Picture of How to Make a PIP-Boy (Prototype)
     So what exactly is a PIP-Boy, you ask? For those unfamiliar, a PIP-Boy is a device used by the protagonist in the popular Fallout series of video games for navigation, radiation detection, data storage/playback, and inventory management. Being a major fan of the franchise, I decided I wanted to make my own version, but no mere prop, I wanted a functional device that I could really use. This version is very much just a working prototype and a platform for future development. My ultimate goal is to build a fully functioning PIP-Boy 3000 from scratch, so this is my platform upon which I can build up to that level.

Hey, I'm a big fan of Fallout too! But PIP-Boys don't look anything like this! Trust me, I know. This is a prototype that just takes design cues from both versions of the Pip Boy and also some elements from the computer terminals in the games. 

But wait! If you can make this much, why not just go ahead and build the 2000 or 3000A models? I'm not just going to buy a plaster cast of the FO3 PIP-Boy 3000 Clock and slap an iTouch in there. My goal is a functional device, not something that just looks functional. I do really want to make one of the models from the game, but until my budget expands, bringing completely accurate copies of the devices into reality is beyond my reach.  On that note, should I win, making the PIP-Boys will be significantly easier. I've been planning my own open source hardware business for a while now, and a 3D printer or decent camera would help immensely. Vote for me and I promise you won't be disappointed.

     So grab a seat, pop the cap off an ice cold Nuka-Cola, and enjoy the Instuctable. By the end, you'll have hopefully learned a lot more and will be able to design and build your very own Personal Information Processor Boy.

For those interested in getting started on the build, skip ahead to the section labeled Hardware.
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I was actually using this instructable for a school project because i fell in love with the design, but i'm personally not very good at coding
Did you ever update the code to incorporate the other rotary encoders?
Aleator777 (author)  Phil Dylandy3 days ago

I didn't. I scrapped this prototype a few weeks after I built it for the parts.

kierens1 year ago
Awsome pip boy! Id love to see an instructable of a wristbound one! Id make it
Aleator777 (author)  kierens1 month ago

Thank you very much. It's long in the works, but it is in the works! The next one will be cheaper, more game accurate, and easier to build.

kierens1 year ago
Also as an idea: how bout adding a clock?
Aleator777 (author)  kierens1 month ago

I've got the real-time clock, but didn't implement it. Definitely a necessary feature though!

Do you have a kick starter account, because I believe you could get the money for a 3d printer and supplies needed to put your device into a pipboy case and make it cheaper and lighter from there, o know tons of people, myself included, that would love to see that happen, and you could probably sell some of them off too, after you have the three d printer, the biggest expense will be gone, and if you keep the programming from the earlier ones, it shouldn't be too hard to do, especially having the experience with the other ones also you could add variable colors
Aleator777 (author)  redghost11971 month ago

I've recently had the good fortune of getting an amazing job. I've got a little 3D printer on my desk at work right now :) Let's see how this goes!

So how is your project going these days? Any where near a 3000 yet?
Aleator777 (author)  Beastabuelos1 month ago

Nearer-er :) I have had other priorities lately, but I'm getting my yearly Fallout tech itch!

Evolouski1 year ago
How much would it be to buy one from you fully assembled?
Aleator777 (author)  Evolouski1 month ago

This model was really just a prototype. The design is temporary and can be improved a lot. I'm currently working on a more reproduce-able model 3000.

Wouldn't it be cool to load the a songs and radio dialogue to a small SD and having it play?
Aleator777 (author)  crusader_sir1 month ago

Yeah! I've since become very familiar with some nifty audio playback chips from 4D Systems. Also, Adafruit has some really great and affordable audio playback modules with built-in amplifiers too!

22xander12 months ago

Hello i plan on doing something similar but trying to simulate a working 3000 model. I dont want to do this as a simple program, no i want a fully functioning model. I'm not going to work down from the game model but work from scratch using it for ideas. We may work together or against eachother but considering i am going for a rist mounted computer imediatly and your doing... that, i think working togeted will be mutcualy satisfactury!

Aleator777 (author)  22xander1 month ago

Go for it! You should start an instructable as a project log!

Hey, out of curiosity, I saw a more recent video of an updated pipboy which seems to have some software updates. Are the links you provided above up to date with the latest sketches?

Aleator777 (author)  Killer_Kitten1 month ago

The more game accurate model that I made uses a smaller screen, so the UI is visually similar, but the code is only handles the game screens (no sensors etc.)

dwebb511 months ago

Well if you only had their funding.....

Aleator777 (author)  dwebb51 month ago

This is a really cool project! Funding would be quite great :) I'd love to see it as a standalone device however. With all the sensors external, it's a bit harder to use.

Is it possible to add the option to put in the "player name and age like in the fallout games?

Aleator777 (author)  BillyBadMedicine1 month ago

Not through the UI as is, but that data is just a couple of strings in the program and can be easily rewritten to be whatever name+status you'd like.

lhall159 months ago

one of my suggetions below number 2 u should make a thing like this guy im gooing to try to put this in my version some how

Aleator777 (author)  lhall151 month ago

Radio transmission would be super sweet. I do have a little FM transmitter module that I picked up from Sparkfun a while back, maybe it's time I played around with tit again.

Lewis72067 months ago
For moral status, isn't there some way you can link your prototype to your Facebook/ twitter and make you gain 'points' any time you are mentioned in a post or tweeted about?
Aleator777 (author)  Lewis72061 month ago

There is a service called Klout, that does some sort of internet popularity/power metric, but it mostly seems slimy to me. It would be a unique way to gauge something abstract like social "status" though. Perhaps something like twitter followers would be an easy introductory metric to list.

victordoes5 months ago

This is way to cool! Nice work :)

Aleator777 (author)  victordoes1 month ago


say i decided to use a raspberry pi instead of an arduino. would that work?

these are some things i wanna implement

radio, GPS, cassette player (or CD player), movie watching, a built in jet-pack so i can have connection anywhere, movie playing, pedometer, being able to call people, a offline map of the world, reminders, perks would be included by putting them in yourself, note-pad, and more. also, PLEASE MAKE AN INSTRUCTABLE FOR THE ARM MOUNTED ONE.

Aleator777 (author)  technoEcologist1 month ago

Those would all be awesome features! I was a bit confused about the jet pack initially haha, but an internet connection would be very useful. The arm mounted one has been in the making for a long time, but it is coming!

Aleator777 (author)  technoEcologist1 month ago

The Raspberry Pi would be a great choice for a main processor. I've considered writing a version of this with Python. The only trade-off is power consumption and boot time.

StuartG41 month ago

Just, WOW! I want to make this when summer starts, along with so many other projects.

Aleator777 (author)  StuartG41 month ago

Thanks! Be sure to share what you make on the site!

ArtTech862 months ago

Well done! I would love to make a replica of the Pip Boy 3000. This instructable could prove helpful when I decide to take on that project. Added to my Favorites. Thank you for sharing.

Aleator777 (author)  ArtTech861 month ago

Thank you very much. Post progress pics if you do!

WardC3 months ago

Kind of a cool idea but from a software/hardware development side you're just reinventing the wheel. A lot of newbie hardware designers and software programmers do that.

ArtTech86 WardC2 months ago

That is the beauty of this site and the folks that dwell in this amazing community. I love it.

lhall159 months ago
Also I was wondering if u can give me some tips on soilding at and a suggestion u should see some how if u can make a place to 1.have some tiny mini games and 2. Some way to talk to others on the Pipboy of curse they wild be on the new one ur making please make it soon by the by I know it's hard but u did good
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