current Starfleet-issue communicator represents the
latest improvement in small subspace radio devices. Its
primary role is to maintain voice contact among crew
members aboard ship and during away missions, and to
provide a lock-on contact for transporter operations.
Voice contact with other devices, such as the ship's main
computers, is also within the communicator's
capabilities. The communicator casing is micromilled
duranium overlayered with gold and silver alloys in a
diffusion-bonding process. The metal alloys serve to
complement the aesthetic design of the device, which has
been fashioned into the Starfleet emblem.
SUBSPACE TRANSCEIVER ASSEMBLY The heart of the internal electronics is the subspace transceiver assembly (STA). This circuit incorporates an analog-to-digital voice encoder and low-power subspace field emitter. It is also the same circuit used in devices such as the personal access display device (PADD) and tricorder, and shares the efficient data transmission protocols. Voice inputs are received by a monofilm pickup diffusion-bonded to the inner casing and routed to the STA. While the standard STA possesses input channels for other data, these are not active in the communicator. As all Starfleet communications are normally encrypted, the voice signal pulses are converted by a series of encryption algorithms. These algorithms are changed on a random schedule by Starfleet Command for galaxywide subspace transmissions, and individual starship codes may be substituted during local away missions. Battery power is provided by a sarium krellide crystal rated for two weeks in normal use. When close to depletion, the crystal will produce a faintly audible oscillation; it can be returned to full power by induction recharging.
COMMUNICATOR CONTROL Control of the personal communicator while aboard a Starfleet vessel is a matter of preference and habit. To initiate a voice call, it is simply a matter of tapping the front of the badge to confirm to the STA that the message is meant to go out. This may seem redundant, as the intraship comm system is constantly monitoring and routing voice transmissions, but it is a good practice to learn. During away team operations, the tap is essential to preserving internal battery power. The tap activates a dermal sensor to relay a power up command to the STA. The range of the communicator is severely limited, mainly due to the small size of the STA emitter and power supply. In transmissions between two stand-alone communicators, clear voice signals will propagate only 500 kilometers. This is a tiny fraction of the 40,000 km required to contact an orbiting spacecraft, so it is the spacecraft that must become the active partner in orbit to receive the communicator's lower-power signals, and transmit correspondingly high-power signals to the communicator's receiver. The communicator is a line-of-sight device during away missions. Its planetside range may be improved if the magnetic field value is below 0.9 gauss, or mean geologic density is less than 5.56 g/cc. Various EM factors will affect voice and transporter lock. Most remedies to comm interference will take place on the spacecraft side, as there are few user-adjustable controls within the communicator. In the event of loss of transporter lock, other ship sensors can be brought into play to locate Starfleet crew members, though the process can take longer to complete.
USER ID SECURITY For security purposes, the communicator is a personalized Starfleet device that can be programmed to respond to the individual crew member's bioelectrical field and temperature profiles using the built-in dermal sensor. If an attempt is made to operate an appropriately programmed device by another crew member without security override authority, the communicator will fail to activate. During benign situations, security codes are changed every five days. During emergency situations, or when Away Team members are involved in planetside operations, codes are changed on a random schedule at least once every twenty-four hours.