Discovery Medical Scanner


Time for a new project! A few of you got a little preview at the STLV prop party, but I’ve been working on a Discovery medical scanner and want to share what I’ve done so far. I modeled it the Saturday before the convention, printed and painted Sunday, and assembled Monday, just in time to bring it for show-and-tell :slight_smile:

I love how the Disco medical scanner is a less refined and bulkier take on the TOS scanner, while still looking visually interesting and cool in its own right. Here is a look at the original:

(captures from the props video)

The designers even worked in a display screen akin to the one that some fans include on TOS replica builds. It’s visible in a deactivated state in the props video, and then briefly in episode 5:


A single frame in the props video provides an adequate profile view, on which I based the overall proportions of my model:


To scale the parts I worked from the image above along with an assumed acrylic tube outer diameter of 1.5 inches (there are only so many standard sizes and 1.25 seemed too small) – this gave me an overall length of just under 4.5 inches and an outer diameter at the silver collar of 1.625 inches.

The grip piece has 8 scallops just like the two TOS scanners, but has only 3 small grooves in the raised sections instead of the 4-5 (depending on maker) seen on the TOS. It is of course a bit larger as well.

The six gold ellipsoid pieces were done with a small idealization - it’s hard to tell from the props video, but they may be flat backed and mounted on the outside of the round silver spinner piece (so that the outer edges float above the cylindrical body). Instead, I extruded corresponding flat recessed areas on the spinner to make the gold pieces easier to attach and align properly by being inset into the spinning head.

One other thing - it’s unclear from the video whether the gold pieces are flat faced (with gold chrome reflection of the room around them) or have a three-dimensional curvature to them. I went with the former, but suspect reality is the latter.

The head rotates via a small geared motor. I based this first version around these cheap plastic gear motors from Amazon:

This type of motor is fairly noisy (moreso than on TOS scanners I’ve seen that incorporate nicer metal gear motors) but you can only expect so much for $2.40 :slight_smile:

Here are the parts as printed (with filler primer started on the smaller pieces):

And painted, along with a piece of blue LED tape for the internal lighting. My newer printer went on strike after finishing the grip so the other parts were done on my trusty old Afinia H479, and so were a little harder to clean up (but hey, it’s just a draft).

Grip painted with Krylon gloss white, and the spinner with a basic Dupli-color silver. The silver cap, button, and ellipsoid pieces were painted with Molotow Liquid Chrome (the latter with a tint coat of Alclad clear plus alcohol inks). Unfortunately because of the tight time table I didn’t allow enough curing time and the Molotow dulled a bit with handling.

Below, pieced together, with the acrylic parts. The acylic endcap pieces (on the tube and the grip) were sanded down from some laser cut acrylic discs I had on hand from another project - ideally these would have been cut to the proper size already (and the screen engraved and made from tinted acrylic), but I was on a deadline :slight_smile:

I used a boring bar on my mini lathe to create the cap recess in the end of the acrylic tube - unfortunately the tube was clamped on the chuck a little crooked and the radius of the recess was cut a bit larger than intended when I straightened it up. Lessons for the next iteration.

Internal assembly. Two CR2032 batteries are wired in series to provide 6 volts to the motor and LED strip, which are connected in parallel to each other. A support for the pushbutton microswitch is incorporated into the grip piece, with another piece that screws onto it to provide the second screw mount for the acrylic cap/screen. This separate piece also allows the LED tape to pass behind it in one length, without the need to trim and add a jumper. A piece of foam sheet diffuses the LED glow. The acrylic screen/cap should really I think be made from tinted acrylic, with an engraved screen (or vinyl decal) applied to block light and create the effect seen on the show. Or if anyone has other ideas on how it was made I am all ears:

Here’s a video!

And a final photo of the completed draft:

Next steps: need to draw up the patterns for the laser cut parts. Increase the width of the button by a millimeter or two. Add a locating feature above and below the pushbutton switch - one to hold the switch at the right height in relation to the button part, and the second on the removable support piece to do the same from above (while also helping to better align that piece when it is screwed into place). Order nicer prints from Shapeways and possibly a better motor. Then build it all again. :sweat_smile:


Dang Ethan … good times where we can start making new props from new content. Always look forward to seeing more


Beautiful work - very clean!


I got a close up look at this at the prop party and it looks really neat. Ethan, I’m very impressed with your 3D designed and printed parts.


Pretty slick job!


Damn that is NICE!!


That is really nice work.
Wish I could have seen it in person.
Thanks for the share.


Wow Ethan, great job on developing a replica of this Discovery Prop, and so quickly at that!!!

In the screen caps of the original prop as you were thinking, it does look to my eye that the six gold ellisoidal pieces do have a three-dimensional domed type curvature to them.


Aw shucks everyone, thank you very much :slight_smile:

I am thinking more and more you are right on this. Now I just need to remember how to do that shape. Involves combining two curve profiles into a cutting plane, IIRC.


That is sooooooooo cool looking!!!:smiley:


An excellent job on a difficult prop to replicate.
Loved playing with it at the party.


Love that it has been replicated.


That’s pretty slick.

It’s weird, I like the props on Discovery but I hate the show itself. Maybe the second season will be more to my liking.