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Starship Technical Manual - Control Systems

A starship has many control systems. Most are connected to the vessel's central computer network. The control system is generally divided into several parts. The Flight Control System is the control system most often mentioned when discussing ship control systems. It is not the only system. The Main Engineering Controls allow the engineering staff to monitor and control the major engineering systems. The Life Support Control system is a generally automated system which is independent of the Main Engineering Controls.

There are several design philosophies when it comes to Controls. Analog controls use physical devices to send signals to the control computer. Static control systems use controls configured to perform standard actions. Configurable analog controls allow each control device's function to be selected by the user. Analog control systems generally consist of a joystick, throttle, multiple keyboards, leg controls and display screens. In a static control system each control has a specific permanently assign function. In the configurable design switches and controls can be reassigned by the user. Each individual's preferences are stored in the control computer and allow a station to be used by different individuals.

Virtual control systems use holographic controls and touch screens to allow the same control system to be used for many purposes. Such a system has no physical control devices. Each switch, knob, display and control is a virtual device made up of a holographic projection. When the user's hand, foot, leg or other body part interacts with the the display the computer deciphers the assigned gesture to produce the desired effect. Typically control motions correspond to "touching" a virtual button, moving a virtual slider, or pressing a virtual switch. Complicated displays are typically projected on a flat panel. Multiple flat panels with tri-d technology can give the illusion of being surrounded by windows, as if the user was sitting in a glass cockpit. Heads up displays (HUD) can be used on ships which have real windows, to allow the pilot to receive both enhanced and unenhanced visual information.

Flight Control Systems

Regardless of the specifics of the design