Tricorder update #18 – Captain’s logs – All of them

(This article was first emailed on June 22nd, 2023 to fans who had registered an interest in finding out more about our Tricorder.)

In the 16th century the ship-log was a quadrant of wood attached to a length of knotted string. To estimate the speed of the ship, the ship-log was thrown into the water over the stern of the ship, and as it dragged in the water the string played out and the ship’s speed was measured by the time taken for each of the knots to pass through the operator’s fingers. A record of the speed (in knots) was maintained for the benefit of navigating. Over time the log record was expanded to include notes about other important day-to-day activities for posterity and the ship’s or Captain’s log as we know it was born.

In the Original Series, as well as being a neat throwback to the Enterprise’s seafaring ancestors, the Captain’s logs perform a very useful expository function, saving time and production budget without the need for sets or expensive scenes by quickly summarising key elements of the plot as the episode begins, or by moving the story on at pace during the middle acts, when things can get a bit bogged down.

As fans, of course, the Captain’s logs are so much more to us than a budget saving gambit. They conjure up a sense of each show, reminding us of our favourite scenes, audio stepping stones that take us through a rich mental mind map of all the Enterprise crew’s greatest moments. From the earliest stages of this project, we wanted the tricorder to be able to store and play, if not all, as many of the Captain’s logs as possible.

In the early days of the project, it was obvious that locating all the logs and extracting the audio of just the actor’s voice, in almost every case, without any other background music or sound effects (NOTE: there are sometimes some tiny noises, a groaning Gorn or the odd medical beep accompanying McCoy’s log for example), was not going to be a quick or easy task. To do so we knew that we had to go back to the original audio stems recorded at the time of filming, and for that we were going to need some serious assistance. Cue the archivists at CBS – as fans themselves they knew how important this was to us and the tricorder project and, right from the off, they were incredibly supportive and helpful. All they needed from us were the episode details and the timecodes of each of the audio clips, which they could then use to search their archives… I say all they needed, there are 79 fifty-minute (NOTE: episode lengths vary) episodes containing, as it turns out, some 233 Captain’s and ship’s logs, so the task of locating, transcribing and cataloguing each log was daunting.

In order to make the task a little easier, initially a small program was written to search all the episode transcripts for the word “log”. Once a candidate transcript segment had been identified in this manner, that part of the episode was watched carefully to verify the audio clip included a Captain’s log and the time code of the clip was noted and passed to the CBS archive team who used it to narrow their search for the requested audio track. Although time-consuming, over a twenty-four month period, this process initially provided 207 clips of clean audio which although came mainly from Kirk, also included a number of logs from Spock (15), Scott (8), McCoy (5), Sulu (1), and Decker (1).

As we began to realise that we actually had a realistic chance of getting all the Captain’s logs, we also realised that in order to be able make that claim, we had to be absolutely sure we had every last one of them. Although our catalogue looked complete, the nagging thought that we might have missed one or two, meant that we had to carefully watch the entirety of every episode to make absolutely certain that we hadn’t overlooked any. Andrew Stockdale set off on an epic 65-hour TOS binge-watching mission and located a further 26 logs we had missed! Of course, there is always the chance that despite our efforts, there’s still a tiny bit of Captain’s log audio that has slipped undetected through our processes. But as of now we are fairly confident that we have the full set so that for the first time, fans will be able to listen to all the Captain’s logs in one place in the original audio that Kirk et al, laid down when the Original Series was filmed.

The Captain’s Logs are accessed from the tricorder’s main home screen. The tricorder has three buttons. The three menu boxes at the bottom of the page show the functions of these buttons, which change depending on the screen. The left and right buttons are momentary single click-action switches, whereas the centre button is a five-way jog switch.

Using the jog switch to highlight and then select the required function on each screen will allow fans to navigate through the 233 Captain’s Logs stored in the tricorder memory to play the one they want.

Screencap showing the tricorder’s home screen. Jog the centre button left or right to highlight AUDIO LOGS, then press it to display a top-level view of the three seasons’ Captain’s logs.

The centre button is jogged to select the season and episode range, and clicking it displays those Captain’s Logs.

The centre button is used to highlight and then select the required Captain’s Log.

The Captain’s Log can be played, paused or restarted. As it plays the blue line moves along the bar tracking the position in the audio file.

There are a lot of logs to look through, so to make things easier, the files will be cross-referenced by episode name, number and a text snippet, on a dedicated webpage so that users will be more easily able to search through the catalogue and find the Captain’s log they’re looking for. The audio files will only be available to listen to on the tricorder.

Any personal logs that you record using the tricorder’s recording function can be accessed from the first Captain’s log screen by selecting the block marked PERSONAL.

Right from the beginning of this project, as capabilities go, the recording and playback of the original Captain’s (and ship’s) logs felt fairly fundamental to the tricorder’s imagined in-universe function, so we are really pleased that with the help of CBS we have been able to realise this part of our tricorder vision.

LLAP 

Chris

Coming next time

Status screens

Fans who register with us will be the first to read our news and the progress of this exciting Tricorder development and, later, where and when to purchase it. You can catch up with the story so far here on this blog, but if you haven’t already done so, why not register your interest in the Tricorder – you’ll then receive a personalised registration certificate and early access to these updates (before we publish them on our website).

30 thoughts on “Tricorder update #18 – Captain’s logs – All of them

  1. Huey Welch

    So awesome to see the role out soon. I am going to New York state in the USA to meet William Shatner and see the USS Enterprise Bridge, hall ways, and sickbay etc. on a four-day tour. I have my Lt. Red shirt security officer, boots, pants and most of all the Wand Company Star Trek TOS communicator and phaser replicas and want to add the tricorder. Would you ship me a tricorder to use one by July 5 ? I will pay, of course. I also made my uniform of Dr. Tristan Adams; the one with the dove and hand on a blue shirt from Dagger Of The Mind season 1 Episode 9.
    Thank you so much for a chance to email you and leave a reply. Huey Welch in Norfolk, Virginia 23502 USA.

    Reply
    1. Chris Barnardo Post author

      Hi Huey, Thank you for your kind words. I am really sorry but we have not started full manufacture and thus i do not have any units I can send out, however, good luck with your trip, that sounds awesome!

      Reply
  2. Delane Snow

    Thrilled!!!
    My friend Mike Cope passed away; I want to purchase it on his behalf. We were both fans since TOS first aired.

    Reply
  3. Patric Murphy

    Ive been waiting many years for this. I had emailed Chris back on Oct 13,2016 telling him how impressed i was with the communicator and phaser. I had asked him then if had plans of building a tricorder. With all the years of hard work you all put into this, i hope it turns out the way you wanted it to.

    Reply
  4. Pat

    I am looking forward to this, though I hope you all change out the low quality LCD screen for either an OLED or an AMOLED screen. This will make the product far more enjoyable.
    And I am easily willing to pay $600 for this product, especially if it includes an OLED screen.
    For a screen so small it will be much easier for peoples eyes to focus on and enjoy the visual information if it is OLED. OLED naturally emits 70% less harmful royal-blue light ( the 440-460 nanometers hazard light ) which reduces glare by making a more natural and balanced full spectrum viewing experience along with better details for eye comfort.
    To learn more anyone can search for the key words – marketplace.oled-info
    Prices on these tiny 4.5gen – 8th gen OLED screens are really cheap these days in bulk.

    Reply
    1. Chris Barnardo Post author

      Pat, the LCD TFT display has already been fully designed in and all the parts have been purchased for the full production. While you might be able to pay more for the tricorder, at all times during the development, we have made choices designed to balance the needs of all our customers in aiming for a retail price of around $300/£300, which we fully realise, for many people is a big investment in a prop replica, however beautifully it is made. The choice of display has a big impact throughout the component BOM and greatly impacts the architecture of the tricorder. Finally, while the display is certainly important, it is only really a small part of the overall tricorder owning experience.

      Reply
  5. Eric Kralicek

    Hi Chris,

    I have the communicator and phaser as well, and really appreciate the quality and detail you guys have put into everything you produce. Early on I had a recharge problem with my communicator – I contacted your team and they replaced the base quickly and at no cost. I was impressed with your service and quick response when things needed to be addressed. At that point, you made a lifelong customer. I am eagerly awaiting the tricorder; I know it will be as perfect as all your products have been. Thank you and let your team know they are doing great work.

    Eric.

    Reply
  6. Andy Kaplan

    Thanks for all the updates on the tricorder! Really interesting to see how its been progressing.
    I was just wondering if you have a rough launch date yet?

    Cheers!

    Reply
  7. stephen Fugate

    after you guys get the production of the tricorder under way and finished, please consider to do a phaser reboot. Any possibility of you guys actually considering doing a phaser reboot? I think the phaser reboot would sell out pretty fast.

    Reply
  8. Claude Whiting

    I own the communicator and phaser. The are both on display on my TV stand. Friends comment on them all the time. They are very cool products. I would buy the phaser again if it were produced.

    Can’t wait to add the tricorder when it’s released.

    Thank you for building these amazing props.

    Claude

    Reply
  9. Aeilr

    hopefully there will be enough of these that everyone on the email list can get one lmao they look amazing but I’ve had things be sold out ASAP before, no matter the wait list. How many are you hoping to produce and how long will the production run be? Is it a made once and never made again type thing?

    Reply
    1. Chris Barnardo Post author

      We had enough fun getting them from the Original Series and besides, that is what our license covers.

      Reply
  10. mark gent

    The Phaser and the communicator are perfect. So, my expectations for the Tricorder are extremely high.
    The attention to detail and quality of the products makes them worth waiting for, but please work faster.
    I really can’t wait.
    Fantastic company

    Reply
  11. Ted S

    As a former writer for (new) Trek and a lifetime fan of all Trek, I have watched this program with deep interest and excitement. The communicator had a special place on my desk at work and I enjoyed using it as my “phone” when on set for Discovery. I am waiting (but dying on the inside) for this launch. Thank you for your commitment to quality and for your tireless work to keep the TOS flame alive. I could not appreciate you more.

    Reply
  12. TK

    So excited to add the tricorder,to my incredible wand Star Trek collection, the comm and phaser are above and beyond what I expected, I actually bought 4 comms but only one phaser, my bad, if I could only turn back the clock, I think a lot of your customer base would like to know why the phaser is unattainable, I’m thankful for the one I have, the case, booklet, detail, unbelievable, but, if begging works, please make the phaser available again. Ok, nough said, you all are the bomb.

    Reply
  13. Roy Sekulich

    Any updates I am desperate to give you my money. I have been waiting for this most of my life. When I was 10 years old I met someone who had a screen used Tricorder prop. To this day I hate him for not letting me see it closer. I understood why he would not let me touch it, but he refused to let me gawk over it as much as I longed to. And his had no lights or sounds. I have wanted one ever since then. Now 47 years later I am this close.,, Seriously hope to see an update soon.

    Reply
  14. Erik Olson

    A minute detail, but I noticed the Captain’s Log playback screenshot displays the description, “Series 1” instead of “Season 1.” Was this intentional, a misinterpretation on my part, or possibly an oversight? My observation is meant to assist, not criticize.

    Love the detailed work you do! LLAP

    Reply
    1. Chris Barnardo Post author

      Erik, thanks for your comment. Yes that was missed in the early design and somehow made it into the blog… good spot. In fact we have worked further on that particular UI flow to make it easier to use, and it is now looking much better and much easier to navigate. It will be supported by a proper listing online to help fans find the Captain’s Log they want, but for now the UI flow is looking more like this.

      revised UI flow for Captain's Log screens

      Reply
  15. Tchacotae

    This has been a long time coming.. By now it should have all the functions of the original imagined in the TOS series. It should be as smart as my smart phone haha..

    Reply
    1. Chris Barnardo Post author

      no… all is all the TOS logs (and there are plenty of them), this is a TOS device and there’ll be more than enough logs to get your teeth into with just the TOS ones

      Reply
  16. Tom Ellis

    I’ve been to your website and can’t find a way to order. I am interested in all of your TOS replicas.

    Reply
    1. Chris Barnardo Post author

      We are not selling the Rock Mood Light, Communicator or Phaser any more. We might make more in the future, but for now our Star Trek team is focused solely on the Tricorder.

      Reply

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