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Author Topic: #5 Prop: Spock's "CSG-1 Pocket Flight Computer"  (Read 3338 times)

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Offline GSchnitzer

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#5 Prop: Spock's "CSG-1 Pocket Flight Computer"
« on: October 24, 2007, 09:55:35 pm »
One of those obscure props that shows up from time to time in Star Trek is what's called an "E-6B Flight Computer." Probably the best shot of this prop is from "The Naked Time" (where Mr. Spock uses the device to somehow help him calculate some of the details of the breakup of the planet Psi 2000):



Its actual first appearance is in "The Corbomite Maneuver" where it can be seen lying on the table next to Mr. Scott as the senior officers gather in the Briefing Room to discuss options:



It can also be seen in "Wolf In the Fold" where Mr. Spock uses the device to help him in making preparations to have the ship's computer calculate the value of Pi to the "last" digit:



Of course, "E-6B Flight Computers" are real live slide-rule type devices.  These are handheld devices used by pilots to help calculate such things as fuel burn, wind correction, time en route, and ground speed.  Although they look kind of archaic, some pilots prefer to use them even today rather than more modern "Flight Computers" that resemble present day calculators.  (These E-6B slide rules are lightweight and they don't run the risk of having batteries fail at an inopportune time!)  There are measurements and scales on both the front of the device (called the "calculator side") and the back of the device (called the "wind side"), so an E-6B is two tools in one.

At any rate, a number of aviation supply manufacturers over the years have produced E-6Bs.  The one seen in these screen shots was manufactured in the 1950s by Jeppesen and Company in Denver, Colorado.  Jeppesen called their particular brand of E-6B a "CSG" ("Slide Graphic Computer").  Jeppesen actually made two sizes of CSG (although they are identical in all ways other than size): a small "Pocket" CSG-1 and a larger "Navigator" CSG-2; the CSG-2 is actually the more popular size among pilots.  (Its larger nine and half inch size probably makes it much easier to read than the six and half inch model.  Apparently nine and half inches is better than six and half inches--and size does matter.  Badda bing!)

The one in these screen shots is the smaller "Pocket" CSG-1.  Since both Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek Art Designer Matt Jefferies were accomplished pilots, the prop actually seen on the series very likely belonged to one of them.  I suppose in 1966 and 1967, it looked very futuristic and looked like something that might be used in the 23rd century.

I have some pictures of my 1950s vintage Jeppesen and Company "CSG-1 Flight Computer."  Here are the front and back with the device disassembled into its two components:





Front and back, properly assembled:





What's not immediately obvious (unless you're a pilot, I suppose--and you look very carefully at the screen shot from "The Naked Time") is that the rectangular slide part of the CSG-1 Mr. Spock holds in "The Naked Time" has been completely removed from the round wheel part, flipped over face down, and then reinserted.  So the "calculator side" of the wheel is trying to perform measurements on the "wind side" scales--and vice versa--which is all meaningless.

So here are two shots of my CSG-1 assembled incorrectly--just like Mr. Spock's:





And just for good measure--a close up of some of the markings on the device:



I don't know if we'll see this device in any upcoming New Voyages episodes.  (Unlike back in 1966, the high definition cameras nowadays can probably make out the anachronistic writing on this device.)  But you never know.  Perhaps Mr. Spock or Mr. Scott might once again need to resort to this handheld device to help them with their complex calculations.

More about E-6Bs can be found at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E6B

Greg Schnitzer
Gaithersburg, Maryland
« Last Edit: June 23, 2009, 05:49:02 pm by GSchnitzer »


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Offline RobertMfromLI

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Re: #5 Prop: Spock's "CSG-1 Flight Computer"
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2007, 11:35:18 pm »
It might be nice to see an updated one... by that I mean something that looked relatively identical - yet more futuristic in closeup shots (or in front of the HDCams). For instance, exact same shape/structure, perhaps a tiny bit thicker (by need required to built it) where the outer dial was a "control wheel" (even if it had similar markings) and the data on it (via presumably cgi, and only needed in a closeup shot) was updated.

As un-futuristic as it may seem, nowadays we've invented wonders with e-Paper and flexible "LCD" (OLED) screens that would make such a device feasible in the future (as it would probably be something akin to e-Paper with a computer mounted in the paper).

Just a thought... and sorry once again to the poor guys in post!  :-*
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Offline Tony F

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Re: #5 Prop: Spock's "CSG-1 Flight Computer"
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2007, 11:37:14 pm »
Greg Have you talked to Jeff about doing this as an article in EMAG ??

This would be a great feature.....There are probavly enough props to do 1 an issue for the entire 5 year mission
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Offline Big Jim

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Re: #5 Prop: Spock's "CSG-1 Flight Computer"
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2007, 12:01:51 am »
Thanks for another enlightening post, Greg!  As for using them in the episode I bet if the computers were held properly and used in the background then the ability of the HD camera to pickup the archaic writing would be a moot point.  Thanks again!

Offline GSchnitzer

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Re: #5 Prop: Spock's "CSG-1 Flight Computer"
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2007, 07:04:07 am »
To James73:

Yes. I think if we are careful, we probably can get away with using these onscreen--even with HD cameras.  (I think you're right about being mindful of how the props are held and how closely the camera zooms in.)

To FalvoAnt:

Yes, I've spoken with Jeff.  Look for my first prop article in the next Star Trek New Voyages eMagazine.

To RobertMfromLI:

Great minds think alike:  I actually obtained two (2) CSG-1s; I'll keep one in its regular vintage state.  The other one I may try to repaint and update and add "Starfleet Navigation Department" or somesuch futuristic langague and markings on it to make it more "up to date" in case the camera does see it.  (Jeppesen and Company will  be sad that their logo will no longer be visible.)

Actually, Jeppesen changed their logo years ago.  (It's no longer the big "J" you see in these pictures.)  To get vintage E-6Bs, you need to hunt on ebay.  But you can still buy these devices new from Jeppesen's web site; they still make them (although they are no longer exactly the 1950's version I have--but they haven't changed much).  You can find them here if you simply must have one:

http://www.jeppesen.com/wlcs/application/commercewf?origin=category.jsp&event=link(browse)&wlcs_catalog_sourceKey=wlcs_categories&wlcs_catalog_destinationKey=wlcs_siblings&root_category_id=PS&wlcs_catalog_category_id=PS2

Greg Schnitzer
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Offline Big Jim

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Re: #5 Prop: Spock's "CSG-1 Flight Computer"
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2007, 11:55:14 am »
Great minds think alike:  I actually obtained two (2) CSG-1s; I'll keep one in its regular vintage state.  The other one I may try to repaint and update and add "Starfleet Navigation Department" or somesuch futuristic langague and markings on it to make it more "up to date" in case the camera does see it.  (Jeppesen and Company will  be sad that their logo will no longer be visible.)

Rather than creatively destroy a vintage CSG-1, I wonder how hard it would be to build one from thin styrene that we could SF logo to our hearts content.  Hmmm...I have needed a project to work on for awhile, now I just have to track one down.

Offline GSchnitzer

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Re: #5 Prop: Spock's "CSG-1 Flight Computer"
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2007, 12:09:03 pm »
Rather than creatively destroy a vintage CSG-1, I wonder how hard it would be to build one from thin styrene that we could SF logo to our hearts content.  Hmmm...I have needed a project to work on for awhile, now I just have to track one down.

Well, some props are harder to get than others.  This Jeppesen CSG-1A (made out of aluminum rather than Jeppesen's CSG-1P made out of plastic) set me back a whopping ten dollars on ebay, so it's not like it's a Rembrandt.  But you're right: I might decide to create a new one from scratch rather than cannibalize a vintage one.

Greg Schnitzer
Gaithersburg, Maryland


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Offline crashpilot

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Re: #5 Prop: Spock's "CSG-1 Flight Computer"
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2007, 11:40:56 am »
Aluminum E6B's are not difficult to come by and can still be purchased new from places like Sporty's Pilot Shop. If New Voyages needs a couple of brand new aluminum E6B's I'd be happy to donate them.

Offline GSchnitzer

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Re: #5 Prop: Spock's "CSG-1 Flight Computer"
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2007, 12:01:58 pm »
Aluminum E6B's are not difficult to come by and can still be purchased new from places like Sporty's Pilot Shop. If New Voyages needs a couple of brand new aluminum E6B's I'd be happy to donate them.

Aluminum E-6Bs (whether made by Jeppesen or ASA or Gleim) are easy to find.  But just to clarify, in this case, what's hard to find are E-6Bs that are:

  • aluminum (not plastic)
  • in the "pocket size" (not the larger "full size")
  • manufactured by Jeppesen (not one of the other manufacturers)
  • with appropriate 1950s-era markings (not present day markings)

That's the trick to prop authenticity for this particular prop.

Greg Schnitzer
Gaithersburg, Maryland


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