DIY Unit Converter

DIY Unit Converter

The simplicity of a tactile gadget can be incredibly refreshing. I decided to merge the nostalgic allure of retro tech with the practicality of modern tools, creating a fidget toy that's not just fun but genuinely useful. This isn't your average desk toy; it's a retro, future dystopian-inspired gadget designed to make life just a bit easier, especially for those of us constantly converting measurements.

Here is a link to the VIDEO

Unit Converter

3D File HERE



I didn't expect to post a blog about this, but since the video had such a great response I wanted to make what I had available. HOWEVER, this project is not 100% complete, so please be understanding.

The Birth of a Practical Fidget Toy

The idea came from a simple need: the frequent conversion of units like inches to millimeters and ounces to grams. Sure, there are countless apps and online tools available, but they come with distractions, ads, or unnecessary complexity. What if there was a way to have these conversions at your fingertips, without the wait or hassle? Enter the concept of a fidget toy that serves a dual purpose: entertainment and utility.


The process is straightforward:

  1. Power Up: A simple flip of the switch brings the device to life.
  2. Select and Convert: Select your category, click the dial to your desired unit, and twist to convert. The tactile satisfaction of clicking and twisting the dial, combined with the practical output of real-time conversions, makes for a uniquely satisfying experience.

I also incorporated an exponential increase feature. Turn the dial quickly, and watch as the numbers escalate at a rapid pace so you're not twisting for days.

The Build

The housing was designed in Fusion 360 and brought to life through the precision of SLA 3D printing. The heart of the operation is a rotary encoder with a clickable button, powered by a repurposed battery from a disposable vape, all orchestrated by a D1 Mini. It's a testament to the power of creative repurposing and DIY ingenuity.

Unit Converter

At the heart of this device is a rotary encoder with a clickable button, all powered by a creatively repurposed battery from a disposable vape, orchestrated by a D1 Mini. But the innovation doesn't stop at its functionality. Part of the charm and appeal of this project lies in the customization of its enclosure, particularly the custom paint job. On my version, I opted for a nuclear-retro-industrial look, adding a layer of personalization and fun to the gadget. This unique aesthetic not only accentuates its physical appeal but also enhances the overall user experience, making it a standout piece on any desk.

More Than Just a Toy

This project isn't just about creating another gadget; it's about reimagining what a fidget toy can be. It's for the tinkerers, the curious minds, and anyone who's ever found themselves lost in thought, flipping a pen or clicking a button. It combines the joy of manual interaction with the utility of a tool you'll find yourself using more often than you'd think.

The Takeaway

In a world where digital devices dominate our attention, there's something profoundly satisfying about interacting with a physical object designed to both focus the mind and serve a practical purpose. This gadget is more than just a toy; it's a bridge between the tactile satisfaction of the past and the technological needs of the present.

Whether you're a maker, a thinker, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of a well-crafted tool, this retro, future dystopian fidget toy is a reminder that sometimes, the most innovative creations come from addressing the simplest needs.

Closing Thoughts

I hope this project inspires you to look at everyday annoyances as opportunities for creativity and innovation. The fusion of fun and function is a powerful combination, capable of producing objects that not only entertain but also enrich our lives in small, meaningful ways. So, the next time you catch yourself reaching for your phone to perform a simple task, remember: there might just be a more satisfying, analog solution waiting to be created.


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