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M314 Motion Tracker

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Alien-motion-tracker
The M314 Motion Tracker.

The M314 Motion Tracker[1] is a simple surveillance device originally designed for use by search-and-rescue rescue and police services. Essentially, it is a high-powered ultrasound scanner that uses doppler-shift discrimination to filter out moving objects from its stationary background.

It has gone on to find widespread military use, most notably by the United States Colonial Marine Corps, who issue it as standard equipment as part of their Smartgun teams.

OverviewEdit

AliensMotionTracker
An M314 detects movement.
Toa QuaraxAdded by Toa Quarax

A moving object is shown on the M314 Motion Tracker's display as a series of contours of probable loci, with the range and bearing given to the target. Motion Trackers are often employed for perimeter surveillance, able to monitor movements of small animal-sized targets up to a range of 1,000 metres in open country.[2] The greatest advantage of the Motion Tracker is its ability to scan through objects; however, intervening terrain can cut this detection range quite drastically and in built-up areas the presence of walls and partitions can reduce the range to less than 20 metres.

While a powerful tool, motion tracker operators must become familiar with the device's limitations. Primarily, they are incapable of differentiating between different sources of movement — an approaching hostile target will register just the same as moving machinery in the environment (although the tracker range gate function is calibrated to reject small or slight movements, such as bugs crawling, plants waving in the wind etc.).[2] While Colonial Marines are equipped with an Identification Friend Foe (IFF) transponder as part of their armor, designed to render them "immune" to the Motion Trackers carried by the USCM and thereby preventing false detection of friendly personnel, this technology is liable to malfunction on occasion.[3] The M314 also has a limited field of vision, and will only detect movement in the direction it is pointed, leaving large areas unchecked, particularly to the rear.

Further technical drawbacks are also inherent in the design. The devices are active sensors, emitting thousands of high-energy ultrasound bursts every second, and can therefore be easily located by enemy listening stations and serve as a target for enemy fire. Furthermore, the fact trackers are set to ignore small movements in the environment leaves them unable to detect very slow-moving objects; this shortcoming was notably exploited on many occasions by guerrillas during the Arcturan War, allowing them to infiltrate a tracker's detection cone.[2] Lastly, trackers are vulnerable to spoofing by ultrasound jammers, or "jumping jack" decoy devices.[2] As a result, most commanders prefer to employ motion trackers only in support of traditional surveillance techniques.

Armor Integrated HUD Motion TrackerEdit

HUDmt
The HUD motion tracker with an objective currently active.
Toa QuaraxAdded by Toa Quarax

Later variants of USCM standard armor include integrated motion trackers, thereby leaving a Marine's hands free to ready their weapon.[4] The armor integrated HUD motion tracker appears in the corner of a Marine's HUD and its appearance is very similar to what was displayed on the screen of the handheld tracker. The HUD motion tracker functions the same as the handheld M134 with a moving object shown on the tracker's display as a series of contours of probable loci, with the range and bearing given to the target. The HUD motion tracker will also display the direction of an objective that the user has active.

Behind the scenesEdit

The Motion Tracker has become an integral part of the Alien universe, particularly with respect to the Colonial Marines. As such, it has featured in numerous video games featuring the USCM, although in most of these appearances, owing to gameplay mechanics, the Motion Tracker is incorporated into the player's HUD and requires no interaction to use. One exception to this is Aliens: Colonial Marines, which features the Motion Tracker as a separate item that must be equipped to use just as in Aliens (although an audible warning is played to alert the player when it may be needed even when the Motion Tracker is holstered). When the Motion Tracker is equipped, the player is unable to use their weapon, again, just like in the movie.

The M314 was given no formal name and only referred to as a "Motion Tracker" in James Cameron's Aliens script.[5] It wasn't until the release of Aliens: Infestation in 2011 that the Motion Tracker was given the name "M314 Motion Tracker".

It is curious to note that James Cameron just might have named the planetoid in Aliens "LV-426" because he saw the original Kango hammer drill casing used to make the props and liked the sequence of numbers on its side, model number 426.[5]

PropsEdit

The Motion Trackers were made by prop master Terry Reed of Otter Effects; several were made.[5] The basic shell of the tracker is a power drill casing, dressed with mostly photographic accessories.[6]

When shooting the Sonar Rings in 1986, technology didn't exist that allowed for a compact video monitor to fit inside the slide viewer, so the filmmakers affixed small monitors to the side of the Motion Tracker prop.[5] The trouble was that, because it was a Cathode Ray Tube, the screen was much deeper than the slide viewer, so the "functioning" screen could only be shot from certain angles.[5] If the monitor wasn't held exactly flat on to the lens the bottom of the tube would become visible.[5] However, the length of the unit can still be seen briefly during the scene in which the Marines first use the trackers in the colony complex.[6]

The playback was via a VTR off stage. The guy who designed and operated the Motion Tracker insert video clips was also the one who made the 'Soundfire' system for Alien War.[5]

For long shots of the trackers, a simple blinking light was fitted inside the screen box.[6]

The tracker which appeared in Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual was a copy made by Terry Reed for Lawrence Nathan of Fiction & Fantasy Models in North London in early 1990. Resin casts of this were made available.[6]

ComponentsEdit

MT Parts
Toa QuaraxAdded by Toa Quarax

The main component of the Motion Tracker is the casing of a Kango 426 drill,[7][8] with extra parts as follows:

  1. Jobo "Laborleuchte" ("Laboratory lamp").[9][10]
  2. Olympus T28 calculation panel.[8]
  3. Hama remote control for pentax.[8]
  4. Hama "Selbst-auslöser 5401" ("Automatic shutter release") box (not the packaging).[8]
  5. Hama "Selbst-auslöser 5401" ("Automatic shutter release").[8]
  6. Part of the keypad from a Casio SL-85[11] (attached on top of the transformer).
  7. Hama Slide Viewer B101 (3642).[12]
  8. Part from a Vivitar Zoom Thyristor 2500 flash unit.[13][10][8]
  9. Transformer from the Powertrack 2000 series and up.[14]
  10. Part from a Vivitar Zoom Thyristor 2500 flash unit.[15][8]
  11. Sphygmomanometer inner casing from the brand ASSESS.[8]
  12. Part of cable from remote control for pentax.[16]
  13. Unidentified part (the "Prop Store" Motion Tracker's is thicker than the "Dummy"'s).

"Prop Store" Motion TrackerEdit

The "Prop Store" Motion Tracker is the prop owned by the Prop Store.

MerchandiseEdit

Master Replicas Motion TrackerEdit

Master Replicas MT
The Master Replicas Motion Tracker.[17]
Toa QuaraxAdded by Toa Quarax

The Master Replicas Motion Tracker was released September 2004 for $399[5] as a limited edition of 2500.[18]

Master Replicas "tracked" down several German photographic retailers while the kit was being researched, and was able to locate nearly all the original components. The only component Master Replicas was unable to locate was the pump housing, so the product engineers designed that from scratch in Pro-E. The body and details were all done in injection ABS plastic (with some metal parts). They also apparently added steel weights in strategic locations to give it some heft and balance.[5]

The Motion Tracker is powered by three AA batteries in the Hama viewer housing. The battery door is hidden under the camera plate part on the bottom. To operate the replica, there is a trigger switch located under the handle. The switch matches the black color of the original hammer drill and functions as an on/off trigger for the electronics housed in the Hama viewer. Once turned on, the sequence and the sonar rings immediately start popping out from the center. After 5 or 10 seconds, Aliens start coming in at you. As the Aliens "approach", the unit pings louder and louder, culminating in a loud crescendo. The noise for the audio comes out through a speaker positioned in a hidden area in the main body. However, the range numbers don't count down. There are seven pre-programmed sequences (some have one pulsing Alien and others have much more which sometimes "hop back and forth" before they actually reach you). After it plays through 3 or 4 of these scenes, it just goes to "tracking nothing" mode for 30 seconds and then automatically shuts off. For the sounds of the replica, Master Replicas was supplied with sound effects from 20th Century Fox.[5]

Of curious note is the the rising tone "scale." The problem stems back to the film itself: careful viewers note that we never see one Tracker go through the entire "tracking" sequence. Since the Aliens themselves rarely come at the characters in one straight line, the result is a rising sound "scale" that may sound different from memory. Upon several repeated viewings by the Master Replicas design team, it was decided the trackers did in-fact go through a scale, the viewers just never notice it in one-continuous-shot (like the replica plays through). The tracker starting tone is different in various scenes due to the fact when the Marines first "read" an incoming Alien, they are at different distances from the Tracker user, thus the different pitches. It makes sense that the pitch tones themselves are apparently linked to a distance, therefore, if an Alien is close, the Motion Tracker in the film starts on the note "fa" instead of "do" for example. The sound played for the unit is tone-matched to the starting and ending notes, and divided the difference into seven equal pitches, hence the "scale" do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do.[5]

In research and development for over a year, Master Replicas invented a unique approach to replicate the glowing sonar rings that ping out as the Motion Tracker is switched on. Drawing from their experience with their highly successful Star Wars Force FX lightsabers, this new organic LED technology has allowed Master Replicas to cost effectively produce a functional prop replica at a price point affordable to most collectors.[5]

The unit comes with a full sized plexi display case similar to those constructed for their Star Wars and Star Trek replicas. A plastic placeholder affixed to the base holds the unit securely in place in the center of the display.[5]

McFarlane "Colonial Marine Cpl. Hicks"Edit

Only the Collector's Club Exclusive version of the McFarlane "Colonial Marine Cpl. Hicks" figure includes a Motion Tracker accessory. It is separated from the figure in the packaging and can be placed in the figure's hand or slung over its shoulder with the sling. Unlike the later NECA Motion Tracker, the McFarlane version's monitor is tilted, but doesn't have any detail on the screen.[19]

NECA "Private William Hudson"Edit

Aliens-hudson-neca-poe-ghostal-review-10
The NECA Hudson figure.[20]
Toa QuaraxAdded by Toa Quarax

The NECA "Private William Hudson" figure includes a Motion Tracker accessory. As previously mentioned, the screen is not titled. The screen does, however, feature a sticker which shows the the Motion Tracker detecting multiple signals. As with the McFarlane version, the Tracker can be placed in the figure's hand or slung over its shoulder.[21]

NECA "Corporal Dwayne Hicks vs Xenomorph Warrior"Edit

The NECA "Corporal Dwayne Hicks vs Xenomorph Warrior" includes the same Motion Tracker accessory as Hudson. The Hicks figure can also hold the Tracker.[22]

NECA "Hudson vs Brown Warrior"Edit

Includes the same accessory as the previous two releases.

AppearancesEdit

GalleryEdit

PropsEdit

VideosEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1.  Aliens: Infestation [Nintendo DS]. WayForward Technologies and Gearbox Software.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood (1996). Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual. HarperPrism, 107. 
  3. James Cameron (writer and director). Aliens [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  4.  Aliens vs. Predator [Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360]. Rebellion.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 http://www.alienscollection.com/review.html
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 http://www.harryharris.com/tracker.htm
  7. http://alienscollection.com/motiontracker2.html
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 http://www.therpf.com/f9/aliens-motion-tracker-build-136072/
  9. http://www.harryharris.com/jobo.htm
  10. 10.0 10.1 http://www.harryharris.com/mtcont.htm
  11. http://forum.alienslegacy.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11066&sid=2c92eec0d03fb02c8007e12512421677
  12. http://www.alienscollection.com/motiontracker2.html
  13. http://www.harryharris.com/flash.htm
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 http://www.therpf.com/f9/building-aliens-motion-tracker-need-some-help-79093/index2.html
  15. http://www.harryharris.com/flash.htm
  16. http://www.hyperdynelabs.com/mt/construct/q.htm
  17. http://www.entertainmentearth.com/item_archive/items/ALIENS_Motion_Tracker_Replica.asp
  18. http://www.collectorsgalleryonline.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=CG&Product_Code=ALIENSMOTIONTRACKER&Category_Code=MR
  19. McFarlane Aliens "Colonial Marine Cpl. Hicks" (Collector's Club Exclusive)
  20. http://www.poeghostal.com/2013/06/review-private-william-hudson-aliens-neca.html
  21. NECA Aliens "Private William Hudson"
  22. NECA Aliens "Corporal Dwayne Hicks vs Xenomorph Warrior"
  23. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=607514745948529&set=a.116549255045083.11938.104664682900207&type=3&theater
  24. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=608077472558923&set=a.116549255045083.11938.104664682900207&type=3&theater
  25. http://www.therpf.com/gallery/aliens/p5915-uscm-motion-tracker.html
  26. http://www.therpf.com/gallery/aliens/p5914-uscm-motion-tracker.html
  27. http://www.therpf.com/gallery/aliens/p5913-uscm-motion-tracker.html
  28. http://www.therpf.com/gallery/aliens/p5912-uscm-motion-tracker.html
  29. http://www.therpf.com/gallery/aliens/p5911-uscm-motion-tracker.html
  30. http://www.therpf.com/gallery/aliens/p5910-uscm-motion-tracker.html
  31. http://www.therpf.com/gallery/aliens/p5909-uscm-motion-tracker.html
  32. http://www.therpf.com/gallery/aliens/p5908-uscm-motion-tracker.html
  33. http://www.therpf.com/gallery/aliens/p5907-uscm-motion-tracker.html
  34. http://www.therpf.com/gallery/aliens/p5906-uscm-motion-tracker.html
  35. http://www.therpf.com/gallery/aliens/p5905-uscm-motion-tracker.html
  36. http://www.therpf.com/gallery/aliens/p5904-uscm-motion-tracker.html
  37. http://www.therpf.com/gallery/aliens/p5903-uscm-motion-tracker.html
  38. http://www.therpf.com/gallery/aliens/p5902-uscm-motion-tracker.html
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 http://alienscollection.com/trackerreference.html

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