Sonic Screwdriver – first draft

Sonic screwdriver, first draft

Sonic screwdriver, first draft

To the right is a first draft print of my latest designs for the sonic screwdriver.  It’s next to a USB cable for scale and perspective.  There are several things I need to fix:

  • It’s too small.  I was guesstimating the scale based upon the size of hand holding the sonic screwdriver in one of the photos I saw.
  • Too much warpage.  I need to build my heated build platform.  :)  I’ve got my SMT1 soldering Toolkit, now I just need a hotplate.
  • Better connectors.  The connectors I designed are adequate, but not that great.  They need to be much larger to ensure a proper grip between parts.
  • Fix a connector.  I have a hex connector on one piece and a 16-sided connector on another.  That’s not going to work.
  • Consider changing the fit.  Some parts have a 0.25mm clearance on all sides between the male and female connections.  Other parts have a 0.5mm clearance instead.  I tried both on different sections so I could test the fit.  The 0.25mm clearance on all sides is fine for some parts, but other parts could use a little more wiggle room.
  • Change the thickness.  My earlier draft was a whopping 0.5mm thick all around.  I printed these parts at varying thickness to test their durability, flexibility, conserve plastic, and maximize internal space for future electronics.  A 1mm thickness seems to be the most optimal mix.

I’ve posted my sonic screwdriver designs to Thingiverse for people to tinker with and, hopefully, improve.  I would sincerely appreciate any help anyone can provide when it comes to designing the upper half of the sonic screwdriver – especially the moving parts.

  1. surface mount technology []

Sonic Screwdriver progress

Printable screwdriver

Printable screwdriver

I just redesigned the printable screwdriver in order to make the parts fit together better and be more printable.

It should be easier to see how these parts go together.

Basically, you take the “mid-handle” at the far end of the build sheet, turn it upside right, clamp the two “lower handle” pieces on either side of it, and slide that bottom ring onto the lower handle.

I still need to redesign the upper handle, hollow out the mid-handle, and make sure there’s enough room inside for the GoodFET / electronic sonic screwdriver guts.

Now I’m wondering if it is also possible to make this a piece of MakerBot origami – and make it printable on one build sheet…

August 17, 2010 | Comments Closed

Real life sonic screwdriver

This morning I received an e-mail from Bre out of the blue introducing me to Travis Goodspeed.  Apparently Travis has been working on building sonic screwdriver guts out of the GoodFET, a universal JTAG programmer, a “sonic screwdriver of hacking.”  Travis suggested a GoodFET could be programmed to act as a TV-B-Gone, light show, or any number of other things.  Given that his circuit board is about 3″ x 0.85″ x 0.2″1 , there shouldn’t be a problem finding space for it in the sonic screwdriver I’m in the middle of designing2

Freaking sweet.

So, here’s my real life sonic screwdriver wishlist:

  • Lights.  Red LED3 , white LED4 , green LED5 , and a UV LED6
  • An actual screwdriver bit or spot where you can attach a screwdriver bit.  It would just be cool to have a sonic screwdriver that could be used as a screwdriver.
  • A shakey Tic-Tac container style recharger.  Having a sonic screwdriver that doesn’t need batteries would be awesome.
  • A tiny speaker that played the sonic screwdriver sound.
  • A tiny magnet.  I remember watching Doctor Who back in the day, black and white old school episodes, where he used his sonic screwdriver to take screws out of things, bolts out of doors, etc in the worst stop motion animation the BBC could get away with.  Still, if this sonic screwdriver had a magnet, it could actually affect a physical change via magnetic force.
  • TV-B-Gone.  On the episode “Midnight” Doctor Who shuts off a bunch of TV’s using his sonic screwdriver.  This would be an INCREDIBLE feature!
  • Flash drive and/or mini-memory card reader.  Perhaps with the entire library from installed.
  1. For those of you non-imperialists out there: 76.2mm x 21.59mm x 5.08mm []
  2. TBuser, if you want to help, lemme know! []
  3. For night vision.  Also, there are suggestions that a sonic screwdriver can have a “red setting.” []
  4. As a flashlight. []
  5. The 11th Doctor’s screwdriver has a green light. []
  6. For making things fluoresce such as secret messages, blood stains, and monsters. []

Printable Sonic Screwdriver progress

STL sheet for printable sonic screwdriver

STL sheet for printable sonic screwdriver

Sketch of Screwdriver

Sketch of Screwdriver

Off to the left is a picture of what the finished sonic screwdriver should look like.  Here’s a picture of the parts I’ve designed so far.  Assembled properly, these parts should be able to be assembled into the lower half of the sonic screwdriver.

I’ve arranged the parts so that they have a less than 60mm x 60mm footprint on the build platform.  I would really like it if the final product could be printed all on one build plate and assembled without tools or additional non-printed pieces.

After my recent design-print fail, I’m going back to the drawing board (slightly)1 wiser.  If nothing else, I like to think what I have so far is pretty neat. 2

  1. Make that very slightly. []
  2. Even if it doesn’t work at all. []

Design-print fail

I’ve been slowly working on the design of a printable (and fully MakerBottable) sonic screwdriver.  This model of the sonic screwdriver is built up of a number of concentric cylinders, has several significant overhangs well in excess of 45 degrees, and is larger than the MakerBot’s built capacity.  In order to deal with these design problems, I modeled it in sections.

In order to make the overall result something I could just pop/snap/slide together I designed it making some sections which were split vertically and other sections which slide around those sections to keep them together.  In order to make the parts quickly printable I designed all the parts at around 0.5mm thickness.

About 40% of the way through the print one of the vertical sections wasn’t coming out properly – probably because it was too thin.  The parts were too thin and flexible and ended up tearing between layers and just being too flimsy.

I also noticed something odd – the extrusion was too thin on that side of the model.   I can’t be sure why this is happening – but I suspect it’s due to the extruder not getting a good enough grip.  Perhaps I need to floss the extruder pulley or install a new extruder idler wheel.  However, it doesn’t explain why the extrusion was too thin on just that one side and no other spots.


Electrical design help?

I recently bought the MAKE: Electronics: Learning Through Discovery book.  Unfortunately, I haven’t had a lot of time to really absorb it and certainly not enough time to figure out how to design things.

Thus, I look to you kind reader.

I would really like to have a circuit board design that incorporates a four-position switch (either rotating to four positions or a push button with four settings) that goes from Off, to powering a red LED, to powering a white LED, to powering a UV LED.  Ideally, it would run off an AAA battery, as it would fit my project as well as make use of my surplus AAA batteries from work.  (Perhaps with a joule thief?)1  Since I know very VERY little about electronics, I’d appreciate some diagrams, descriptions of parts, etc.

My end goal is to install this device into a MakerBot made replica of the 11th Doctor’s Sonic Screwdriver.

If you’re interested in this project or just want to help, I’ll gladly accept any assistance.  Let me know if I can help with any printing projects in return.


  1. Why do I get the feeling I’ve seen the guy on the right before??? []