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At many points in Stargate SG-1, the fact that Earth has MacGyvered their own dialing computer becomes a plot point. Be it the initial confusion over the Stargate going to multiple planets because they weren't taking into consideration stellar drift, or the fact that you don't need to dial a point of origin on a gate with a Dial Home Device (DHD) attached to it.

What are the differences between a DHD and Earth's dialing computer?

  • You still need to dial the point of origin even with a DHD, otherwise they wouldn't have put it on the cartouche in the first place. What kills me is that if you need a PoO to dial out with, why can't you just use the symbol for the other end to determine the destination. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 May 8 '15 at 12:17
  • @Paulster2, the reason they don't just use the the symbol for the destination to dial is that there are hundreds of thousands of symbols. Not all symbols are on the DHD's. There'd be too many of them to fit nicely. – Drew Chapin Jul 7 '15 at 19:23
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Our program is nowhere near as sophisticated as the one that exists in the DHDs. It's completely jerry-rigged.

—Samantha Carter, "Avenger 2.0"

First off, the pilot Children of the Gods establishes that the DHD was missing from the Giza site, so Earth had to create their own. It wasn't until one was found with the Antarctic gate in "Solitudes" that they could study one on Earth. Among the differences, Earth's dialing computer:

  • Stores addresses to planets, whereas a DHD is just an input device (i.e. you have to memorize the addresses).
  • Initially was a rough ride, causing people going through it to tumble out on the other side and have ice crystals appear on them. (Stargate film, "Children of the Gods")
  • Initially caused the gate to shake a whole lot (Stargate film, "Children of the Gods") until inertial dampeners were added. (Referenced in "Solitudes")
  • Does calculations for stellar drift based on the Abydos cartouche. ("Children of the Gods")
  • Could not dial the eighth chevron until O'Neill, with the Ancient repository in his head, upgraded the computer to dial the Asgard's home galaxy. ("The Fifth Race")
  • Dials slower than a DHD, but by ignoring a number of checks can use Sam's "fast-dialing" algorithm to dial faster than a DHD. ("Serpent's Song")
  • Requires palm scanners to operate, making it impossible for races like the Reetou to use it. ("Show and Tell")
  • Periodically "cold dials" planets that previously could not establish a wormhole, thus allowing exploration if they some day become accessible again. ("New Ground")
  • Allows one to disable safety protocols when trying to establish a lock on a gate, which once resulted in a wormhole passing through a sun and damaging it. ("Red Sky")
  • Ignores 220 of the 400 feedback signals the Stargate can give when it dials. ("48 Hours")
  • Does not receive data from the Stargate network's correlative update service, making it immune to efforts to tamper with it, such as the Avenger virus. ("Avenger 2.0")
  • Allows you to easily recall recently dialed addresses (getting it from a DHD recalls taking it apart and examining a control crystal imprint with special equipment, as seen in Stargate Atlantis' "The Lost Boys", or using Adria's unique ability from "The Quest, Part 2")

Additionally, the same technology as the dialing computer was used in Stargate Atlantis for the McKay/Carter Intergalactic Gate Bridge. A macro that McKay wrote allowed Stargates to store a person in a buffer and be forwarded from one gate to another without rematerializing. ("The Return, Part 1") A workaround was written to prevent a Pegasus gate from always taking priority over a Milky Way gate. ("Midway") This was not possible with an unmodified DHD.

Note that in the Stargate Universe pilot "Air, Part 1", Icarus Base had access to a DHD, but still used a dialing computer, likely for security reasons.

The general advantages of a DHD are:

  • It will work for thousands of years, even considering stellar drift.
  • It has a self-contained power supply.
  • It follows a number of safety protocols, ensuring that the journey will be as safe as possible for the passengers, the environment on both ends, and any stellar objects in between.

While in the early months Stargate Command did not have access to a DHD, they do now. It seems the organization prefers their custom dialing computer due to its flexibility and security, but at the cost of safety. Granted, Season 5's "Red Sky" was the last time that having a custom dialing computer actually caused problems (and it prevented problems in Season 7's "Avenger 2.0"), so it seems that they have worked out most of the safety issues.

  • Well, you can disable safety protocolson regular dhd, as well as dial eighth chevron (more of a power issue and later, needing a specific control crystal). Regular dhd can also be programmed to auto dial and recall addresses. – cde Nov 7 '16 at 19:41
  • You're right about regular DHDs being able to dial the eighth chevron if they have enough power (and ninth, if I remember correctly from Universe trying to dial it from Jonas' world), which is why I noted that it was an initial difference with the Earth dialing computer not being able to. Do you recall when they disabled security protocols or auto dialed from a DHD? I also didn't add recalling dialed addresses because that's been done with a DHD a few times, like the Priors in SG1 and the team in Atlantis (although it usually requires taking the thing apart). – Thunderforge Nov 7 '16 at 19:57
  • The episode where Teal C was lost in the buffer. They had to disable a feature. – cde Nov 7 '16 at 22:17
  • Practical due to the weight? They sent everything needed for a large interplanetary missile through the gate in Red Sky. Weight would not be an issue for them if they really needed a DHD through the gate. – cde Dec 29 '16 at 6:41
  • @cde Right, but that was from Earth to the other planet. I guess you could send a forklift through the Stargate, then break the connection, dial the gate, pick up the DHD, and carry it. Although I guess that goes back to the other possibility of if that's even an option since it's powering the gate. I've changed my point to go with what I was trying to go for, that we didn't see Earth have a DHD until about the time they got access to spaceships. – Thunderforge Dec 29 '16 at 6:42
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The short answer?

The DHD was a device made by the people who made the gates, to be used with the gates. Earth's dialing computer was not.

Here is another way of thinking about it. The gate, is like a television. The DHD is the remote control made for it by the manufacturer. Earth's dialing computer... is what a bunch of monkeys would come up with, if they lost the remote to the TV.

  • 1
    That's some impressive monkeys. Most humans don't understand how remotes really work. Not enough to create one from scratch. Let alone when they have no idea a remote exists in the first place, and had to reverse engineer it based on a closed box. – cde Nov 7 '16 at 19:43
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The Long answer:

The DHD is a crystal based computer and power supply for the Stargate. It Was created by the Ancients whom had the full technical specifications of the stargate. It uses crystal based technology, and wireless communication to the gate. It has over 200 safety and feedback protocols used to ensure a safe transit through a wormhole, including time outs and redundant power to an incoming matter stream. It communicates to other DHD in order to continually update for new gates and stellar drift.

The SG1 computer though, was a black box reverse engineering of the Stargate. It was done completely by guesswork based on the gates feedback signals. It ignores many of those signals, which causes multiple problems when the SGC forces a connection or when the outbound gate loses power.

Since the Giza gate has no DHD, the SGC had to replicate multiple commands blind, and is presented with problems like interstellar drift, which the DHD was designed to compensate for. It also protects the SGC from virus attacks as it does not communicate with the rest of the Gate network.

The Asgard and Nox have their method of dialing a gate, but due to their status as allies of the Ancients, they were likely provided the technical specifications.

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