The Most Drool-Worthy Pip-Boy To Date Can Be Yours

Pip-Boy props are nothing new in the maker world, especially since the availability and prices of 3D printers have made the undertaking more straightforward. Something about bringing a piece of the Fallout universe into the real world is just incredibly appealing – so much so that Fallout 4 collector’s editions included a Pip-Boy phone case. However, because of practical limitations these props are usually just plastic shells that house a cell phone. [zapwizard] wasn’t satisfied with a purely aesthetic prop, so he has decided to design his own Pip-Boy 3000 Mk4 from scratch, while retaining as much of the functionality as possible.

For the few of you who are unfamiliar, the Pip-Boy is a wrist-mounted computer from the Fallout series of games. From a gameplay standpoint, it’s used to manage your character’s inventory, stats, quest data, and so on. Because of how often you interact with the Pip-Boy throughout the game, it has become very near and dear to the hearts of Fallout fans, which has driven it’s popularity for prop-making.


It’s no wonder, then, that we’ve featured a number of builds here on Hackaday in the past. All of these builds have been impressive, but [zapwizard] is taking it to a whole other level. As a product engineer, he certainly has the experience necessary to bring this to life, and he’s not skipping any details. He’s starting by modeling everything up in CAD, using Solid Edge. Every knob, button, dial, and latch has been reproduced in meticulous detail, and will be functional with completely custom electronics. [zipwizard] is still in the design phase, but he should be close to getting started on the actual build. He’s also considering offering a limited run of units for sale, so be sure to get in touch with him if that tickles your fancy!

[thanks Daniel Kennedy]

33 thoughts on “The Most Drool-Worthy Pip-Boy To Date Can Be Yours

    1. Shame the C.H.I.P isn’t out yet – that thing’s tiny, has built-in lithium battery support and WiFi, and ought to be able to run Android and interface to commonly-available LCD displays.

    1. FIrst off, hello Hack-a-day. Thanks for posting my project. I haven’t had a project here since you guys ran the website in black and white only.

      @m_pan: I recently went to a vendor day at TechShop and met a representative from Silicon Labs, he showed me their self-contained heartrate monitor module, it costs only $4.50 and does all the processing on board. I am thinking about adding it to the project, however it would also add another PCB to the mix.

      However, as you can see in the posts here, there are many apprehensive about the possible total costs, and so I am also working to lower the costs.

  1. If you want functional knobs, would it not be easyer to use a normal (cheap) smartphone as the core of the device, and just make a little electronics board that interfaces the controls to that smartphone? I’m pretty shure Bethesda could help you out with making a custom Pip-Boy App Version to work not only with the touch-screen, but external controls too.
    Interface between the custom electronics and the Smartphone could be made either over BT, the Audio-Plug (i know NXP made dev kit for that) or maybe even use the USB (that would probably be the hardest way).
    From what i’ve found on the web, there are quite a few “game-controllers” for smartphones that use a BT interface, so it’s not that far fetched to use that as an interface, is it?
    From my point of view, the hardest part would be to get that analogue Radiation Meter “working” or at least get it to look real enough.

      1. There’s actually a functioning radiation detector app! Camera sensors get lit up by ionizing radiation. If you cover up the camera lens with a couple layers of black gaffer’s tape and subtract the systemic noise, anything leftover is ionizing radiation.

      2. I do have a functional, and real radiation meter inside the project. If you look at the RPF thread you will see I initially wanted to add a real geiger counter circuit and tube into the pod on the back of the Pip-Boy. However, there were several issues with that. 1) Voltage, I don’t want 500VDC within an inch of my arm, no matter how low current. 2) Cost. 3) There was another way.

        So I instead have Pin Diode geiger counter circuit. This is still a real gamma ray detector, however a bit less sensitive than a geiger counter, but real none the less. It also only costs a few bucks. It works in the same way as the camera sensor that Blue Footed Booby mentions below.

        That said, if the meter is ever triggered significantly by that counter, well then you are actually in trouble. Instead I plan on driving the meter with a selectable, or even combined set of data. WIFI signal, Temperature, and the PIN diode output.

    1. You can get tiny meters, and feed them a tiny current to make them do whatever you like, a bit of PWM from the pin of a micro would be no problem. Actually detecting radiation is a bit pointless, since we don’t live in a post-nuclear wasteland. Yet.

      What WOULD be great, is somehow finding a CRT that you could wear without having to excavate into your wrist. Maybe you’d need to blow the glass yourself, use extra-strong magnetic fields to control the beam.

      Yep I’ve got a Zeemote, a Bluetooth game controller. It was a good idea, execution failed a bit, the market’s still a bit short on Bluetooth mobile phone game controls, so the game market’s hampered by crappy touch-screen virtual controls. Wiimotes can be wired up to mobiles, apparently, but it takes a bit of tinkering.

      1. I was not thinking about adding a real radiation meter to the device… The question is more, would Bethesda transmit the Rad value from the game to the phone, if there is no use for it on the official prop? (Or is the in game Rad value displayed somewhere in the app too? Would have to check that again, if it is, you could use that to drive the meter).
        I do like the idea of showing the WiFi signal power on there too, if the Rad value is not an option.
        The nice thing about the official app is that it has a demo mode too, so you could just use that mode if you want to wear the pip boy to a convention or something.

    2. Hacking in a phone is quite as easy as it sounds. Most all modern phones have their LCD screens bonded to their touch panels, or at least the touch-panel integrated into the front face. This means you can’t just rip it apart and move the screen away from the motherboard. Most phones are also 16:9 aspect ratio, and the Pip-Boy is 4:3.
      If you put a phone inside, then you will quickly learn how little room you have left to try to make the switches, gauges and knobs work.

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