Pip-Boy 3000 Build-up (pic heavy)


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First off, much of this info is being moved/copied to my FB page, so please go give me a like there: Skruffy Studios

My friends and I all LOVED Fallout 3, so we decided to put some costumes together for the cons that we go to. The hardest, and of course most important, part of the costume is the Pip-Boy 3000.

If you search on Youtube for "working pip boy" or the like you'll find several results for people who took the plastic clock that came with the survival edition of the game and modified them for their ipod Touch (or similar) - but to me, those clocks just aren't good enough. They are cheap plastic crap, and they look it. So we made a mold of the clock and cast it in resin so it would be more durable, have a more realistic weight, and be easier to modify and paint.

My 3 friends all have iPhones and dremeled the insides of their Pip-Boys so those could be mounted and removed. The functionality is fantastic, but it still wasn't quite accurate enough for me because the screen couldn't be properly centered and the screen was recessed by 1/2 an inch or so.

Below is the build progress on mine.

I started with the resin cast, of course. I wish I'd taken some pictures before I got started just to give you an idea of how much resin you have to dremel out of these bad boys.

Here are the two halves after quite a lot of dremeling:

The inside view. Note the areas that I reinforced with 2 part epoxy. After the sanding was done, I held it up to the light and said "uh oh" because it was REALLY thin in some places. So I just marked these with a sharpie and covered them with epoxy. Voila, nice and thick again.

Here's a close-up of the front half. There still a lot of cleaning up to do:

Here are the two halves next to each other. It is still too thick in places at this point, so I needed to go back and sand the heck out of it some more:

A few more pics of the pieces next to each other:


More to come later!
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This is very cool. I wanted (and still want) a Pip-Boy but the plastic clock just didn't do it for me.
So I'll be all set after you sell me your Pip-Boy and Volpin sells me his Laser Rifle.:lol
Amazing work so far I can't wait to see the electronics you are going to put in :D. Any chances of you doing a run of these?
I'd love to have one! Or 3... :lol

I love this game and although I'm not big into gaming props, I've got some Nuka Cola labels ready to go when I can get my hands on some classic coke bottles (hard to get in canada)
and I'm on the search for the perfect easter egg to start a mini nuke.
Hey, this looks familiar!

I'm one of the 3 folks with an iPhone version of the PipBoy 3000, and having spent quite a few nights sitting on Skruffy's back patio dremelling and cutting on both of ours, I must say his looks pretty damn awesome with all the electronics.

But, something to be said about being able to check your email on your Pipboy.
I've never even played Fallout 3 and that is really cool. I'd actually probably wear it, especially with the phone inside.
Skruffy and I are going to be in the same place on Sunday, so we're planning on taking pics of mine so there can be a side-by-side comparison. Mine is cool, but isn't nearly as accurate.
Yeah, Aideon and I have a little friendly competition going on our Pip-Boys. He's going for more functionality with slightly less accuracy, I'm going for less functionality with slightly more accuracy.

For those interested, yes, we are planning to do a run of these in the future. I just need to get my post count up enough so I can post in the junkyard :). We'll probably offer 2 versions: just the resin cast of the Pip-Boy, or the resin cast + the electronics & detail kit. So you can either go the iPhone route with just the cast, or you can go for the less functional and more accurate version that I am working on.

More progess pics to come soon!
could you show pictures of your mold? What modification did you do to the original pipboy so that you could mold it?
More pics!

I wasn't happy with the cast screws. Some had some air bubbles and just didn't look right. So I went to my local hardware store and found some real Philips head screws that are the perfect size. For each screw I drilled a pilot hole through the cast/resin screw head, then dremeled off the resin screw head. Then I drilled a slightly larger hole and simply screwed in the real screws. For some of the screws I had to use my cutting wheel to make them shorter so they weren't protruding to the inside of the Pip-Boy.

Notice the screw sticking through in the upper left corner (top) of the Pip-Boy:

Originally, my plan was to cram a small voice amp behind the screen and have an mp3 player playing the Galaxy News Radio broadcasts through this. I found after test fitting some of the components that the amp took up too much space in it's native enclosure and the Pip-Boy wouldn't fit on my arm with it that way. So I took the PCB out of the plastic enclosure and basically re-wired everything that connected to it:

I re-did the speaker wires so they would be longer and more durable - this way I could position the speaker where I wanted to in the Pip-Boy. The amp I used had a mic wired in, but I was able to cut that wire and connect in a 2.5mm male plug that could plug straight into my mp3 player. For mp3 player, I used a cheap ($10) Dane-Elec 1GB that is the size of a USB thumb drive. Unfortunately, it has a 1.5mm plug, so I had to buy an adapter. The damn adapter was as expensive as the mp3 player!! :(

Because the 9V battery was held in by the plastic amp enclosure, I had to solder in a 9V battery lead to the PCB. This also added a lot of flexibility in how I could cram things into the PB once done.

Finally, I divorced the volume switch from the PCB. It had 5 connections, so it was a chore to unsolder each of those enough for the switch to come loose. I ended up pulling out 3 of the 5 from the switch, but I was able to cut into the switch a bit to expose more metal, which I was then able to solder to some wires. Voila - a working volume knob that was no longer connected to the PCB.

You'll notice from the earlier pictures the volume knob on the front of the Pip-Boy. I really wanted to find a way to make it functional, both from an accuracy standpoint, and just to add to the "cool factor". With my volume knob separate from the PCB, I was able to cut off the cast volume knob and drill out a 1/4" hole for the voice amp's knob to fit through. The knob sticks out farther than the cast one did, so I just added some washers to close the gap.
No washers:

Test-fit with 3 washers. In the final version, I scaled back to 2:
You could use a dremel to cut the size of the volume knob and slip the cast Knob over it thus making it fit better.
OK, now I'll cover some of the electronics.

To get the look of the screen right, I decided to use a correctly scaled screen print of the PB screen behind a piece of plexi-glass that I'd cut to fit the inside of the prop. It was just a simple B&W print from my printer... this, of course, would be the wrong color since it needs to be green. My original plan was to light this with a series of green LEDs to give it the correct hue.

Then, I found this little gem; an LED back-light screen that has 4 white LEDs built-in:


It's almost exactly the right size for the PB screen, it's good and thin so it fits well, and the lighting is nice and even... something I was having trouble accomplishing in the tight confines by just using green LEDs pointed at the back of the screen.

Here's a test fit of the LED screen:

Next, I wired a yellow LED for the front light:

And here's the first test with the plexi-glass, screen print, and LED light all in the Pip enclosure:

Looking good and coming along nicely at this point! It looks odd with the B&W screen, though. I was thinking of swapping the white LEDs in the screen with green ones, but that was going to be very difficult to dremel them out and replace them without ruining the entire thing. Then Aideon had a genius idea: green lighting gel! He had some laying around he was nice enough to share, and behold: a green Pip screen!

This is using the LED back-light, 1 layer of green lighting gel, the screen print, then another layer of green lighting gel.

Coming next: painting the Pip-Boy and cramming all the electronics into it!
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