Saturday, November 7, 2015

Star Trek: Tricorders

This is part of my research on Star Trek Tricorders, toward the ultimate end of building a prop replica with lights and sound.  First, however, I wanted to figure out if there is actually any rhyme or reason to the model numbers for Tricorders - and just how many specialized variants ARE there?  What you'll find below represents my best research and guesses as to what Tricorders existed at different "in universe" dates and what their possible (or known) model designations are.

Scanners (Pre-Tricorders)

2150's Earth Starfleet

Hand Scanner
Heavy Duty Scanner

MACO Scanner

Medical Scanner (not shown) is basically a handheld scanner programmed for medical usage. Dr. Flox may have referred to it as a "Tricorder" in one Season 3 episode, if the off-screen device to which he was referring was his Medical Scanner. Perhaps Medical Tricorders were already in common usage on Denebulia and he just mis-spoke, or the terms "scanner" and "tricorder" were interchangeable during that era.

2150's Earth Sciences Institute

Standard Scanner

Medical Scanner

These were not in use by Starfleet personnel, but were used by memebers of the Earth Sciences Institute. It is unknown if there was a "heavy duty" variant.

2150's Vulcan High Command

Standard Scanner

Medical Scanner

One can assume that the Vulcan scanners were probably better than those in use by Humans given that Vulcan technology was generally more advanced.

2160's - 2250's

Sometime during the period of the 2160's to 2250's Scanners fell out of use in favor of Tricorders. During the Pilot episode "The Cage" the landing party does not appear to use either type of device, though one crewman can be seen with a large backpack with antennas on it and another with two different box-like cases on shoulder straps, one of which is covered in black vinyl and may be an early, bulky, Tricorder.

Tricorders (TOS & Original Cast Movies)

For the Original Series and the original cast movies we aren't given model designations for the Tricorders. However, if you backtrack from the model numbers used in "The Next Generation" it's possible to make a best guess as to what the logical model numbers are for early Tricorders. That is, of course, assuming that Starfleet Research & Development's naming conventions remained consistent between the TOS and later eras. For the purposes of compiling this list I am assuming those naming conventions are:

1. Model Number (TR-XXX)

2. Development Version (Mark X)

3. Standard or Heavy Duty (Type 1 or 2 ; Type A or B)

Starfleet R&D also appears to introduce updates on approximately a ten year development cycle, with either a new model or new development version of an existing model.

Given the uses we see for the "heavy duty" type in TOS it's obviously more ruggedly constructed and heavily shielded against external interference. But there's no reason to think the internal components are drastically different from a standard Tricorder, so I am going to assume that "Type 1" is a standard tricorder and "Type 2" is the heavy duty version. Also, for the purposes of my list I am going to arbitrarily assume that Starfleet switched from numeric "Type" designations to alphabetical ones.

2260's TR-460 MARK I Type 1 & Type 2



Heavy Duty

Geology Variant 
TOS "That Which Survives"

PsychoTricorder Variant
TOS "Wolf in the Fold"

The Starfleet Technical Manual lists both the "science" and "medical" versions as being a Tricorder Type 1. So obviously it didn't matter what specific use for which the Tricorder was configured, meaning the "geology" and "psycho" variants are ALSO of Type 1.

Note: The Heavy Duty Tricorder prop was a modificed Nuclear-Chicago Model 2586 "Cutie Pie" radiation detector.

2270's - 2280s TR-470 MARK II Type 1 & Type 2


This is never actually given a model designation, but if one assumes the TOS Tricorder was the Mark I, then this may be the "Mark II Type 1."

A "medical" variant isn't shown, but can be assumed to have existed, which would have also been of Type 1.

A "Heavy Duty" version isn't shown either, but can also be assumed to have existed, and given the massive amount of redesign to all Starfleet equipment during the era of "The Motion Picture" it is doubtful that the TOS-era one remained in use. Given that "heavy duty" versions don't look like the standard ones, it must be "Type 2."

2280's TR-480 MARK III Type 1 & Type 2

Star Trek III

Star Trek VI

Heavy Duty 
Star Trek II

I'm going to assume that since uniforms and other equipment underwent a redesign in the 2280's, the Heavy Duty Tricorder seen in Star Trek II would not be the same model as one in use during The Motion Picture era, and would keep pace with whatever updates were made to the standard format Tricorders.

I have seen prop replicas of the ST3 Tricorder with a "Mark IV" label, which may also be acceptable, as I note in the next section.

2290's, 2300's, 2310's, 2320's, 2330's, 2340's, 2350's MARK IV & MARK V

If the first folding Tricorders weren't introduced until The Next Generation era the Mark IV and Mark V may have been based on the 2280's design, or may have been completely new designs we never got to see. However, given that some people have assigned "Mark IV" to the ST3 Tricorder I'm going to say that at least THAT one was of the same design, and we can only guess as to what the Mark V may have looked like.

I'm assuming models TR-550, 540, 530, 520, 510, 500, and 490 were all released during this time period.

Tricorders (TNG/DS9/VOY & New Cast Movies)

2360's TR-560 Mark VI & TR-580 Mark VII

TR-560 Mark VI Type A

Science & Medical
TR-580 Mark VII Type A

Red Medical Tricorder
TR-580 Mark VIII Type A

TR-560 Standard Tricorder Mark VI
TR-580 Standard Tricorder Mark VII
TR-580 Medical Tricorder Mark VII
TR-580 Medical Tricorder Mark VIII (assumed) was a RED Tricorder mounted at each Biobed in Sickbay aboard Voyager, and is therefore assumed to be a Medical variant, probably used in conjunction with the Biobeds for emergency diagnostics. It was replaced in later seasons by a PADD.

Note: There must also have been a TR-570 during this time, probably very similar to the 560 and 580. It's also possible it the model wasn't released, and the 580 was instead. There must have been either significant advances or problems with Tricorders during the 2360's for Starfleet R&D to burn through three model numbers in one decade.

2370's TR-590 MARK IX & MARK X 

TR-590 Mark IX Type A

TR-590 Mark IX or X Type B 
Wrist Tricorder

TR-590 Mark X Type A

TR-590 Science Tricorder Mark IX Type A (type assumed) [2nd Season VOYAGER]

TR-590 Medical Tricorder Mark IX Type A (assumed to have existed, type assumed as well)

Wrist Tricorder might be a TR-590 Mark IX or X of Type B (assumed) [Star Trek: Insurrection]

TR-590 Standard Tricorder Mark X Type A (type assumed)

TR-590 Medical Tricorder Mark X Type A (type is assumed)

2380's TR-600 Mark XI Type A

TR-600 Mark XI Type A

TR-600 Mark XI Type A

TR-600 Mark XI Type A

The Tricorder Mark XI is only seen in Star Trek: Nemesis. It has a large touch screen interface, only a small door closes at top. The model number TR-600 is an extrapolation from previous models, which appear to increment in tens.

Standard (a.k.a. Science)

2400's TR-620 Mark XII 

TR-620 Mark XII Type A [VOYAGER: Endgame]

Standard (is like the Mark X with more touch surfaces)
Medical (has a small antenna scanner)

Note: The model number is extrapolated from prior models. If new models are slated for release on a ten year development cycle, and the 590's were introduced in the 2370's, then by the 2400's they should be up to about model 620.

2410's to 2790's

We have no idea what Tricorders were like during this very long time period, though the folding design seems to be be in use in the 29th Century. However, it may have simply come back into style. Model numbers appear to continue onward encompassing models TR-630 to TR-880.

2800's TR-890 Tricorder Mark XV Type A


TR-890 Mark XV Science [VOYAGER: Relativity] Type A (assumed)
TR-890 Mark XV Type A Medical (assumed to exist)
TR-890 Mark XV Type B Heavy Duty (assumed to exist)

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