Build Your Own Working Tricorder

By David Wharton | 9 years ago

The Star Trek universe is brimming with awesome gadgets that any science fiction fan worth their salt would love to add to their collection. Who hasn’t wished they could beam themselves around the world? A food replicator would make mealtime a snap. And if we’re thinking big, I could do with a warp-drive enabled starship. Hell, I’d even settle for a decent shuttlecraft. Sadly, these dreams will likely remain the stuff of pipes unless takes some major leaps forward in the coming decades. Take heart, however, dear fanboy or girl: while you may not be installing your own holodeck anytime soon, you can build your very own functional tricorder.

If that sparked your interest, you’ll want to read up on the work of a cognitive science researcher named Dr. Peter Jansen. As reported by Ars Technica, Jansen has designed a handheld device based on Star Trek‘s iconic tricorder. Since beginning the project in 2007, he’s been through four different models of the device, and he’s released schematics for two of them under a non-commercial hardware license. The Mark 2 tricorder, which is the more advanced of the two designs, runs on Debian Linux and is designed to replicate the tricorder’s clamshell design. It isn’t quite as versatile or as powerful as Trek‘s go-to scanning device, but it can make all sorts of useful Earthly measurements: temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, magnetic fields, color, ambient light level, GPS location, and distance.

You can see Jensen explain his tricorder in the video below, and aspiring tech geeks can find more information on his website.