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'Star Trek' super-fan constructs a working tricorder inspired by the 'Voyager' TV series
Not many fans have the engineering abilities to boldly go where Mangy Dog has gone.
Very few Star Trek fans have the engineering capabilities to boldly go where MangyDog has gone. The U.K.-based content creator with a background in 3D modeling and graphic design made headlines with a beautifully-detailed and fully-working tricorder inspired by the one depicted in Star Trek: Voyager, which ran for a total of seven seasons on UPN between 1995 and 2001.
Exclusively speaking with SYFY WIRE over email, Mangy explains that the unique undertaking was born out of three things: his love of Star Trek, a private commission from a friend, and a tragic personal loss.
"This project started several years ago with the creation of the prototype," he recalls. "After losing my mother suddenly to a short cancer illness at the beginning of 2016, I needed something to focus on and put my efforts into, to help me through the grief. I’ve always been interested in electronics and programming, but before [this] I never really had the time to learn it. So I began learning what I could. Education projects like Arduino had really matured by this time, and hobby hardware design had really taken off. There were tons of resources for me to learn from, and I begun making my own projects."
A staple of the Trek universe, tricorders are nifty pocket devices capable of storing data, recording personal logs, and even diagnosing medical ailments (think of the technology as a much more sophisticated Palm Pilot...remember those?). In addition to compiling all of the necessary hardware, which included off-the-shelf materials and custom-printed circuit boards from China, Mangy also had to contend with the challenge of programming the darned thing to work the way it does.
"In the end I wrote about fourteen thousand lines of code for the project," he explains. "Some uses some interesting maths I’ve not heard of before and even some using maths I really should have remembered from school! ... While there was tons of research I did myself. I certainly would have struggled if it wasn’t for the help I received for various members of the embedded electronics community, they really have been great helping me find solutions to problems I was having."
Mangy continues: "I more than once wanted to walk away from the project. But not only did my love of Trek and commitment to getting my projects done keep me going, I [also] promised my friend I would deliver and that was a key driving force to make sure this got done and done right. I wanted him to be happy with the build I made for him. And on a selfish note, I wanted to use this build as part of a portfolio to find work in the embedded development industry. So it HAD to be good!"
As for what projects the future might hold, Mangy is interested in pursuing a "Warp Core lamp," even though it's been done before. "I also have a really big project coming up where I'm going to build a replica First Contact Borg Cube," he reveals. "I plan to build it at a slightly smaller scale than the studio model ... I’m not sure when I'll be starting that, but I hope to get going with it some point this year. It's going to be a fun challenge, but this time, one that’s more artistic!"
All seven seasons of Star Trek: Voyager are now streaming on Paramount+. Created by Rick Berman, Michael Piller, and Jeri Taylor after the death of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, the series introduced a number of fan favorite characters into the franchise canon, including Kate Mulgrew's Captain Kathryn Janeway, who recently returned in Star Trek: Prodigy on Paramount+.