Functional Pip-Boy

Getting around to finishing my Pip-Boy project, this is my plans and research so far.

Last fall, I purchased a Pip-Boy cast from Skruffy of theRPF.  The cast I received from him needed very little sanding to get it to fit together and look right.

I was inspired to go beyond this by another member named pudding of theRPF who posted a video of a functional Pip-Boy he made with an android app and an arduino for the serial interface to the phone.

I think I can go beyond this. Smaller, more functions, and more accuracy.  I asked a my buddy to code up a universal pipboy webapp that will function very close to the pipboy in fallout 3, calling it the Pip-Boy emulator. He is very excited to see this prop in action!
I’ve seen a few demos of his progress, looks good so far. He assures me that the sound effects / animations I want won’t be a problem.

Then on my side is the hardware. I figure the interface between the controls and the ipod will be a mini bluetooth keyboard. The app will support keyboard input so keypresses will be used to navigate the Pip-Boy.

The last piece of the puzzle is the controls on the face of the Pip-Boy that will be wired into the bluetooth keyboard.  There are three input sets on the face controls; the Wheel which moves up-down through the menus, the Knob which moves left-right through the menus, and the front Lights which switches menu areas (STATS, INFO, DATA).


The Wheel and Knob will be a incremental rotary encoders. Rotary encoders have 3 pins; the common pin, the A pin, and B pin. Example: For the Wheel, the common and A pin will be connected to the UP keyboard key, the common and B pin will be connected to the DOWN keyboard key. The when you spin the Wheel clockwise, a pulse train will be input into the UP key, resulting in the UP key being pressed over and over as you spin the Wheel in an upward motion.  Conversely, spinning the Wheel counter clockwise will send a pulse train input to the DOWN key, resulting in the DOWN key being pressed over and over as you spin the Wheel in a downward motion.

Here is a demo of a rotary encoder being used as a keyboard up/down.

The Knob will be connected similar, but for LEFT and RIGHT.

Finally, is the three front LEDs. Each of these will be an illuminated yellow LED switch wired into the keyboard’s A, B, C keys.  In order to get each LED to light up when it is selected an Attiny chip will be used.  An Attiny chip has six I/O pins, perfect for this purpose. Three of the pins will be an input, connected in parallel with the keyboard wiring. Then three of the pins will be an output, turning the LEDs on and off.

There are a couple of ways to turn those LEDs on and off but the Attiny is a very small chip, DIP8, and inexpensive, ~$2.  Makes it an ideal solution.

As an extra, I noticed that in the game the radmeter window (upper right corner of the pipboy face) has a clock hand that spins continuously.  I have a few micro motors and can see this being easy to implement. Yellow glowing background, slow spinning clock hand.