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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+.