On Star Trek, all Kirk and friends had to do was snap the button on the always conveniently located intercom panel, start talking, and the intended recipient would immediately respond no matter where they were in the ship. How did it work? Who knows. In spite of, or perhaps even because of, the lightly-explained nature of the technology, the cherry-red wall intercoms still hold a certain charm for fans of the groundbreaking show.
A viewer sent [Fran Blanche] a scaled down replica of the intercom from ThinkGeek, and while it certainly looks fairly close to the original prop, it has a couple of annoying design elements. When triggered by the side-mounted motion sensors, the panel will play either the iconic swoosh of the automatic doors or the “Red Alert” sound effect. It’s a cute idea for a kid’s bedroom maybe, but not exactly ideal for somebody who regularly records YouTube videos.
So the first order of business was to cut the motion sensors out of the circuit and replace them with a push button. [Fran] draws up a quick diagram to explain how these sensors work, and shows that they can easily be bypassed with a momentary switch since they normally bring the line high when triggered. She then converted the indicator light on the right side of the panel into a button to enable the alert sound effect, which is more accurate to how it worked in the show anyway.
The other issue, and perhaps the most egregious to Star Trek fans, is that the “Red Alert” indicator on the top of the panel didn’t actually flash like it did in the show. To design and build this panel and not put a few LEDs behind that piece of frosted plastic seems a bit like producing a Matchbox car and forgetting to make the wheels spin. With a couple of red LEDs and a bit of new wiring, the oversight was quickly rectified.
After seeing the TIX clock for the first time, [Gweedo Steevens] really wanted one, but wasn’t interested in paying the seemingly high asking price over at ThinkGeek. He figured it wouldn’t be too incredibly hard to build his own, so he decided to give it a shot.
The clock relies on 27 LEDs to display the time, which were multiplexed to make the most of his ATMega16 microcontroller’s available IO pins. Once he was happy with how things functioned on breadboard, he migrated the LEDs to a piece of perf board, and etched his own PCB for the controller circuit.
He used an office overhead lighting grate to separate the LEDs, providing nice uniform light segments. He put a piece of clear perspex on the front to cover the LEDs, but later switched it out for a much darker piece, for better daylight viewing.
The finished product is fantastic, and in our opinion looks even better than the retail version – awesome job!
[Garrett] posted about ThinkGeek updating the Phantom Keystroker to support random capslocking. You may remember that [Garrett] built the Stealth USB CapsLocker for April Fool’s day. The tiny device would randomly turn on the victim’s Caps Lock. This update to the commercial product has inspired him to refresh his own design. He suggests few possible options: random inserts, erratic volume control, or random sleeps. He’s also planning on making it more accessible to hacking. What would you add?