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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.

TL-C version shown; TL-E version adds two program slots on top edge; TL-A version omits those on bottom edge.
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)
Type TL Size Kg CR Notes
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)
Biosniffer A 1 0.2 300 Detects “life”
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!