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Make It So! The Star Trek TNG Mini Display

A microcontroller-based Star Trek TNG operational display

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I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. I've always wanted to build a Star Trek themed device, so I finally got around to remixing one of my old projects to make a Display Terminal.

The terminal provides weather, indoor temperature, humidity and volatile organic compound (VOC) strength, News, Schedule, Fitness Information.

The terminal also includes "maker" features: a Resistor color code chart, working LED Resistor Calculator and Power and Current Measurement tool.

This information is made available through a combination of APIs and hardware sensors. I leverage an ESP32 for the microcontroller, and leverage the AWS Cloud for all of the data collection and aggregation.

I'm actively working on a "Revision 2" of this make. You can find step-by-step build instructions for this version on Instructables. I'll save this site for regular updates on progress, and my thinking on features and changes.

Last year, I needed a low cost way to measure power and battery drain for a wearable project. I purchased an Adafruit INA219 Featherwing, and used some assorted spare parts to build a simple Power Measurement device (you can read more about it here).

This year, I decided to upgrade the device... to make it more "techy". I originally planned to build a working Star Trek tricorder (the Mark IV TR-590 Mark IX version, for those that care)... but I quickly realized that it made more sense to create something that would sit on my desk (I mean, why go to all this trouble to make a cool device, just to close it up and put it in a drawer when not used).

So, I I turned to making a version of the computer displays that you see on Star Trek TNG or Voyager (or the assorted movies). I toyed around with different designs, then came across a version created by the Ruiz Brothers of Adafruit. Adafruit does a great job of provided source files for their 3D printed projects, so I was able to take their original version and remix it for my hardware, buttons, and other peripherals.

The terminal provides the following information:

  • Weather - using the National Weather Service
  • Indoor Temperature, Humidity and Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) strength
  • News Articles - from News.org
  • Schedule (with alarm function) - from Microsoft Outlook
  • Fitness Information (Steps, Move Minutes, Heart Points, Weight, Calories Burned) - from Google Fitness
  • a Resistor color code chart
  • an LED Resistor Calculator (to determine the resistor value based on current and source power)
  • Power and Current Measurement tool

This information is made available through a combination of APIs and hardware sensors. I leverage an ESP32 for the microcontroller, and leverage the AWS Cloud for all of the data collection and aggregation.

I also included a few "easter eggs":

  • Ron McNair homage - Dr McNair is the reason I became an engineer; he grew up 45 mins from my hometown. He died in the Challenger explosion.
    • The name of my star ship is the "USS Ronald E McNair"
    • The Registry Number is from Sr McNair's birth date; the Prefix Code is the day he lost his life.
  • The use of a "prefix code" is a nod to Star Trek: Wrath of Khan (the greatest Star Trek movie of all time; don't @ me).
  • The numbers of the right of the terminal case refer to my fraternity (1906 - Alpha Phi Alpha) and my alma mater and field of study - (University of Oklahoma, College of Engineering)

You have the option of customizing the numbering, lettering, and ship name, registry, etc for your own "easter eggs".

Background

Things to know before your proceed

  1. I provide step by step instructions for making my version of the project; however, I do not go into details on certain steps (I'll link to supporting instructions or documentation)
  2. This is a complex project. It's a "multi-disciplined make", that requires the following skills
    • Arduino IDE
    • AWS - You will need an account and will need to understand S3, Lambda, and Node JS
    • Soldering
    • 3D Printing
  3. There are optional "add ins" to enhance the project in order to get Calendar and Fitness information. The functionality is included in the codebase; however you will have to create "apps" in the Azure and Google clouds to support the features.
  4. This is ultimately customizable... you can swap out the Current Sensor with another featherwing You can use a different feather/wifi combination.

x-zip-compressed - 239.26 kB - 06/13/2020 at 21:45

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x-zip-compressed - 882.00 bytes - 06/13/2020 at 08:40

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javascript - 34.32 kB - 06/13/2020 at 08:33

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  • 1 × Adafruit ESP32 Huzzah Feather
  • 1 × Adafruit Featherwing Tripler Mini Kit
  • 1 × Optional - Adafruit INA219 Featherwing
  • 1 × Optional - 2.1 Male plugs - (for use with the INA219 Current Sensor)
  • 1 × 3D Filament, including Proto Pasta Conductive Filament

View all 13 components

  • Which Flavor of LCARS

    Darian Johnson07/02/2020 at 01:50 0 comments

    I'm in the process of updating this project - to make it easier to replicate - and I'm toying with using a different "flavor" or LCARS. 

    Option 1: The original TNG version

    This is the version that is most familiar to Trek-fans.... I also find it the most visually unappealing (it looks like Rainbow Brite threw up on a computer screen). The original mini display is built with this motif.

    Option 2: NCC1701-E "Shades of Blue"

    This version is mostly blue and purple... and is my favor version of the LCARS interface

    Option 3: Janeway's Future Transparent Display

    This one seems very difficult to make. Making a transparent display is a nonstarter... but maybe using some type of acrylic, or ITO glass, might be an option

    Option 4: Picard's Transparent Display

    I'd LOVE to make a version that is based off this... I don't think I can easily make a transparent version.... but I like the color motif and the clean lines....

  • Using "leftover" parts

    Darian Johnson06/13/2020 at 08:57 0 comments

    I've been in a funk the last 3 months (since the COVID-19 crisis). Building/making always helps when I need to clear my head. Unfortunately, I couldn't think of a good project to start... so I decided to remix an old project with leftover parts.

    My voltage measurement tool was build with an INA219 Featherwing, so I decided to harvest that from my old project to build the ST TNG monitor. 

    Here's a list of what I already had:

    • INA219 Featherwing (from the Voltage Logger)
    • DC 2.1mm Panel Mounts (from the Voltage Logger)
    • 500 mAh battery (from the Voltage Logger)
    • ESP32 Feather (used for an old project)
    • Piezo (from an old project)
    • MPR121 Cap Touch Sensor (unopened)
    • Featherwing Tripper (harvested from an old project)
    • Proto Pasta Conductive Filament (unopened)

    To finish the project, I purchased a TFT 3.5 Featherwing and BME680 sensor.

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  • 1
    Reference Current instructions on Instructables

    See instructables for "point in time" instructions

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voxnulla wrote 06/16/2020 at 20:15 point

Cool!. I've been obsessing over LCARS for decades. I have a HaD.IO project on my experiments with LCARS interfaces that describes my thoughts on the subject and shares some code for my interface builder. It is all HTML/JS based.

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