How to machine / make a custom sonic screwdriver out of aluminum with Arduino inside.

This Instructable documents the creation of two custom Sonic Screwdrivers for two very special people in my life. They are huge  Doctor Whofans and I could not resist making this for them.

Please note this project made use of metal working machinery (Mill and Lathe).

Technical Specifications:
Material: 6061 aluminum, black delrin (acetal) and glass
Electronics: ATTiny85, custom PCB, 4 AG13 batteries, ear bud speakers, 2 SMD LEDs
Programming platform: Arduino

Here is a video

PLEASE NOTE: This instructable is ever evolving. I am making changes to it frequently to make it better. Please see STEP 2: "Update Tracker Page" to see what changes where made and when. And keep checking back often because I am still adding A LOT OF PICTURES. Thanks

Step 1: Fabrication

Most of the parts were machined using manual machining tools.  While a lot of these tools are very expensive and beyond the means of 99% of us (me included) there are tools out there for amatuers like us. The first lathe I ever used was one I purchased from Homier for $350.   I made 30+ lightsabers with that one before I sold it for the same price I purchased it for.

Places to look for machining tools:

Harbor Freight

Grizzly Tools


Hi Mr Tinkerer<br>Just wondering if you are still making<br>The sonic screwdriver i'm keen to buy one if you can let me know my email is Dan-1@live.com.au thanks mate
<p>I am trying to find time to actually start making these again. I have just been real busy.</p>
<p>is there and easier and cheaper way to make this? if so, make another post plz?</p>
<p>Hello,</p><p>Ways to make it cheaper:</p><p>1. Use plastic instead of metal<br>2. Use hand tools instead of power tools and shop tools.<br>3. used preformed parts and found objects instead of custom making parts.</p><p>That's about all I can think of to make it cheaper.</p>
<p>thanks, I'm guns try it out now! I appreate it! FOR WHOVIANS!</p>
<p>do you know what type of resistors you used on the testing board if you do then can you tell me the colors on it?</p>
<p>the resistors are for LED's. The resistance value is determined by the type of LED you are using. So the value of the resistor is dependent on what you are using. There are many LED resistance calculators on the web. Google &quot;LED resistor calculator&quot; and use the one that you feel comfortable with. Some even show you the color code of the resistor.</p>
could you sell me one? contact me for info and other things!
PLEASE? i could buy it for about $20?!
I am trying to make some now. No, it will not be $20, sorry.
<p>I realize this message is 3 years old, but seriously, $20?? People just have no idea what it takes to actually make something with their hands. They're so used to cheap plastic knock-offs that their standards are completely skewed. </p><p>These items ended up selling on Ebay for over $200 and worth every penny.</p>
<p>i sold 5. The very last one on ebay the winning bid was past $500. I think $149 for one of my creations is not unreasonable.</p><p>After material cost, my hourly wage after selling one for $149 is roughly $4.50 per hour for each sonic screwdriver. Well below minimum wage.</p>
<p>Do you have drawings that you went off of, or did you just wing it? If you have drawings that you wouldn't mind sharing, I could make some 3D models of the metal pieces for a 3D printer.</p>
Sorry, no drawings that I kept. I did sketch some rough ideas on scratch paper, did some dimension calculations but I did not keep any of it. Sorry.
<p>Making the Sonic Screwdriver out of metal is a bit of work. You can try using plastic which is easer to work with, then cover it with plating or just paint. I wonder how BBC did the units that the real Dr.Who uses on the show.</p>
<p>Actually it's just as easy to machine aluminum on a lathe as it is plastic, and plastic is probably more expensive if you use something that's high density. Also, I think for an item like this the &quot;heft&quot; of metal is part of the attraction.</p>
<p>also, about how big is it?</p>
<p>outside diameter of body is about .75&quot; (19mm). inside diameter is about .6&quot; (15.5mm). Over all length retracted to 6.5&quot; (16.5cm), extended 7.5&quot; (19cm). There is not much room inside.</p>
Do you think I could buy just the outside? I can't afford the tools, but i wanted to make a tv remote out of it
<p>Sorry, i currently do not have time to make more. </p>
<p>ok thx!</p>
<p>Very Nice Is it possible u could make that exact one custom except with turquoise to my brothers birthday he didn't even get a party</p>
<p>i'm sorry, currently I do not have the time.</p>
<p>Do u have a recommendation of a website for some sonic screwdrivers that are custom?</p>
<p>this one ;)</p><p>But sorry, no. Best thing to do is read some forum threads dedicated to props and sci-fi. Places like </p><p>The Replica Prop Forum - therpf<br>The 405th<br>The Dented Helmet</p><p>etc. A lot of times places like those will lead to internet sites that sell the prop you are looking for. Also, you can usually find someone looking to be commissioned for custom work.</p>
Do you custom make Sonic screwdrivers for others? @thatmikehill on Twitter might be the best way to contact me not sure if this site will send me notifications.
<p>I hope to start up this project again. In total I made 8 sonic screwdrivers. 5 were sold. the rest were given as gifts.</p>
That's cool, you do a great job!
<p>how much did it cost?</p>
Can you open your prop and switch the batteries?
<p>good question IDK</p>
Can I buy one?
<p>sorry, life hectic. no time to make more. maybe when things settle down.</p>
<p>Hi. Do you still take comissions?</p>
<p>sorry, life hectic. no time to make more.</p>
Love it. Why don't you put a spring in it. So when you hit the button it pops up on it's own. Just an idea.
<p>I'm really interested in your product, I was wondering if I could get one with sound and purple LED? if not blue is fine Id be willing to pay a good and fair price for it but I need before April 26th. Could we work something out?</p>
I changed my mind I am making one
if only I had the tools, time, money, and patience to make this I would but instead I am going to buy the 10th doctor's sonic screwdriver remote control so if anyone knows where I can get it for under $100 then could they kindly reply or send a link via private message
I'd be interested in a kit as well. I'd buy that up in a second.
I'm not selling kits. Too complicated. I'm building and selling fully made sonics. I am about to post one on Ebay tonight (November 25) at 10 pm east coast time.
I made another Sonic Screwdriver. Here is a video :<br> <a href="http://youtu.be/3FuqRH-4UK8" rel="nofollow">http://youtu.be/3FuqRH-4UK8</a><br> <br> If anyone wants it, i put it on Ebay.<br> <a href="http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dr-Who-Custom-Metal-Sonic-Screwdriver-Gallifrey-Series-03-/121218867272?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item1c39352048" rel="nofollow">http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dr-Who-Custom-Metal-Sonic-Screwdriver-Gallifrey-Series-03-/121218867272?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&amp;hash=item1c39352048</a>
Check your email payment sent again sorry for delay
I was able to make three. I put them all on ebay. <br>Here is a link to one of them. <br> <br>http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dr-Who-Custom-Metal-Sonic-Screwdriver-Gallifrey-Series-01-/121215483313
I have three that will be done by November 14, 2013. due to many request, I am auctioning them off on ebay to keep it fair. Those serious about getting one will win the auction.
Shoot me an email at smartrchild@gmail.com, I'd buy a kit/commission/whatever in a heartbeat.
Mr T I call you on here!! Absolutely no probs I know how time consuming the plane must be I tried to make a soapbox kart took too long missed it yep ill look at the site. And vote oh I'm glad you've started the build I have a place set out for it on display as I collect the photos of making/production mean just as much to me there are almost no metal sonics out there for fans or collectors to buy which is why yours is attractive along with the standard of finish IMO if you want any suggestions from me on personal touches let me know apart from red light keep in touch and best of luck trying to fly bird man!!!
Vince any updates mate?
If I survive the 30 foot plunge into the murky waters with my flugtag plane. I will be sending you pictures of your sonic. I have lots of progress pictures.

About This Instructable




Bio: I like to tinker and create things. When I have time, i make stuff. The stuff could be as simple as my patent pending spoon-on-a-stick ... More »
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