Ah, the venerable “Cage” communicator. I have a special attachment to it because it is used extensively by Majel as “Number One,” and by my favorite TOS captain, Christopher Pike—who, as far as I can recall, never gets into a fistfight with anyone. Blasphemy though this may be, “The Cage” is probably my favorite TOS episode.
At the Vegas convention earlier this summer, I got an awesome Cage laser from @Nicksdad, which made me think to ask him if he had ever made the communicator from the same episode. He mentioned that he had been sitting on a pile of components for a long time but due to his past frustrations with clear casting hadn’t done anything with them. Having recently helped my friend @ChronowerxLLC cast some clear parts for a Mark VI tric, I had some experience in this area and volunteered to help try to turn that pile of components of Gary’s into a (small) pile of communicators.
To that end, it’s time to do some research.
Puzzle 1: body shape##
Nicksdad has a model master. The overall shape looks great to me, but I believe that it is too tall/thick and the corners a bit too sharp.
The sides have a bit of a draft, tapering inward from the top straight edges to the bottom straight edges as you move vertically from the top face plane to bottom plane (i.e., the table on which the body sits). The same is true if you’re looking down on the comm body from above: it tapers inward as you move from top to bottom.
Dimensions are: 121mm long 66mm wide at widest (56mm at narrowest). The height of the body is 24mm on the short end, 26.4mm at the tall end, and 29.8mm from the highest point on the body—all relative to the plane of the table on which it rests.
I’d welcome any guidance on whether these dimensions are accurate or how to make them more so.
As an aside: in order to prepare this for clear casting once it has been reshaped, I’ll first cast a copy in Smooth-On’s Smooth Cast Onyx and then bring it to a mirror polish using a pneumatic random-orbit sander and successive grits of sand paper up to 3000 grit, moving to a jeweler’s buffing wheel and some Simichrome or Novus polish. (The reason I use Onyx for tasks like this is that the dark color makes it much easier to see any tiny scratches or imperfections in your mirror finish.) I’ll then make a second mold from this new master and with any luck the final castings should come out water clear.
Puzzle 2: the “Spock’s Brain” remote variant
The body used for the “remote” in “Spock’s Brain” was clearly a redressed Cage comm of some sort. An original (or perhaps the original) of the “Spock’s Brain” remote appears to have been owned by Greg Jein and displayed at Wondercon, extensively photographed by Karl Tate (phase pistol on the RPF). Coyle has on his site what appears to be earlier images of the same prop at nice right angles to the focal plane with a measuring tape for size calibration.
When I import those into Autodesk Fusion and calibrate the sizing, these are the body dimensions I get: 20.485mm high on the short end of the body, 24.855 on the tall end, and 32.230 at the tallest point. Also when viewed from above looking at the “face” of the comm, it’s clear that the taper of the body from top to bottom is too gentle in the existing master. The bottom width should be something like 54mm but is on the master more like 59.5mm. The width at the top is roughly correct, however. I can easily make CAD drawings to create a new master based on calibrated scales and dimensions I have for the Jein prop. Indeed, I have done so.
But that only makes sense if we can have some faith that the “Spock’s Brain” prop is a) an authentic production-made original and b) actually a re-dressed version of a comm from the same molds as the one used in the pilot. Does anybody have any insight into these questions?
Puzzle 3: Electronics components
Gary has some pretty accurate components.
I would love to know more about what the components are, either what we have here and/or on the original.
The circular board is sometimes referred to as a potentiometer component.
However, potentiomers generally vary resistance in a continuous manner, and this appears to be a component of a dial for switching discrete circuit paths/inputs. I don’t know the proper name for that in electronics terminology, but no doubt someone here can enlighten us.
The vacuum tubes are sometimes referred to as Nixie tubes.
However, Nixie tubes were an early pre-cursor to seven-segment digital LED numeric displays.
As such, they were generally pretty wide relative to their length:
So I’m not sure that this is what they are. Anybody else have a guess?
Images of the “Spock’s Brain” remote show a label on the back of these tubes:
(Image: Karl Tate on Flickr, phase pistol on the RPF)
However, I’m not confident that this label appears on the “Cage” comms we see on screen:
This is one of the few things that gives me pause in fully relying on the Jein remote to model the Cage comm.
The final component is the base board, which has a couple of metal-housing capacitors and a bunch of old-style carbon composition resistors. I read someone assert on the TPZ at some point, I think, that these were soldering practice boards. That is possible. But I find it interesting that it has the terminals at the bottom like an interchangeable computer card for inserting into a motherboard slot. I wonder if this might have been some kind of precursor to that kind of thing for use in radios or similar pieces of equipment.
OK, that should be enough puzzles to get started. I look forward to learning and sharing what people know!