July 30, 2015 | By Simon

Since it was announced on June 4th, the excitement surrounding the latest installment of the Fallout video game franchise, Fallout 4, has only continued to grow with each passing day.  

Unsurprisingly, the anticipation for the Fall 2015 release has led many in the general Maker and 3D printing community to resort to creating various cosplay costumes and other iconic accessories from the game.  Perhaps the most famous of all the accessories in the game however, is the Pip-boy 3000.

The Pip-boy 3000 is a multifunction device that has been programmed by Pip-Boy developers to display the wearer's stats, area maps, inventory, and item properties.  From the start of the game, players are instructed how to use it to better navigate the many corners of the open world game.  

For 23-year-old Yvo de Haas, one of the first things that came to his mind after learning about the new Fallout 4 release was to 3D print his own version of the game’s updated Pip-Boy 3000 Mark IV.    

“Fallout 4 was announced June 4th, and I was immediately hooked,” he explains.   

“I absolutely love Fallout and have been looking forward to Fallout 4 for years. One of the first things that was obvious is that the old pip-boy, the Pip-boy 3000, has been replaced with a different model, the Pip-Boy 3000 Mark IV. The new Pip-Boy has the buttons on the right instead of the left, and there are more buttons. It has a tape player on the top, and the opening mechanism is now defined. Now I rarely move aside running projects for something else, but Fallout is an exception. Time to make the Pip-Boy 3000 Mark IV 3D printable.”

With the goal of creating a design that both himself and others could use, Haas started the project like most other cosplay projects: by gathering reference image materials.  However, since the game was relatively new, the amount of reference material available proved to be a design challenge.  

“The Pip-Boy is already extremely difficult to design with proper reference, but now there is only a teaser trailer and the E3 video,” says Haas.   

“This does not give the kind of reference I usually have.”

Another challenge that Haas ran into  was getting a smartphone to fit into the Pip-Boy design similar to a limited-run Collector’s Edition Pip-Boy that was released by Bethesda, the creators of the Fallout franchise, soon after announcing the new game.    

The resulting 3D printed Pip-Boy 3000 Mark IV design created by Haas comes in 3 different sizes.  According to Haas, this is because the previous version, the Pip-Boy 3000, was already too small for some people, and the Mark IV is even smaller in some areas.  Because scaling up the entire assembly resulted in distorting the design, Haas designed each so that it would be optimized for each wearer.  The standard sizes that the pip-boy comes in are: 100%, 108% and 115%.

According to Haas, the Pip-Boy 3000 Mark IV Phone edition will likely be the most popular of the 3D printable models due to the ability for users to add their own smartphone - assuming that it fits within the size range.  For users to access the phone, two knobs near the tape player allow the faceplate to be removed, which is then placed over the phone to hold it in place.  Additionally, the lights on the Pip-Boy can be 3D printed in clear plastic, and can be lit using colored LEDS.

For more serious users, the Pip-Boy 3000 Mark IV Accurate edition (which is still a work in progress) is as accurate as Haas can admittedly make it to the real thing - including the ability to add a Raspberry Pi.  Among other reasons why Haas has declared this as a model for more serious users is because he recommends that they download the native source files rather than the STL files in order to optimize the design and all of the buttons for a specific arm size.     

As for various settings for the 3D printing process, Haas admits that it really comes down to what type of 3D printer is being used, however his version was printed on an UP! Plus 1, in ABS, at 0.25mm layer thickness, normal speed and 30% infill.  

“I tried to make the design as easy to print as possible,” he explains.

“Parts are optimized for supportless printing and where support is still necessary, the support is at 90 degrees. Usually I do not use ABS to print anything, but the Pip-Boy is an exception. The parts are relatively small, and ABS gives a smoother and easier to work with surface. “

As for post processing, Haas prefers to begin the process by giving his parts a quick sanding to remove the worst imperfections, followed by a rubdown with Acetone in order to smooth out the remainder of lines and imperfections.  Once the parts have been smoothed, he begins the painting process.   

“First a light layer primer was applied to all parts,” explains Haas.   

“The base coat for this design is a brownish green. All parts that had at least some of the base color on them were painted with a spray can. The smaller parts are either a dark metallic color or black. These colors were applied with a paintbrush. The tapes are faded yellow and white. Officially I would need to paint them cream and orange, but because I did not have those colors, I went with white and yellow. The tube on the back of the Pip-Boy already had the right color from printing, so no paint was applied to that.”

Since the only electronics of the Pip-Boy are two simple orange LEDs, the assembly process from this point out is relatively straight-forward.  As for getting the game’s Pip-Boy images to show up on the smartphone, screencaps were customized and used as regular photos using the smartphone’s native photos app.   

For those that want to find out more about Haas’ impressive build leading up to the Fall release of Fallout 4, he has stated that a “General assembly guide (is) coming soon” which will include more in-depth build and assembly instructions.  In the meantime, all of the necessary files for building your own can be found over at his blog.     

Needless to say, this is likely to be one of the hottest 3D printed costume ideas for Halloween this year.  


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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Jon S wrote at 7/30/2015 8:26:31 AM:

With the Collector's Edition of Fallout 4 being sold out, and Bethesda saying that their factory says that no more Pip-Boys can be made, this could be popular.

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