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Sonic Screwdriver

For the upcoming Nashville Mini Maker Faire, NashMicro is hosting a booth where they will be allowing participants to build “sonic screwdrivers”.  The screwdrivers will be part of a joint exhibit between NashMicro and the LeanKit TARDIS.  If you can’t be at the Faire, here’s how you can build your own sonic screwdriver at home using just a few cheap parts.

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Steps

Step #1: Prepare the Dowel

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Making a Sonic Screwdriver
  • Saw a 1/8" W x 5/8" H slot in one end of the dowel to hold the battery. The easiest and safest way to do this is to drill a 1/2" hole in a piece of scrap 2"x4" to hold the dowel and then push this through a table saw.
  • Drill a 1/16" hole at a 45 deg angle in both sides of the dowel. The holes should enter the slot near the middle of the height of the slot.

Step #2: Insert the LED

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Making a Sonic Screwdriver

Insert the leads of the LED into the two holes drilled into the sides of the dowel. Note which side you inserted the anode (+, long) side.

Step #3: Insert the Battery

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Making a Sonic Screwdriver
  • Slide the battery into the slot with the positive side facing the anode lead from the LED. Push it down and force the wires inside the slot to separate.
  • The LED should now begin flashing. If it doesn't then try turning the battery around.
  • Some will notice that I did not use a resistor to limit current to the LED. The internal resistance of my flashing LEDs was sufficient with these batteries that they worked fine for over 3 days w/o any heat generated. You could probably extend the life to a couple weeks by soldering a 56 Ohm resistor to one of the leads.

Step #4: Wrap the Battery in Tape

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Making a Sonic Screwdriver

Add a couple wraps of electrical tape to hold everything together.

Step #5: Add Your own Special Touches

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Making a Sonic Screwdriver

A wooden dowel isn't very attractive. Go crazy and add some paint, stickers, draw on it with markers. Make it your own!

Ian Lee

Ian Lee

I'm a software engineer by day and maker by night. Most of my making revolves around woodworking, electronics, and the combination of the two. I'm also the founder & president of NashMicro - the Nashville Microcontrollers users' group and the father of three future makers. Follow me on Twitter as @ianlee74 or for the most recent news on everything Gadgeteer, follow @gadgeteerin.


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