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Wiring your own "Fully Functional" Star Trek Phaser TM
by Archie Waugh
Models and Miniatures Column
Strange New Worlds  Issue 12 - February/March 1994

Like many Star Trek fans, I rushed to my local toy store this past summer to be the first on my block to have the Playmatesâ Star Trek: The Next Generation Phaser. I, of course, explained to the suspicious clerk that the toy was "for the kids." Once home I gleefully ran around the house, blasting the family dog with my new toy. But I wished it did more than just light up and go "woosh!" To satisfy that wish, OEI Technologies has created a Phaser Enhancement Kit that adds an extra dimension to the Playmates Phaser.

The Phaser Enhancement Kit (Techno-KitsTM #24) consists of an additional circuit board that you wire into the toy’s existing circuitry, a bar graph LED and beeper, and a high-output red LED to replace the toy's "flashlight bulb." The kit is available in two varieties:

1) an unassembled version requiring considerable electronic knowledge, and

2) an "assembled" version with most of the components already connected, but still requiring a considerable amount of work to install.

If you have a sure hand with a soldering iron, you may wish to save $20 and purchase the first version. As an electronics novice, I took what I hoped would be the easy way out and opted for the second approach.

Happily, this project was less of an ordeal than anticipated. The manufacturer has wisely included an assembly instruction video with the kit. This tape takes the builder through the assembly process in a way that no written instructions could — a good thing, as the written instructions included are close to incomprehensible. As suggested, before attempting assembly, I viewed the entire video to see what tools would be involved. It got a little frightening when they started showing band saws and other heavy shop equipment, but less elaborate alternatives are suggested throughout. I soon realized that I would need only a soldering iron and solder (60/40 rosin core), needlenose pliers, X-ActoTM knife, and other basic handcraft tools. To perform the necessary cutting of the housing, a variable-speed DremelTM tool is recommended; but I found a small hand drill and sharp X-Acto knife worked well as an adequate substitute.

The assembly process should proceed in three phases. The first, and most terrifying to an electronics novice like myself, involves dismantling the housing and original circuits. This requires you to remove several Phillips screws, unsolder electrical connections, and carve or saw several holes in your nice new Phaser. The reassuring voice of the tape’s narrator (kit creator Loren Ostema) greatly reduces the trauma. He carefully guides the viewer through each stage. In the second stage you remount switches, wire new components, and rearrange circuits. Stage three takes you through final assembly and finishing. In this final phase, you will discover that, amazingly, the darn thing works!

Having never attempted any complex electronic work, I was amazed at how smoothly I was guided through the whole process by the video. The entire conversion took just over five hours, yielding an impressive finished product. The conversion replaces the original toy's painted bar graph (used to indicate different power settings from "stun" to "toast") with a functional, bright green LED bar graph. The two buttons on the Phaser activate this LED; you can select power levels starting at a setting of two and going up to ten. Each increase of power is accompanied by a "beep." The other exciting addition provided by this conversion is the replacement of the weak, white light of the original bulb with an intense red from a 10mm LED. An interesting side-effect available with this converted Phaser: if you press the firing trigger when the power is turned off, the Phaser will automatically fire when switched back on — this "booby-trap" effect could be used effectively in a gaming situation. One negative aspect of the conversion is that you must now use the "light" switch inside the battery compartment to change between the two sounds provided with your original toy.

If you like your props "fully functional," and do not mind spending four to six times the original cost of the Phaser to upgrade it, then you will find this kit a worthy investment. But if the electronics work sounds too intimidating, or you just don’t want to spend the time and trouble, or are terrified at the thought of wielding a soldering iron, OEI also sells completely adapted Phasers. l

Techno-Kits is a registered trademark of Ostema Electronics, Inc. OEI Technologies is a subsidiary of Ostema Electronics, Inc.

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bulletComplete Star Trek Theme music -
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From the Publisher
Wiring your own Phaser
SF Fans and Charity
Children's Dollhouses
How to Get It for Less
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More back-issues:
SNW Issue 14
SNW Issue 13
SNW Issue 12
SNW Issue 11
SNW Issue 10
SNW Issue 09
SNW Issue 08
SNW Issue 04


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