Starfleet combadge, 2360s

2350s to 2360s Starfleet combadge

Starfleet combadge, 2370s

2370s to 2380s Starfleet combadge

Starfleet combadge, early 2380s

2380s Starfleet combadge

"It's standard equipment for all station personnel."
– Benjamin Sisko, 2370 ("Shadowplay")

The combadge was a combination of a badge and communicator designed to be worn on a uniform.

In Starfleet, the combadge replaced standalone communicators in the early 24th century. (TNG: "Yesterday's Enterprise", "Family")

However, they were in use by organizations such as Section 31 as early as 2256. (DIS: "Saints of Imperfection")

Similar devices were used by other organizations, including the Bajoran Militia. In Starfleet, the combadge was worn on the left breast of the person's uniform, while the Bajoran combadge was worn on the right breast of the uniform.

A user activated their combadge by tapping it once, and tapped it twice to deactivate it. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; TNG: "The Game"; DS9: "Move Along Home", "Past Tense, Part II") (Note: the EMH of the USS Voyager used this technique not to deactivate his combadge, but to gain the attention of the ship's crew.) (VOY: "Caretaker")

Combadges were used for on-board ship communication with other Starfleet personnel when using the internal communication system was impossible or impractical, for accessing the on-board computer when not in an area that the computer is monitoring, for ship-to-shore communications, and for direct communication to another combadge. Combadges were configured to act as universal translators. (DS9: "For the Uniform"; VOY: "The Cloud", "The 37's", "Investigations")

A Bajoran combadge is capable of recording logs such as that of the chief of security. (DS9: "The Ascent")

Starfleet combadges silently provided identification to starship computers. For example, when a person wearing a combadge accessed a certain console, the computer logged the individual's identification to that access. (TNG: "The Drumhead")

As a security feature, combadges could only be activated by those that were assigned to them, identified by biometric fingerprint data. (TNG: "The Hunted")

A combadge was considered standard equipment for all station personnel aboard Deep Space 9. (DS9: "Shadowplay")

The Starfleet combadge was a crystalline composite of gold, microfilament, silicon, beryllium, and carbon-70. (TNG: "The Last Outpost", "Time's Arrow"; VOY: "Hope and Fear")

Due to the size of the combadge, its working range was limited to five hundred kilometers, although a starship could boost the signal to bridge larger distances. (TNG: "11001001")

The combadge could be opened for maintenance purposes or to be used as a beacon. (TNG: "Brothers"; VOY: "Coda")

A combadge could also contact or be reached by a starship even if it was traveling at warp speed. (TNG: "The Schizoid Man"; VOY: "Resolutions")

Destroyed combadge

A destroyed combadge (2371)

In emergency situations, a combadge could be modified for use in other applications. It could be converted into a subspace distress beacon, or the tiny power cell could be extracted for other uses. (DS9: "Rocks and Shoals")

Lieutenant Worf used his combadge's energy cell to power a makeshift personal force field generator for several seconds. (TNG: "A Fistful of Datas")

Combadges and other subspace technologies emanated subspace readings which could be scanned by ship sensors and tricorders. (VOY: "Future's End")

In 2374, Captain Kathryn Janeway of the USS Voyager was able to modify Seven of Nine's Borg implants to escape the brig of the USS Dauntless using pieces of her combadge. (VOY: "Hope and Fear")

If the casing of the combadge was ever cracked, an emergency distress signal was emitted, mainly to help searchers locate victims. (TNG: "A Fistful of Datas"; VOY: "Time and Again")

Combadges, when destroyed by an electrical force, could cause damage to the wearer's clothing. (TNG: "Thine Own Self")

As a symbol of loss of membership in Starfleet, personnel that had resigned or had been relieved of duty were required to turn in their combadges. Additionally, personnel confined to a brig were not permitted to retain their combadges during their confinement. (TNG: "Redemption", "Journey's End"; DS9: "Paradise Lost", "Inquisition"; VOY: "Thirty Days")

Taking off one's combadge constituted taking off one's uniform. (TNG: "Redemption", "Journey's End"; DS9: "Tacking Into the Wind", "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges")

Combadge savior

La Forge uses a combadge to set transporter coordinates

Combadges could be used by the transporter as a way to lock on to Starfleet personnel; more generally, the transporter could lock onto any person or object with a combadge attached or nearby, thus making transport faster and more accurate. Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge used his combadge to allow the transporter to beam off an explosive device that the Ansata terrorists planted on the USS Enterprise-D during their mission on Rutia IV. (VOY: "Caretaker", "Tattoo", "Investigations", "The Chute"; TNG: "Justice", "The High Ground")

When Ferengi briefly took over the Enterprise in 2369, they were captured by attaching combadges to them and using the badges to beam them into a secured transporter room. (TNG: "Rascals")

Commander Benjamin Sisko used his combadge to beam the embryonic lifeform off Deep Space 9 into space in 2369. (DS9: "Q-Less")

A Starfleet combadge was one of the items that the Dopterian thief put on the table after Constable Odo arrested him. (DS9: "The Forsaken")

While escaping Major Kira in 2369, Chief O'Brien and Commander Sisko left their combadges in an airlock corridor to prevent being found by the Bajorans. (DS9: "Dramatis Personae")

At least five combadges have been left by Starfleet personnel on Earth centuries before they were invented; Lieutenant Commander Data sold his combadge to Frederick La Rouque for three dollars in the year 1893 to buy his way into a poker game. (TNG: "Time's Arrow")

Henry Starling confiscated the combadge of Captain Kathryn Janeway and the holographic combadge of The Doctor in 1996. (VOY: "Future's End", "Future's End, Part II")

The combadges of Benjamin Sisko and Dr. Julian Bashir were stolen while they were incapacitated on the streets of San Francisco in 2024. (DS9: "Past Tense, Part I")

According to Commander Chakotay, Captain Kathryn Janeway had a particular way of fiddling with her combadge which indicated that she was about to drop a bombshell. (VOY: "Dark Frontier")

By 2399, Cristóbal Rios, the captain of the civilian freighter La Sirena, had access to smaller combadges, called comm pins, in the shape of his ship's personalized mermaid emblem. When necessary, Rios provided them to his passengers. (PIC: "Absolute Candor", "The Impossible Box", "Nepenthe", "Et in Arcadia Ego, Part 2")

After Jean-Luc Picard used a spatial trajector to escape from the Artifact to Nepenthe, which would normally be a few days' travel at maximum warp, his comm pin couldn't reach Rios aboard La Sirena until they were within range. (PIC: "Nepenthe")

According to Jeff Lombardi, the pin worn by Picard at his family vineyard was supposed to be a comm pin in the shape of his family crest, which he used to contact Laris and Zhaban. (TRR: "Broken Pieces")


See also

Background information

The Starfleet insignia pin first used in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan later became a combadge, as Lieutenant Richard Castillo can be seen pressing his and speaking into it in TNG: "Yesterday's Enterprise". The combadge with the rectangular back was designed for Star Trek Generations and first seen in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine third season premiere episode "The Search, Part I", before being used continually in the series and Star Trek: Voyager. It also appeared in the four Next Generation movies and in episodes of Star Trek: Picard.

When the combadge first appeared in TNG, it appeared to be larger than the prop used in later seasons. It was also referred to as a communicator rather than a combadge by Beverly Crusher in TNG: "The Naked Now" and "Remember Me".

There have been three possible future combadges used in Star Trek:

  • In TNG: "Future Imperfect" the combadge used in the false future comprised the delta shield and rectangular strips behind it signifying rank, doing away with rank pips; while in TNG: "Parallels" the same combadge was seen again alongside rank pips. The backing strips were colored either gold, silver, or black depending on the rank of the wearer; admiralty had a starred gold delta with silver backing strips.
  • The second future combadge seen comprised a delta shield outline backed by two vertical gold quadrangles, used as early as an alternate 2390. This badge has been seen in TNG: "All Good Things...", DS9: "The Visitor", VOY: "Timeless", and VOY: "Endgame". A very similar style was later made canon in Star Trek: Picard.
  • Also seen in Voyager is a 29th century combadge. This is a "winged" arrowhead, similar in style to the insignia found on a 24th century starship hull. It has been seen in the episodes VOY: "Future's End", "Future's End, Part II", and "Relativity".

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