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In the Battlestar Galactica Miniseries, we encounter a Cylon device in Galactica's CIC.

Gaius Baltar is first alerted to the device by his Cylon companion/hallucination. He tells Galactica's commanders about it, blaming on an alleged Cylon (Doral, who ironically actually is a Cylon). Gaeta observes that it mysteriously appeared underneath the DRADIS console only days before the Cylon attack.

Later in the series, we encounter other devices of the same type. Gaeta studies them and reports that they are Cylon "transponders" that identify themselves to other transponders. The series goes on, and doesn't encounter any real plot elements that would contradict with that explanation.

Why would the Cylons plant this device under the DRADIS console?

Was it actually a transponder? Was Gaeta's analyis correct? If so, what good was a transponder on the DRADIS console?

Was it something more? Was Gaeta's analysis incomplete? Did it serve a purpose for the initial attack that was no longer necessary?

Was it just a "prop" for Baltar to use in his path to power?

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Transponders are a type of real-world technology (the question makes it unclear if you were aware of this.) They can be used for a variety of purposes, but one of the more common applications is identifying and tracking vehicles, such as aircraft or ships at sea.

This would also be the most obvious purpose of the cylon transponder on the Galactica - to track the warship's location during and after their attack on the 12 colonies. (One assumes similar transponders would have been planted on as many human war ships as possible, although I don't think they ever said that in the show.)

We have no reason to doubt Gaeta's analysis of the device. As for why it was put on the DRADIS console specifically, I'd think that keeping it as close to the ship's command center as possible is meant to ensure it remains active until the entire ship is disabled. They could, of course, plant it in a less obvious place at one end of the ship, but if that part of the ship were damaged or broken off in combat, they'd lose track of a potentially still-active enemy unit.

Putting it out in the open (instead of hidden inside a cabinet in the CIC) was probably just a plot device to ensure someone saw it without jumping through too many hoops.

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    And here I thought it let them operate across small bodies of water. – RDFozz Nov 28 '18 at 17:57

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