All About the Communicator

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by ZapBrannigan, Mar 8, 2013.

  1. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    With it's shiny gold and black colors and curved, almost organic shape, the TOS communicator is a thing of timeless beauty. If you haven't seen this

    http://herocomm.com/

    ...it's a fantastic and comprehensive look at the original props. Especially intriguing: what became of the missing ones?

    Oddly, they don't seem to say anything about the alarming incident in "The Gamesters of Triskellion," in which Shatner rolled over on a communicator and bent its antenna. I've always wondered whether it was successfully repaired.
     
  2. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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  3. bbailey861

    bbailey861 Admiral Premium Member

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    Very impressive website and a pleasure to visit. Merci.
     
  4. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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    The Franz Joseph Tech Manual has a circuitry diagram. Anyone know if it would actually work? Did he copy the diagram for a kid's walkie talkie or something?
     
  5. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The circuit looks legit, and the noted frequencies are all "CB" (citizen's band). The diagram also notes "20th century" equivalent.

    Still, there's almost a "steam punk" aspect to the manual—such as the profile shot of the tricorder interior showing the bulky electronics of the 1970s. SMDs (surface mount devices) existed in the '60s, but did not become widespread until a couple decades later.

    The point is that there is no suggestion of advanced technology. STAR TREK (the show) did this as well. For example, in "I, Mudd" Norman is able to pass as completely human, yet his access cover looks like hard plastic, and his interior looked like period electronics. THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN did this, as well. (An arm wouldn't be packed with control-type electronics.)

    Ash, from ALIEN, was the first android I saw on screen that looked like machinery that might pass as a living organism. (Of course, this made his dismemberment that much more disgusting.)
     
  6. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    People really need to read the Forewords in the FJ Tech Manual. They provide a backstory explanation for all the discrepancies between the manual and the series, the use of 20th century equivalents, etc. ....

    I keep bringing this up, but no one responds. :(
     
  7. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    Got milk? :lol:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2013
  8. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    A lot of us vintage guys read it back when it was new. I always thought it was a great little backstory for the book. And I know Metryq read it; I'd say it just slipped his mind.
     
  9. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    Did anyone on the board ever get ahold of this kit?

    [​IMG]


    It was supposed to be as accurate as you could possibly get with modern materials.
     
  10. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Some people also do not read my posts. Obviously, the circuit diagram had to be "20th century equivalent," but there is no reason the tricorder interior could not have been faked up with something more streamlined and futuristic-looking. The engineering deck in the series had massive blocks of machinery, but no moving parts, which revealed absolutely nothing about how it worked.

    [​IMG]

    No one would have been able to fault it. If Franz Joseph had wanted to, he could even have faked up some futuristic circuit diagram symbols for non-existent components (like the "transtator" from "A Piece of the Action," or Spock's duodynetic field core made from a block of platinum from "The City on the Edge of Forever"). However, just a more streamlined interior would have been sufficient. LCDs existed at the time of first printing, as did SMDs (noted previously). It would not take any great stretch of the imagination to put in a flat screen technology, instead of the depicted CRT. The drawings don't even show any power source—a 1975 equivalent would have taken up about a third of the interior.

    My use of the term "steam punk" meant an impossible technology. For example, a steam punk robot might clunk around like animated medieval armor, but the "tyranny of numbers" would make it impossible. The mechanisms to make it move might be designed, but control would be impossible. (I always laugh when I see the massive relays clicking in Robbie's face in FORBIDDEN PLANET.)

    So in essence, the given communicator circuit would just barely fit in the space provided, and the tricorder would be completely impossible. Consumer audiocassette players in 1975 were bigger than the tricorder. Throw in computer logic and all the other features? No way.
     
  11. Doug Otte

    Doug Otte Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    That website is fascinating reading - very thoroughly researched and with proper respect to the work of Wah Chang. Thanks.
     
  12. Marlonius

    Marlonius Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Agreed, awesome website, exhaustively researched and compiled. Fascinating to finally know the fabrication steps of the communicator from back in the day. It goes to show how clever and resourceful Wah Chang was.

    Thanks for the link...I have lots of reading left to do. Like a good book, I can't "put it down".
     
  13. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    I didn't know if HeroComm might be old news around here, but I thought I'd post it and see. I'm glad you guys are enjoying it.

    The hig-res photos alone would have sent me into orbit back in the days when THE MAKING OF STAR TREK and Franz Joseph were all we had. Wondering what the props were really like, physically, and what might have happened to them, was as mysterious as wondering about the Titanic before they found the wreck in 1985. Now we know.
     
  14. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    Regarding the show itself, setting aside the FJ artwork, STAR TREK went in both directions. The dialog would have primitive talk of tapes for data storage, but then Scotty would say "Bulky, solid, I think they used to call 'em transistor units." My father, a radio technician in his day, laughed out loud at that line. But the use of tapes, that seemed fine, because what else could they use?

    The communicators had what we call voice dialing: when he's done talking to the ship, Kirk simply says "Kirk to Spock"-- and Spock's communicator beeps. That was so far out, so wildly advanced in the early '70s, that I couldn't come up with technical doubletalk to explain it. I thought there was no way to do that. It didn't even occur to me that a little communicator could also be a powerful computer. Like, that will never happen. (I'm old enough to still think it's remarkable.)

    But as Metryq said, Mr Norman (and the Bridge machiney, when they opened a panel down by the floor) had mid-20th century circuit boards. The ship's computers made a chattering noise, created on an electric typewriter, to simulate relays. They were playing to public expectations sometimes, to lend a sense of substance to the setting.

    The show had no idea how, but they just had faith that future machinery would be vastly superior. And today we have microprocessors, fiber-optic cables, rare-earth-alloy magnets, and fractal antennas that have literally re-made the world.
     
  15. mach7

    mach7 Commander Red Shirt

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    Yup:

    [​IMG]


    Photo taken at Vasquez rocks.
     
  16. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    That thing is so very beautiful, Mach7. I'm envious. :mallory:
     
  17. TREK_GOD_1

    TREK_GOD_1 Commodore Commodore

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    That is just perfect! Thanks for posting--and at Vasquez rocks, too!
     
  18. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    Hey, Mach7, now I know why your name sounds familiar. When I went to file your mouth-watering Vasquez photo, I saw it again: my folder for the John Long kit already includes your work in progress pics from HobbyTalk. I scooped them up back in January 2010. I don't get over to HobbyTalk very often, but it's always got something fun to see.

    Bumping into you here really highlights what a small world it is, this love of the communicator we have.
     
  19. mach7

    mach7 Commander Red Shirt

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    Thanks,

    Vasquez is a special place, I make it a point to go whenever I can. In fact I was just there yesterday along with the Bat cave and the power plant from the Invaders pilot.

    The John Long kit is great! I recommend it to anyone with moderate model building skills.
    The only thing I recommend changing on it is the crystals. The originals had 8 faceted Swarovski jewels, The current Swarovski jewels have 7 or 11 facets. Long substituted modern, less brilliant 8 facets but I think the Swarovski's have a much better shine.