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A tricorder is a multifunction hand-held device useful for data sensing, analysis, and recording data, with many specialized abilities which make it an asset to crews aboard starships and space stations as well as on away missions. (TOS: "The Naked Time")--Tricorder - Memory Alpha

A tricorder is personal ultra-tech scanning device [G:UT p66 Small Ultrascanner]. Besides the standard model, there are Medical, Engineering, and Security optimized versions. They require Electronic Operations (Science) skill to operate; the Medical Tricorder requires a Electronics Operation (Medical) to make use of its medical wand. A successful Electronic Operations (Science) roll can provide information which might allow for a follow-up science/engineering-type skill roll to analyze the information with a bonus equal to your margin of success up to a +2 or more [B345, UT64-66].

It takes 5 seconds to analyze a 120° arc and generally requires moving the tricorder from side to side a few times for Imaging, Search, and Radscans; holding it steady for Scan and Bioscans. Tricorders will work under water.

Tricorders Scanning Modes

All Starfleet tricorders can perform any of the five scanning modes listed below. Note that active sensing modes (all modes except Radscan) detect objects by sending out energy and analyzing a return signal. Because of this, a tricorder in an active sensing mode is itself detectible at twice its current scanning range (unless it's in LPI mode) [UT63]. The passive sensing mode of the Radscan simply analyzes whatever radiation is impinging upon the tricoder's sensors; as such its range depends on the strength of the source.

Tricorder Modes of Operation
ModePurposeObject(s)RangeBonuses/PenaltiesFollow-Up Skills
Determine the shape and location of objects: a false-color, 3D, rendering.all objects within a 120° arcDistant
  • Size
  • Speed (as penalty only)
  • -1/DR of cover
  • Quick Contest vs Holdout or Smuggling
+3 Search
Track moving objects: blips with speed, altitude, location, and approximate size.all objects within a 120° arcDistant
  • Size
  • Speed is a bonus
  • -1/DR of cover
  • Quick Contest vs Stealth
+3 Artillery, Forward Observer
Detect particle radiation and electric/magnetic fields: range, strength, bearing.all objects within a 120° arcn/a or use Size column
  • Operating Cell:
  • +0 A cell
  • +3 B cell
  • +6 C cell
  • +9 D cell
  • +12 E cell
  • +15 F cell
+2 Physics, El Op (Electronic Warfare)
Gain information about nonliving objects: composition and radiation emissions.a single nonliving objectNearby
  • Speed (as penalty only)
  • -1/100DR of barrier
+2 Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, etc.
Gain information about living objects: vital signs and biochemical processes.a single living objectNearby
  • Speed (as penalty only)
  • -1/100DR of barrier
+2 Biology, Diagnosis
LPILow Probability Intercept: active modes can only be detected at 1.5 times the halved range.as above     ½
  • as above
as above

Use the tables below and above to determine the net bonus or penalty when using a tricoder. (Range penalties are from G:UT p63,66. Size and Speed penalties are based on B550.) If your range/size/speed lies between two values in the table, use the lower row to determine any bonus/penalty. Tricorders can not scan through a solid planet to analyze things below the horizon.

Tricorder Bonuses and Penalties
Size Speed
+2021720.10-200.91 mm
+1932430.14-191.34 mm
+1843440.20-181.97 mm
+1764860.28-17id 2.89 mm
+1686880.39-164.24 mm
+15119720.55-151/4 in
+14161,3750.78-141/3 in
+13221,9451.10-13rec 1/2 in
+12312,7501.56-123/4 in
+11443,8891mh 2.21-111 1/8 in
+10635,5002mh 3.13-10det 1 2/3 in1.67 in/s
+9887,7784mh 4.42-92 1/2 in2.45 in/s
+812511,0006.25-83 5/8 in3.60 in/s
+71770.1015,5568.84-75 1/4 in5.28 in/s
+62500.1422,00012.50-67 3/4 in7.76 in/s0.44
+53540.2031,11317.68-511 3/8 in11.38 in/s0.65
+45000.2844,00025.00-416 3/4 in1.5 ft/s0.95
+37070.4062,22535.36-32' 1"2 ft/s1.39
+21,0000.5088,00050.00-23' 0"12.0
+11,4140.80124,45170.71-14' 5"1.53.0
02,0001.14176,000100.0006' 6"24.4
-12,8281.61248,902141.42+19' 6"36.5
-21mh 4,0002.27352,000200.00+213' 11"59.5
-32mh 5,6573.21497,803282.84+320' 5"713.9
-44mh 8,0004.55704,000400.00+4101020
Minimum resolution for identification
Detail should be sufficient to enable the identity of an individual to be established beyond reasonable doubt.
Minimum resolution for recognition
Detail should establish with a high degree of certainty whether or not an individual is the same as someone seen before.
Minimum resolution for detection
Detail should establish with a high degree of certainty whether or not a person is present.
1 meter horizon distance
The distance to the horizon of an Earth sized planet when tricorder is held 1 meter above the ground is 2.1 miles.
2 meter horizon distance
The distance to the horizon of an Earth sized planet when tricorder is held 2 meters above the ground is 3.0 miles.
4 meter horizon distance
The distance to the horizon of an Earth sized planet when tricorder is held 4 meters above the ground is 4.3 miles.

Standard Tricorder

Standard Tricorder

a +2 bonus to most IQ based skills for each data chip, seven max

The standard tricorder is the only model that accepts data chips; it holds eight of them. A data chip provides a +2 bonus to most IQ based skills. Popular choices are specialties of Area Knowledge, Current Affairs, History, Law, and Physiology; Xenology techniques; Languages (i.e. translator programs); and anticipated academic skills. Chips cost $30 to $100 each and are LC4.

This is the tricorder carried by most starfleet officers. It is a square-shaped device, mostly black with silver trim, with three sections: a pivoting upper portion containing the display readout and controls, a compartmented mid-section containing slots for tricorder data chips, and a lower portion made up mainly of free memory. It sports a leather-like strap, allowing one to sling it over the shoulder when not in use.

The standard tricorder weighs 1 lb., last 4 hours on one B-cell, costs $2000, and is LC3. [UT p. 66]