Sonic Screwdriver Mark Vii

About: My name is Dan Corrigan and I am a college student interested in Props and Lighting Design. Some of my favorite projects have been the CNC machine that I designed and am constructing, my angel statue, a bala...

I just finished another Sonic Screwdriver commission with a pretty cool set of features.
This sonic's magic:
It lights up and makes the correct sound for the show
It turns Tvs on and off
A second button controls a laser pointer
The emitter can be extended from the handle
It is rechargable and can charge phones
It still does not work on wood.

As always if I am unclear or you would like to know more, please leave a
comment or message me and I will do what I can to explain/help. For instance, due to a comment I recently uploaded my sketchup design file I used for this prop, which adds to the quality of this instructable. If you know how to use the program, it is easy to pull out dimentions. If not, it is a really easy program to use.

The standard electronics can be found at:

More information on my other projects can be found at:

Step 1: The Handle

The handle of this sonic screwdriver was saltwater etched to give the cool textured effect, then a slot was milled for the buttons to follow using my Taig lathe.

How it works:

Paint on an electrical insulator (I used nail polish here) where you don't want etched

Make some very saturated salt solution

Connect the negative end of a 5-9 volt power source to a q-tip and the positive end to the part to be etched

Dip the q-tip into the salt solution and drag it slowly across the area to be etched. It will hiss and slowly eat away the metal.

The higher voltage you use the more agressive your etching will be, but it will also produce chlorine gas which smells terrible and damages any soft tissue it touches (lungs, eyes, etc.)

A better set of instructions can be found here:

Step 2: The Battery

To power this sonic I minimally modified a portable phone charger that fit inside the handle of the sonic. By adding two wires to the USB connection I was able to tap into the 5 volt power source and still use the charger for its intended purpose, charging phones.

To save repitition I put these instructions in their own instructable:

Step 3: Placing the Battery in the Handle

With the battery done I expoxied it in place using JB-Weld and left those pieces alone overnight.

Step 4: The Handle Top

In my design, the top of the handle has three small brass cylinders that match up with the claws.

I started with a piece of 1" hexagonal aluminum in my lathe, cleaning the bottom face of the part

I then marked the part by cutting a small groove in the face with my cutting tool and used the headstock nut on the lathe to divide the part three times.

The holes were then drilled using an 1/8th inch drill bit

After turning down the bottom of the part to fit inside the handle, I drilled the centre hole big enough for the plastic tube I was using and machined the correct profile into the top of the part.

A bit of epoxy holds the brass rod inserts in place (not shown)

Step 5: The Button Assembly

The buttons for this sonic had to move with the emitter setup, so
I built them into the plastic tube that slides through the top of the handle and connects to the emitter head.

To make the part I started by epoxying a stopper made from metal tubing onto the bottom of some 5/8" rigid aquarium tubing so that the buttons would not slide out of the handle.

I then drilled out two holes for the buttons. The top button turns on the lights, sound and tvbgone and the bottom one turns on the laser pointer.

After a bit of clean-up I fit all of my electronics into this assembly leaving header pins on the top and bottom to connect to the emitter and battery respectively

Step 6: Assembling the Emitter Head

Once the buttons and circuitry were in place I could begin assembling the sonic in its final form.

To start I added a piece of rigid black cloth around and below the buttons to cover the wires connecting the battery to the electronics. When the emitter is retracted the cloth slides past the battery.

The 1/2 inch copper adapter was then added (fits over the plastic tubing like a glove and is epoxied in place)

Once the battery was connected to the circuitry (and the circuit tested) I slid the whole thing together and epoxied the top of the handle in place.

On the copper connecter part of the emitter are three small brass tubes. They each have a hole drilled in the side that lines up with holes drilled in the copper connector. One holds a laser and another holds the IR LED that turns tvs on and off.

Step 7: Adding Claws

One of the flashier parts of this sonic screwdriver are the claws I added to the front end.

To make them I first printed out my design in scale using my cad software.

I then took a piece of copper sheet and sandwiched it between two brass sheets using epoxy and glued three designs to one side of the sandwich.

Once the epoxy was dried I drilled the holes in the claws using a drill press and a 1/16th inch drill bit

I then rough cut the pieces using a band saw and filed/sanded them to their final shape.

With the pieces in hand I used JB-Weld to epoxy them to the emitter. To prevent them from moving while the epoxy dried I used a bit of low temp hot glue to hold them in place.

The next day the hot glue peeled off easily and the sonic was complete.

Thank you for reading my instructable. More of my work can be found at:

If you would like to talk to me about a prop commission, please private message me.



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    18 Discussions


    Question 5 months ago on Step 3

    is there any way I could buy one of these from you I am willing to pa a decent amount


    3 years ago

    Hi, I am so excited to do this project, but it doesn't tell me what electronics to put in the sonic screwdriver and where to put the electronics. I have been looking for a sonic screwdriver tv-b-gone from scrap. But it seems unfinished because of this. Could you fix this?

    1 reply

    Tis not a bother at all.
    The aluminum for the handle is 5.25 inches long.
    If you know how to use the 3d modeling program sketchup, I am going to post the design file with this instructable.

    The Props MonsterJakuJ

    Reply 3 years ago

    The silver colored pieces are all aluminium, then there is some brass and copper. The main handle is a piece of 1" aluminium pipe


    Where should I get a tube? Also what can you use for a handle top and cylinders around the head piece? What is it anyway?

    Also can you list materials on your next one.


    At lowes/home depot/ace hardware they sell 1" aluminum tube, though you might need to get a much longer length than you need. You can get 12" lengths on Amazon as well.
    For the handle top I custom built the piece from some 1" aluminum hex rod that I ordered off amazon a long time ago. It got turned down using my taig lathe ( The main handle piece was also modified using the lathe.
    The clear cylender is acrylic tubing from amazon, the silver tube on the clear tube is a former shower rod, the black piece inside the clear tube is a bit of acetal rod ordered on amazon, the copper piece on the very front is a 1/2 female adapter found in the plumbing department of any hardware store, and the small gold colored tubes on the very front of the device are 1/8" brass tube I picked up from the hardware store.
    Hope this helps!


    4 years ago

    What size pipe/nipple did you use to fit the battery

    1 reply

    4 years ago

    Pretty sweet! What kind of band saw do you use?

    1 reply
    The Props Monstermkomkom

    Reply 4 years ago

    I use a hitachi 9" band saw from home depot for space constraints. I switched to a 18 tooth per inch metal cutting blade and it has handled most of what I have thrown at it. I hope to work with it on a large aluminum project this fall using 1/2" material (Mal's gun from Firefly)


    4 years ago

    Looks amazing! Several of the links aren't working. Definitely want to try my hand at this one. Any suggested resources for the electronics?

    1 reply

    Thank you for alerting me to that! I believe they are all fixed.

    I use digikey and mouser for the majority of my electronic components, with occasional purchases from amazon. Order more than one of every part you want to use as shipping is not free and mistakes happen. It is better to have a few spares than to wait a week for a replacement.

    The attiny85:
    I have had good luck with the DIP packages from both websites, however if you want a smaller chip, there is a SOIC style which you should order from Mouser. Digikey sent me ones with bad fuse settings that work, but are more trouble than they are worth.
    The IR LED: Digikey part # 754-1600-ND most things that say 940nm emitter should work. There are recievers as well and they will not work.

    The speaker: Digikey part # 668-1470-ND rated voltage and size are the important parts. Try to get something in a speaker or piezo buzzer that says externally driven somewhere in the paperwork. That means you can send a signal to it. If it is internally driven it will make one sound you cannot control, usually a rather annoying one. Ideally it should be rated around 5 volts. Any lower and you risk killing it, higher means it will probably be too quiet at microcontroller voltages.

    The laser: I buy complete laser modules from amazon that say they are rated for 3-5 volts and are current limiting so I do not burn them out.

    The rest are pretty standard parts. You should add limiting resistors to every LED so they do not burn out accidentally. (Blue and green will be more stable at these voltages, reds will almost always go up in smoke. Up to you if you skip the resistors)

    Good luck building one! If you need any advise please do not hesitate to ask