At some point in the second season of TOS, Sulu's console got an upgrade to include a scanner that rises out of the panel to his left. I have always been fascinated by the motions this scanner goes through as it rises out of the console.

What I'd like to know is if there are any dimensioned drawings for the prop as used on the original set, especially of the linkages which produce its motions. I'm convinced it is just a couple of uneven links, but I can't figure out the proportions or sweeps from retracted to deployed position. I'd be surprised if the original prop still exists from which a copy (or drawing) could be made; I'd also be surprised if any drawings were ever prepared to build the prop, that the prop accurately followed such a drawing, or that such a drawing (if it ever existed) survives to this day. Given all that, I'd settle for a "reverse-engineering" provided it accurately reproduces the motions as seen on-screen, and does so at the correct scale.

The attached image captures the scanner in mid-motion. It is from the episode "Friday's Child" at about the 40 minute mark. The in-story point is where Enterprise has been searching for a supposed ship in distress; unable to find it, they deem the distress call to be a Klingon lure and return to Capella IV. The immediately preceding on-screen action has Scott standing with Chekov at Spock's scanner station; Chekov states that a Klingon warship has taken up position directly in Enterprise's path; Scott orders Sulu to sound battle stations; shot cuts to Sulu and we see the scanner emerge.

The scanner motion can also be seen about 20 seconds in to the cold open for "Spock's Brain" (Season 3 episode 1).

Sulu's scanner

As well as being visible in this GIF:

enter image description here

  • 8
    Can you provide a reference (episode, time) to where the scanner is in motion? I'm fascinated by this question and would like to look at the scanner moving again, but not to the extent of running through the entire second season. Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 17:01
  • 1
    @OrganicMarble I've edited my question per your request.
    – Anthony X
    Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 19:36
  • Awesome, thanks! Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 19:45
  • 1
    I checked in the old Franz Joseph Technical Manual. Sadly, it says the scanner is classified :( Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 23:52

2 Answers 2


These aren't exactly what you're looking for but they might help.

First up we've got a series of close-up photos of the replica targeting scanner built for the TNG episode "Relics", which was ultimately never shown onscreen: http://www.startrekpropauthority.com/2010/09/tos-style-helm-targeting-scanner-from.html

And here is a set of blueprints for the TOS Enterprise bridge by Michael McMaster. Sheet #4 shows the targeting scanner and feature a scale, so a little creative work might let you figure out the dimensions: https://www.cygnus-x1.net/links/lcars/mcmaster-uss-enterprise-bridge-blueprints.php

enter image description here

  • 3
    Thanks for the links, but they don't provide what I'm looking for. The pictures in your first link are nice, but don't offer any clue as to how it could operate; I'm not convinced that the photographed article is anything more than a static prop. The on-set pictures lead me to think that there were two versions of the prop used in actual TOS filming - moving and non-moving. The blueprint only shows superficial outlines, not the sort of mechanical details necessary to construct a replica which reproduces the motion as seen on-screen.
    – Anthony X
    Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 15:52
  • 3
    @AnthonyX That's fair. But I actually don't think there were two versions of the scanner. Unless I'm misunderstanding, this article about the console restoration suggests that there was only ever the single moving piece: startrek.com/article/… But if you're looking to recreate it, I'd suggest trying propmaking forums and the like. I'm sure someone's done it somewhere, or maybe try contacting the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle to ask them about the restoration they did. Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 21:32
  • Thanks for that restoration article. It does provide some useful insight. It gives some clues about how it works, but still not enough to build a reproduction. Obviously, the article's author had what they needed to do it. As for my "two versions" remark, those additional pictures help me see my earlier misunderstanding.
    – Anthony X
    Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 21:46
  • I believe the folks at Star Trek Tour have recreated the scanner. They might be able to help you with the motion. startrektour.com Commented May 18, 2021 at 22:03

I found the answer I was seeking in a deleted post which I hadn't noticed 'til just now. Thanks to @todd-smith for the animated gif in this deleted post https://scifi.stackexchange.com/a/262622/31181

Although this drawing is obviously not original to the production, it appears to be

  • correctly proportioned
  • showing the linkages which produce the prop motions
  • accurately reproducing the movement of the original prop

thus satisfies what I was looking for.

I'd like to give him credit for the find if possible.

enter image description here

  • 2
    That appears to be the schematic for a fan-made prop, not the original scanner. As such, this doesn't answer the question asked which is about the TV prop
    – Valorum
    Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 14:15
  • 3
    @Valorum point taken, but in my question I did say I'd settle for a reverse-engineering provided that it reproduced the movements of the original prop, which this appears to do.
    – Anthony X
    Commented Nov 12, 2022 at 14:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.