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Science Tricorder by Olympus Heavy Industries

A multi-mode scanner and data logger based on Adafruit Feather & Arduino

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This is a project I've been tinkering with for a couple years now and it actually started out as a non-functional prop. Modeled after the Tricorder devices seen in Star Trek and heavily inspired by similar projects found online. The ultimate goal is to create a functioning handheld sensor platform that can analyze, store and transmit all sensor data collected by the unit.

It’s been a hell of a journey learning how to build this thing, all started when I saw prop Tricorders at Star Trek cons in the mid ‘90s as a little kid. I’d never believe that I’d have one like this if I told past me of it…

I’ll post more as things happen

Planned features and revisions:

  • V6 (in progress) - 3d-printed chassis with a new mainboard and sensor array board assy to clean everything up and make it simpler to work on. I also need to design labelling for the door control panel and a unit label for the back of the chassis.
  • V7 - Create a new board set (mainboard, sensor assembly) and have the PCBs custom fabricated. This stage will still have the other breakout boards attach onto the mainboard and is primarilly to remove much of the wiring that needs to be soldered in place to make a unit functional.
  • V8 - Create another new board set that also removes many of the breakout boards by having the components soldered onto my custom PBCs. A few components like the Feather controller, TFT and RadiationWatch will still be breakouts since I still want a bit of flexibility (or these are too difficult to replicate).

All 3d-print files and PCB designs will be attached to the project page here.

Current scan data points:

  • Atmospheric:    Ambient temperature (averaged across 3 sensors), relative humidity, barometric pressure, Target Temp, GRIDeye temp (8x8 grid of IR thermal detectors)
  • Electromagnetic:    UV Index, IR intensity, RGB Color, Visible light intensity in Lux, UV intensity
  • Radiation:    Gamma/Xray detection
  • Gasses:       Carbon monoxide, Nitrogen dioxide, Ethanol, Hydrogen, Ammonia, Methane, Propane, Isobutane
  • Mechanical:    3-axis Accelerometer, 3-axis Digital Gyroscope, 3-axis Hall Effect Magnetometer

Currently, the Tricorder Version 6 is made up of the following:

This is now the 6th iteration of the Tricorder (the first was a prop build, not functioning), running v.o-10 code.

OHI Science Tricorder V6 Chassis - Release ver.7z

The current version of the chassis modeling for 3d printing. This one's also updated with the correct information about the hinges.

7-Zip - 5.24 MB - 02/16/2020 at 20:55

Download

OHI Science Tricorder V6 Chassis - Rev5 NOT FINAL.7z.7z

Rough-draft for the V6 Tricorder 3d-printable chassis, a work-in-progress

7-Zip - 1.96 MB - 08/24/2019 at 04:57

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OHI Science Tricorder V6 Chassis - Rev3 NOT FINAL.7z

Rough-draft for the V6 Tricorder 3d-printable chassis, a work-in-progress

7-Zip - 2.55 MB - 08/08/2019 at 02:31

Download

Tricorder Legacy Code (everything up to 4o-v9.rar

This is all of the code that I've written for the various iterations of the Tricorder over the past 2 years. Covers up to 4Ov9

RAR Archive - 79.19 kB - 06/09/2018 at 20:41

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OHITricorder-4O.10.7z

Updated 2018/06/04. Added functionality to Radiation scan mode and working further on UI changes.

7-Zip - 14.25 kB - 06/04/2018 at 22:50

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View all 7 files

  • 1 × Adafruit Feather M0 Adalogger (https://www.adafruit.com/product/2796 ) Primary microcontroller for the unit
  • 1 × Adafruit CAP1188 (https://www.adafruit.com/product/1602) Capacitive Touch controller
  • 1 × Adafruit 2.4" TFT LCD (https://www.adafruit.com/product/2478) Display
  • 1 × Adafruit DS3231 (https://www.adafruit.com/product/3013) Real time clock with battery backup
  • 1 × Adafruit TCA9548A (https://www.adafruit.com/product/2717) i2c Multiplexer

View all 16 components

  • Progress! Even if it's a little bit

    Queadlunn02/16/2020 at 21:02 0 comments


    Started to wire the mainboard together, even if slowly. I'm currently working on getting all of the power stuff connected up first, then I'll do the data connections. I plan on getting the mainboard working first, then working on the sensor array assembly. Slow going but it's progress!

    Thanks to Mit Balkens (https://hackaday.io/MitBalkens) for pointing out the correct hinges, I've updated the Thingiverse page and the downloadable model pack here with the correct information.

  • My current to-do list for V6

    Queadlunn11/07/2019 at 16:36 0 comments

    Bit of a lag between updates, sorry. Going to be a bit slow, probably through the end of the year right now.

    My current to-do list:

    • Finish wiring new mainboard
    • Integrate Radiation Watch board
    • Build code for new MICS-6814 gas sensor and it's power regulator (get base 3 gas types working for now, will expand later)
    • Figure out flex cable between main body and door
    • Design labelling for the door panel touchpads and a unit label

  • Good enough to ship!

    Queadlunn10/01/2019 at 04:47 0 comments

    I finally have the 3d-printable design good enough to throw onto thingiverse and here and consider it 'good enough' to fully release.


    (Here's the thingiverse link: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3796426 )

    I've got the files zipped up and uploaded as 'OHI Science Tricorder V6 Chassis - Release ver.7z'

    It's pretty easy to assemble, you just need a small handful of hardware besides the internal electronics. Specific parts and notes are in the Readme file.

  • Now in 3d, the Return!

    Queadlunn08/24/2019 at 05:14 0 comments

    Gotten a lot further along with the 3d shell, the primary parts are at least mostly done and I'm working on test-printing and fine-tuning stuff now.


    The big things left are getting the interface panels for the body and door further along. The main body panel needs cutouts for the TFT and controls, the door panel needs holes for the capacitive wire.


    The mainboard simply slides into the body and the body's under part (violet-colored in the 3d model image) fixes it in place. The desing's working pretty well so far but it does need a lot of tweaking for ease of use and ease of printing.

    Uploaded the current rev of the models as

    OHI Science Tricorder V6 Chassis - Rev5 NOT FINAL.7z.7z

  • And for the rough-draft

    Queadlunn08/08/2019 at 02:35 0 comments


    Added (really) rough-draft files for the V6 3d-printable chassis:
    "OHI Science Tricorder V6 Chassis - Rev3 NOT FINAL.7z"

  • Now in 3d!

    Queadlunn08/07/2019 at 06:15 0 comments

    After quite a while I've started to work on the next version of the Tricorder! I've had the hardware partially built for a while now but I'm starting to get the casing worked out in 3d so I (and anyone that wants to) can print it. It's going to take a lot of work since it's my first 3d design like this. Once I test it out and can make some changes I'll upload an STL and the original 123dx files.

  • More Progress, building Version 6

    Queadlunn01/15/2019 at 05:22 0 comments

    After a long lag I'm working on the hardware for the next version of the Tricorder!

    It's not a huge change from the Version 5 to Version 6, more of cleaning up the current design that the Version 5 ended up with. The soldering work is about half done right now, I still need to finish up the sensor array, additional sensors and the door assembly.

    The current Version 5 will have some of it's sensors moved to the V.6 (the GridEYE, 9-DOF/ATM, UV sensors) and everything else will be the same sensors in smaller breakout boards.

    Changes with the Version 6:

    • Slightly re-designed, a bit wider and shorter to allow a touch more room
    • Different sensors for:
    •      Gas sensing, got the newer version of the sensor board
    •      LUX, IR sensors replaced with same IC but smaller breakout board
    • This Feather M0 has a Packet Radio for if I make any hand scanners in the future, still unsure of that

    Ultimately I want to keep the older version working, likely remaking the casing so I can fit bulkier sensors into it (like the shape of the TNG Medical Tricorder). Since both will be using the same Feather M0 boards I also want to write one firmware that will work on both units if possible.

    Right now I'm focusing on the hardware and will resume on the code afterwords.

  • Code updated to v10, a bit of work done...

    Queadlunn06/04/2018 at 22:58 0 comments

    Small update- Got a bit of work done on the code today, expanded the Radiation scan mode's functionality. Now it shows avg pulses/second, avg pulse strength (in uSv/h) along with the last pulse detected.

    Part of this was making a timer based off of the RTC to count how long the scan mode has been on, this could be useful in other modes later on as well.

    I also got a bit further on in building a framework to allow a more interactive UI. The ultimate goal is to have the ALT button switch the button pad's functionality to that of a D-PAD along with Confirm, Cancel and Back. This'll give me a lot more to work with, like highlighting scan elements or using a menu structure. A lot of work to do on this however...


    The updated code has been attached to the project, v10.

  • Bringing it up-to-speed

    Queadlunn04/13/2018 at 02:17 0 comments

    In the past year the external appearance of the unit hasn’t changed much, it’s all been internal hardware and code changes. As the photos show, the mainboard is getting to be a rat’s-nest of wiring with all of the changes and adaptation that I’ve done. The code, actually, is a lot cleaner than when I was at the same point last year. It’s able to do a fair bit more but isn’t using much more of the Arduino’s (Adafruit Feather M0 Adalogger) memory (still hovering around 30% at this point).

    The sensors in the unit haven’t changed a huge deal, I’ve gotten them to work a bit better though and have even been able to adapt the libraries for the Gas sensor to work with the M0 controller (more brute-force really but it works). The total sensor list is posted below.

    At the moment I’ve gotten 2 replacement sensor part. One to replace the Grideye sensor so it’s smaller (I can’t do surface-mount soldering yet) and one to replace both the atmospheric sensor board and the 9-depth-of-field sensor board that captures movement. The second will combine both the ATM and 9-DOF into one very small package, saving on the limited internal space within the Tricorder.

    There are a few things I want to add into the unit so far: GPS (for both location data and accurate clock updates), Haptics (feedback from button presses, sensor alarms), and finding a replacement and higher quality display are my biggest. The largest hurtle right now is getting the code solid, using the display to give clear and accurate readouts of the sensor data, and eventually rebuilding the mainboard and chassis. The chassis’ ABS/aluminum/polycarbonate construction is rock-solid (it’s been hanging out in my camera bag for the last year) but I want to clean it up since the off-square lines in the current one bother me a bit.

    My big inspiration for the project has been the Open Source Science Tricorder by Peter Jansen. It’s an incredible project and I have major respect to the creator.

View all 9 project logs

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Discussions

josh034 wrote 08/28/2019 at 21:15 point

Have you done anything to make the device water resistant?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Queadlunn wrote 08/28/2019 at 21:52 point

Not yet, I could probably seal off most of the body and door assemblies but many of the sensors need unobstructed exterior access (or to figure out non-impeding glass shields). For now I'm going to harden the casing to make it fairly resilient but maybe at a later point I might look at sealing the design up.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Tim Rightnour wrote 08/16/2019 at 15:48 point

I like the idea of averaging 3 temperature sensors.  How does that play out in practice?  Do they diverge alot?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Queadlunn wrote 08/24/2019 at 05:17 point

It's usually pretty close to accurate from what I can tell, though letting the tricorder acclimatize for a bit is the best way for it's internal temp sensors to get an accurate average. When I need a quick check I usually use the non-contact IR temp sensor and point to something metal at about hip-level.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Daemon informatica wrote 08/07/2019 at 13:06 point

Did you know there is (or used to be) a project where people are challenged to build medical tricorders to detect / diagnose symptoms and deceases? ^_^ Quite a monetary incentive too, if I recall correctly..

Nice work. I've been messing around with ideas to build one myself, but mostly because I once got a medical tricorder prop somewhere in the past, and been meaning to extend it with actual hardware.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Ken Yap wrote 08/07/2019 at 15:10 point

>detect / diagnose symptoms and deceases

As in "He's dead Jim"? 😉

  Are you sure? yes | no

Queadlunn wrote 08/07/2019 at 17:00 point

I would like to build a medical tricorder at some point, but I don't trust my skills enough to use something for critical needs like anything medical, sadly...

  Are you sure? yes | no

Ken Yap wrote 08/07/2019 at 04:23 point

Hahaha cute 👍. You also need to make one of those cylindrical flashers used by Bones for body scans. That one doesn't need to do anything but flash and make a woo woo sound.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Queadlunn wrote 08/12/2019 at 16:53 point

I did make a hand scanner at one point, just some neopixels that were triggered by a cheap magnetometer:

https://ohicosplay.tumblr.com/post/161560143234/queadlunn-heres-something-i-put-together-today

  Are you sure? yes | no

TheotherMike wrote 02/11/2019 at 16:33 point

Not bad! Unfortunately I was never able to finish my own one. I´m still not sure about the basic strategy how to build it. You´re using a µC with on board radio, that´s useful in the long term I think. I also thought of using only limited amount of sensors within the main unit which might give long runtime, small size and weight. Using LoRa etc. one could shift all heavy duty sensors out to accessorie units... 

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TheotherMike wrote 02/11/2019 at 12:09 point

Hah, cool Project ! I found it because of your comment on another tricorder build... ;-)

You really have a hell of a lot of sensors in tis package.

How Long can it rum from batteries?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Queadlunn wrote 02/11/2019 at 16:13 point

The current version will run for about 3 hours on the 500mAh battery. The newer version will hopefully have a 700 mAh battery though which should make it run a bit longer.

  Are you sure? yes | no

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