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3D Print Your Own Tricorder from the TV Series “The Orville”

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A Reddit user 3D modeled and printed a replica comscanner from Star Trek inspired TV series The Orville without having anything to base his dimensions on other than screenshots from the show. 

Any fans of The Orville, the American sci-fi comedy-drama inspired by Star Trek, will know the difficulty of procuring memorabilia. The show, which was created by and stars Seth MacFarlane (known for the “Family Guy”), was premiered in the fall last year. By some, it is considered to be truer to the lore and legacy of Star Trek.

But, it’s not yet as popular as Star Trek… meaning there are no collectibles, replicas or souvenirs available other than those which have been made at home.

One such impressive DIY replica is from Reddit user JohnSmallBerries who created the Orville communicator from scratch using Blender, a 3D printer, some paint and a few LEDs. This feat is particularly impressive considering the fact that John had no official measurements to go off.

His work is based entirely on screenshots from the show. John jokes, “Had to guess at the scale, since they inconsiderately failed to write an episode that required a character to hold a ruler next to a comscanner, but it looked about the size of a large cellphone.”



From 3D Printed Parts to Realistic Comscanner

John used Blender to model the design, Cura for slicing and an Ultimaker 2+ for 3D printing his parts which he describes as “pricey, as FDM-style 3D printers go, but fantastic print quality and reliability”.

He printed with 0.12mm layers to save time on printing. But, he adds it’s possible to go down to 0.02mm layers to minimize sanding time. However, he was on a time crunch as he wanted his Orville communicator ready for C2E2, the 2018 Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, which is taking place from the 6th to 8th of April.

After printing, John smoothed and painted the parts. Just sanding the outer surfaces smooth took over 20 hours. He adds: “If I had a resin printer, I probably wouldn’t have had to do any sanding, but they’re a bit out of my price range.”


The device uses two LEDs for the scanner screen and four for the main screen. To power the LEDs, he used a 12-volt A27 battery. The interior also has a spring-assisted retractable display and a screen-accurate user interface.

However, John adds that the assembly of the interior is messier than he’d hoped but “at least it works”. He also designed a holster to make the comscanner practical to carry around. The holster is also based on the show and lined with felt to prevent it from scratching the scanner’s paintwork.

John explains that, in total, he spent under $30 for parts and materials. However, it’s a time intensive project taking around a week to complete. He’s now in the process of tweaking the design and will then make it available for download on Thingiverse.

Source: Hackaday

License: The text of “3D Print Your Own Tricorder from the TV Series “The Orville”” by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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