The Unused Voyager Tricorder V2

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MangyDog

Sr Member
So I have now got to the stage in the project where I want to make a proper thread for it...

As some of you know I made the Unused Voyager Tricorder based on Rick Sternbach concept designs, finishing the project last year.

That prop used various modules and custom boards jammed into a tricorder chassis... While it worked it wasnt without faults. The electronics were fragile and 1 led died while making the video for the project.

And last year I was going to make one for someone, the plan was simple. Take what I made already using the modules and incorporate most of that into a single pcb design. That way it would be easier to fit, and should also not break down if you stared at it too harshly.

So i came up with this design,
IMG_20200412_115703.jpg


Quite simple really, It really was pretty much just the original circuit but in a single board.

At this time I was still using a nextion display to drive all the animated graphics. This was how it worked in my first build.
I've never been a fan of Nextion. In fact these days I down right despise them.

As i have eluded to in the old thread, the LCD quality had drastically dropped since I made my first build...


This was last November. I wanted to get this prop to him for Christmas..... But because of this terrible quality display, it wasnt to be.

I and the friend I was making one for were not happy. So I made a promise. Give me time, and Ill develop a whole new system, one where I could control all the hardware that went into this, including what display. This way I could promise a high quality build.

The thing is, i knew this wouldnt be a quick thing. Before hand I had considered making this new fully integrated system, but this quality issue forced my hand.

The plan, make a robust PCB design that included an FTDI/Bridgetek Eve graphics co processor chip. This chip not only would mean I can run any RGB parallel based display I like, but ultimately would provide a far higher quality of image rendering, and UI control.

Nextion wouldnt let me animate locations of objects. Everything was static, all I could do was change an image or push something forward in the image layers to make things appear. While it worked for the effect ultimately it was a cheap trick. Here I can now render real UI elements through code and script. Making a far higher UI quality experience. Heck if I wanted to I could make fully functioning UI with real data.....

The downside was time. Not only did i need to develop a new PCB design, I needed to make a prototype for the display as I had not build one from scratch before.

That was the easy bit.

IMG_20200408_175511.jpg
image0.jpg


This didnt take too long at all. By around March I finally managed to get a working display prototype (after fixing a few stupid little design mistakes in the PCB)

With these I was able to do a few tests to see , 1 if it would work and 2 how best to run the tricorder code. Including picking good quality displays.

This dev board includes a breakout that could fit a whole array of different popular LCD connections. (within the rgb parallel style)

And as an early UI test, I made this.


From there, I took the design and began working on the design for the new tricorder PCB. And over the next several months (till now) I went through too many PCB revisions and designs, often correcting mistakes I had made or over looked.
unknown.png

Above is an earlier render of the PCB during the design.

I went through around 4 or 6 PCBs designs and orders, constantly correcting stupid little mistakes I missed, before I finally have this!

IMG_20200911_175556.jpg



Now Im still a fair bit away from finishing this, and while I still hope to have this finished by chirstmas to send out one to my friend. Its going to be tight.
There should no longer be any more suprises electronics wise. This "SHOULD" work... The only real issue I still have is.... ........

I need to write a HUGE amount of code.

Writing that little UI test took me several days. And I need to make that for every single UI display page. Some are far more complex than this one. I also need to port most of my code from the old version over to this. As well as create a new serial interface two way protocol between the main board MCU and the door based MCU...
This is one of the new developments. I have reduced the number of wires going through the hinge, from 12 down to 4. Because of this reduction, I can run insulated multithread wires through the hinge now. 2 wires for power 2 for rs232 serial. So there should never be any risk of the connections breaking or wearing and shorting, a fear i had with the original enameled wire setup.

But this all just offloads more complexity to the software design.

As i need to handle all the led data and button presses through this same serial interface. Im hoping this wouldnt introduce any lag or perceivable delay between presses and beeps, but only time would tell.

The next major change is the prop chassis itself.
IMG_20200901_112119 (1).jpg


Before where I FDM printed most of the parts, I am now trying making all of this with the resin printed. not everything has come out perfectly accurate and I may need to do some filler correcting but it should ultimately reduce post processing. I also used an ABS like resin so it shouldnt be as fragile as usual resin, though maybe wont stand up to real ABS strength, it should still do really well.

So here is where I am now. Still A LOT to do. And at the same time trying to get some gains on the stargate.... I kinda feel bad as I feel like ive been really slow on a lot of things, but if anything I kinda think I might be stretching myself a little thin. Anyway hopefully it wouldnt be too long before I have more updates...
 
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Dtrasler

Sr Member
I understood about one word in 50 here, but I am blown away by the dedication and ability. Wish I had paid attention in physics class when we did electronics. Was that Physics class?
 

MangyDog

Sr Member
IMG_20200913_203001.jpg


Was genuinely getting worried there..... After putting these three boards together, none of them worked. The MCU would power up but nothing worked on the display side. Ive been soldering and desoldering all weekend and I started to think there must have been some design fault..... but no... Luckily.

Just the solder i have is crap. And while some chips looked soldered up with contacts on pins, many wernt.

After literally checking each and every connection with a tester i managed to find and fix all the bad connections. And now have a working board.... Thank fook for that.

Ill go over the other two boards now get them working and then solder up the daughter boards to test the led circuitry.
Once im happy everything is behaving ill start assembling them into the chassis.

Still fingers crossed Ill get these done before xmas :D
 
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MangyDog

Sr Member
Sooo heres another little update as ive had some time to work on this...

This may not seem like much, but a lot has happened.

So my last video shows the display running... But when moving forward with the project at the time I realised my touch sensor chip wasnt talking to the main mcu, After some work trying to figure out why i realised I made a really stupid mistake and forgot to put pullup resistors on the i2c data lines between MCU and chip.

So i HAD to do another PCB design tweak and make an order.

Several weeks ago the new PCBs turned up and when I had the time I spent the next two days soldering them up.

In some of the downtime I had spent a fair bit of time working on the core of the software trying to write it as best as I could without any hardware to test on...

While I did manage to get most of it appear to work, last week when I moved onto trying to load up my LCARS uis again but this time within the tricorder project. The chip kept crashing.

I spent the last week pulling what little hair I have left out trying to figure out what was causing it, trying to rule out hardware issues. And Gladly I was able to rule out hardware problems as I really didnt want to have to waste money on yet another PCB spin. (done about 6 or 7 or 8 now...)

Anyway last night I had some success, managed to get the UI i have in the video to load. But that was within the test program. At least ruling out hardware fault.

And today after several ours trying to isolate code to test, I finally figured out what was causing the crashes or apparent crashes.

It was a mixture of a couple of things, including a small configuration mistake in the graphics library, but also my test UI code.

The basic issue is, when I made the test UI code, it was a year ago. And i forgot how I did it... Putting it into the new system, I was inclined to think it would just work. But I totally forgot I was using blocking methods in some of the animations.

As this main system now uses freeRTOS running threads, this caused the whole system to hickup when the blocking code was triggering causing the crash.

Anyway im really glad to say Ive found the cause, now I just need to recode it in a different nonblocking thread friendly way. Which might take a couple of hours of work once I get going with it.

But YAY simple enough fix no new hardware design needed... though stupid me for forgetting my code and not double checking it.
 

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vitacura

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
That is some impressive work and dedication. I look forward to future updates and thanks for sharing!
 

MangyDog

Sr Member
Another little update... Its going slower than I care to admit tbh but here we are.
Ive managed to get 90-95% of the core code working now, i still need to write the code for the other UI pages but loading assets is now fully working within the main project file. Touch buttons are working, RTOS is working sounds are working (buzzer and mp3 playback) LEDs are working (mostly still a few kinks there)

Other than the other UI pages I also need to writing proper reed handling code that can set all the hardware into low power saving mode to minimise drain when the door is shut.

The main important thing about all this is, the hardware is almost certainly locked down now. So I've been working towards starting to construct the actual prop.

I printed off the chassis a few months ago on my old resin printer. And over the last few weeks been going through everything and cleaning up parts. The picture bellow just shows the first round of filler primer. I still need to do some sanding and layer line removal and some pimple scar clean ups but theyre nearly ready to start putting together.

Theres still a sandwitching process to do with the electronics and some prepaint work is needed as some parts would be impossible to mask properly later.

IMG_20210110_171713.jpg

I also found a supply of PVC free "Vinyl" thats safe for laser cutting. So I draw up some vector paths for the vinyl mask of the decal composite.
I still need to put on the matt textured finish protective top clear vinyl but heres a couple of pictures
IMG_20210110_142658.jpg
IMG_20210110_170805.jpg


Now paints.... on my first prop it was all hand mixed using various modeling acrylics and canvas acrylics. While this worked out ok, it makes the pigment mix difficult to replicate as its all done by eye. But even then it dries a shade darker.
It also meant that before I sprayed the clear coat, it was exceptionally fragile. It would easily scratch. And if I went a bit too heavy with the first clear coat the under coat would react and start blistering.

So this time I wanted to use some automotive paints, this way It would be easy to replicate the colour and I have the added bonus of a tougher paint.

And here is a big pet peeve I have with Halfords spray paints. Their sample strips on the lids are really rather far away from what the actual paint looks like... It might be in a rough ballpark of the basic shade but the metalics in the paints throw the colours way way way off... And so I went through about 8 to 12 different cans before I finally found some colours and at nearly 8 quid a can...... Its not been cheap :/ FU Halfords!

Anyway..... I did manage to fins 2 very near matches to my own final mix.

IMG_20210110_171808.jpg


This bumper paint is so very very very close to my original shade... Only difference is in my mix I put some pearlescent white, so it had some metalic flakes in it. Its subtle but there... This paint doesnt have any of that at all... So the slight metallic shine is something Im going to have to forgo.
IMG_20210110_171824.jpg

And this dark gray is a good match for the darker inner part of the sensor cluster.
IMG_20210110_171856.jpg



So slowly but surly this is progressing and once I have the prop put together ill resume programming and getting that closer to finishing, before I do the final paint job... The issue with doing all the painting now is, its January.... and cold and damp. Its too risky to do any real painting right now. When it starts to get a little warmer it would be safe to do it. So ill use this time to get the programming done. If I get that finished and theres still tons of time before it gets warm ill try and sort something out to paint in doors...

Anyway slow but steady progress...
 

MangyDog

Sr Member
been prepainting parts, very nearly ready to start assembling. but going slow as weather is crap and truth be told I've been struggling to find motivation to get it done quickly. Its not the project its just pretty glum time of year....
But its getting there...

I really do want to get back to programming though and getting that done. But kinda at the milestone that I need to get it built before I can really do more programming...

Anyway Thought Id show the NEW hinges.... Theyre almost entirely identical to the old ones, but this time fewer wires going through and ive sealed the ends.
Anyway pic :D
1610669239471.jpg
 

MangyDog

Sr Member
Nearly ready to construct the main body. I was hoping to get it done this week but I discovered I made a mistake and printed the wrong version of some parts.
So thats gonna delay things :/

Anyway managed to get the little slot in modules on this sensor cluster to slot in... After some effort :/ the paint made it really tight, im gonna have to do a little spot paint repair work but its fitting now.
IMG_20210125_004423.jpg
 
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renaissance_man

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Another little update... Its going slower than I care to admit tbh but here we are.
Ive managed to get 90-95% of the core code working now, i still need to write the code for the other UI pages but loading assets is now fully working within the main project file. Touch buttons are working, RTOS is working sounds are working (buzzer and mp3 playback) LEDs are working (mostly still a few kinks there)

Other than the other UI pages I also need to writing proper reed handling code that can set all the hardware into low power saving mode to minimise drain when the door is shut.

The main important thing about all this is, the hardware is almost certainly locked down now. So I've been working towards starting to construct the actual prop.

I printed off the chassis a few months ago on my old resin printer. And over the last few weeks been going through everything and cleaning up parts. The picture bellow just shows the first round of filler primer. I still need to do some sanding and layer line removal and some pimple scar clean ups but theyre nearly ready to start putting together.

Theres still a sandwitching process to do with the electronics and some prepaint work is needed as some parts would be impossible to mask properly later.

View attachment 1410580
I also found a supply of PVC free "Vinyl" thats safe for laser cutting. So I draw up some vector paths for the vinyl mask of the decal composite.
I still need to put on the matt textured finish protective top clear vinyl but heres a couple of pictures
View attachment 1410578 View attachment 1410579

Now paints.... on my first prop it was all hand mixed using various modeling acrylics and canvas acrylics. While this worked out ok, it makes the pigment mix difficult to replicate as its all done by eye. But even then it dries a shade darker.
It also meant that before I sprayed the clear coat, it was exceptionally fragile. It would easily scratch. And if I went a bit too heavy with the first clear coat the under coat would react and start blistering.

So this time I wanted to use some automotive paints, this way It would be easy to replicate the colour and I have the added bonus of a tougher paint.

And here is a big pet peeve I have with Halfords spray paints. Their sample strips on the lids are really rather far away from what the actual paint looks like... It might be in a rough ballpark of the basic shade but the metalics in the paints throw the colours way way way off... And so I went through about 8 to 12 different cans before I finally found some colours and at nearly 8 quid a can...... Its not been cheap :/ FU Halfords!

Anyway..... I did manage to fins 2 very near matches to my own final mix.

View attachment 1410581

This bumper paint is so very very very close to my original shade... Only difference is in my mix I put some pearlescent white, so it had some metalic flakes in it. Its subtle but there... This paint doesnt have any of that at all... So the slight metallic shine is something Im going to have to forgo.
View attachment 1410582
And this dark gray is a good match for the darker inner part of the sensor cluster.
View attachment 1410583


So slowly but surly this is progressing and once I have the prop put together ill resume programming and getting that closer to finishing, before I do the final paint job... The issue with doing all the painting now is, its January.... and cold and damp. Its too risky to do any real painting right now. When it starts to get a little warmer it would be safe to do it. So ill use this time to get the programming done. If I get that finished and theres still tons of time before it gets warm ill try and sort something out to paint in doors...

Anyway slow but steady progress...
I too found the Halfords lid colour strips very inaccurate. I have amassed a collection of various blues over the years when trying to get matches for Star Trek Voyager medical devices I've made.

Good luck with the build, it's going really well.
 

MangyDog

Sr Member
So got this setup now so i can nickle plate the short cut ffc cables i need to connect the front sensor cluster board to the main body
IMG_20210125_181624.jpg
 

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MangyDog

Sr Member
terrible news D:
1612535083812.jpg

I just found the hinge on the old version is broken D: im not sure how but it looks like as if the prop was dropped and landed on the door at an angle. But ive not dropped it :/

Ok looking at the resin it looks like its made with standard resin rather than teh abs like stuff, i can only hope the abs like stuff ive used on this vwe version wont break like this :/
 
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MangyDog

Sr Member
So with the hinges breaking on my old tricorder... I had to go back and tweak the designs for them. Trying to beef them up a little where possible.

This means making the barrels a little bigger... But still only microns bigger. As well as more girth to the necks where possible. And reducing the channels for the wires to go through. I cant say these will be a whole lot more stronger, but I hope they would be strong enough to last.

Still feel they need to be treated carefully.

Im still not sure what happened. I must have dropped the old prop some how. Though I dont remember doing it.

I really wish I was able to make these with pure injected ABS... that would be more than strong enough. This abs like resin, just isnt as strong.

And I cant afford to import the industrial strong resins that cost a bomb...

IMG_20210207_231352.jpg


IMG_20210207_231409.jpg
 

MangyDog

Sr Member
I really wish this wasnt taking soooooo damn long....
Anyway the door stuff is wired up and connected to the hinges.
They just need gluing and sealing shut now but im not keen on doing that just yet in case I need to go back in there... Ill wire it up to the main board to do a few tests first before i do that.

Its really not been that straight forward...
As mentioned before I had to beef up the hinges a bit... hopefully they should last a long time now... as long as no one drops them!

IMG_20210211_000229.jpg


Because of the new beefier hinges I had to make space in the face of the controls... If i print these in future ill be adding some changes to the design to fix this...
IMG_20210211_000257.jpg



IMG_20210211_000325.jpg


Anyway with some filing in places and some work... It all fits together... I did manage to break one of the resin printed faces, but managed to repair it with super glue, when it gets its final paint job it should hide nicely...
 

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