Goods/Communications gear

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Equipment category: E - Emitters (of signals capable of being sensed).[edit]

Communications Equipment is a special case of emitters, designed to emit signals for the purposes of communication. The type of emissions covers the entire electromagnetic spectrum and types of particle emissions. Listed here are specific items for communications.


Bug (device)

Bug
Type Emitter
Tech Level TL–8
Cost Cr1,000
Size 0.2 liters
Weight 0.3 kg
Also see Electronics

Bugs are nearly undetectable monitoring devices. They enable the individual to hear (or to record for later monitoring) conversations. Typically, a bug array is packaged as a small rod containing up to 50 implantable bugs. They are placed by touching the rod to a wall joint, light switch, or some other feature of the room. Implanted bugs are not recoverable, but they can be destroyed.

It does not function in a vacuum: it relies on a gas, a fluid or a solid to carry sound. Bugs send a constant signal to a central monitor (usually disguised as a recreational audio recorder). The range of the bug transmitter is small, usually under 10 meters. The battery for each bug transmitter lasts about five hours with continuous use, longer if it is quiet.

The bug's radio transmissions are extremely short range and are almost impossible to detect without specialist receiving equipment (a "Bug Monitor"), or a portable Radio Direction Finder.

Bugs come in one of four types (based upon the essential principles used for the bug) classified as A, B, C, and D.

 

Bug Monitor

Bug Monitor
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–8
Cost Cr100
Size 0.1 liters
Weight 0.1 kg

A Bug Monitor is a small device that receives the short range radio signals transmitted by Bugs. The bug monitor is a compact unit containing a Radio Communicator, an internal digital sound recorder capable of recording for several hours, and a data connection. It acts as a base-station for Bugs.

The unit can be programmed to re-transmit its recorded events either at regular intervals or upon receipt of a coded radio signal. This re-transmission is encoded and compressed into a few seconds.

The Bug Monitor's internal battery on the unit last 72 hours and can be recharged from any normal power source.

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Bull-Horn

Bull-Horn
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–5
Cost Cr120
Size 2 liters
Weight 5kg

A Bull-Horn electronically amplifies sounds and is specifically designed for amplification of voices. The plastic cone used to direct the sound makes it very bulky and awkward to carry.

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ComBand

ComBand
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–10
Cost
Size 0.1 liter
Weight 0.2 kg

The Totxau ComBand, manufactured by House of Xihautl in the Amec Trade Protectorate. The device is an external headband which forms a temporary direct neural interface to the wearer. The connection allows the wearer to access the large store of memory in the headband. The headband also contains a short range (10m) radio for accessing external computer networks.

The neural link is created and maintained via a series of biochip implants. The neural tap also accesses the wearers blood supply as a power source, giving an unlimited duration.

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Commcomp

Commcomp
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–11
Cost Cr500
Size 0.4 liter
Weight 0.4 kg

The commcomp is the ultimate combination of a portable communicator and Hand Computer that interfaces directly with any wireless communications system and wireless computer network. This small and lightweight device can operate independently as a Handcomp, as a video Communicator, or as a programmable communications node in a networked system. With the audio processing algorithm installed, the Commcomp can accept voice programming and can be used to operate any device on the network as long as the proper codes are used.

Commcomps have internal Fuel Cells and usually have internal hydrogen and oxygen supplies so that they can operate in a vacuum or other environment. The Commcomp will preferentially draw from any external power source, and with the proper adapter and a source of water (distilled liquid water or even humid air for specialized adapters) they can recharge the internal hydrogen and oxygen supplies. Without recharging a TL–11 Commcomp will run for about a week, and more sophisticated units can be made to run longer or have greater communications range or computational capacity.

The next logical step was to make the commcomp a sealed unit that would be able to survive almost anywhere that powered combat armor would survive. They created a solid matrix of silicon nitride that contained an antenna for the multichannel communications unit and also acted as an inductive charge coupling element for the power system. The encapsulated active components were shielded to prevent any unwanted electromagnetic noise, and the communications unit could be turned off to prevent any electromagnetic emissions. The front was a single crystal silicon oxide transparent surface with embedded visual sensors and display and could be activated when it sensed certain visual inputs. It had an internal battery that was charged from the antenna and they were also able to supply the inductive charger but noted that most electromagnetic frequencies would charge the batteries when the communication unit was turned off.

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Commdot

Commdot
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–10
Cost Cr100
Size
Weight 1 g
Commdot Multiplexer
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–10
Cost Cr800
Size 0.1 liters
Weight 100 g

A Commdot is most often found used as an adjunct to a communicator, although other uses are becoming more common.

One commdot is temporarily affixed to the scalp just behind the ear; another commdot is stuck to the throat just above the Adam’s apple. The microelectronics in the dots can transmit and receive for a distance of only about a meter, but this is far enough to put the dots in contact with a large, more powerful device. One can thus use a communicator or hand computer and still keep both hands free for other tasks. Commdots are powered by ultraminiature superbatteries and can be tuned by another device. Most communicators support this tuning capability.

When one desires to communicate over more than one frequency at a time or to operate more than one device, a commdot multiplexer is used. The multiplexer is a small box worn on the belt and coordinates activity between the commdot and several electronic devices. The operator can then receive or transmit only on the channels desired, and he can turn signals on or off at will.

The commdot is a natural step in the evolution of communications interfaces. Wired headphones with speaker first appear around TL–5, and continue to decrease in volume as speakers and microphones improve. The first wireless headphones appear around TL–7 but do not become common until TL–9 when the batteries have improved sufficiently to increase the operational time between battery changes. Speakers are nearly eliminated as bone conduction is used with the advanced prosthetics available at TL–12, the commdot starts to become an implanted device for covert operations. By TL–14 it is possible to power the internal communications prosthetic using a glucose-powered fuel cell that extracts the fuel from the bloodstream for continuous operation. While rare, some advanced systems have incorporated IFF and emergency beacons into the implants to enhance their operational usefulness.

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Data Headpiece

Data Headpiece
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–13
Cost Cr5,000
Size 0.1 liter
Weight 0.1kg

Data-Display/Recorder Headpiece represents a significant breakthrough in holographic display technology at TL–13. A small rectangle of polylucent cuprothallium provides a constant heads-up three dimensional display for the wearer. Although useless by itself, the headpiece can be interfaced with virtually any number of TL–13+ devices by using a multiplexer similar to that used with commdots. The multiplexer not only coordinates the information for the user but also synchronously records the multiple signals onto one standard holocrystal for later review.[1]

Their use is common among bridge and engineering personnel on starships as well as smaller craft. For example, someone flying in a Grav Belt while using a neural activity sensor handset would find it inconvenient (to say the least) to refer to the readout on his backpack. Instead, the sensor’s output is immediately displayed on his headpiece. At the same time, he can monitor his altitude, airspeed, position, and the operational status of his grav belt batteries and grav units. If he is also wearing a vacc suit, he can read off his oxygen supply and internal temperature besides.[1]

The data headpiece replaced the bulkier helmet mounted displays and head mounted displays with a lighter and smaller piece of equipment that provides a true see-through heads-up display experience.

When desired, the headpiece can be swung out of the way above the head; when the display is turned off, the cuprothallium is transparent. About three percent of the population find it difficult to focus properly on the headpiece and are unable to use the device.

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  1. 1.0 1.1 Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named IE56
 

Emergency Beacon

Emergency Beacon
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–9
Cost Cr750
Size 2.0 liters
Weight 1.0 kg

An Emergency Beacon is a sophisticated long-range combination communicator and signal transponder. The Emergency Beacon's internal transponder monitors common emergency search–and–rescue channels (one at a time). When traffic is picked up, the device simultaneously emits a shrill warning tone to alert users to the possibility that help is at hand and transmits a coded distress signal. When transmitting an emergency signal it is an Active device. Some more expensive models have provision for a taped, auto-repeat distress call, instead of the automatic code signal.

The Emergency Beacon serves as a means of establishing contact when there is any search being mounted within 500 kilometers, and then it serves to continue communications after that initial contact. The transponder operates for 30 days.

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IISS Beacon

IISS Beacon
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–9
Cost Cr500,000
Size 0.5 tons
Weight 50 kg

The IISS Beacon is a vehicle transportable transponder capable of broadcasting voice, video, and/or data out to 250,000 km. Commonly used by the IISS for marking Class E Starports and designating landing locations.

The TL–12 versions includes a Fusion+ power plant for extended operations.

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Interface Gloves

Interface Gloves
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–11
Cost Cr4,000
Size
Weight 250g

Interface Gloves are a pair of fitted gloves with a collection of embedded electronics used for interfacing with a computer. The electronics consist of a short range (2m) radio transmitter, a set of accelerometers and position sensors for each finger, and variable resistant springs. The glove allows the user to work with a computer using any flat surface or empty space as a interface area. The resistance springs allow for feedback to the user as they interact with object in the computer like a keyboard.

The gloves are powered by an internal rechargeable battery which lasts for about 8 hours of continuous use.

 

Language Translator

Language Translator
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–12
Cost Cr2,000
Size 1.0 liter
Weight 0.5 kg

Computer Language Translators (CLTs) have become a fundamental element of interstellar trade and communication and are vitally needed with the incredible diversity of cultures and languages found throughout the Imperium and neighboring regions,

Dozens of models of various abilities, complexity, and price can be purchased on worlds throughout the Third Imperium of TL–9 or better. CLT's are often paired with Vodors. Most CLT's are smaller personal electronics devices capable of fitting in a belt pouch or integrated into a personal computer or other kind of electronic device.

The basis of all portable CLTs is a program package called a MemClip. Each memclip contains programming for one language. Typically, these clips can be purchased with preloaded language programs for between Cr100 and Cr150. Blank memclip can be bought for Cr10 and programmed by duplicating a preloaded program.

More than 700 languages are on memclips. Programs even exist for non-aural languages. The CLT can be carried in a hip pouch or by hand. CLTs have two to eight receptacles for memclips, plus the remote speaker.

All CLTs work in the same manner. Two entities, each with a CLT and memclips for both his own and the other’s language, adjust their units until they share a common radio frequency. Each speaks in his own language and his words are translated by the other’s CLT and relayed to a detachable remote speaker worn in the receiving entity’s ear. With practice, anyone can learn to follow the translation as the other individual speaks.

A standard CLT can be purchased for Cr2,000. More expensive units have program correction features, more complete handling of idiomatic phrases, smaller size, bone implant speakers, greater durability, and a large capacity for multi-language conversations.

 

Laser Communicator

Laser Communicator
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–8
Cost Cr2,500
Size 5 liters
Weight 1.5 kg

A Laser Communicator is an line-of-sight optical communicator using a modulated laser for voice, video, or data communication. Tight beam communicators are much more difficult to intercept or jam but are also somewhat more complex and require that the transmitter know the precise location of the receiver. They are adversely affected by weather, smoke, and anti-laser aerosols.

Portable laser communicators are available. They are usually equipped with tripods, stabilization gear, and tracking system. The communicator as a range of 500km, though this distance is seldom needed on a world’s surface since the distance to the horizon limits the range first, but this range often allows contact with an orbiting ship.

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Laser Microphone

Laser Microphone
LaserMicrophone.jpg
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–9
Cost Cr475
Size 1.0 liters
Weight 0.8kg

A Laser Microphone bounces a beam of laser light off a rigid object, and detects the sounds made near that object by analyzing the changes in the reflected beam.

The harder the object, the more readily it conducts sound, and the closer the conversation, the better the sound quality. A glass windowpane or metal hatch are perfect, concrete or brick walls less so, and insulated walls are very poor. The target object must be within direct line of sight.

The most common versions of this device use an invisible infrared laser to perform the recording, though this limits the range of the device to about 500 meters.

The device is the size of a large pistol. It has a connector for a computer to gather and record the data. It also has a small tripod for stable mounting of the device.

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Maser Communicator

Maser Communicator
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–8
Cost Cr2400
Size 160 liters
Weight 80kg

Maser is an acronym for "microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation". A Maser Communicator uses a microwave wavelength laser, modulated for data communication.

A maser communicator is a line of sight device, transmitting a tight beam signal. The transmitter must know the precise position of the receiver. Small portable maser communicators are equipped with tripods and other stabilization and tracking gear to ensure continuous communications.

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Multiplexer

Multiplexer
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–10
Cost Cr800
Size 0.1 liters
Weight 0.1 kg

There are several versions of the Multiplexer, depending on the technology level. Initially around TL–8 the multiplexer is wired for multiple inputs and a single output, and a de-multiplexer is required at the other end of the communications link to complete the circuits. At higher technology levels the multiplexer can handle more input devices, becomes wireless, and can provide outputs on various EM channels either singularly or on multiple channels at the same time. In networking parlance the unit is sometimes called a switch as it can switch signals from one source to another, and more advanced units can act as a router and can be wired or wireless or both.

By TL–12 one version of the multiplexer is a small box worn on the belt and coordinates activity between several electronic devices. The operator can then receive or transmit only on the channels desired, and he can turn signals on or off at will.

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Navigational Satellite

Navigation Satellite
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–9
Cost Cr35,000
Size 300 liters
Weight 100 kg

A Navigational Satellite is a small satellite placed in synchronous orbit over the hemisphere where exploration is taking place. It provides moment-by-moment information on the precise location of a tracking unit on the ground with an accuracy of 1 meter.

A small nuclear power plant provides over a year of operation without servicing, and the satellite can be retrieved and used over and over.

For twice the size and price listed below, the satellite can relay the tracking unit (which would then include a TV-like viewscreen) to a plot projected on an accurate map of the region, which is created by the satellite through a combination of laser and radar mapping techniques.

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Orbital Beacon

Small Orbital Beacon
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–9
Cost Cr1,021
Size 30 liters
Weight 25kg
Large Orbital Beacon
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–9
Cost Cr3,090
Size 300 liters
Weight 115kg

Orbital Beacons are small spheres dotted with solar panels, containing a battery and a radio transmitter. The purpose of an orbital beacon is to provide in-system navigation. The signal they emit is a very simply encoded current time based upon an internal clock. This allows a navigator (or navigation program) to calculate a ships location and orbital path within a few minutes.

It is designed to emit a 1 second pulse every 10 seconds at the habitable orbit range of a star. The pulse length and interval vary if the beacon is placed either closer in or further out. The signal is usually transmitted on one or more standard navigation frequencies.

Most systems with a class C or better Starport usually have several orbital beacons in solar orbits.

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Personal transponder

Personal transponder
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–9
Cost Cr100
Size
Weight

A short-ranged Identify Friend-or-Foe system. The basic system allows the identification of friendly troops in a battlefield situation. More advanced one add lock-outs to the weapon system to prevent friendly fire incidents. Unit commanders have the ability to disable the lock-out if they feel the enemy forces are exploiting the system. A small internal battery powers the transponder for a year.

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Radio Communicator

Radio Communicator
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–5
Cost Cr75
Size 10 liters
Weight 20kg

A communicator is defined as a radio transmitter/receiver combination capable of operating off an internal power source; it is portable in the sense that it need not be connected to a power supply. It may transmit and receive voice, video, and data. Communicators 0.2 liters and under can be worn as earpieces, which are unnoticeable to the casual observer.

Communicators can be either broadcast or tight beam. Radio is the principal form of broadcast communications. Tight beam communicators are much more difficult to intercept or jam but are also somewhat more complex and require that the transmitter know the precise location of the receiver. Tight beam radio communicators require an antenna designed for focusing the transmission which adds both weight and cost.

The power of a radio communicator determines its effective broadcast range – the distance to which a clear signal will carry before it is sufficiently degraded to be indistinguishable from natural background noise and static.

All spacecraft, and many vehicles, are automatically equipped with radio receivers integral to their hulls. These allow reception of radio broadcasts. There are hand-held versions of these same receiver radio systems for personal use. In the event of these receivers being destroyed, the receiver arrays of many other types of electromagnetic sensors will function adequately as radio receivers.

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Relay Satellite

Relay Satellite
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–6
Cost Cr10,000
Size 55 liters
Weight 50kg

A Relay Satellite device is used to relay communications over a planetary horizon. The satellite has solar power cells or can operate from internal batteries for up to 72 hours, accepting and relaying up to 10 channels of audio or 2 channels of video and 4 audio channels. The device can be remote controlled and can accept and hold messages until a coded signal is received. Modifications can be made to allow the use of burst communication which compresses a ten-minute message to only about two seconds of transmission time. The satellite has no motive power other than small attitude jets which use a compressed gas to change the orientation of the sphere. Assuming a stable orbit, the relay satellite has a useful life of about five years. The devices can be overhauled and used again. Three satellites orbiting equidistant from each other can relay communications to almost any point on a planetary surface. Equipped with a long-range communicator, the device has a range of about 80,000 kilometers at maximum power.

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Spray Display

Spray Display
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–12
Cost Cr25
Size
Weight 2 kg

A Spray Display is a quick, very cheap way to turn any flat surface into computer and video display. Installation requires placing a set of electrical control rods on the surface, then spraying several layers of conductive materials, a layer of fluorescing pixel elements and finally a transparent protective layer. The process generally takes a few hours to allow the layers to be applied, align themselves and dry properly. Display resolution is poor (600 µm pixel pitch is standard), and if not applied with care, there will be noticeable display artifacts.

The display is temporary, lasting a year or so before degrading, longer if in a protected environment, shorter if exposed to the elements like sunlight and harsh atmospheric conditions. There isn't any way to fix the display, it has to be removed and replaced.

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Survey Satellite

Survey Satellite
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–12
Cost KCr100
Size 250.0 liters
Weight 50kg
Also see Space Station

A Survey Satellite or Sursat are cheap, small research satellites that planetary survey teams will often deploy. With a stored volume of 0.25 cubic meters and a mass of 50 kg, over a dozen may be stored in the hold of a typical ship for a multisystem survey team.

When deployed from an airlock, sursats used a built-in fusion plant to maneuver into the desired orbit and begin cataloging data based on survey team needs. Typical information gathered include meteorological data, geography, radio and radiation emissions, electrical power use, and major urban areas or apparently non-natural structures of significance. In addition, surstats can receive signals from comm boosters and relay them elsewhere on the planet or in orbit. And they can act as planetary positioning system, provided at least six sursats are in proper orbits.

Sursats cost about Cr100,000 each, and are not designed to be stealthy or take much damage. They are not used for clandestine missions or deployment in hostile environments of any kind.

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Voder

Voder
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–5
Cost Cr1500
Size 2 liters
Weight 2 kg
Reference Hivers TBD.

A Voder (from Voice Operating Demonstrator) or vocoder (a combination of vocal and encoder) is a technological device that can generate the sounds or auditory vocalizations of the oral-aural languages of various sophonts.

Dozens of models of various abilities, complexity, and price can be purchased on worlds throughout the Imperium of TL–9 or better. Pre-electronic voders are available below TL–9, but tend to be species-specific and far less flexible devices.

Voders are often paired with Language Translators.

Not all sophont species were created equal and many possess wildly different sets of vocal chords or biological oral apparatuses. In many cases, it is simply impossible for one sophont to approximate the speech of another so technological were created to fill these needs. Some species possess no vocal apparatus at all, such as Hivers, in which case the voder fulfills a need that the species did not originally evolve naturally.

In other cases, such as that of humans and vargr, voders are widely used by personnel with sophisticated language needs, who don't want to operate with the handicap of their native vocal apparatus. While very similar, human and vargr vocal cords cannot approximate the full range of each other's speech.

The first voders in almost every civilization occurred before the advent of electronics. Most were specialized musical instruments often resembling elaborate whistles. Some are mechanical devices of ingenious complexity. Many of these early devices were and are just as effective as later more sophisticated devices using higher TLs.

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Wallpaper Display

Wallpaper Display
Type Communications Gear
Tech Level TL–10
Cost Cr200
Size 5.0 liters
Weight 4.5 kg
Per square meter

A Wallpaper Display is a pre-constructed large scale display used for video installations. The display comes in 0.5cm thick by 1m2 panels, allowing installation of virtually any size of display, The display contains a self-configuring display system which allows the edges to auto-connect to produce one large display, and enable simple connection to existing computing and entertainment systems. The display itself has a 85 µm pixel pitch, allowing near perfect image reproduction.

The panels are available in smaller sizes, down to about 2cm x 2cm.

At the next technology level wallpaper displays are often called wallscreens and sometimes include a touch-sensitive layer for dynamic control and are used for live video communications when combined with video cameras and audio speakers and microphones. By TL–14 they are sometimes replaced by holographic displays when more volume is available for the display.

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24 Communications Gear items[edit]

Item Type TL Size Weight Cost
Bug (device) Emitter 8 0.2 liters 0.3 kg Cr1,000
Bug Monitor Communications Gear 8 0.1 liters 0.1 kg Cr100
Bull-Horn Communications Gear 5 2 liters 5kg Cr120
ComBand Communications Gear 10 0.1 liter 0.2 kg
Commcomp Communications Gear 11 0.4 liter 0.4 kg Cr500
Commdot Communications Gear 10 1 g Cr100
Commdot Communications Gear 10 0.1 liters 100 g Cr800
Data Headpiece Communications Gear 13 0.1 liter 0.1kg Cr5,000
Emergency Beacon Communications Gear 9 2.0 liters 1.0 kg Cr750
IISS Beacon Communications Gear 9 0.5 tons 50 kg Cr500,000
Interface Gloves Communications Gear 11 250g Cr4,000
Language Translator Communications Gear 12 1.0 liter 0.5 kg Cr2,000
Laser Communicator Communications Gear 8 5 liters 1.5 kg Cr2,500
Laser Microphone Communications Gear 9 1.0 liters 0.8kg Cr475
Maser Communicator Communications Gear 8 160 liters 80kg Cr2400
Multiplexer Communications Gear 10 0.1 liters 0.1 kg Cr800
Navigational Satellite Communications Gear 9 300 liters 100 kg Cr35,000
Orbital Beacon Communications Gear 9 30 liters 25kg Cr1,021
Orbital Beacon Communications Gear 9 300 liters 115kg Cr3,090
Personal transponder Communications Gear 9 Cr100
Radio Communicator Communications Gear 5 10 liters 20kg Cr75
Relay Satellite Communications Gear 6 55 liters 50kg Cr10,000
Spray Display Communications Gear 12 2 kg Cr25
Survey Satellite Communications Gear 12 250.0 liters 50kg KCr100
Voder Communications Gear 5 2 liters 2 kg Cr1500
Wallpaper Display Communications Gear 10 5.0 liters 4.5 kg Cr200