feel like something that would have been shown to cast members during the legendary run the franchise had in the 1990s, the video covers the use and operation of this phenomenal prop in exquisite detail.

Replaceable batteries are standard again in the 2370s.

Now to be fair, [Mangy_Dog] has sold a few of his replicas to other Trek aficionados, and we’re willing to bet they went for a pretty penny. As such, maybe it’s not a huge surprise he’d need to put together a comprehensive guide on how to operate the device’s varied functions. Had this been a personal project there wouldn’t have been the need to record such a detailed walk-through of how it all works — so in that regard, we’re fortunate.

One of the most interesting things demonstrated in this video is how well [Mangy_Dog] managed to implement mundane features such as brightness and volume control without compromising the look of the prop itself. Rather than adding some incongruous switches or sliders, holding down various touch-sensitive buttons on the device brings up hidden menus that let you adjust system parameters. The project was impressive enough from the existing images and videos, but seeing just how deep the attention to detail goes is really a treat.

Previously we took a look at some of the work that [Mangy_Dog] has put into these gorgeous props, which (unsurprisingly) have taken years to develop. While they might not be able to contact an orbiting starship or diagnose somebody’s illness from across the room, it’s probably fair to say these are the most realistic tricorders ever produced — officially or otherwise.

30 thoughts on “Tricorder Tutorial Isn’t Just For Starfleet Cadets

    1. What a horrible comment and not in the sport of hackaday at all.

      This is a custom case, custom assets, custom programming. There’s a significant piece of work that’s went into this.

      But if you get your kicks just putting down others work on the internet fine – just don’t do it here.


    2. Till our technology catches up, pretty much. But Star Trek has a long history of inspiring people and who knows someone out there may come up with a portable medical lab.

      1. Some of these Tricorder imitations do have indeed sensors built-in.. Temperature, humidity, infrared, audio (mic), an SDR receiver. Just to name a few.
        The main problem is not so much technology, but fitting standard electronic modules in these custom Tricorder cases. If you’re an ST:TOS fan, an STD fan or Enterprise fan (ST:ENT), you have more available space for useful features. The original Tricorder, the pseudo-retro Tricorder (Discovery) or the handheld scanner can better house common modules.

    3. I mentioned to mangy_dog to put a flipper zero inside one. Then as people think you are “pretending” to scan their vitals…you are really capturing all RFID data, MAC addresses, WIFI, bluetooth…etc.

      But as this sits..yes it is just a visual prop…to which someone with a detailed interest in a topic spent a significant amount of time making.
      As a Maker, all you can hope is that the positive comments from others who see the hard work drown out the minimizers.

      1. Wat. Flipper has no wifi potential without an esp32 or esp8266 connected to gpio. RFID/NFC you need to be right on top of to get anything. Bluetooth (I assume you are talking about the nrf24) is also another, different gpio connection as the inbuilt bluetooth isn’t a full bluetooth stack.

        All this to say why bother putting a flipper inside, when you could use an SBC since you are using gpio connections anyway and NFC/RFID is not doable how you imagine.

    4. You’re complaining about a hobbiest produced prop that is more functional/ impressive then the actual hero props used on set? :/

      I love the build quality of this prop. Its design, paint job, visual effects are all top notch. The video intro is pretty fun too, its an artistic choice to go for the feeling of something you would have seen in the 90s instead of the likely lossless video of the distant future.

    5. Yes, but in true hacker spirit you (or me) could use this information to make our own version that can read an alien life forms vital signs. Or the local magnetic field strength.

  1. Amazing! This looks really really awesome overall! Great demo video, too!
    I’m sure someone is going to mod the second screen into this.

    One only tangentially related thought, though: It’s crazy how many LEDs and blinky lights they put into the Voyager Tricorder. I don’t remember the TNG Tricorder to be this over the top :D
    From a UI perspective, actually quite a horrible design as one never really knows what actually needs attention and what doesn’t if everything blinks and moves.

    1. “One only tangentially related thought, though: It’s crazy how many LEDs and blinky lights they put into the Voyager Tricorder. I don’t remember the TNG Tricorder to be this over the top :D”

      Hi there! I maybe can explain.. For Voyager, new and slick Tricorder models were originally planned, as far as I understand.
      However, there was little time and/or budget available to make them in time. That’s why Voyager ended up with TNG type Tricorders. There were different models in the show, at least.

  2. This just reminds me of when Farscape used a piece of aluminum with a Lego BIONIC arm glued to it as a communicator. At least Trek tried. (Gotta say I was really into Farscape for the story arcs and acting. The practical puppetry was a bonus. And I’m willing to overlook the cheap props :)

      1. No they were not. Those were made by the prop department. The salt shakers from the commisary were repurposed for the sickbay scenes when the actor playing a doctor would need to repair an injury. Laser scalpels. (Team this is what I was going to post from my handheld device. The other need not be placed here.)

      2. Speaking of TOS and authenticity, the wireless ear phone that Uhura had used in the series wasn’t too unrealistic..
        The form shared a similarity with a real crystal radio receiver, or more precisely, the coil. A diode, coil and high-impedance speaker speaker is all it needs to make it work, if an AM transmitter is nearby. So yeah, it wasn’t too unrealistic. The sick bay design, ship size, position of engine room, the hailing sounds (intercom) etc all made sense, kind of.

      3. Hi there! That reminds me of Space Patrol Orion, a weird German sci-fi show from the ’60s with a few subtle elements of parody. The show used household appliances such as an pressing iron as space ship controls, among other things. Some of the effects were rather sophisticatedffor its time, however, I must admit. And I’m not thinking of the roast apple who served as a star or burning planet in particular. ;)

          1. Both of you are confusing the scalpels and the actual scanner that he would wave over someone and listen to its tones, that was a prop construct. The actual ones were a series of salt (and probably pepper as well) shakers for the the scalpels. I’ve read the book, although my copy is lost.

  3. As someone who has a general understanding of technological advancement. This is a very vital step in making a scientificly funtioning tricorder. One step at a time. Hopefully he keeps playing with them to improve them over the next few years.

  4. Does it operate *only* on Lithium Polymer batteries? Or can it be upgraded to Dilithium cells?

    What kind of range does it have? Despite claims to the contrary, everybody knows that Verizon’s InterStellerNet coverage sucks in many sectors. Barely 1-bar. They even throttle back your download speed to 100Tbs. That takes at least 100ms to download a decent Holodeck simulation. Unacceptable!

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