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.

Step 1: History and Features

So how did I design all this?

     How did I go from staring at a few pictures of devices on a computer screen to holding a real device in my hands? Persistence, a clear schedule, and plenty of hot glue. By now, I think I've put about  200+ hours since November (not to mention the countless hours I spent playing  Fallout 3 and New Vegas in the name of "research" ;). I broke down the project into major chunks and set aside certain tasks to be accomplished daily. I broke my tasks into two main categories: software and hardware. From there, I broke down everything into smaller chunks, coding a function here, adjusting the layout of a speaker there and so on. This helped me to avoid much of the mental fatigue and frustration that can come from building an intensive project. My daily goals were straightforward and reasonable for me to accomplish, and seeing the small leaps of progress were a confidence boost that made everything seem more manageable. But that's not to say that I was perfect in my execution, quite the opposite. Many times I procrastinated for days at a time. I encountered software bugs that stumped me for hours. I simply stared at my screen many times, boggled at some hardware design problem,  but I didn't stop. My new favorite quote, which really applies to almost every aspect of life is, "Don't give up what you want most, for what you want now." It's short and simple, but it strikes me pretty deeply. I want most to improve as an artist and engineer, to create ever more amazing designs, and to have my very own PIP-Boy, despite my urges to browse Reddit, watch Netflix, or sleep in. With the money I've spent on research and design over the last six months, I could have bought myself a shiny new iPad, but I can't buy the satisfaction of knowing I took my desire and brought it into reality. It honestly may not look like much, but this little green box is far more valuable to me than the cost of it's parts. 

     Okay, enough motivational mumbo jumbo, so what can the prototype PIP-Boy 2000+ do? Although many of the functions of the devices are purely for game mechanic reasons, there are still quite a few functions useful to those of us in the real world. Here's a list of in-game features (based off of FO3 and FNV) and their status in development:

Automapping and waypoint navigation:  (Partially Complete) Waypoints and simple GPS navigation is relatively easy, automaps without advanced laser rangefinders/sonar is not possible . Currently only latitude, longitude, heading, speed, altitude, and number of satellites used are displayed.

Moral status and local reputation: (Not Implemented) These can't be automatically gauged, but the graphics would be trivial to add.

External interface to computers: (Partially Complete) The device must be disassembled in order to be reprogrammed, and no local data downloading is available for the time being. It would be neat to stick a decently sized flash drive in there, and even better if that information or the file system could be read on-screen.

Real-time health monitoring and feedback: (Not Implemented) there's certainly no way to measure the health status of specific body parts or automatic notification of addiction, but I suppose the next best thing might be to add a heart rate monitor, although this would require the external chest strap. An accelerometer/pedometer to gauge steps taken and as a simple fitness measurement wouldn't be too hard to add too.

Inventory status and item condition: (Partially Complete) I see no way for this to be automatic, but this version has RFID-reading capabilities, so some form of inventory management would be possible with unique tags for items, however crude.

Character level and experience: (Partially Complete) As the only real world task the PIP-Boy can be aware of is discovering a new location, that is the only way to "gain experience." Although purely for fun and no practical reason, I  could set this to gain experience/levels by traveling and have the user get to distribute skill points. Of course, you could always cheat since you have access to the code and could have whatever stats you wish, but that's no fun ;) Perks are not implemented.

Ambient radiation measurement and  level of irradiation: (Partially Complete) There is a small working Geiger-counter module, but this is also for fun and should by no means be used for situations in which serious radiation detection is necessary. Measuring how much of a dosage you have absorbed in RADs is also impractical.

Flashlight:(Complete) Just like in the game, the prototype has an "overbright" mode, although the LCD is not terribly bright, it does glow decently. For another version, I'm considering just popping in some high-power LEDs for some serious luminosity.

Time stopping/auto-targeting: (Not Implemented) Although awesome, V.A.T.S. is, for many reasons, ridiculously fictional, but I'd be interested to see what could be done with an IMU and a web cam/Kinect sensor strapped to a "weapon" pointed at a specially colored or marked target. I imagine a computer could determine the probability of a hit based on the current vectors of angle and acceleration of both the weapon and the target. This couldn't be handheld, but would make for an interesting computer vision project.

Wrist-mounted: (Not Implemented) This version is handheld

Data storage and playback: (Not Implemented) No internal storage or audio playback for now, I've already designed holotape cases, but it's too cost prohibitive to make them the way I want to make them for now.

Radio: (Not Implemented) This will be added at later version.

Clock with date and time: (Not implemented) Time and date can be read from the GPS, but I plan to use a RTC for when the GPS is disabled.

Screensaver: (Partially Complete) It doesnt come on automatically, but you can switch to a mode that displays the falling bomb screensaver that is pretty much identical to to the graphic from the first two games.

Unlimited battery life: (Not Implemented) If only fission batteries were real! This version runs on 6 humble AAs.

<p>Hey, do you remember what the cost was to make this? I would LOVE to make one myself.</p>
<p>will you ever put up a page about the wrist mounted version?</p>
I know talking about the game files is touchy, but did you ever have trouble with extracting them, only to get a blank square picture?
Scratch that, I was covering them to jpg instead of png for the alpha channel. ... dur. But I am wondering how you were able to see them to arrange them in visigenie? it still just shows up as a white square
I did have trouble with some of the raw images from the game as they were in a format that is uncommon to most consumers. I made this without visigenie. Do they show up in the image conversion tool?
<p>I've got them converted to .png, and opening them in a photoviewer i can see the images with a &quot;transparent&quot; background. I'm using visigenie has i have about 0 knowledge of coding. But, when i load the images to my project, i just have a white square, because the transparent isn't showing up as transparent. As you can imagine, this presents a problem when trying place 20+ images on say, the STATS screen.</p>
<p>I cant find the 4d sowtware thing, what doi do</p>
<p>cool! :D i think this will be a great and cool thing.</p>
<p>How close are you to a 3000? I really would like to see that.</p>
<p>Ponoko is saying there seems to be a problem with you're line colors when I try to upload the .eps for the case.</p>
<p>I sent Ponoko the .eps for the case and they that there was a white line in the center of the radiation symbol. They said it was an easy fix so they revised it for me.</p>
<p>What are the dimensions for the case?</p>
<p>It is a roughly 6 x 6 x 3 inch box</p>
<p>Hello ,</p><p>It is a cool .</p><p>I don't understand how to copy the images from the game.</p><p>I have the computer version.</p><p>Many thanks</p>
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?
<p>I didn't. I scrapped this prototype a few weeks after I built it for the parts.</p>
Awsome pip boy! Id love to see an instructable of a wristbound one! Id make it
<p>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.</p>
Also as an idea: how bout adding a clock?
<p>I've got the real-time clock, but didn't implement it. Definitely a necessary feature though!</p>
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
<p>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!</p>
So how is your project going these days? Any where near a 3000 yet?
<p>Nearer-er :) I have had other priorities lately, but I'm getting my yearly Fallout tech itch!</p>
How much would it be to buy one from you fully assembled?
<p>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.</p>
Wouldn't it be cool to load the a songs and radio dialogue to a small SD and having it play?
<p>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!</p>
<p>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!</p>
<p>Go for it! You should start an instructable as a project log!</p>
<p>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?</p>
<p>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.)</p>
<p>Well if you only had their funding.....</p><p>http://www.tweaktown.com/news/37347/a-working-pip-boy-3000-has-been-thanks-to-nasa-s-spaceapps-challenge/index.html</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>Is it possible to add the option to put in the &quot;player name and age like in the fallout games?</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>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 http://www.instructables.com/id/Mini-Audio-Transmitter/</p>
<p>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.</p>
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?
<p>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.</p>
<p>This is way to cool! Nice work :)</p>
<p>say i decided to use a raspberry pi instead of an arduino. would that work?</p>
<p>these are some things i wanna implement</p><p>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.</p>
<p>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!</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>Just, WOW! I want to make this when summer starts, along with so many other projects.</p>
<p>Thanks! Be sure to share what you make on the site!</p>
<p>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.</p>

About This Instructable


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Bio: My name is DJ and I make electronic whatsits, 3D-printed thingamabobs, and laser-cut kajiggers for the Instructables Design Studio.
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