TOS Communicator – Kydex, Stopwatch, Chirp, Knobs, Velcro


Well-Known Member
This "working" communicator was built by me based on images found on RACÂ’s site. Thanks for posting them, Rich. I also used instructions from Captain JTK and Duke Chad. Thanks to you guys as well! And Eyes Only came through for me when I tried to pretty-up the center of my moire and ended up screwing it upÂ…argghh.

It’s not screen accurate, but I wanted to make myself an “ultimate hero” version for my personal collection. It has kydex shells, a stopwatch to make the moire move, a solid-state sound chip with an actual “chirp” WAV file recorded in it, two rotating knobs, and velcro.

I wanted to share this buildup since IÂ’m normally a Star Wars Blaster guy. This was fun and different. The three notes below all of the pics that follow will be refered to in the steps further below that I came up with for myself to follow.

No, itÂ’s not for sale! I worked too hard on it

Link “A”:
Click here for the <a href=>communicator chirp</a> WAV file.

Image “A”:

Image “B”:

Image “C”:

Image “D”:

Image “E”:

Image “F”:

Image “G”:

Image “H”:

Image “I”:

Image “J”:

Image “K”:

Image “L”:

Image “M”:

Image “N”:

Image “O”:

Image “P”:

Image “Q”:

Image “R”:

Image “S”:

Image “T”

Image “U”

Image “V”

Image "W"

Take some sharp scissors and use the inside seam as a guide to cutting them out. With the open end of the shells facing downward, make sure that you cut a teeny bit below the seam lines! After you cut them out, take your shells and with some sandpaper on a flat surface, move the shells back and forth. This will make the seam lines flush and even.

Using your brass antenna as a guide, mark on the shells where you want to cut out the slots for the wheels. I used wire cutters and an Exacto knife to accomplish this. I then used a small file and sandpaper to go in and out of the slotted grooves to clean things up.

Take a scrap piece of brass tube, heat it up with a lighter or torch, then gently worked the hot tube through the lower shell where the desired exit hole is to be. (work it from the inside and go outward).

[X] Make or obtain a TOS communicator kit and buy a mechanical stopwatch that starts and stops and winds from one button. (Images “A” and “B”)

[X] Take the stopwatch with you and get a small length of rubber fuel line hose (part number “5816” at Auto Zone) that will fit tightly over the stopwatch button, get some aluminum and brass tubing at a hobby store (9/32x.014 and 1/4), get some JB Kwik Weld or 5-minute epoxy if you don’t already have it, and also make sure you have some rubber cement or silicone (for the moire). If you want the chirp as well, pick up a solid state 20-second recording circuit from Radio Shack. I also obtained a smile slide switch for this circuit since it stays in standby mode all the time….didn’t want it to run down my battery. (Images “C” and “D” and “E”)

[X] Remove the front glass face of the stopwatch using a thin-bladed knife in the appropriate nook. (Image “F”)

[X] Remove the faceplate and the stopwatch hands by unscrewing two screws in the side of the stopwatch with the same thin-bladed knife. Toss out the minute hand and reinstall the second hand and the faceplate and retighten the screws. (I didn’t want the minute hand preventing stopwatch internal movement) (Image “F”)

[X] Bend or cut off the second hand from it’s hub. (You might not want to trim it as short/close as I did) (Image “F”)

[X] Get the small brass rod/axle (not the tubing you just bought) to slide through the antenna wheel holes by grinding down the ends with a file. Cut the rod to a more appropriate/smaller length first so that it’ll mount almost flush up against the inside of the upper shell. (Images “J” and “K”)

[X] Deburr the mic plate with a file and sandpaper and steel wool, and possibly elongate the mic opening a bit (up and down). (Image “H”)

[X] Trim the shells, then sand them flat and to the desired size/seam. (*see note) (Image “G”)

[X] Cut the antenna grid wheel slots out in the upper shell. (*see note) (Image “G”)

[X] Mark and trim the hole for the mic grill (the grill should mount flush with the shell, and be glued from behind). I held the mic plate in place while using a Sharpie marker to mark the area the grill would go in. (Image “G”)

[X] Mark and drill the three holes for the lights (between four even spaces - sp H sp H sp H sp). (Image “G”)

[X] Align and mark where the moire ring will go (centered left to right, but 2/3 down from the top and 1/3 up from the bottom line of the “face” just above the 3 holes).

[X] drill a decent sized hole where the middle of the ring will be (for the axle of the stopwatch). (Image “G”)

[X] Mount the gems to their train-wheels/knobs after making sure the surfaces are flat. (Image “G”)

[X] Mount the plastic train-wheels/gems in the appropriate holes and glue from behind/underneath (yellow, red, green). (Images “M” and “P”)

[X] Mount the 2 metal train-wheels/knobs to the aluminum mic plate. Give them a "backing" of JB Kwik Weld and nail heads so that they’ll rotate...and drill holes where the backings will be in the upper shell so that they can rotate freely and that the mic plate may lay/mount flat. The knobs should now turn. (Image “H”)

[X] Mount the mic grill to the upper body and glue from behind. (Images “M” and “P”)

[X] Mount the mic plate to the upper shell. (Image “P”)

[X] Drill the four holes in the aluminum midplate and the lower shell. I had the best luck by doing it one at a time. What I mean by this is that I’d drill a hole in the shell, then drill a corresponding hole in the midplate….then I’d insert the screw and move to on to the next set of holes, and so on. I was able to use the screws to thread the holes. (Image “I”)

[X] Cut the midplate's upper crossmember out and retain it for final assembly between the antenna grip wheels. Cut this piece as wide as possible without removing the holes you just drilled. (Image “I”)

[X] Mount the antenna grid and axle to the upper shell. The brass rod/axle should be pretty close to the front edge of the shell. (Images “J” and “K”)

[X] Mount the removed aluminum crossmember to the upper shell between the antenna wheels so that it sticks out uniformly with the midplate showing on the edges. (Images “J” and “K”)

[X] Mount the upper shell to the aluminum midplate with JB Kwik Weld. (Image “L”)

[X] Cut about a 2-inch length of brass tubing. Cut about a ¾-inch length of aluminum tubing. Cut about a 1-inch length of rubber fuel line hose. (Image “M”)

[X] Mount the rubber hose, the aluminum tubing, and the brass tubing to the stopwatch. The brass tubing goes into the aluminum tubing, and the aluminum tubing goes into the rubber hose. The rubber host then goes over the stopwatch button. Everything should be tight except where the brass tubing and aluminum tubing meet. This is where any final adjustments can be made later on (and then glued in place after the final fitting with JB Kwik Weld). You may have to cut the brass tubing shorter first. (Image “N”)

[X] Test fit the stopwatch assembly into the upper shell. I had to grind down my midplate some where the crossmember was cut out so that the second hand axle of the stopwatch lined up perfectly in the hole I had drilled for it in the upper shell. You’ll also get a feel for about how long your brass tubing needs to be. Go ahead and glue the brass tube to the aluminum tube when you have everything lined up. Last minute adjustments can still be made by simply moving the rubber or aluminum pieces. (Image “N”)

[X] Grind out a recessed area where the brass tube will lie so that it will be as flush as possible with the midplate. (Images “M” and “N” and “O”)

[X] Mount the stopwatch assembly to the upper shell. It should rest flush on the underneath of the upper shell, and the second hand axle should be centered in the hole that you drilled in the center of where the moire ring will be. I used epoxy for this step.
(I also had to sand a small area on the back of the upper shell, where the minute hand axle poked up slightly beyond the faceplate of the stopwatch…to make sure it didn’t bind in the kydex and keep the internals of the stopwatch from moving.) (Image “O”)

[X] Mark on the bottom shell where the brass tubing should exit, then make the hole with an extra piece of tubing. You should now be able to press the end of the brass tubing in to start, stop, and reset the stopwatch. (*see note) (Image “Q”)

[X] Insert the electronics, the speaker, and the battery into the upper shell. I used the removed glass face of the stopwatch to cut a piece of duct tape out and then applied it to the back of the stopwatch to prevent possible circuit problems. I glued the speaker over the mic grill material. I tack-welded 3 3V lithium batteries together for the 9V source. I have it set up so that slight pressure to the underside of the lower shell will cause the chirp that I programmed (from a WAV file) to sound through the mic grill. It is possible to flip open the Comm and make it chirp at the same time, all with one hand. I inserted a small slide switch to the bottom of the lower shell so that I could disconnect the battery from the circuit when I wasn’t using it. I had to do this because the sound circuit was always in standby mode. (Images “R” and “S”)

[X] Screw the bottom shell to the midplate. (Image “S”)

[X] Mount industrial strength black "hook" velcro to the bottom. (Image "W")

[X] Trim the white paper moire so that it fits inside the moire ring and rotates freely. You may wish to cut a temporary circle "pattern" out first and once it is correct, use it as a template to cut the moire. Make sure this paper moire is cut dead on centered. I used a little circle-making ruler to mark mine. (Image “T”)

[X] Trim the clear moire to the same size as the paper one, but a bit off center. Again, use the temporary circle pattern as a template (or a ruler like mine if you have one). Make sure this transparent moire is cut slightly off centered. (Image “T”)

[X] Rubber cement the transparent moire to inside the upper retaining lip of the moire ring (in case you need to replace it in the future). Silicone could also be used.

[X] Rubber cement the paper moire to the stopwatch second hand post (include any appropriate spacers – I used a small piece of foam). If the moire is on thin paper, it might deform and get “caught” on the comm shell’s rough body, so reinforce it with a heavier piece of paper doubleside-taped to the back first. I used a needle to make sure I aligned it properly.

[X] Test fit the aluminum moire housing ring, then glue it to the upper shell. (Image “U”)


*edit: I changed the fact that the spacer I used between the stopwatch second hand and the white paper moire was a piece of dense gray foam, rather than the styrene. I chose the foam because it would act like a suspension and allow the moire to conform to any angle without really binding the stopwatch movement.


Sr Member
That has to be the best communicator I have seen to date!

I have tried to use the Radio Shack digital recorder you are using here but can't get a good sound from it. Any tricks to getting a better sound out?


Well-Known Member
Wow...thanks for the nice compliment.

I forgot to add this, but I cut off that 16-ohm speaker that came with it and used an 8 ohm instead. Worked for me. Sounds real good once it's in the shell....kind of an acoustical enclosure.

I also epoxied the speaker right behind the mic grill, which helped too.

Thanks again,


Well-Known Member
Fantastic M-Pire!!! A truly impressive prop, Wow!!


BTW, Could you please tell me a little about the Radio Shack digital recorder? I might like to use it in mine as well.


Well-Known Member
Hey!!! You guys are making my day

Thanks for the feedback,

*edit: that RS digital recorder circuit is about $9.00 I believe, but don't hold me to that. The speaker acts as a hold down a record button while pointing the speaker at the sound source...and you let go of the button when you're done. The sound stays in memory, even when there is no battery hooked up (non-volatile). Once I got the recording I wanted, I removed the recording button so that it couldn't accidentally be recorded over. I then attached an 8 ohm speaker to it instead of the bigger 16 that it had. Made it a little louder. I also welded three 3V lithium batteries together and hooked them up since there was no room for the 9V battery. Anyway, the circuit is activated by a pressure switch. I have it set up so that slight pressure on the underside of the comm will make it chirp. I can do this while flipping it open. I added the small slide switch because I think I read that the circuit has a standby mode, which slightly drains on the I wanted to put a stop to that.


Sr Member
For a self-professed Star Wars Blaster guy, "you dun good"!

Very good tutorial, BTW.

It's good to know that the Radio Shack sound recorder is worth the $9. If you still have it available, could you please post the part number? Thanks.


Master Member
Cliff I'm always blown away by the quality of work that you do. You have always been a great source of inspiration (and reference pictures!)

You see why you're my hero?!


Well-Known Member
Thanks Lowell, coming from you that means a lot.

Rog, thanks man...I appreciate that....and I'm terribly sorry

Thanks Armando...I appreciate the kudos. (How much do I owe ya for that post?

The Dude

Sr Member

That comm is outstanding! I am humbled.

Excellent work...and a great tutorial. The next one I do...I am going to try it your way!


Brevin Din-Shay

Well-Known Member
Very cool, Cliff!

Beautiful pics, as always.

I agree with Matt, it should be archived...what a great breakdown and tutorial!