Tooth Fairy Goes Pneumatic


Kids’ fantasy figures are long overdue for some tech upgrades, so MAKE’s [Jeff Highsmith] carved a few holes in the walls and built a pneumatic transport system for his children to deliver their teeth to the Tooth Fairy. The project uses a system of 1.5″ PVC pipe with a central vacuum in the attic and two endpoint stations, one in each child’s room. Alternating which station has the closed valve and open door dictates the airflow path and shuttles a small plastic travel bottle from one station to the next.

Each station has its own iPhone interface that sends data to a Raspberry Pi and relays information, including a simulated map indicating the travel path taken by the tooth. Apart from controlling the vacuum via one of the Pi’s GPIO, the phone serves primarily as a visual distraction for the children while one parent sneaks off into the other room and replaces the tooth with some pocket change. [Jeff] made sure to add a locking door on each station to limit access and hopefully keep the mystery alive.

Watch his son’s face light up with sheer glee at the whole event in the video below, and regret that your childhood happened before the maker revolution. Then celebrate your adulthood with a beer fetching robot.

33 thoughts on “Tooth Fairy Goes Pneumatic

  1. That’s really cool.
    Kind of overkill with the ‘old iPhones’ though, those would still be worth quite a lot – someone might like to use it, or you can sell them to buy new materials from.

    1. Ah, but that’s just the excuse he gets to make the beach head. Stage 2’s getting dinner delivered in a series of small capsules. Stage 4 is tubing up the Universe!

      Seriously, what house wouldn’t be much better for having a system of transport tubes?

  2. I’d like to see this with a station in most rooms, a computer controlled valve and RFID based pod routing and storage. That’s probably overkill, but it would make one hell of a selling point.

  3. Yeah.. spend a bunch of money, cuts a bunch of holes in your walls.. Why? So you can lie to your children.. Why not make it a delivery system for prayers to Jesus too? Just write them down and send them to heaven.. or.. Make it send letters to Santa..

    good lord.

    You know.. Being honest and creating non-delusional children is not a crime.

    1. I thought it was a bit ‘out there’ to begin with until I read this comment.
      If i have no problem believing an American family would gather around a Prayers to Jesus delivery system every Sunday then I can’t let myself get upset about this.

  4. Sheesh what’s with the comments today. I was expecting technical analysis and tips on design improvements. Not just hate.

    I’d like to see a servo on each valve so they are synced and a detecting switch and send button at each station. The cables could be run in the vacuum part of the tube up to a servo driver on the Raspberry Pi.

    I see no easy to add more station on the tube without major redesigns and that’s too bad.

    1. For a system with just a few stations, I think it’d be good to have all pipes lead to the attic, and have a switching system up there. Just a bit of pipe to catch the capsule in, then a big enough servo motor to point that pipe to the end of one of the others. It’d be nice to have blow as well as suck, but if each station has 2 pipes going to it, you could do just with suck.

      There’d be a bit of tinkering in it, but this is the 1970s home intercom idea fully-baked!
      The Raspi could control everything, just have a button panel at each station that tells it what destination you’re aiming for. As long as it was reliable enough, and easy enough to repair and recover items when it went wrong, it’d be great!

      It could maybe do with a tiny bit more calibre, for bigger objects. You might need a bigger vacuum sucker too. But it’s still awesome.

  5. Oh my goodness HOW DARE YOU raise YOUR kids in a way I wouldn’t mine You should have asked me first, and how dare you do something so cool with your time that I wouldn’t do with mine. Really I though HaD got rid of trolls.

  6. sweet, as others suggested i would have left out the phones but since you have them why not use them right? but for those less digitally inclined i would think a simple set of wires with a switch would be a simple alternative. the only downside is you have to sneak away, but i guess if hes getting old enough to notice then he may be past the age of falling out teeth right, lol.

    i like the ideas of using it to transfer stuff between rooms, thats kind of cool, im not sure exactly what you would send that you couldnt have just walked over, but then again im assuming people dont live in as small of a house as i do, hahaha.

  7. Surely, among the masses of drooling apple fanboys, one would be willing to sit in your attic 24/7/365 waiting for a tooth capsule to arrive so that they could deposit a few coins for the return trip – saving the parents the need to explain their absence.

  8. You are the BEST Dad EVER !!!

    One day, when they are grown, your kids will realize what you did and their appreciation of you will grow even stronger.

    Good for you.
    And good for your kids !!!

    We all need parents like you !!!

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