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The Magic 8 Ball is a fun toy that answers yes or no questions in a variety of ways. There are twenty different responses that it can give (10 positive, 5 non-committal, and 5 negative). A different answer is written on each face of a 20 sided die that floats in a blue liquid.

Each time you turn over the 8 ball it randomly displays one of the answers. This can be an amusing way to speculate about life’s many questions, but it lacks versatility. So I decided to augment my Magic 8 Ball with a digital picture keychain. This let me store up to 60 picture responses and I can change them whenever I want.

So in this project I am going to show you how to make a digital picture Magic 8 Ball.

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Steps

Step #1: Cut Open the Magic 8 Ball

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The first thing that you need to do is open the Magic 8 Ball. The best way to do this is to cut it in half at the seam. I recommend using a fine toothed saw or a rotary tool. It may take a while because you have to cut through about a 1/4 inch of plastic. Before separating the two halves, I recommend using a piece of tape to mark the edges so that you will know how they line up when reassembling it.

Step #2: Remove the Internal Parts

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  • Once you have the two halves separated, you can cut off the support disk with a sharp knife. You can then remove the cylinder that contains the 20 sided die and blue fluid.
  • If you want to extract the die, you can open up the cylinder by removing the three screws. Handle the fluid with care, it will stain.

Step #3: Prepare the PVC Pipe Spacer and Glue it in Place

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  • Find a small piece of clear plastic that is the same size as the viewing hole on the Magic 8 Ball. I used plastic from the packaging on a pair of headphones that I recently bought. Cut it so that it will fit the recessed circle inside the opening. Then glue it in place. This will keep the Magic 8 Ball sealed and prevent objects from falling inside.
  • Then cut a piece of PVC pipe to be the same width as the bottom half of the Magic 8 Ball (about 1 3/4"). Paint the pipe black and let it completely dry. Then set it on the clear plastic disk that you just installed and center it with the opening. Glue it in place with a clear adhesive such as silicon or rubber cement. Let this cure over night.

Step #4: Glue in the Digital Picture Keychain

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Apply a small drop of super glue to either the top edges of the pipe or the edges of the digital keychain around the screen. Then place the keychain screen down onto the pipe. Allow the initial drops on glue to harden. Then apply more glue around the edges to secure it in place. Be careful to avoid getting glue on the buttons or the USB port.

Step #5: Cut and Glue Button Extenders

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In order to reach the buttons on the digital picture keychain, we will need to glue on some button extenders. To do this, I cut three pieces of a plastic rod that were just long enough to reach the buttons from the outside of the housing. Then I glued one piece onto each button. Be very careful to not accidentally glue the button to the side of the keychain. This can lock the button in place and prevent it from working properly. Let the glue fully cure before attempting to use the rods to activate the buttons.

Step #6: Cut Slots in Housing for Buttons and USB Connector

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Mark the locations of the button extending rods and the USB port on the top half of the Magic 8 Ball housing. Then cut slots to accommodate each of them. I recommend using a rotary cutting tool for this. Be sure to cut the USB slot large enough that you can easily fit the connector through it.

Step #7: Glue Outer Housing Back Together

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Lastly you need to glue the two halves together. You may need to trim the edges with a knife so that they will fit together cleanly. Then apply glue all around the edges of both halves. Try to avoid glue dripping onto the outside of the housing. Then put the two halves together and clamp them until the glue dries.

Step #8: Finished Digital Magic 8 Ball

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  • To load pictures onto your digital Magic 8 Ball, insert the USB connector and plug the other end into your computer. With my keychain, I was able to load 60 pictures that display a variety of answers.
  • Whenever you want to use it, just press the power button to begin cycling through pictures. When you turn it over, the message that is currently being displayed is the answer to your question. Try it out and have fun.

Jason Poel Smith

My name is Jason Poel Smith. I have an undergraduate degree in Engineering that is 50% Mechanical Engineering and 50% Electrical Engineering. I have worked in a variety of industries from hydraulic aerial lifts to aircraft tooling. I currently spend most of my time chasing around my new baby. In my spare time I make the how-to series "DIY Hacks and How Tos."


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