Yavin 4 scanner (ANH) - all major parts positively identified


Sr Member
With my interest piqued a couple weeks ago by an old thread (https://www.therpf.com/showthread.php?t=3188) I have positively identified all the major parts of the scanner used by the Rebel Fleet Trooper on Yavin 4 as the Millennium Falcon is arriving:


That's a frame grab from the movie with an inset showing a matching shot of me holding the reassembled device (the first time someone has held it in 41.5 years!).

I've got one minor greeblie detail to refine still and there are some process things happening behind the scenes to allow us to make available high-quality cast replica parts, so please bear with me for a couple more days - I will share all the fun details here shortly...

Interesting! Never even considered this prop! Can't wait to see what you've got!

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Congrats on finding this little golden nugget!! I can't imagine the hours you spent staring at that freeze frame!!! Gonna be cool to see your kit plans!!
I see a very popular auction site getting hammered for found items

finger poised on the search button

Yeah, this is what I have been most concerned about - some of the items are perhaps somewhat rare/valuable and may still be of real use to some folks for what they are. So I've tried very hard as soon as I figured this out to set out from the beginning to have a process where very nice cast replicas can be made available for our community here. I feel quite a sense of burden and am very conflicted here - I want to and certainly will share all the details because that's what we do (are supposed to do) here and I know everyone will enjoy learning the history and the context as much as I have, but at the same time I hate to be 'that guy' who has now ruined the market for the poor folks who may need these parts 'for real'. Let me go on record to apologize for that right up front.

All I can say is that we're going to have some very nice replica parts kits made available and I know that I myself will not purchase any more of the actual found parts beyond the couple that I already bought in order to check that everything was indeed correct and to provide a master for casting the replicas...

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Okay, here we go...

This is a LONG post but hopefully fun and of some interest - please bear with me as I try to document the whole story here chronologically as best I can recollect my progression through my discoveries.

Back on 25 July I noticed someone had resurrected an old thread started way back in 2006, trying to identify the various parts that made up the scanner used by the Rebel Fleet Trooper at the Yavin 4 temple site as the Millennium Falcon is approaching to land. That got me interested so I went back to the Blu-ray to remind myself of the details. From the content of the thread I Googled for more background on Lorne Peterson's recollections but couldn't find any info other than the "two light meters" part (referred to starting at 9:44 in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7oQHQkNdkA). So I began searching the web for any images I could find associated with light meters. Most of those came up with the little rectangular handheld variety and nothing like anything on this scanner prop. From the appearance of the top part resembling a 'camera' I recalled seeing director's viewfinders and began searching for various versions of those, but again to no avail. On 26 July I posted the following image along with this 'analysis':



Yes, so it's the two lens-looking items that seem to be indentical and mounted roughly 45 degrees to each other.

They look to me more like lenses of some sort with some other item on the ends.

It looks like there's a central vertical hand-held thing that looks more like some light meters or director's viewfinders that I've seen. But, going from the quote from Lorne that it was "two light meters taped together", I'm wondering if those two lens-looking things are the meters of some sort...

So that's where my search left off for several days as this whole issue continued to nag at me in the background. Every now and then I'd do another round of image searching in case something new caught my eye. Then on Friday and Saturday 3 and 4 August I had a TV shoot for my regular appearances on "How the Universe Works" and got to chatting with the cameraman about this, describing the appearance of the prop, the circumstances of the small second unit shoot, and mentioning my searches for "light meters", curious to see if he had any insights. He rather rapidly suggested that I search for "spot meter" instead. Arriving home late Saturday night after we wrapped our TV shoot I did an image search for "spot meter" and very rapidly came to this result:


The central vertical part resembling a camera is a Minolta Auto Spot 1! The next morning I fired off a quick email thanks to the TV crew: "...thanks to his lead yesterday on the spot meter I was able to identify one of the bits in the Star Wars scanner I've been trying to figure out. The central bit is a Minolta Auto Spot. Yay!"

Energized by that discovery I began to focus on the two lens-like tubes again. An email to my production/VFX buddy Jim Arthurs that morning (5 August) documents my continued searching:

If you watch that scene frame by frame and back and forth you'll see that there are two identical copies of it mounted at about a 40 degree angle to each other. The main bodies look a bit like lenses, but there's some interesting 'thing' on the back end of each one. Doesn't look like anything "light meter" related in any Google search I've done.

Now I thought I recalled that there was some discussion of this second unit shoot in Guatemala in Rinzler's The Making of Star Wars - maybe there was more detail there. Indeed, on page 270 is the following bit of text:

"On the third day model maker Lorne Peterson joined the trio in Tikal - and was immediately coaxed into the crow's nest. Edlund also had him dress up as the Rebel who tracks the pirate ship with what's supposed to be some sort of fantastic contraption, but which was really a Minolta spot meter, with a tube and some batteries taped onto it like a gun, "to make it look sci fi"."

Ha - if only I had remembered that I could have saved myself a lot of searching for the Minolta Auto Spot! But I felt vindicated in my independent search and discovery and now I had a bit more information to go on for the rest of the prop items - a tube and some batteries. By the evening of 5 August I emailed Jim again:

I'm trying to think from the perspective of what would a quick-and-dirty small third or fourth unit film team have with them in their bag of tools that they would cobble together to make a quick prop. Those two cylinders might be some other sort of simple light meter tubes of some sort. What's got me really puzzled are the end pieces that constitute the 'knobs' - looks like there are two little eye hole loops on right when he brings his hand away near the end to bring his arm back in and those are clearly there on the left side was well from the shape of things. Those ends might have been taped to the ends of some plainer tubes to dress them up rather than being something actually a part of those tubes. I really don't know...

The mention in Rinzler's text of batteries got me thinking about rechargeable batteries that the crew might have with them - for a cordless drill maybe? Image searches for that showed vaguely cylindrical shapes but nothing matched closely enough. I then thought about the cameras they might have with them - they had to be powered somehow and I guessed it might be with batteries. So I then started searching the web for images of cinema camera batteries. After a brief bit of excitement sparked by an image of a vintage Beaulieu 16mm movie camera battery, around 8:30 or so on the morning of 7 August I noticed something particularly interesting in this image that popped up in the search:


That image led to a YouTube video of a fellow testing out the battery pack and motors on an old Arriflex 35-IIC movie film camera. My email at 8:56 AM to Jim shows my growing excitement:

Ooh, check this out:


Look at the Arriflex DC motor thingy at 2:00. That looks to be getting close to the kind of structure seen at the back on the two lens-like tubes on this Yavin scanner.

This DC motor looks close and might be something they'd have with them. I'm especially intrigued that the spots for the screws on this motor look just like the little open 'eyes' sticking out the sides of the things on the back of the scanner...

Jim responded:

That does look very close, actually... and they would have had more than one Arri 2C running around for second unit work. It wasn't a pin registered camera for VFX shots, but very common in those days for quick "pick up shots" both here and across world that didn't require sound recording (it's pretty loud). I've loaded those mags a few times, we used it on a commercial in the spring of '84 for some shots.

It's a heavy chunk of metal, BTW...

At 10:32 AM I sent Jim the following image and text:


You know, the more I look at it now (the left-hand image here), the more I'm convinced! By boosting the exposure I can even convince myself that I can see that central gear. And it even has the asymmetry where the screw holes on the left side are wider than those on the right.

By 10:42 AM I was convinced:

Even has the toggle switch on the left!

Holy crap - I think this is it! :)

By 10:59-11:03 AM I could barely contain myself:

Oh man, I can't believe it - I think we've solved a 40-year mystery!

You have no idea how jazzed I am right now - I am walking up and down the walls over this! :)

So there you have it, and it all makes sense now - this 'prop' was cobbled together on location from items the film crew would have had with them in their kit. It then disappeared never to be seen again (as in some exhibition along with other props like blasters and costume elements) because the crew must have promptly disassembled it and put the items right back into service. There are a few extra bits to the story and confirming evidence that comes first-hand but it comes from private communication and we'll let the other party decide if and when to discuss.

I myself have more detail to discuss still (e.g., there are various types/styles of the motors, things I learned about how things fit together during the assembly, etc.) but this post is long enough already...

Here it is in detail:


Well done to you
you are truly a credit to the forum x
Oh yes that was a big kiss :love:facepalm

- - - Updated - - -

Ha ha typical my search in the Uk yealds norhing, those motors look heavy and to have two in your hand ( not holding that up for long )

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