Foam Pipboy 3000 (from Fallout) Tutorial

Discussion in 'Replica Props' started by Fullmetalsam, Apr 28, 2010.

  1. Fullmetalsam

    Fullmetalsam Active Member

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    I was inspired by Fetts.Sobriquet thread on how to put together an Ironman suit using a plastic trashcan. I thought I could share my knowledge as well on a prop I haven't seen built very often. I also figured I could use this new thread to introduce myself since I'm new to the forums.

    I've been in costuming and prop-making for just about 5 years and I've got a thing for armor. I've built up my skills over time and I've been trying different techniques and material, but I always come back to the same thing: foam (in all its readily available format: craft foam sheets, camping mat, etc.). Most of the time, I don't have a lot of budget for my projects (when I started it was because I didn't have much budget and now it's because I have too many projects :)), so foam is a pretty cheap material that I've learned to use to do some pretty decent props and costume (well I find them decent). The project I am most proud of now, is the Space Marine Chaplain in Terminator Armor I've completed last year.
    Anyhow - on with the tutorial:

    I built this pipboy because I wanted to put together a Fallout vault-dweller costume so I'd have something "confortable" to wear on convention sundays. I wasn't able to get my hands on the pipboy clock from Amazon (live in Canada and didn't want to pay the prices I've seen on eBay for this) so I decided to try my luck with my foam sheets and here is what the finished product look like:
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    ***What you need***
    - 2mm foamies
    - 6mm foamies
    - hot glue
    - exacto knife
    - studs (I used regular screws for this)
    - Paint

    ***Templates***
    These templates were drawn for using an iPod touch as the screen and they are scaled to my big meaty arm - so most people will have to scale it down a bit. Also, when printing, make sure you select "None" under scaling method... because when I test printed them the first time, I saw that the second page was scaled down a tiny bit (just to fit my printer margin). I rescaned my template including more piece, so I've added a page 3 to the template document. You'll see that some pieces are duplicated - it's because I thought the template #4 was better seen on page2 (instead of page3), so left page2 in there.

    Just for reference - my pipboy is about 9.5" long with the "screen-part" being about 8"x 6".

    I didn't include a template for the "bracer" ... as it will be different for everyone. However, you can easily google how to draw a truncated cone shape (which is what you'll need for this part of the pipboy)

    ***Building the Base***
    Essientially, it's about stacking the foam sheets in the right order (gluing them one on top of the other).

    You can see the templates have been numbered and this is how they should be stacked:

    *Top*
    Template #2 - 6mm
    Template #1 - 2mm
    Template #1 - 2mm
    Template #3 - 6mm
    Template #3 with small piece - 2mm
    Template #3 with small piece - 2mm
    Template #3 - 6mm
    Template #3 - 6mm
    Template #4 - 6mm (4 layer of template are needed at the bottom)
    *Bottom*

    Now to explain why it's stacked this way.
    1.the Template #2 is the raised plate of the pipboy.

    2.there are 2 template #1 stacked under template #2, this is to be able to make this part of the pipboy (see picture)
    [​IMG]

    So, on the first layer of Template #1, you have to remove the part here and here.
    [​IMG]

    On the second layer of Template #1, you have to cut small lines out, so you get the recess "grill"

    3. If you want to add a speaker for sound (since I was using an iPod touch and not an iPhone, I added a speaker), then remember to cut the space needed in layer 4 (template #3). I had to install mine and test it before finishing the foam block, because I couldn't get it in there after.

    4. The small piece I'm referring to for layer 5 and 6 (Template #3) is this one:
    [​IMG]

    So you can make this part:
    [​IMG]

    5. For the last 4 layers, there only purpose is to build thickess on the back side so it reaches your arm when you attach it to your "bracer". To get a good fit, you,ll have to "carve" a curve into these layers. Also, I'm saying you need 4, but it's only a minimum, I could have added more and the pipboy would look a bit better from this angle.

    ***Finishing the sides***
    OK - so we've got a foam block, it's time to clean it up a bit. What I did to get a "cleaner" side is that I used the exacto knife to cut excess foam from all the layers. Once this is done, you take 2mm craft foam and you apply it to all the side of the pipboy. As a general rule, I always cut my craft foam piece a little bigger than what I needed and cut them to size once they were glued to the side. This way I could get clean edges (well they are not clean clean - but it's easier to make it look clean that way).

    ***Adding details to the screen section***
    Now to add that raised "screen protector" you see on the side of the pipboy, I used a strip of 6mm foam that I glued on the raised plate. It's not glued to the inside of the screen hole, it's really glued on the plate. After this is glued on, I used a strip of 2mm foam that I glued to the 6mm foam strip to make it look nicer. Make sure the joint between the start and end of those strip is at the bottom center of that screen hole. This part of the strip will be hidden under the plate where you find the 3 button-lights.
    [​IMG]

    Hehe... so don't follow what you really see on the picture - on the picture, you see the seam at the top of the screen, but you're better off hiding it under the faceplate :)

    For the plates with the button-lights, you need 2 strip of 6mm foam. The first should be 2.5" x 1.5" (plate1) and the second should be 2.5" x 1.75"(plate2). Plate1 goes on the side of the pipboy and should be touching the bracer as well as providing support for the plate with the lights (so it should come up a little bit over the raised plate of the pipboy). You'll have to cut the bottom of the plate1 at a taper to make it fit perfectly on the bracer. When plate1 is glued on, plate2 is glued on top of the plate1 (the bottom of plate2 should not be aligned with plate1, you should have a bit sticking out) and on top of the screen protector (same thing here, the plate should stick out a bit over the screen). Cut the arrows out of 2mm foam and you're set.
    [​IMG]

    The lights I used on my pipboy are regular 5mm LED with metal LED holders. I cut 3 holes in plate2 and glued the LED holder there. The LED are inserted from inside the pipboy because they are wired to a switch and a battery pack.

    ***Adding details to the left section***
    So now on to the missing details.
    You need to add the 2 tapered walls on the bottom left part that is sticking out (done with scraps of 2mm foam).
    [​IMG]

    Use the templates for the other details and glue them where they need to be placed. I haven't included a "screen" for the top detail (it should be the radiation meter if I'm not mistaken)... but it could be easily done by using clear plastic and sticking a white led right underneath. This is something I plan to do in my next version :)
    [​IMG]

    For the knob on the bottom dial - in my original version (the one pictured in this tutorial) I freehanded the thing in foam, however in my other version I'm using a wood flower pot used for modelling. I hot glue a screw in the center of the pot and that's how I attached it to the pipboy so it would still move.

    For the round knob just beside the screen, you just need to cut a circle of 1.25" diameter out of 6mm foam. What I did to make it cleaner was to sandwhich it between 2 scraps of 2mm foam, glue a strip of 2mm foam around it and cut groove into that strip. Once this is done - it should fit right in.
    [​IMG]

    ***Studs and Painting***
    So, if you've done the bracer, then you should be nearly done.
    Only thing left would be painting and * the stud on. The screws I used for the stud are 0.5" long and the foam is strong enough so they get a good grip. So no need to hot glue them on, they shouldn't fall off even if they are only screwed on.

    As for painting, I always use the same process and it makes up a very durable paintjob.
    1. Apply 2 coats of Flexbond (latex/glue from Rosco)
    2. Paint using Krylon brand spraypaint
    3. Apply 1 coat of flexbond over paint
    4. Apply 1 coat of matte finish (gloss finish (or paint for that matter) doesn't work with foam... it will all crack for sure)

    And you're done.

    Thanks for reading.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2010
  2. Fetts.Sobriquet

    Fetts.Sobriquet Well-Known Member

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    WOW! That turned out great. Looks like I have new project :)
    Thanks for making this!
     
  3. Fullmetalsam

    Fullmetalsam Active Member

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    Templates link is up.

    Thanks for your comment Fetts.Sobriquet... it's only fitting that you'd be the first to reply to this thread - since it was inspired by yours :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2010
  4. Aideon

    Aideon Active Member

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    Looking good!
     
  5. TVsRobLowe

    TVsRobLowe Active Member

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    This is great. I also enjoy using foam in my projects, as well as foamcore poster board. I think I'll use your templates and make one for myself and a few friends.

    - Rob
     
  6. blownhemi

    blownhemi Well-Known Member

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    My 13 year old just started playing the game and I think he really might like one of these. Thanks for the awesome tutorial!
     
  7. MisterScrub

    MisterScrub Active Member

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    Thank you! I'll Have to try this soon.
     
  8. Skruffy

    Skruffy Active Member

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    That does look very nice. I love the DIY angle. Great job!
     
  9. Xxblackbird

    Xxblackbird Sr Member

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    You. Are. AWESOME. Thank you for posting this. I've wanted a Pipboy for a while and I love that you used inexpensive and easy to us materials. I can't wait to start building mine.
     
  10. G17RDY

    G17RDY Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Fantastic Post - Awesome tutorial and a truly cracking pip boy - well done sir!!

    & Welcome to the RPF!!!!
     
  11. elscotto

    elscotto New Member

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    That turned out amazing - I may just have to build one of those. Very well done build and tutorial.
     
  12. Fullmetalsam

    Fullmetalsam Active Member

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    Thank you everyone for the good comments... it's very exciting to see that many people interested in building one.

    If you ever decide to put one together and you have question - come back and post them here... I'll answer them if I can :)
     
  13. kevinericon

    kevinericon Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Wow, it turned out great! Very inspiring work indeed.
     
  14. JamesHook

    JamesHook New Member

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    Great work, You make it look so easy!
     
  15. Jenimosity

    Jenimosity New Member

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    I have a few questions about this tutorial. I hope someone here can answer them.

    About the truncated cone-shaped arm bracer: Assuming it is made of a sturdy foamie, is it a solid shape that you slip your hand through, or more of a vecro-fastened wrap-around?

    Wondering how you insert and remove your iPod. If you attach your Pip Boy at all points firmly to the arm bracer, did you leave a slot somewhere in the side of the foam layers to slip the iPod in and out? The photo shows the front as a continuous one-piece look where the Pip Boy and bracer are attached, so maybe you left the back open-able for iPod access?

    Also wondering what kind of support you placed under your iPod to keep it at the correct depth. Inside the foam stack is an iPod-shaped column of empty space. Maybe you rolled up a sturdy foamie, or carved a hunk of styrofoam to fill the space?
     
  16. Wes R

    Wes R Legendary Member

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    This is handy until a new kit comes out plus i can beat the snot out of it and only be out a few bucks lol
     
  17. Fullmetalsam

    Fullmetalsam Active Member

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    I already answered your PM - but in case someone else is wondering about the same things.

    The bracer is a solid shape that I'm able to slip my hand through. I had built it a bit bigger than my arm since I'm wearing it with a vault dweller jumpsuit... so my hand easily slip through and then I tuck the jumpsuit underneath.

    I squeeze the pipboy in through the bracer - I cut a hole in the bracer once it was attached to the main pipboy part and that's how I can get it in. As for keeping it at the right depth... the way my pipboy is made, the hole for the iPod is a bit to small - so when I put the iPod in there, it's secured in place by the foam "pushing" on it from all side. No need to add anything underneath.
     
  18. CaptainSmith

    CaptainSmith Member

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    That's a very cool build. Quite impressive. I also love the Terminator build you did. Robo, on the other hand, is just amazing. I love that game and that is a really awesome job of creating one of my favourite characters from it.
     
  19. Fullmetalsam

    Fullmetalsam Active Member

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    Thanks for the comments CaptainSmith.
    Creating Robo was really a challenge and I can't say I loved every minutes of it... and even in the end, I'm sad it's so uncomfortable to wear - but I still love and am so proud of how it looks.

    @Cobalt Crimson
    Since it's made of foam - it would probably even survive the abuse :)
     
  20. Faeelin

    Faeelin New Member

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    This is very impressive, and I think I am going to try it. But I feel like making a quantum cola Pip boy instead...
     
  21. Fullmetalsam

    Fullmetalsam Active Member

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    Thanks Faeelin.

    What does a Quantum Cola Pip Boy looks like exactly ?
     
  22. Faeelin

    Faeelin New Member

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    [​IMG]

    I wanted to be different :).

    I should just be buying sheets of foam that are 9x12 to use for the base, right?
     
  23. BoozeBeGood

    BoozeBeGood Sr Member

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    Great tutorial!!! My gf's younger brother loves this game. May have to take a stab at this :)
     
  24. Fullmetalsam

    Fullmetalsam Active Member

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    Thanks !
    I love to see your progress - come and post it here if you want to, or post a link to a new thread you'd start to show off your pip-boy.

    @ Faeelin: Yeah, 9"x12" is OK... whatever is cheaper for you (if you can find larger cheaper sheets in your area).
     
  25. Faeelin

    Faeelin New Member

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    Thanks. I wasn't sure how much foam I should buy, but it doesn't seem that expensive so I guess it's better to buy too much than not enough.
     
  26. BlkMesaHero

    BlkMesaHero New Member

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    All I have to say is nice!
     
  27. Star Wars Chick

    Star Wars Chick Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Love it! This is a great piece, love the tutorial, and this gives me some inspiration for building gauntlets for a costume I'm working on.
     
  28. Faeelin

    Faeelin New Member

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    Hey, what can I use besides flexbond? I can't seem to find it at craft stores near me.
     
  29. Fullmetalsam

    Fullmetalsam Active Member

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    Yeah - Flexbond is usually hard to find. Have a look at the website of the company that's making Flexbond - the company is Rosco - maybe they have a distributor near you that you didn't think to check.

    As a cheap alternative you can use watered-down white glue. I've never used it before, but I've seen a couple of craft foam armor tutorial proposing this as a sealer. In my opinion the raio should not be greater than 1:1 - I 'd start with just white glue and add water a little bit at a time until you get a texture that will still be "thick" but that you'll have an easier time applying to your foam.

    Another thing I've seen suggested is Mod Podge - again I've never tried it because there is some mixed information on if mod podge is flexible enough on foam (some people are saying that it cracks when the foam flexes).

    Regardless of what you end up using - report back on your result. It might interest others that are working on foam projects.

    @MiraxH: Thanks ! I'm glad this can help you a bit on your project.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2011
  30. Faeelin

    Faeelin New Member

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    Hi,

    So to create the recess grille in the second layer of template #1, what exactly did you do?
     
  31. Faeelin

    Faeelin New Member

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    I figured it out, actually. I'll post some photos of the impending disaster. shortly.
     
  32. Faeelin

    Faeelin New Member

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    [​IMG]

    Here's my progress so far. Now, to figure out where to get some LED batteries...
     
  33. Faeelin

    Faeelin New Member

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    Okay, I have tried a glue mix and i think it will work well. It's a bit sticky (which makes it difficult when trying; it has a tendency to get stuck to things), but after 4 coats I think it is good to go.

    I'm going to try Krylon's metallic spray paint. I don't know if it's acryllic or not, but it says it's usable on plastic, paper mache, and wicker, so hopefully it will work.
     
  34. Fullmetalsam

    Fullmetalsam Active Member

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    It looks really nice for a first try Faeelin - my only suggestion: make the arrows a bit smaller.

    For the glue mix... make sure it's not too "thick" - because you don't want to lose too many details. For the paint, Krylon is a very good choice, that's exactly what I use as well.
     
  35. Faeelin

    Faeelin New Member

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    Thanks for the kind words. I think I might have gone about it all wrong; I decided to try to make the pimp boy from fallout new vegas, and I came across a latex spray paint that Kryllon makes that works on foam.

    After spraying it, something occurred to me. That would work fine as a sealant, so why did I use the glue? It didn't occur to me before hand, so ah well.

    And secondly, it's a bit too yellow. Ah well. I will try their gold paint on top of these two layers; hopefully it will work without eating the foam, but this was actually pretty easy to put together if I want to try again.

    [​IMG]
     
  36. Charboil

    Charboil New Member

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    I began working on my foam pipboy yesterday, I've got the the whole thing craved out but now I'm toying with all the ideas of details to put into it. Does anyone have any idea where some people get the meters for the top left area? Sam, when would you recommend installing the wires for the LEDs, prior to sealing or afterward (I figured this would make the sealant crack). Thanks so much for the templates they were awesome!!
     
  37. Faeelin

    Faeelin New Member

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    A lot of crafts stores will sell jewelry like things that are worth perusing; you can get a watch thing for about $10.

    Here's what mine looks like with the vault costume I made. Not too shabby, and I want to thank you, Fullmetal, for uploading this.

    [​IMG]

    Edit: One thing to add. Kryllon makes a metallic spray paint that actually seems to work pretty well on craft foam without bonding. I tried it for the bracer and it works pretty well.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2011
  38. Charboil

    Charboil New Member

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    Thanks Faeelin! I'll have to check around my local craft store and see what I can find. I dig the pimpboy haha I was actually going to try to prime with mod podge, so I'll be sure to report how it turns out. Do you plan to add LEDs (for the plate buttons) to yours, Faeelin?
     
  39. Fullmetalsam

    Fullmetalsam Active Member

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    It's nice to see people taking this project on :)
    As for when to install the wires/LED/electronics - I'd say before sealing and then painting. On every project I've worked, those 2 steps were always the last one. In some case, it's better to remove the electronics while you're painting the parts - but at least you know where they are going.

    However, I wouldn't worry too much on the sealant even if you want to do it after sealing or painting. Depending on what you're using, the sealing should be able to take it - but then, I find it "safer" to do it before.

    Faeelin - can't wait to see how yours turned out, I'll have to wait when I get home tonight (office websense blocks images)
     
  40. Charboil

    Charboil New Member

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    Just got back from Radio Shack, didn't know how much LED stuff they actually carry, I think I've got everything I need, but I would like to get a 9V Battery Holder with a switch attached (possibly a web purchase). The guy at the store asked what I needed the LEDs for and I told him I was making a prop Pipboy, and the he was like "Right on, I love Fallout". I'll be sure to take some photos of the work so far. Thanks guy for the assistance!
     
  41. Faeelin

    Faeelin New Member

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    That's interesting; I was planning on adding the lights and battery last, after I painted it. (so as to avoid paint on the lights).

    The instructions also weren't quite clear to me on how to put the batteries and lights in.
     
  42. Fullmetalsam

    Fullmetalsam Active Member

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    Either way - it's doable... it's just a matter of being careful.
    If you do it after painting - you have to be careful not to damage the paintjob.
    If you do it before painting - you have to be careful not to paint the LEDs.

    I just prefer masking the LED and LED holder when painting ... instead of taking the chance to damage the paintjob which means you have to paint again :)
     
  43. Faeelin

    Faeelin New Member

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    Neat idea. I will deifinitely try it. Incidentally, I am actually trying to figure out how you attached it to a bracer so you could stick an Iphone in. I know you explained it in the forum, but it still isn't clear to me.
     
  44. Fullmetalsam

    Fullmetalsam Active Member

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    Here's a new explanation - maybe this one is going to be a bit clearer :)

    First, the iphone goes in through the bracer.
    The hole for the screen is smaller than the actual iphone (so the only the screen and a part of the Home button shows)... so that's why it goes in from underneath.

    So here are the steps... once you have both parts (computer and bracer) made
    1- You'll have to carve away some of the foam from the bottom of the computer part so that it fits at the right angle when it sits on the bracer.

    You have to be careful when carving away the foam - the bracer is usually not a cylinder (meaning that you have the same diameter on both side)... it should look more like a truncated cone. This means that for the computer part to be "leveled" you should carve out less foam from the side of the computer part that is closer to your wrist (and more from the one that is closer to your elbow).

    2- Once you've craved the foam from the computer part - you should have a clear idea where the computer will sit on the bracer. You should mark the spot where the screen line up on the bracer.

    3- Once this spot is marked - you can cut it out of the bracer.
    This is going to be the hole in the bracer you'll squeeze your iphone through.

    Make sure it's big enough for the iphone, but not too big... the computer part of the pipboy should be able to cover this hole completely once it's glued to the bracer.

    4- Do a test fit... so the screens from the computer part lines up with the hole you've just cut in the bracer... and if everything looks right - glue the 2 pieces together with hot glue.
     
  45. Charboil

    Charboil New Member

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    Went to another radio shack and found a whole other box of goods, ended up getting a 4 AA battery box with a switch, so I've taken a break from the crafting and been playing with LEDs the last few nights. Make sure you put a resistor on your bare LED, if not it will burn out in like 5 seconds. For a dollar more Radio Shack sells some cool LEDs that come with holders and built in resistors that look very similar to the button lights on the pipboy. I'm thinking of wiring mine first and then just taping over the actual light and holders while I do the priming/painting. Figured if a little paint gets on the wires, no biggie.
     
  46. Faeelin

    Faeelin New Member

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    I was mostly curious about how to make the foam bend so I can make bracers. But googling suggets I can either boil it (in a plastic bag) or get a heat gun.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2011
  47. Charboil

    Charboil New Member

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    Did you carve out the back to fit your arm?

    I've been toying with a few ideas on this too. I'm thinking for the version I'm working on I'm going to use a tight kneepad (as the bracer) and Velcro (the way I'm setting up the battery will make it hard to get to if I glue it). It won't look as flashy as having an actual bracer tho.
     
  48. Faeelin

    Faeelin New Member

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    See I don't quite get the "carve out the back to fit your arm." It fits my arm fine now!

    What I am trying to figure out is where to store the battery pack.

    Edit: Ah, now that I'm putting it together I see what you mean.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011
  49. Charboil

    Charboil New Member

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    Cool, how's it coming together? I'm just about done with mine, I am still going to do a few things with my screen area but for the most part it's about 99% finished:

    In Pic 2 I was trying to show off the LED lights, sorry for the blurry shot.
     
  50. Drago Lordist

    Drago Lordist Well-Known Member

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    I've seen a lot of things made from a lot of random materials here, to the point where I had almost thought I'd seen it all. Your pipboy is the first time I've said "you made that out of WHAT? you're kidding me!" in a long time. Impressive build, very well done sir, and I tip my hat to you.

    would you happen to have a pic of the flexbond can so I know what I'm looking for? I had never heard of it before.
     

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