The full article can be found in The MagPi 37
The Pip-Boy from the Fallout video games is quite an iconic piece of kit these days. The fictional wrist computer’s functionality may be less amazing now than it was when the series debuted in the 1990s, but the retro-futuristic look has kept it in certain corners of pop culture. Now, thanks to the reignition of interest in the Fallout franchise, the rise of makers, and the exploding popularity of cosplaying, every so often a new, home-made version of the Pip-Boy will turn up online and go a bit viral. Even with the impending release of a special-edition version of Fallout 4 with an official Pip-Boy, people are still making their own versions, like Jesse Roe.
“The project was an attempt to make a fully functional Pip-Boy 3000A. Not something to stick a phone in, but an actual working device,” Jesse tells us, referencing the official Pip-Boy which will require a smartphone.
Having never found a perfect use for his Raspberry Pi, Jesse decided to use it for this project he was making for a friend. Using a 3D-printed case that he modified himself, the build wasn’t simple.
“I worked on this probably about 70 hours total, with a lot of that being just research,” Jesse explains about his build process. “There was a lot of stuff out there on making a Pip-Boy, where to get the cast from, materials, etc. The main piece to get was the Pip-Boy cast itself, which I ordered from Nakamura Shop on Shapeways.
“Once it was in, we sanded it down and used model paint for the base with a darker green. We detailed it up with scratches and other abrasions to look like a used model. I knew the suit as a whole needed to be separated. Too many people are so close to having a working Pip-Boy and get stuck when they say they can’t fit everything in there! I took a mechanics jumpsuit and put the 101 logo on the back as well as other details... I used an old army surplus belt with lots of compartments for a part of the suit as well, and put a hole in the suit so all the wiring could go from the belt, up the back, and to the Pip-Boy.
“Next was getting the Pip-Boy to boot into the slightly tweaked ‘OS’ on startup, which was fairly simple. I ended up editing the code to have a different startup message for the ‘BIOS’ and whatnot, to make it more complete, but I didn’t mess with the software too much. The hardest and almost final part of the build was the screen. I ended up using a 3.5˝ TFT from Adafruit. The way the top bezel comes down and how you have to mount the screen means laying it down on something that covers all, for lips behind the bezel. Then after that, I had to lay a piece of glass on top of the screen and glue it very lightly (but not too lightly) around the screen. Any mistake and you have to get a new screen because either you’re going to glue it down off-centre or you’ll put too much on the screen.”
Since Jesse hadn’t done much programming before, the modifications and setting up were a little tricky for him, but as you can see, in the end he managed to complete the project and walk around with a sweet Raspberry Pi-powered wrist computer.