Playmates Boomerang Phaser (08072008 0116)

The Playmates (Boomerang) Phaser is actually a nicer looking weapon for the show. If I am not mistaken, it first appeared in the Star Trek:First Contact movie and subsequently made its appearances in the Deep Space Nine and Star Trek Voyager TV series later on. Compared to the Season three of the STNG Phaser, this is more ergonomical. I hated the "straight on" design of the "Cobra head" which is like shining a torch at the enemy.

The Playmates "Boomerang" Phaser as seen from the top and side

My friend Peter has a Playmates version of the Phaser and after looking at it, I am a it surprised that is is a bit too big and chunky for my hands. As I do not have an original prop and therefore, comparing it with the toy is not possible at this moment. He has asked me to revamp the lighting system for his Phaser which I gleefully agreed because this would mean I can take apart his....er, I mean, perform some research on the toy.

The Project

The main aim of this project is to create a better looking set of LED bars as seen on the movie and the TV series. Which is not a problem as by now, I have already created the circuit for the Phaser Rifle and can therefore adapt it into the toy here. The main problem is how to preserve the sound chip of the toy (even though its not accurate and fires "multiple" shots) and to get the correct 3mm x 3mm square green LEDs which is all but obsolete. As for the circuit board, it will be discussed further on the next page.

 

At first glance

Once you turn the Phaser upside down, you can see all seven screws in which gives you access to the whole Phaser, from the bulb to the electronics to the batteries. As you can see here, Peter has already modified the Phaser quite a bit as the clip to the toy has been removed, exposing the two holes meant for the screws. The speaker grill has a small slide switch to switch off the green LED bar at the top side so as conserve the batteries. I have never seen the actual toy but I suspect this phaser has been repainted to silver.

Opening the Phaser

We will now start to open up the Phaser stage by stage, starting from the right. By removing the single screw, the battery compartment is revealed. Note that there is a small metal nut inside the plastic so that when you change the batteries often, the wear and tear of the plastic is minimal. To remove the middle part of the Phaser, you have to remove the two screws housing the emitter part (where the red bulb is). Once that is done, then you can remove the remaining four screws of the Phaser.

 

This is the emitter part. There is a small transparent red plastic which acts as the Chaser's emitter window. I will try to replace the bulb with a small Luxeon-type LED (as shown in the middle, the small white square)

The middle part of the Phaser where the main electronics are housed. It has a lot of wiring! Once I remove the unnecessary parts, there should be a lot of space to play with

The battery compartment nicely houses two AA batteries, thus giving it 3volts. I will create my circuit to use 3 volts as modifying it to house a slightly bigger 9volt battery is not a good idea. I plan to modify the Phaser as minimal as possible.

 

Exploring the Phaser

 

The Emitter

The emitter uses a Red bulb to give the Phaser the red light. But I have this fear bulbs blowing unexpectedly. So, I have decided to use a very bright LED in its place. As these LEDs tend to get very hot after a short time, I would have to connect it to a piece of metal to serve as heatsink since the Phaser's electronics light the bulb constantly when the fire button is pressed

Size comparison between a 5mm normal LED with a 1Watt LED. The square LED is available in White or Blue. And if I want to be red, I would have to obtain the normal 1-watt round Luxeon

The Speaker

I wanted to replace the current speakers to a much smaller version. But I found the small speaker after disasembling the main circuits. So, at the moment, I am not sure if the smaller speaker can improve the sound quality.

The original speaker is on the left while the smaller is on the right. I do now know the wattage both the speakers yet as the original has a piece of foam stuck to it. One day, I shall test them. Otherwise, I would stick to the original speakers.

The Heart of the Phaser

The LED Bar

Once the last cover is opened, you can see the main electronics that gives the toy its lights and sound effects. The main problem here are two fold. One is the LED power bar which, like the Tricorder toy, uses a wedge shaped plastic and a single light source to create a uniform light across it. Its a unique idea but it is not accurate. So, I would have replace this part with the proper LEDs which is the 3mm x 3mm green square LEDs which is rare. The other backup plan is to use the 1mm x 3mm LEDs (which is very bright) and create a perspex window for them. By removing that plastic prism, I now have the necessary space for the LEDs. The other problem is to create a panel for the LEDs so that no unintentional poking would cause the LEDs to bent in the circuit board.

The 3mm x 3mm sqare LED is on the left. The closest I could find was the 2.5mm x 3mm, which is second from the left. I wanted to use the bigger more common 2.5mm x 5mm (second form the right) but this would mean I would have to file the LEDs down to size and not to mention, use two of them for each segment. Last but not least, I can always use the round 3mm LED but this would mean I have to reconstruct the panel using cast tranparent resin.

The Electronics

Slightly near to the LED prism, there is a small black enclosure which is fixed by two screws. Inside, the black plastic houses the circuit board and also the mechanism for the three switches. The board is small and thus can be relocated. The mechanical designs of the selector switch is very clever. What you have is two "buttons" housed in a see-saw design and when you press either button, it will move the slide switch accordingly. However, for this project, I would need make a new set of buttons as the see-saw configuaration is not possible here. Also, the "Fire" button would need to be modified as well. So, the only solution is to make a new circuit board small enough to house all the 16 LEDs, the original electronics and also the new set of switches. Since Peter is not too concerned about the sound, I will add another switch so that he can manually select any of the two sounds himself. But if he wanted the original sound, then I would have to salvage electronics from the original "Cobrahead" toy. Or custom make one (which is now not possible at this moment)

Playmates used a red bulb to light up the whole panel which uses the reflective properties of a prism. Note the black cover on the right.

Once the black cover is removed, you can see the custom circuit board (the green board with a black glob). Next to it is the see-saw switch selector.

If I removed the light prism and the circuit board module, in theory, I would have a lot of space to play with. In fact, too much space.

The Progress So Far

I have not done much apart from opening up the phaser and did some exploring. Rigth now, the plan is to make a rough paper circuit board measurement and test fit on the insides of the Phaser. Then I would also have to look for the elusive/rare green 3mm x 3mm LEDs. The custom electronics has already been completed and all I have to do now, is to build the prototype circuit and show it to Peter to see if he agrees with the LED sequence. Ha also knows that this project (like many others) is going to take a long time to complete.

In the meantime, I will preserve the electronics (so that is is not disturbed by my kids) while I research more on the circuit board and look for the LEDs

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