Friday Video: Working, Linux-powered, open-source Tricorder Project mimics handheld devices in “Star Trek: The Next Generation”

The Star Trek TV franchise, now four years short of its half-century mark, has inspired a lot of people to study math and science. You could easily claim that Captain Kirk’s communicator was the conceptual prototype for the clamshell mobile phone handset that appeared some 30 years later. The other portable instrument that a lot of Star Trek aficionados would love to get their hands on is a Tricorder—a sort of universal sensor-and-display unit. However, Mr. Spock’s Tricorder from the original series in the 1960s with its miniature CRT display, fitted leather case and carry strap, and an almost non-existent user interface (three pushbuttons just does not cut it) is already hopelessly dated. The newer Tricorders of the 1990s Star Trek TV shows, now those are something yet again and Dr. Peter Jansen decided that these more “modern” devices are now in reach of the advanced hobbyist. With his Tricorder project, Jansen  has created the plans for several Tricorders. Doe they work? Yes, and here’s the video:

Note: Thanks to Sparkfun Electronics for the pointer.


About sleibson2

EDA360 Evangelist and Marketing Director at Cadence Design Systems (blog at
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