In star trek, how does the crew change different attributes with only two buttons. In the films and series, they change: intensity, width, frequency setting, security clerance (authorisation to fire), self-fire (when wesley uses it as a decoy), self-destruct. How can this be when there is only two buttons, also, how is this shown when again, there is only a single stat indicatior bar (strip atop the phaser)

  • 3
    It's worth noting that my iPhone only has two buttons. Phasers don't have interactive screens, but "number of buttons" doesn't necessarily relate to "number of controls."
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 23:13
  • Sure, I can imagine the buttons being reassigned, but how is that done, through multiple buttons pushing in a sequence?
    – Pioneer
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 7:08
  • Yeah, I don't really know. Though, in the world of pure speculation, if I were designing phasers, I'd have them tied to the communicators. Computer hears you say "Set phasers to stun," and then a "confirm?" button lights up. You hit Confirm, and you're good to go.
    – Nerrolken
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 16:18

1 Answer 1


It's not really made that clear. It seems that those who've been trained on phaser operations have been told how to access the additional features.

The TNG Technical Manual has some additional info but no real answers.

enter image description here

There's also some info on how to cause an explosion (basically, by dickering with the safety interlock).

As a result of the basic physics required to produce a phaser discharge, an undesirable but unavoidable process exists, namely that of phaser overload. The accepted methods employed for energy storage, flow, control, and discharge allow for an amplified rebounding to occur from the storage cell to the prefire chamber, and simultaneously back to the storage cell.

While the total energy within the system remains the same, the flow pressure is elevated during the rebound, to the point where the storage cell cannot reabsorb the energy fast enough. The barrier field will be reinforced during this buildup, effectively preventing normal discharge through the emitter.

  • Thanks, good info, perhaps pressing the two function buttons cycles through options?
    – Pioneer
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 7:09
  • @pioneer - that seems very likely. Setting it to overload, for instance seems to require a non-trivial level of knowledge
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 4, 2015 at 7:28
  • @Pioneer It could also be that they are each similar to a d-pad, which would essentially allow each button to act as four (with pairs being mutually exclusive).
    – forest
    Commented Feb 28, 2021 at 4:32

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.