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Portable Chemical Detector, TL9-TL11

This article originally appeared in the November 2011 issue and was reprinted in the November/December 2020 issue.

TL9 Chemical Detector, Handheld, Laser-based
1.0kg, Cr500, 100m range

This unit has the ability to classify an essentially limitless number of molecules of chemical elements and compounds, but must be programmed from a hand computer to scan for up to 50, based on the data on their molecular vibration frequency. These will be listed on its screen. Data may be later transferred to another computer for detailed analysis.

This is a strictly line-of-sight affair, with an inertial positioning system, and can be set for the approximate range of detection; alternatively, it can function at a range from the solid object lased. This allows the operator to point it at a readily observed reference point, and designate the range within which detection should be registered. It can mount coaxially on any weapon with an electronic sight, with a remote switch that can be used to trigger operation; the last reading remains on the screen.

The unit can just be operated without any range setting, but it will report only what chemicals (within its detection set) have been found, without indicating distance or direction from the detector.

TL11 Chemical Detector, Handheld, Laser-based
0.3kg, Cr300, 300m range

As with the TL 9 unit, but the unit can be used to feed data in real-time into analysis computers, HUDs for vehicles, battle dress, or those (usually optional) units in combat armor. It may be set to scan for up to 1000 compounds, but must be told to prioritize by range, concentration, or other criteria (such as toxicity, or uses). Can mount and be bore-sighted in 2 combat rounds using standard mounting attachments to any TL9-11 long arm using electronic sights. This unit has a more sophisticated inertial positioning system, or it can be slaved to receivers/computers for other position reference systems (e.g., a satellite-based system) using the same data link as to provide its findings to other computers or displays in real-time.

The unit has different “preset” modes which will scan for certain compounds, including Ground Combat, Counterinsurgency, Shipboard Combat, Hunting, Mine Safety, Medical Safety, Chemical Warfare, Biological Warfare, Engineering, Electronics, and Mechanical, among many others. These modes will change not only the compounds scanned for, but the weights afforded in prioritization. The display will also give interpretations, that may vary by mode; methane in Counterinsurgency mode, for instance, is more likely to be interpreted as indicating a booby trap, than in Chemical Warfare or Engineering. The modes can also be tweaked, with a hand computer, by TL; those ground combat facing a TL 9 enemy would give different weights and interpretations than that facing a TL 11 enemy. Note that the results must be scrolled through. Thus a unit in Ground Combat mode might pick up the same methane that one in Counterinsurgency Mode would, but prioritize it far lower (number 217 instead of number 3), and give other interpretations. Using a Hand Computer, and multiple measurements, a 3D model can be constructed in 10 combat rounds to better predict the type and location of the source. The modes use combinations of chemicals to cross-reference readings and provide more accurate interpretations. Access to data up to TL15 can be used to program the unit to make predictions based on chemical employment patterns up to TL15.

A Sampling mode exists, which can remotely lase a creature or object, and store the chemical signature. The Tracking mode can then be used to track the organism or object closely if out of direct sight. For organisms, the closer in time between the Sampling and Tracking, the better the tracking, based on environmental and biological changes. [“O.K. I am trying to break contact. I run around the corner and attempt to break wind. Do I see any cheap perfume in any shop windows?”]