“Cardassians like things in sets of three. They like ellipses, triangles and trapezoids rather than squares and rectangles.”
This is how production designer Herman Zimmerman describes the philosophy of how Cardassians engineered their space stations and computer interfaces.
The typical Cardassian interface consists of three main buttons - primary, secondary and tertiary. When combined, they form a rather complicated shape, which some call the “bear claw”. The buttons can be rotated in any degree to form an elliptical shape and to fit different designs of Cardassian consoles. Acknowledgment buttons are usually placed on top or on the sides of the elliptical shape to complete the whole interface.
The Science Station's Interface aboard Deep Space Nine is very good example of elliptical type of "bear claw" console, with acknowledgment buttons on top.
The coloring of Cardassian consoles may vary from more usage of blue to more purple colors, depending on the type of the console. Two shades of blue, light and dark, and two shades of purple (also light and dark) are generally used to color the main buttons.
Although Cardassians prefer heat, their interfaces and displays appear to be colored in colder and more monochrome tones. There are no general rules about coloring the interface parts. Sometimes a console can be colored more towards blue, and sometimes a console of the same design can be colored towards purple. This may be an indication that regardless of the console design and configuration, it may have multitasking capabilities, similar to the Starfleet LCARS design.
The font used in all the Cardassian interfaces and displays is of custom design, especially created for “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”. A similar font called “ST Cardassian” is available to the public for free.
The Cardassians interfaces consist of three major buttons. The primary button is square-shaped, with two small triangular shapes on the one side. A small ellipse is located on the other side of the primary button. The secondary button is longer and rectangular in nature. It is usually divided to several small parts. The one side of the buttons is thinner, curved and ends with small triangular shape. The other side often includes a half ellipse and more triangular shapes. The tertiary button is trapezoid in shape and it is usually divided to few smaller parts.
When all three buttons are present in single interface, the primary and tertiary buttons are always on the top or bottom (depending on the rotation) and the secondary button is always in the middle. For more examples of the three major buttons, please see the images on the right.
Typical Cardassian InterfaceEdit
Any of the three major buttons is present in a given Cardassian interface. Typical interface usually consists of six bear claws, each made of a primary, secondary and tertiary buttons, arranged in full or half ellipse. Other small button shapes are to be found on the sides. On top of them, a small display is placed, where the console operator can call up various system information. On the right, another array of buttons is seen, which might be equivalent of a number keypad. At the top part of the console are located the acknowledgment buttons in typical Cardassian design. This particular console can be rotated 90 degrees (clock and counterclock-wise) in order to be fitted in different Cardassian desktop terminals. The medical console in the infirmary is a perfect example of typical Cardassian interface.
Sensors Control InterfaceEdit
Many interface variations are derived from the Typical Cardassian interface. For example the Sensors Control Interface, which has partial elliptical design. The console is simple and clean. There are primary buttons on top, and below them are located the secondary buttons. Two small control displays are seen in the lower left part of the console. The acknowledgment buttons are on the left and at the bottom side of the console. A large round display occupies the rest of the interface, where current sensor data is shown.
This communications terminal is standard equipment in the Security Office. A small display is showing current systems status. This console contains secondary, tertiary and a modification of the primary button. The modified primary buttons are at the bottom, the secondary - in the middle and the tertiary buttons are on top.
Cardassian displays are placed all over Deep Space Nine. Commercial areas, such as Promenade, contain larger displays, allowing many people to have access to starship departing and arriving schedules and all kinds of information, regarding station's activities. There are standard display terminals in every guest quarters aboard DS9. Smaller displays are located all over Ops and the Commanding Officer's office. This fact suggests that the Cardassians preferred to have several small displays available per console operator, rather than one large display. Some displays aboard the station were damaged during the occupation of Bajor and have been replaced with standard Starfleet displays, since the Federation took control over Deep Space Nine.
The Cardassian displays are square or rectangular in shape and contain multiple elliptical elements of different sizes. They are usually colored in dark, monochrome colors. The elliptical elements are divided into smaller regions in order to maximize the viewing area capabilities of the display. Various information can be called up and shown in every region, this allowing the operator to manage and monitor different kinds of data in one display. The displays can be placed on stand alone terminals or embedded in the touch control panels. When not in use, displays can show current systems status or go to stand by mode, depending on the location and function of the display.