Neil's News


16 June 2011

While browsing through our surplus equipment pile (basement of MTV-42) I found a Star Trek Phaser. This is Google, so finding a tricorder, Vader mask or Tardis lying around is not unusual.

[TNG Phaser]

After inserting a couple of AAA batteries, it emitted a satisfying series of sound clips of phaser fire. But I wanted more.

[Inside of toy phaser]

The first step was to paint most of the emitter black. By law toy guns are required to have orange tips so that cops don't shoot kids who are just playing around. But in this case they overdid it.

The next step was to add a laser. I cut down a laser pointer to fit and drilled a hole through the orange emitter for the beam to pass through. The speaker was in the way, so that got relocated into the handle.

Most problematic was power. While the phaser's sound circuit was designed for 3 volts, the laser required 4.5 volts. This meant adding a third AAA battery. I drilled out the bottom of one side of the existing battery compartment and built a new battery holder out of parts from a broken alarm clock and the lid from an oat container.

Finally I installed a pair of hidden DIP switches under the phaser so that the laser and the sound could be independently switched on and off. This way I can use it as a laser pointer during staff meetings.

One unexpected feature is that the laser was so cheap that it scatters a lot of light outside the beam. This has the nice side effect of lighting up the orange emitter.

Fun little project. The rebuild was completed just in time for the Star Trek II at Google's movie night.

Update: Hey, I never noticed that in Admiral Kirk's apartment one can hear a fog horn in the background. And not just any fog horn, it's the one on the Golden Gate Bridge. A detail only a San Franciscan would notice.

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