Turn An Old Computer Into A Star Trek Clock With LCARS 24

lcarslogo   Turn An Old Computer Into A Star Trek Clock With LCARS 24It’s pretty much a given that many computer and technology geeks are also huge fans of Star Trek. Science fiction and technology go hand in hand, and the capabilities of the Enterprise computer system left folks dreaming about the day when computers could behave that way.

There’s plenty of evidence here at MUO that we’re Trek fans. I once wrote an article about getting Trek sounds for your computer. Guy covered a search tool called Wolfram that can give you more information about a subject than you’d ever imagine, just like the Star Trek computer. Then there was Saikat’s article about the 10 best Trek websites. Seriously, if you’re a Trek fan, MUO has you covered.


There’s another very cool Trek tool that was fairly popular back in the days of DOS (1990s) called LCARS 24. It’s fallen by the wayside as the world evolved all the way through Windows 7. However, with Windows 7 comes the invention of DOSBox, and with DOSBox, we can once again revive those old favorites. In this case I’m going to show you how you can use the LCARS 24 app with an old PC to create your own bedside computer just like the one on Star Trek.

Installing LCARS 24 In DOSBox

If you have an old computer with DOS on it, you really don’t have to worry about this step. However, if you want to use your Windows 7 laptop as your own personal Star Trek computer, then you can do so. Just go ahead and install DOSBox to your machine, if you haven’t already. Once you do that, download the LCARS 24 files to a new folder on your c: drive. Mount that directory in DOSBox using the “mount c c:\LCARS” command. Then, from within DOSBox, go to that directory and run Install.bat.

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After an installation procedure that takes about two to five minutes, depending on the speed of your computer, the installation will complete. Then, you can run the app just by typing “LCARS24.EXE.”

The first thing you’ll notice is a large alarm clock screen with today’s date and time. The main screen of “computer” also includes a monthly calendar display and an alarm. Running on an old DOS machine, this will be one of the most advanced alarm clocks you’ll ever own!

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You can start to see just how much information is available in this tool when you press F7 to view the world map. You’ll see a view of the entire world with the current time laid out in each time zone. Scroll across with the arrow keys to set the time zone you want the computer to use. You’ll notice as you scroll and navigate screens that all of the sounds and effects are pretty much authentic Trek – you’ll instantly recognize the classic computer voice.

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From the main screen, press F8 to get to your phonebook where you can list all of your phone numbers for quick reference. When the list gets unmanageably long, there’s a “find” feature that’ll help you find your contacts.

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If you select Files (F3), you’ll see the “storage” area where all of your saved files are. Upon installing the LCARS24, there’s a lot of pre-installed files.

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You’ll find things like images and diagrams of Star Trek ships, images and details about space, space exploration, and a lot more. It’s perfect as a bedside clock because if you need something to read you’ve got volumes of information built in!

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My favorite area of LCARS 24 is the “Program” page (F4 from the main page). Here you’ll find an assortment of some of the coolest apps, including games like Chess and Crosswords, and even the original Tetris!

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Another program you’ll find that might be helpful if you’re monitoring your weight and health is the Body-Mass Index Calculator. Just enter your height and current weight, and it’ll show you where you fall within the BMI scale.

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Yet another useful program built right into this “alarm clock” is the Math Service. On this page you can type in any complex math formula you like, and the program will solve it for you. Consider it like a text-based scientific calculator.

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Maybe it’s just me, but the idea of setting up a small, older-model laptop on my bedside table with this Star Trek computer running constantly as a bedside alarm clock is the coolest idea.

As you can see above, you can run the app on your Windows 7 machine as a personal organizer and desktop clock if you want to, but it really shines when you install it on an old machine and just let it run. It’ll be one of the most advanced alarm clocks you’ll ever own. And if you’re a Trekkie, you’ll wake up every morning with a smile.

Give LCARS 24 a try and let us know what you think. Is it authentic and true to the Trek computer? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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20 Comments -

Saikat Basu

Really cool post. Didn’t know you were a Trekkie, Ryan :)
A touch interface would really take it up a few dozen notches! For that we have to wait for a Windows 7 tablet to get really really old.

Saikat Basu

Really cool post. Didn’t know you were a Trekkie, Ryan :)
A touch interface would really take it up a few dozen notches! For that we have to wait for a Windows 7 tablet to get really really old.

Ryan Dube

Thanks Saikat – yes, I’ve watched Star Trek once or twice as a kid. :-)

I agree, wouldn’t an enhanced Windows 7 version be awesome? I have a feeling some day someone will create one…one can hope anyway.

Ryan Dube

Thanks Saikat – yes, I’ve watched Star Trek once or twice as a kid. :-)

I agree, wouldn’t an enhanced Windows 7 version be awesome? I have a feeling some day someone will create one…one can hope anyway.

Fik

It would be awesome to run LCARS 24 in a DOS emulator on an iPad, android tablet or even on a big screen smartphone?

Guy

Okay this has got to be done on an embedded level on something like an Arduino board with a 7″ touchscreen for a total standalone clock. Sweet.
BTW, thanks for the mention!

Guy

Okay this has got to be done on an embedded level on something like an Arduino board with a 7″ touchscreen for a total standalone clock. Sweet.
BTW, thanks for the mention!

Tony

Awsome… Runs great on an old Thinkpad with Win 98 and on an another running Win XP SP2 and yes… on a tablet is the “top gadget”…

George

“with Windows 7 comes the invention of DOSBox”

What? DOSBox was around long before anyone thought of Win7.

George

“with Windows 7 comes the invention of DOSBox”

What? DOSBox was around long before anyone thought of Win7.

Anonymous

Hey George, good catch – thanks for the correction.

David

This is a cool idea for an alarm clock that is not so boring. I’d like to see more than just the time when I wake up. Is there anything else that is newer that I could have RSS news feeds, weather, email and voice-mail notifier and other information a person might like to see before they decide to plant their feet on the floor in the morning? Maybe even a video image if someone is knocking on the front door.

zlz

Thanx for sharing this great piece of software! Really awesome!

zlz

BTW, i would like to see some more interesting DOS apps/projects.