Standard Superhero Communicator

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Objectives

The most common production version of SSC-1. This example recovered from the emergency stores of the Adventurer III warp shuttle, circa 1989
Standard Superhero Communicator (SSC) refers to a family of communications devices specifically designed for use by superheroes under extreme conditions. The various models have in common three chief design objectives:

1) Compact Size – SSCs are typically the size of a large wristwatch, and mounted on a wristband (they are often referred to colloquially simply as “watches” by their users). “Stripped” versions of all models are available for installation in helmets or other equipment as appropriate to the costume of the user.

2) Global range – Originally this objective was achieved by exploiting existing military and commercial satellite networks, in conjunction with an unusually powerful integral transceiver. The latest models utilize subspace communication technology to achieve direct unit-to-unit communication at global ranges, reducing vulnerability to eavesdropping and permitting undiminished communication range even well away from Earth orbit.

3) Extreme durability – SSC cases are constructed of titanium alloys and carbon fiber reinforced silicon carbide. These materials and their dense honeycomb structure make them resistant to tremendous extremes of temperature, pressure, and force – exceeding what is generally experienced in nuclear detonations. Wristbands, made of woven Adaptex and micro-linked silicon carbide “mail” are somewhat less resilient, though still enormously strong. Advances in nanoengineering of materials and fabrication have increased the damage resistance of both cases and bands in recent years.

Models and Features

All SSC models provide half duplex push-to-talk communications. They utilize frequency hopping to defend against jamming and eavesdropping, though they can be set to single frequency communication to facilitate transmission homing if desired. Modular versions (designated "/i") of all models were produced for use in helmets or by cybernetic entities in place of the standard “wristwatch” form.

Very early example of an SSC-1, lacking even chronograph functions, issued circa 1984. From the collection of Diane Dachiako
The Oracle G -- last SSC-2 model issued by the FSAB, circa 1994
SSC-1 – the so-called “Rookie” model – is intended for issue to inexperienced or mentally challenged supers, or to non-supers needing to communicate with a superhero group. It is designed for simplicity of use and intentional limitation of versatility, as it is the model considered most likely to fall into hostile hands. Its case is structured in such a way as to make disassembly and access to interior components difficult, and attempts to do so likely to result in the destruction of those components. The original 1a model could communicate only within a pre-set frequency “bundle”, and incorporated no other features except a simple digital alarm chronograph and a “distress beacon” mode. Later models introduced a continuous broadcast “track” mode (eventually refined to transmit biometric data such as pulse and breathing rates) and GPS.


SSC-2 – The “Standard” model - incorporates additional features useful to experienced superheroes. Its case is as structurally strong as the SSC-1, but can be disassembled to permit maintenance, upgrades, and field-expedient modifications. In addition to the basic features of SSC-1, the original 2a model permitted communication on 6 different frequency-hopping “lines”, and had a directional antenna to facilitate RF tracking. Later refinements included a retractable data keypad and LCD display, expanded memory for data file storage and “burst” transmission, advanced GPS with mapping features, and meteorological sensors such as a thermometer and barometer.

History

The first SSC-1 and SSC-2 models were developed in the early 1980s by SSC Technologies, a largely DARPA-funded joint venture of ITT and General Dynamics. They began to be distributed to favored superheroes and groups by the FSAB in 1984, as one of the first forms of direct aid offered by that organization (even before its existence was publicly acknowledged). Development continued through the ‘80s, with many of the innovative internal technologies finding their way into portable communicators used by non-superhero special operations forces, lacking only the hardened case of the SSC models.

SSC Technologies' latest model personal communicator, the Hotline.
With the dissolution of the FSAB, SSC Technologies continued to operate as a more traditional defense contractor, providing powerful miniaturized communications for various military, and eventually civilian, applications. With the introduction of subspace communications technology, SSC Technologies has led the way in producing miniaturized stand-alone global-range communications devices for the commercial market, though their products are somewhat less advanced, and significantly larger, than those produced by System 4ce or the American Patrol for their own use.

While neither the FSAB or SSC Technologies ever officially acknowledged monitoring or recording communications made over SSCs, the infrastructure that gave the communicators global range all but required such practices in some form. It is believed that concerns over this gap in security, as well as economic factors, led superheroes to distance themselves from SSC Technologies as an equipment source. The terms “Standard Superhero Communicator” "SSC-1" and “SSC-2” continue to be used colloquially to refer to the communication devices produced and used by superheroes, though they officially remain trademarks of SSC Technologies.

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