Fallout, Vault-Tec Scientist Dosimeter


Sr Member

Okay, the past few days took me down a rabbit hole...


I have been working for a few years on my Functional Pip-Boy 3000 Mk IV (From Fallout 4) build. Once I start getting physical parts, I will probably make a few videos. And so I should have some Fallout appropriate attire right?


I don't really want to do another Vault Suit. And since I am an engineer who is pretending I am working at RobCo Industries, so how about doing a Scientist lab coat!

Okay, I am really just wimping out as this seemed like a dirt easy costume to put together. And so I go and dig up images of the Vault-Tec Scientist lab coat. That is when I see it: Part of the costume is an old-school Dosimeter. So I just had to go about designing my own. Yes, I hope to make it functional.


The gauge on the in-game texture is obviously taken from a real geiger counter panel meter. So I re-made the gauge artwork in CorelDraw.


I opened up the model in NifScope and took screenshots of each side of the prop. I bring these into SolidEdge and use them as reference when building the 3D model. I also look carefully at the normal map to see the actual artist original intent, rather than just take the low-polygon model at face value.


Now I have to decide how big is this thing? I determined it using two methods: Measuring my own shoulder width, and comparing that to the lab coat. And comparing the toggle switch to a real-world toggle switch.

That makes the Dosimeter just 85mm square. The rad gauge glass is just 28mm in diameter. This thing is, well, pocket sized.
As I like to use real-world materials whenever possible, I set out to find off-the-shelf components I could use.

The tube on the side will be made from an aluminum tube, with steel end caps. The switch is a real toggle switch, with a metal dress cap. All the screws are steel, and the gauge will have actual glass. (Thank you dirt cheap camera UV filters)

The hard part is the moving gauge. No one makes a 28mm panel meter. You can get down to about 45mm for a Vu meter, but then they are 2 inches deep or more. So instead I am making my own meter. I added in the tiny air core motor which I will be using in the Pip-Boy. Even then it barely fits inside. The plan is to make the tiny needle using metal acid etching, or perhaps laser-cutting carbon fiber.

The hardest component to find was actually the pocket clip. You see these clips all the time on all sort of things, but they actually are not very easy to purchase. I needed a clip which was 1.5" wide. Well most belt clips are just 1" wide. I then scoured around for wide money clips, most of these are also 1" wide. I finally found a 1.5" wide money clip on Amazon.

/Edit: The Amazon seller has hiked the price of the clip I linked to previously by 350%, I found it cheaper here


The image below is a rendering!

The image above is a rendering!

Here is the result of two days or work. A beautiful rendering of an object I hope to make real someday. I may even use it as an excuse to prototype the geiger counter circuit I plan on putting into the Pip-Boy.

There are still some things to add, like batteries, and the actual electronic design. It may be worth adding a light to illuminate the meter. I also want to find a plastic or aluminum perforated mesh, as the mesh shown is made from steel and would be quite heavy. (~0.08" holes with 0.125" spacing if anyone want to help find some) (/Edit: Duh, I have a laser cutter...I was up too late last night)

For now it will sit in 3D CAD, waiting for the rest of the costume to come together.
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Re: Fallout, VaultTec Scientist Dosimeter

...Have I mentioned you're an absolute machine...? :p

Re: Fallout, VaultTec Scientist Dosimeter

You gotta love the internet. There is a whole store dedicated to just lab coats. They even do embroidery.

But of course, lab coats come with three front pockets, and not four. Thanks VaultTec! So even if I buy a lab coat, I will have to find a matching fabric and add the fourth pocket.

Does anyone know what is up with the horizontal seam above the dosimeter?

The odd bunching on the left arm is put there for when someone is wearing a Pip-Boy, so I will ignore that. It isn't visible when a character doesn't have one.
Re: Fallout, VaultTec Scientist Dosimeter

But of course, lab coats come with three front pockets, and not four. Thanks VaultTec! So even if I buy a lab coat, I will have to find a matching fabric and add the fourth pocket.

Does anyone know what is up with the horizontal seam above the dosimeter?

While I am pretty much always a stickler for onscreen accuracy, I tend to side with the real life garments over what is seen in game. I think of it more as Fallout didn't get the accuracy right on said garment, not the other way around.

It's the same with the Atom Cat's jackets. There is a seam on the game texture that isn't there on the real leather jacket counterpart (at least, there isn't one on the jacket I bought). Other than said seam, there is no difference at all to the real jacket, they're identical. I said screw it and wasn't going to add a seam for nothing. Looks accurate enough.

I know adding the extra pocket would be cool, but honestly I wouldn't bother with it. Especially considering you can get them custom embroidered. And especially considering you'd have a perfect dosimeter prop clipped on it.

Just my 2 cents, anyhow. This looks pretty sweet. :thumbsup
Re: Fallout, VaultTec Scientist Dosimeter

Really nice work. And that rendering is just so real looking.

If you ever get a chance to get a licence of Keyshot, it makes doing these types of renderings quite easy. (Once you know how to tweak all the materials)

Love it.... Hope to see this turn into a real item.

Me too. Its funny, ten years ago I would have just clambered this together from what ever scrap I have lying around. (I wouldn't look quite as good though)
Now, that I work in CAD all day, its the only way I know how to design. The things I do make become real all the time (for my work), but my personal projects tend to just sit until I get enough time to stop and get everything ordered and made.

That said, the Pip-Boy prototype parts are on the 3D printer now... 20 hours just to print the back-shell.

...Have I mentioned you're an absolute machine...? :p

Thanks, my wife appreciates your GIF.

I know adding the extra pocket would be cool, but honestly I wouldn't bother with it. Especially considering you can get them custom embroidered. And especially considering you'd have a perfect dosimeter prop clipped on it.

I think your right, I can ignore the seam. I wonder if it is some way to cover up a UV texture wrapping artifact.

I wouldn't worry bout the pocket, except that the dosimeter actually sits in that pocket. I think instead of adding a pocket, I could add a reinforced slot into the fabric. I did just buy a sewing machine for some projects my wife is doing, so I probably should put it to work somehow.
Re: Fallout, VaultTec Scientist Dosimeter

I wouldn't worry bout the pocket, except that the dosimeter actually sits in that pocket. I think instead of adding a pocket, I could add a reinforced slot into the fabric. I did just buy a sewing machine for some projects my wife is doing, so I probably should put it to work somehow.

Oh damn. My bad. I thought the extra pocket was one of the bottom ones. :lol Maybe not a bad idea after all.

I dig what you're saying, though. I doubt anybody would even notice, since the dosimeter is what really catches your eye there.
Re: Fallout, VaultTec Scientist Dosimeter

I always outfit my settlement doctor in these and started wondering why no one has done this and bam you post.
Re: Fallout, VaultTec Scientist Dosimeter

Since the seam is only on that side, I can totally see it being the upper attachment of a reinforcing piece inside to support the weight of the dosimeter on the pocket.
Re: Fallout, VaultTec Scientist Dosimeter

By my estimate so far the Dosimeter is going to weigh around 0.3lbs or 140g (Thx Hik). That is lighter than an iPhone, so it should be okay hanging on a pocket.



I tweaked a lot of the internal design. I realized I don't need to purchase perforated steel plate, I can laser cut the internal cylindrical part using delrin or acrylic.

The board will be mounted to the front panel. This is so that you only ever have to assemble the delicate gauge needle once.

The belt clip was a bit tricky, it is stainless steel and it will be right behind the PCB. There is no room for screws. It will instead be held in by a snap-fit round that fits into a hole that can easily be drilled into the clip. This hole also helps clear space around the gauge pins.

Once bug issue is the battery. The analog gauge I plan on using is dampened, which means you don't have to drive it with a signal all the time. So it shouldn't take too much current to update the setting once every few seconds. But it does need voltage, at least 5V, but it is really meant to run off of 12V. So I have selected a A23C battery. This is a 12V battery commonly found inside garage door openers. It has only 55mAh of capacity, so it won't last too long, but it should hopefully last long enough for cosplay.
/Edit: I figured out a place to stash a light 350mA 3.7V rechargeable battery.

The geiger counter circuit is all analog, and takes very little current to run. However, I need to take the very short pulse output of the Geiger counter, and somehow make the gauge needle move, or show some sort of cumulative total.

For this I may add a Arduino. The Arduino could also allow for some fun interactive effects, such as adding some hidden capacitive touch-buttons that make the rad needle max out, or go wild. But with only 55mAh of capacity, anything I do will have to be low power.

Note, I have space inside the canister on the side for a larger battery, but then the weight will pulled all to one side. I could mitigate that with some magnets or something behind the pocket. So I think I will at least add the ability to get wires into the cylinder compartment, in case I have to add something into there.
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Re: Fallout, VaultTec Scientist Dosimeter


Scratch out what I said about the battery earlier.

I figured out a spot to cram a small 350mAh 3.7V rechargeable battery. A much better option that should be able to run this thing for a long time. Plus the Dosimeter is now going to be rechargeable by USB. Without removing any screws or other parts.

I may go in and add a few other features to the bottom panel. The front panel switch was going to be the main power toggle, but I would rather hide a small switch on the bottom for this function. The front switch can then become something more interactive, like putting the rad meter go into a cosplay interactive mode.

The more I work on this small(ish) project. The more I realize I need to build it before the Pip-Boy. Because this single design has some of the most tricky electrical circuitry. It has the geiger counter, a voltage boost circuit, charger circuit, the dual H-bridge circuit (for the gauge motor). By building this first, I solve a lot of the electrical design unkown issues that I may face in the Pip-Boy, but with a lot less cost.
Re: Fallout, VaultTec Scientist Dosimeter


I will be ordering more of the physical parts before making prototypes. I also bought the smallest voltmeter gauge I could find to see if I could salvage anything from it, but it was just too large. I made lots of tweaks to the internal layout.



I added a switch and LED to the bottom of the Dosimeter. I also received the money clip in the mail, so I updated the CAD model to be accurate to that. It has a tappered back, that will allow me to place screws on the side, that will be easier than drilling a 1/2" hole in the middle.

The LED will have three colors, all related to the battery charger. Red = Low Battery, Yellow = Charging, Green = Charged.



I added three LEDs behind the gauge, these will backlight the gauge. They may end up getting nixed if I run out of actual circuit board space. There is still a lot of electronics to cram onto the circuit board.

I updated the rendering to be less glossy, but I think when I make the prop I will probably try to get a high-gloss finish just because that is what powder-coated Rad Meters look like,
Re: Fallout, VaultTec Scientist Dosimeter

Man, these motor controllers are driving me nuts!

The motor I am using is a super-tiny dual coil air core motor. These are being phased out in many new designs, and therefore the control chips are also being phased out.
As far as I can find, right now, there are only two commercially available driver chips with Sin/Cos motor outputs:

The Melexis MLX10407. This is a multiple motor control chip with serial control. It is currently available at retail, but listed as will not-restock at both Digikey and Mouser. WIth a few dozen parts remaining. If i choose it now, I may not be able to order it later.

The recommended controller chip is On Semiconductor CS8190, it uses a single frequency input and is dirt easy to use. It is active at both suppliers, but won't be back in stock until January of 2019!

I guess I will just have to use a regular dual H-Bridge to run the motor. From what I have read those will work, but can have issues when the motor attempts to hold certain positions.


Otherwise, I have almost all the electronics for the Dosimeter designed. The only question is if I have to bump up to a larger Atmel chip depending on the motor controller.
Re: Fallout, VaultTec Scientist Dosimeter

Any word on the actual lab coats?

You said the place you were looking at will do custom embroidering? I'm wondering how the Vault Tec logo placement would go, whether they can place it in the accurate location. Thinking about grabbing one if they do them accurately...…..
Re: Fallout, VaultTec Scientist Dosimeter

GhostMinion, I haven't pursued the costume any further just yet. I am (now) the type of person that builds up a list, and orders everything only once I know all the parts. I used to just order stuff as soon as I saw it... until I saw how much unused stuff I had when I packed up to move last year.

However, I probably would do the embroidering at a local shop. I would rather talk face to face with someone, and show someone exactly where I want it. I think there is a shop just down the road from me that can do it. I bet they would add the 4th pocket too.

Plus I don't really trust a web shop that wants a JPEG for a vector art file. Here is the Vault-Tec logo I made in vector format for anyone who wants it.
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Re: Fallout, VaultTec Scientist Dosimeter

Project update:

I have completed most of the design for the electronics.
I have settled on using all Texas Instruments chips. Mostly because TI makes the motor controller, and Ti has always done a great job of publishing good reference designs.
For the Microprocessor I am using a Ti MSP430. (MSP430G2553IPW20R)
I decided against using a Arduino, simply because it required lots more board space.
The MSP430 however can basically run as is, with very little external support circuitry. It also takes very little power to run, so it can stay in standby for months at a time.
For the motor controller I am using a Ti DRV8848. (DRV8848PWPR)
It took a while to narrow down the controller. The DRV8848 is a simple controller with four PWM inputs, and 4 outputs, basically I will be able to tweak all aspects of the control in software. Also, the Motor Controller I am using has a development board that connects directly to the MSP430 dev board, so I can prototype this before ordering board.

The motors will need 10V of power, so for a boost circuit I am using the Ti LM2735-Q1 (LM2735YQMF/NOPB)
This is a super simple, and tiny voltage boost regulator. It will provide power for the air cor motor and controller. It also has a standby function, so again, battery power can be maintained while the motor isn't actually moving.

For the battery charger I will use the Ti BQ21040 (BQ21040DBVT)
It is a another super-simple part. And only requires a few external components. The USB connector on the Dosimeter however will now only be used for charging. (Unless I add a USB to UART circuit...)

To control the brightness of the three LEDs I am going to use a Ti TLC5973
I probably could omit this part and drive them directly from the MSP430, or via a transistor. But this is a good "set and forget" chip, I just program the brightness, and it handles the rest.

For the Geiger counter's 500V boost circuit I am using a Ti: TLC555QDRQ1.
The circuit comes from the PiGi schematic. It works similar to the 10V boost circuit, just with more voltage and less current.

Finally, I should talk a little bit about the Air Core Motor that will drive the gauge. It is a Simco 2022-711
I selected this motor because it is the smallest commercially available air core motor I could find. It is about half the size of similar stepper driven motors. It's exposed copper winding will also make the gauge look correct to the in-game prop.

And air core motor is basically just a permanent magnet attached to the motor shaft. The magnet is wrapped in two coils, each offset 90 degrees from each other.
If you energize just one of the coils, the magnet spins to align with that coil. By varying the amount of magnetic energy on the two coils, you can make the magnet move to any position in a 360 degree arc. It will require some SIN and COS math that I haven't needed since high school, but is otherwise simple in concept.

I selected a dampened part, which means that after I move the needle, I can actually remove power from the motor. Saving precious battery life. The motor will then only need small bursts of power to move periodically.

I also changed the two-position toggle switch, to a three position switch, just so I can assign one more function to it.
Re: Fallout, VaultTec Scientist Dosimeter

Small update:

I just ordered a bunch of parts to get this thing prototyped:
Re: Fallout, VaultTec Scientist Dosimeter

So, this IS going to become a run right???? (please!!!)
Re: Fallout, VaultTec Scientist Dosimeter

Kokanee, No promises.

I found when I was working on the Pip-Boy that I ended up working with a totally different mindset. I kept making compromises to the design just to save a few dollars. Like trying to eliminate a circuit board because it added $5, even though that board made durability, testing and assembly far better. I was getting e-mails from people, even though the design wasn't yet done, asking if I could make a low-cost copy they could 3D print at school. While possible, I just didn't have time to go and do that.

I could design the Dosimeter, such that the front and rear cases could be easily resin molded. However if I do that, then I loose a lot of the great design benefits that make SLS 3D printing so great. For example, I designed the front so that you can slip a piece of printed cardstock paper into a slot to act as the face of the gauge. The slot for this is only 0.5mm wide. It would be impossible to form using resin casting. Even impossible for FDM 3D printing without dissolvable supports.. The SLS parts will cost more per-part, but they also have a lot more integral function. If I were to design it for low-cost reproduction, I would have to make compromises on the physical size, total number of assembled parts, or wall thickness.

Once the design is done, and in my own hands. I will perhaps look at doing a kit. I will release the full design file for anyone wanting to build one, but the BOM will be as-is, with the best quality design. From there someone can decide to try to make it cheaper by replacing real components with 3D printed copies.
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