Introduction: Sonic Screwdriver

Picture of Sonic Screwdriver

If you need to open a lock, or simply put up a lot of cabinets, the sonic screwdriver is the tool for you. If you don't know about Doctor Who, the most amazing sci-fi/everything series ever, go see it right now. This was my first attempt at making a sonic for myself, modeled after the 9th/10th Doctor design. I'm quite pleased with the results; it lights up, and beeps a solid tone. Producing that famous sound would require a microcontroller or the like, which just won't fit inside the body. So, here goes...

p.s. If you like this instructable, vote for it in the Celestron Space Challenge!

Step 1: The Stuff

Picture of The Stuff

Time to gather the stuff. You'll need:

A magic marker, probably crayola, since the body is wider than others.
A cheap pen. try and get one that narrows towards the end, but it's okay.
1 push button switch. Maybe a slide switch if you want.
1 small buzzer. the round case type is important; make sure it will fit inside.
1 audio jack, female. this will be used to recharge whatever small battery you can cram inside.
1 power source. get a small rechargeable battery, or a supercapacitor. It took me some time to find one.
And, most importantly, a Tirefly. It's a little bike light that clips to the wheels somehow; it has the perfect shape for the screwdriver head. Substitute something else if you have to. You can buy a set here.

The tools: 
Get some scissors, a craft knife, and some pliers. Also superglue. And a drill. Plus the regular soldering stuff.

Step 2: Prepare the Body

Picture of Prepare the Body

Turn your attention to the marker. Grab the back end with pliers, then rip out all the ink-y stuff inside. You can pull the tip out from the front. Then wash it out so it's clean. Take the pen, and pull out its insides as well. Leave the plastic tip, though. The idea is to have the pen fit inside the marker so the screwdriver extends. Unfortunately, you can see some stuff is in the way. Take your drill and, with a drill bit matching the inner diameter, get rid of the stuff in the way. While you're at it, drill a hole in the end cap. It helps the buzzer sound louder.

Step 3: Making the Head

Picture of Making the Head

Unscrew it. Save the batteries if you want. Take out the stuff. Save the nice blue LED, and put the shiny foil back in since it makes it brighter. Pull the spring out of the bottom, and drill a hole in the proper spot so you can run some wires through.

Step 4: Finish the Body

Picture of Finish the Body

Cut the pen to about 6cm. Then use the knife to cut a 2cm gap in that. Next, cut some holes in the marker the size of your jack and push switch. Now, you should be able to push the pen inside the body, and stick the head on top of that to check the fit. The marker cap can go on the back of everything to get the proper length.

Step 5: The Insides

Picture of The Insides

Get out the soldering iron! Connect up the bits like in the diagram. Make sure that the positive end of the buzzer and the LED are together, and same for the negative. Don't be tempted to solder the buzzer and LED to their respective close sides; that means the circuit will complete when you connect them to the switch, since the positive of one will connect to the negative of the other. In related news, don't connect the switch or the audio jack yet. Leave those wires long.

Step 6: Put It Together

Picture of Put It Together

Sitck the LED, power source, and buzzer inside. Use some pliers to grab those long wires from before and pull them out of the holes, then solder on the parts left out in the last step (2nd picture). Take your superglue and secure all the bits that need it.

Step 7: Almost Done

Picture of Almost Done

Get some shiny, shiny metallic paint and paint it up. Spray paint works well, but you might need more layers. I found some acrylic stuff lying around and used that instead. 

Notes about charging: just grab a cable and plug it in. You can strip the other end to expose the wires, or, like mine, if it's a double male you can plug in another jack and use alligator clips. Remember to use some common sense and don't blow up anything; both batteries and supercaps should not be overcharged. 

Add your own modifications, too. One idea is an IR LED paired with an IR phototransistor and some other device so you can actually "sonic" it. Another idea is to add a red setting. Have fun with it!

So, grab your trusty sonic, and go open some doors!

Step 8: Going Further...

Picture of Going Further...

So, after breaking my original screwdriver, I'm looking to make a new one with improvements. I took some suggestions from the comment field, and I now have plans to use a 556 IC in Atari punk console circuit (Thanks to Winter Man, I wasted a whole afternoon playing with that thing), a few of these things in series to make 5v, and a mini-USB port for charging (kudos to Drabinowitz). 
I drew up a little schematic below, and with some jiggery-pokery and a thin speaker in place of a buzzer it just might fit inside.


jessyratfink (author)2011-08-01

I love this! It's very simple, and could even be fancied up a bit by added more details to the marker before painting for added sonic-screwdriver-ness.

Definitely one of the quickest and nicest ones I've seen!

Ploopy (author)2016-11-19


Ploopy (author)Ploopy2016-11-19

I just had an idea....

You could add a 2nd jack connected straight to the buzzer...

Then you play the sonic sounds on your mp3/laptop and it sounds it....

I guess it would not be portable anymore..... (facepalm)

NovaT1 (author)2015-10-24

Can I make this without the electronics?

Koesterhu (author)NovaT12016-11-02

I r

arsenypetrikor (author)2015-09-18

I made it, but it still doesn't open the doors(((

kracken42 (author)2015-08-05


MCoder (author)2015-06-07

What did you use for the buzzer? I can't find one small enough.

MCoder (author)2015-06-01

Where do you think I could find Tire Flys? The link is broken. Is there any stores in the portland area?

Time master107 (author)2014-11-09

Could you try making the sonic pen from partners in crime?

ssalvosa (author)2014-07-05

The link on where to buy the things is broken

bobagby (author)2014-04-08

i' determined to do this with an IR LED for my wiimote whiteboard hack. thank you.

zNightwingz (author)2013-11-26

Dose it really open doors

NSalkoff (author)zNightwingz2014-01-19

No but it's cool to carry around

NSalkoff (author)2014-01-19

Wow! This is amazingly realistic! I love it! Keep it up! I just bought a sonic screwdriver yesterday and it is NOTHING compared to yours!

darlingtom (author)2013-07-14

This was great! It served as a nice foundation to work off of. Your 2.0 looks interesting, but a bit too much for my son and my own limited electronics knowledge. This was simple.


* 3/4" electrical conduit pipe instead of a magic marker. It felt more hefty, for all of the work that goes into the innards.

* Copper compression nut for the end with a clear marble superglued on the end. The LED sits behind the marble, making the whole thing glow (green, in our case).

* Exterior 9volt battery. The amount of rechargeables for the buzzer and LED to work got pricey for my first shot (I'm going to keep an eye open for junked toys, etc., for future ones). I'm interested in the capacitors you used for 2.0, but didn't really understand how they worked (I did experiment with them, to no avail.). My 9v straps on the back end, extending the tube without it being too obvious (and hides behind the wrist while being gripped).

My 7 year old son helped me make it for my 11 year old son's birthday. It helped him understand circuits and how to use a hacksaw.

Epicgamerz (author)2013-04-27

Is there a way to make a simple LED-Battery-Push button circuit because im having trouble with making circuits

LauraLauraLynn (author)2012-12-17

It is awesome! Its not to hard to make, but it lights up!

akrishnan3 (author)2012-02-20

Does this sonic actually open doors or is it just a prop?

drabinowitz (author)2011-08-22

Will this make the well known sonic sound?

drabinowitz (author)2011-08-04

Hey, if you (for charging) used an audio to USB cord and plugged it in a computer or apple power converter, would it charge that way?

Alskf1 (author)drabinowitz2011-08-20

It definitely would. I would recommend a resistor on the charging part that's appropriate for your power source, in this case one that'll reduce 5v to 3.3v. I recently burned up my supercap by plugging it into a 9v battery for too long.

danielemur (author)2011-08-17

what do you mean by "Then use the knife to cut a 2cm gap in that"?

danielemur (author)2011-08-17

dont get the uv ones. the led is a super tiny one directly attached to the board. if you solder wires on to the contacts you can get it to work but it is harder.

Deadendshop34 (author)2011-08-14

Your Sonic Screwdriver, My K9, Now all we need is a tardis :)

Avatar_I_Am (author)2011-08-08

Beautiful, just beautiful!
I love it!

adam 101 (author)2011-08-04

love it, spent 1/2 hour + looking for decent design to base my screwdriver on and then one falls in my inbox

NickGriffin (author)2011-08-04

I am sure it will work if the Tardis is up and running...

nomuse (author)2011-08-04

Or one of the ATtinys in 8-pin DIP form. Assembled dead bug style it might just barely slip inside. I've thought about trying something like that but working out wavetable synthesis is more advanced than anything I've done with one yet.

drabinowitz (author)2011-08-04


marvinsson (author)2011-08-04

Does this thing actually work, or is it just for show?

kderusha (author)marvinsson2011-08-04

No, it's not a real screw driver. It's just a light up replica.

codongolev (author)marvinsson2011-08-04

it's sonic. it makes a noise. *taps on door frame*

claws.33 (author)2011-08-04

I didn't even have to look at what this is but as someone who just recently found Doctor Who (2005 series of the 9th and 10th drs) I LOVE IT!!

ejost (author)2011-08-04

Will it work on my dead bolt when I forget my keys?

ChristinaW (author)2011-08-01

Awesome! You should gather the parts and sell them as kits. :)

Seph Cameron (author)2011-08-01

You could probably get the correct sound using a 556 timer in the Atari Punk Console configuration. Make the circuit, turn the knobs until the sound's right then measure the resistances and replace pots with fixed resistors. If you used an SMD model and maybe wrapped the whole thing in heat shrink tubing, I reckon you could get that in the handle.

About This Instructable




More by Alskf1:Sonic Screwdriver 2.0Sonic Screwdriver
Add instructable to: