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Old May 20 2015, 11:37 PM   #1
DS9forever
Fleet Captain
 
How did they fire phasers before "The Adversary"

I was reading that Ira Steven Behr asked for a trigger on the phaser rifles that first appeared in "The Adversary". My question is, how were phasers and phaser rifles fired before this?
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Old May 20 2015, 11:57 PM   #2
Christopher
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Re: How did they fire phasers before "The Adversary"

There was a firing button. The original design philosophy behind TNG phasers was to downplay their gunlike aspects. Presumably what Behr wanted was a more recognizably trigger-like firing mechanism.
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Old May 21 2015, 07:36 AM   #3
Timo
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Re: How did they fire phasers before "The Adversary"

The subdued triggers were always a piece of bothersome futurism - people still debate how the TOS Type 1 phaser was supposed to be fired...

Every phaser prop nevertheless did have, if not a designated trigger button, then at least a sufficient number of buttons and other features that came to contact with the actors' fingers when firing. Which, while well done in studio practice, might be considered a poor idea in "in-universe" practice, as a trigger has many drawbacks as a triggering mechanism.

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Old May 21 2015, 02:23 PM   #4
Richard Baker
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Re: How did they fire phasers before "The Adversary"

A lot of times in films the props with functioning triggers have them disconnected in filming because actors keep hitting the buttons, lighting up the prop at the wrong times.
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Old May 21 2015, 05:06 PM   #5
Boris Skrbic
Commander
 
Re: How did they fire phasers before "The Adversary"

ForceGrip (tm) on either handle, just in case it's ever fired one-handed?

Rick Sternbach might remember exactly, having designed the TNG rifle.
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Old May 22 2015, 09:55 PM   #6
Boris Skrbic
Commander
 
Re: How did they fire phasers before "The Adversary"

I was also curious, so I pointed out this topic to Rick Sternbach via email.

Rick Sternbach wrote:
My Type III rifle blueprints don’t show an obvious button on either the fore or aft grips. One of the postings talks about buttons being hit at the wrong times, which I do recall as being an issue during production. Made for slight VFX headaches. Perhaps that affected how I drew the thing.

My in-universe rationale for the grips having no obvious buttons is that (also similar to one posting) the actual firing studs are buried under the ribbed poly-elasto-squishy grip material.

Rick
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Old May 24 2015, 11:58 PM   #7
Go-Captain
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Re: How did they fire phasers before "The Adversary"

All the phasers can be seen at phasers.net, and old ones use levers, studs, and buttons pretty much in that order. TNG lacked any sort of obvious trigger mechanisms, even on alien weapons.

I figured the TNG era weapons use some sort of space magic touch sensitive trigger which somehow reads the user's intent. All of the weapons lack any sort of obvious safety, and generally lack trigger guards, so why not a similarly non-obvious trigger. However, a hidden button does fit better, even if doesn't sit well with me.

I figure a stud under a diaphragm would lack the tactile feedback of a trigger, making it harder to use.
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Old May 25 2015, 01:22 AM   #8
Christopher
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Re: How did they fire phasers before "The Adversary"

Go-Captain wrote: View Post
All the phasers can be seen at phasers.net, and old ones use levers, studs, and buttons pretty much in that order. TNG lacked any sort of obvious trigger mechanisms, even on alien weapons.
The TNG phasers had firing buttons on top, depressed by the thumb, like a remote-control button. This graphic shows the buttons and their functions. All the 24th-century hand phasers had an array of three buttons -- a rectangular firing button, above which were two square buttons for adjusting beam width and intensity.


I figured the TNG era weapons use some sort of space magic touch sensitive trigger which somehow reads the user's intent.
Well, firing is a simple pushbutton mechanism, but I always figured TNG-era phasers must have some kind of built-in sensor to track the user's gaze, since there's no other possible way to aim the darn things. On the show, you frequently see the beams coming out of the emitters in somewhat random directions, and I guess the phasers must be self-aiming based on where the user is looking.
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Old May 25 2015, 07:08 AM   #9
Zaku
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Re: How did they fire phasers before "The Adversary"

Christopher wrote: View Post
On the show, you frequently see the beams coming out of the emitters in somewhat random directions, and I guess the phasers must be self-aiming based on where the user is looking.
And still they sometimes miss...
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Old May 25 2015, 08:41 AM   #10
Ithekro
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Re: How did they fire phasers before "The Adversary"

Eye twitch.
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Old May 25 2015, 06:55 PM   #11
Go-Captain
Ensign
 
Re: How did they fire phasers before "The Adversary"

Christopher wrote: View Post
The TNG phasers had firing buttons on top, depressed by the thumb, like a remote-control button. This graphic shows the buttons and their functions. All the 24th-century hand phasers had an array of three buttons -- a rectangular firing button, above which were two square buttons for adjusting beam width and intensity.

Well, firing is a simple pushbutton mechanism, but I always figured TNG-era phasers must have some kind of built-in sensor to track the user's gaze, since there's no other possible way to aim the darn things. On the show, you frequently see the beams coming out of the emitters in somewhat random directions, and I guess the phasers must be self-aiming based on where the user is looking.
Oh, yeah, the thumb studs, I was in index finger firing mode. Thumb studs are a bad firing method since working the thumb can throw off the hand more than moving the index finger. The thumb goes through the heel of the hand, so moving the thumb inadvertently moves the weapon, but, it may not matter too much with eye tracking, which I agree on.

The directions they fire aren't actually random at all, the beam always intercepts the expected point of contact which the eyes are looking at. However, the angle of the beam relative to the weapon is fixed during firing; preventing inadvertent sweeping of the beam with wondering eyes. Sweeping the beam is still possibly using hand and arm movement.

Every single time Riker fires a phaser it supports precision eye tracking, and that one time Geordi is remotely taken over by Romulans, and his arm is pushed asside while firing shows relative angle is fixed during firing and that sweeping works with arm movement.

Taken together it explains why they have a good hit rate, but still miss. If someone moves as the trigger is depressed, the phaser won't predict a lead, and will end up behind the target in the time it takes the beam to extend from the phaser to the target. Hand movement by the phaser firer can also throw the aim off during trigger depression. Starfleet officers are also likely trained to rely on the eye tracking aiming, and brief bursts of fire, with corrective follow up shots, rather than long duration fire with manual correction. Ithekro is right too, a moment of distraction could throw aim off, but truly random twitches should be filtered out.
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Old May 25 2015, 07:20 PM   #12
Christopher
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Re: How did they fire phasers before "The Adversary"

Come to think of it, if phasers did use eye tracking to aim, then Geordi couldn't use one...
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Old May 25 2015, 08:16 PM   #13
Mark_Nguyen
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Re: How did they fire phasers before "The Adversary"

...Unless he had something pre-built into the VISOR? Data too, for that matter.

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Old May 25 2015, 08:42 PM   #14
Christopher
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Re: How did they fire phasers before "The Adversary"

^Data does have humanlike eyes, so I don't see the issue there. And it wouldn't be an issue for movie-era Geordi with the bionic implants. As long as there are eyes with pupils and irises, and as long as they're able to move and point at specific things, there's no problem.
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Old May 25 2015, 10:12 PM   #15
Go-Captain
Ensign
 
Re: How did they fire phasers before "The Adversary"

Geordi's eye balls might have subconsciously looked where he was looking with his VISOR, which might have been enough for the feature to work.

Has Geordi ever used a phaser outside the averted assassination scene?
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