Specs for DIY Linux-powered Star Trek tricorders hit the web

Posted by Shane McGlaun

I was never all that crazy about the original Star Trek series, but I've seen every one of the movies and thoroughly enjoyed watching Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG).

As all Trekkies know, one variant of the tricorder acts as a medical tool capable of diagnosing just about any injury or illness. Another version of the device is designed specifically to analyze the environment of planets, ships and other structures.

Essentially, the tricorder is one major sci-fi fantasy that engineers have been working to make a reality. In fact, there is even an ongoing tricorder X contest with a huge jackpot going to the first person or team to design a true, working tricorder suitable for medical diagnostics.

Meanwhile, the very talented Dr. Peter Jansen has managed to create several Linux-powered tricorders. Although they  aren't (yet) suitable for true medical use, the devices do look pretty sweet and are actually  loaded with a number of sensors.

But Jansen isn't just showing off pictures and video of his custom-made tricorders. The man has offered up full specs on how to build your own version based on two of his designs, including the Mark 2 tricorder.

The Mark 2 runs Debian Linux and uses an Atmel ARM920T microcontroller. It also fits into a clamshell form factor, along with a pair of OLED resistive touchscreen panels. Inside the device are sensors for measuring temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, magnetic fields, color, ambient light level and GPS location. Power for the device is generated by six AAA batteries.

I can't help but wonder how much the parts and sensors cost to build this device, because it looks like a cool, somewhat functioning toy and would be an awesome accessory for a Star Trek Halloween costume.