Fallout 1/2 style Pip-Boy 2000 replica – Part 1: Design

Here’s another one of my projects that has been on the back burner for quite a while: A replica Pip-Boy 2000, as originally seen in Fallout 1, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics (with minor differences). I’m designing the prop in Blender, and mostly 3d-printing the parts. The Pip-Boy will be powered by a Raspberry Pi with a 5″ LCD.

Current design – front side
Current design – back side

There isn’t all that much reference material for the original Pip-Boy 2000 (which I might as well call “Pip-Boy 2000 Mk I”, to distinguish it from the Mk VI that appeared in Fallout 76). Pretty much everything there is to go on by are the screenshots from the game. There even appears to be some disagreement as to whether the Pip-Boy 2000 was a handheld device, or worn on the wrist. I decided to go with a wrist-mount, as that appears to be the current consensus on the matter.

Let’s look at the different components from the screenshot:

Date panel

This is the widget that shows you the in-game date and time, and works also as an alarm clock. It looks like there are mechanical wheels with the numbers printed on them, and the correct date and time are shown by rotating the wheels. The first thing I noticed when I started designing this panel was that there just wasn’t enough space for the wheels!

Note how there needs to be a fair amount of margin above and below the numbers to allow space for the wheels. Now, I could’ve just ignored this and gone for screen accuracy, but now I have the option of revisiting this panel later, and maybe adding a functioning date panel. At this stage I’m just going with a static display of the date and time when the first bombs fell, i.e. “23 OCT 2077 09:42”.

2. Display

According to the lore, the Pip-Boy has a 5″ x 3″ monochrome display. However, the display on the screenshots from FO1/2 is not in a 5:3 (1:0.6) aspect ratio. The actual AR seems to be around 1:0.85. Also, none of that matters much since there are only so many different LCDs available. I went with a 5″ display with dimensions of 68 x 118mm. The size of the display was one of the main deciding factors in the design.

3. Logo panel

Actually the date panel in the screenshot is a part of the logo panel, but I liked the idea of a more modular construction, so I added them as separate panels. This panel is a bit of a head-scratcher. What are all the things on this panel?

  • 3a: On the left hand side, there are two roundish things. These may be (rather small) knobs for dials, or some cable jacks, or something else. I went with dial knobs, since there isn’t much in the way of user input devices in the picture. Of course, the original designer didn’t need to think about scale too much. Cramming two potentiometers on the panel makes it deviate quite a bit from the reference, but so be it:
  • 3b: Top right corner has a small rectangular piece with 3 grooves on it. I’m going to go ahead and call this a microphone.
  • 3c: Looking very closely, the bottom right rectangular piece appears to be a very small hatch. You can see a hinge on the bottom, and a locking latch on the top.

Neither the mic or the hatch seem all that important for a prop like this, so I’m going with static pieces. The original has them slightly offset with each other on the vertical axis; I’m going to line them up.

4. Grill panel

This panel is just a piece of mesh that allows us to see inside the Pip-Boy, where two vacuum tubes can be seen. Again, the scale is screwing us over, as there’s no way we can fit actual vacuum tubes in the space available. I’ll have to come up with some substitute.

5. Button panel

The screenshot has four working buttons, and one broken one. There’s little enough space in the build as it is, so I’ll just do the four buttons. To the right of the buttons is… stuff. Five screw terminals, and a wire leading from each terminal to the side of the display. I have no idea what these are meant to do, other than look cool in the game UI. I’ll just add something similar in my build.

More parts

Continuing to parts of the device not shown in the screenshot, first of all there needs to be some way of mounting this thing on my wrist. The models released in the real world of the later model Pip-Boys have a fully enclosing clamp style wrist mount. I considered something similar, but decided to go in a slightly different direction and just add some leather straps to a half pipe. I still need to decide what kind of padding there will be between the hard parts and my arm.

Since there’s going to be a functioning Raspberry Pi in this thing, there needs to be some way to input data. Sure, the display is a touch screen, but those don’t exist in the Fallout universe. I’m taking a cue from the Pip-Boy 3000 models released, and add a rotary encoder and a push button on the right hand side (not seen in the current design pics).

The case will be made from a front and a back half that are bolted together. More bolts are used to attach the arm mount to the back.

I’m not sure how to power the Raspberry Pi. There will be a barrel jack for using DC from a wall wart, but that doesn’t work all that well with what’s essentially a mobile device. Possibly a USB power bank or some LiPo batteries. In any case, a battery compartment needs to be added somewhere.

I might also add one or two DIN connectors just for that retro look. Something like that would be needed anyway for the motion sensor attachment.

So, that’s the design more or less done. Now it’s just a matter of actually building the thing; Stay tuned!

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