Scout PAC (Planetary Assistant/Controller
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2018 issue.
The Scout PAC (“Planetary Assistant/Controller”) was originally conceived of and the initial design based on a “ruggedized” version of the common hand computer. Though useful from the initial release to field scouts, many reported that it lacked some useful capabilities, and some of the built-in functionality was not useful (and in at least one case, reported as obstructive). Over time, the design was refined based on reports from explorers and survey teams, finally resulting in a design with minimal on-board functionality and maximal configurability via add-on/plug-in modules.
The Scout Service has deployed three models of PAC, distinguished by the production Tech Level and the number of add-on modules that can be supported. The Mark I (TL-A, 4 modules) is no longer in active production, and is being replaced by the Mark II (TL-C, 6 modules) and Mark III (TL-E, 8 modules); those that are still functional at time of replacement are generally sold as surplus into the civilian market. The Mark II is still in production, and Mark III is starting to go into wide deployment, but while both can use the modules from the Mark I, modules designed for the Mark II or III cannot be used in the Mark I, and the Mark II cannot use modules designed for the Mark III. Modules replaced by higher-TL versions may be sold as surplus into the civilian market if they are deemed non-sensitive and useful in a civilian context—for example, the chemsniffer and mediscanner modules are often sold into the civilian market; the crypto scrambler and self-destruct are considered “sensitive” and thus not sold; and the nanodetector and neutrino sniffer are viewed as non-useful, and are not generally available to civilians (though they may be sold on specific request).
All three models have the basic input/output capability (touch-sensitive input, microphone, speakers, high-resolution color display), rechargeable battery (24 hours of continuous use), basic security provisions (text password), and an Emergency Position Reporting Beacon (EPRB, estimated broadcast range 25km).
A number of companies produce modules useful to various civilian
industries—LSAgri, Ling Standard Production’s agribusiness division, for
example, manufactures and sells modules useful for ‘dirt farming’;
Johnson/Red Diamond, in the Imperial portion of the Solomani Rim,
specializes in medical modules, including interface modules to allow the
PAC to control larger medical equipment. Civilian-produced modules
conform to the Scout Service’s interface specifications, but are
generally not considered sufficiently “ruggedized” for Scout Service
purposes; where civilian-designed modules are found to be useful to the
Scout Service, a special design/build will be ordered.
|Scout PAC (Planetary Assistant/Controller)|
|PAC Base Units (includes touch screen, mic/speakers, power[24hrs continuous use, rechargeable])|
|Scout PAC, Mk. I||A||2||3.0||3,000||Supports 4 modules, EPRB/range = 6 (25km)|
|Scout PAC, Mk II||C||2||2.0||5,000||Supports 6 modules, EPRB/range = 6 (25km)|
|Scout PAC, Mk III||E||2||1.0||8,000||Supports 8 modules, EPRB/range = 6 (25km)|
|PAC Modules (unless listed, consider range to be range = 4 (750m))|
|Supplemental Power Unit||A+||1||0.5||200||12 hrs continuous use, rechargeable|
|Envirosniffer||A||1||0.2||300||Air and water tester (without wand, identifies safe to breathe/drink only; with wand, identifies specific contaminants)|
|Chemsniffer||A||1||0.2||300||Provides a detailed chemical analysis of a sample (needs wand)|
|PAC Sample Wand||A||2||0.3||500||Breaks down sample for reading|
|EM Sniffer||A||1||0.2||400||All EM detection, including radiation|
|Inertial Locator||A||1||0.2||200||Personal SINS unit; set a waypoint and it tracks location|
|Densitometer||A||1||0.2||300||Gives metallic composition and scans underground (R=2; 25m)|
|Wafer Jack plug-in||A||1||0.2||100||Can link with personal wafer jack|
|EM Jammer||A||1||0.2||400||(range = 3; 300m); solo operator|
|Communication relay||A||1||0.2||100||Range = 6 (25km)|
|Crypto scrambler||A||1||0.2||200||For use with commo codes; sends encrypted messages|
|Self-destruct||A||1||0.2||200||Causes 2D6 damage for 1m radius|
|Data storage||A||1||0.2||100||Can handle one simple program like a Computer-1, or 12 hours of combined audio/video or equivalent other data|
|Nanodetector||A||1||0.2||200||Finds nanites at Range = 2 (25m)|
|VoxLock||A||1||0.2||100||Password security for voice password|
|Electric torch||A||1||0.3||100||Shines LED light for 3m (comes with 1m lanyard)|
|Neutrino sniffer||D||1||0.2||400||Detects presence of a fusion reaction|
|Mediscanner||D||1||0.2||500||Provides vital statistics to an emergency responder|
|Holovid Recorder||D||1||0.2||300||Needs data storage for 12 hours of video feed or commo feed|
|Holovid Communicator Feed||D||1||0.2||400||Provides “live” vidfeed|
|Translator||E||1||0.2||400||Fluency level 1 in 2 languages, or fluency level 2 in one language (other than Galanglic)|
Author’s Comments on Development
One of the things I do when dealing with science fiction gear is try to bridge the gap between current technology and future technology. One of the most iconic pieces in sci-fi history is the “tricorder” from Star Trek, portrayed as extremely useful device when conducting a personal survey planetside. In the Traveller universe, this item would be exceptionally useful and desired by the IISS (Scout Service).
Today with the advent of the Raspberry Pi™ and other low-cost single-board computers, and noting the popularity of modular programs for children (such as the Innotab™ Learning system) I looked into bridging the gap between the Star Trek level of technology (assuming it to be around TL-H+) and standard Imperium technology (TL-D to TL-F) I came up with the Scout PAC.
I have found this to be a useful tool to use for the Scout and adventurer alike. I find the different combinations to add additional flexibility to those who venture off the ship. Enjoy!