Category: review

Basic Node for the Internet of Sex Toys (part 1)

Wemos mini modules: ESP8266, motor driver and battery charging (in the middle); Wireless charging module (right side); wireless charging coil (top side); encapsulated vibration motors (left side)

In previous posts we showed how to build a vibrating sex toy in principle as part of the Internet of Things (IOT). In addition we have selected a hardware platform – the popular ESP8266 – for controlling a vibrator motor, gathering motion data and connecting to the internet. Now we want to build the toy itself.

part 1: Basic  Node for the Internet of Sex Toys

part 2: Molding the Basic Node

part 3: Software for the Basic Node

Brief Review of development boards

There are a lot of development boards which are equipped with the ESP8266. The popular NodeMCU was already introduced here. Here is a quick overview and comparison:


  • plus: very popular, cheap, USB connector for programming
  • minus: quite large (for being part of a sex toy), no support for battery charging

Adafruit Feather Huzaah ESP

  • plus: USB connector for programming and battery charging, smart form factor (only 23 mm wide), very good support (libraries, tutorials)
  • minus: quite expensive

WeMos D1 mini (pro)

  • plus: very cheap, USB connector for programming, additional stackable modules (eg. battery charging, TFT screens, motor driver), good form factor
  • minus: no real support (but there is a forum, problems with modules reported

ESP8285 (variant of the ESP8266)

  • plus: really small (!!!) and smart form factor, USB programming and battery charging, optional sensors on board (but no motion sensors)
  • minus: quite expensive, only 1MB memory (nevertheless enough for a lot of application)

For our project we selected the WeMos mini cause we get almost everything we need:

  • USB connector for programming
  • module for battery charging
  • module for a motor driver
  • good form factor (eg. to be put in a vibrator handle or in the base of a dildo)
  • cheap, fast delivery

But there is no shield for motion detection (accelerometer,gyroscope). So we have to use an additional board eg equipped with the MPU9250.

But there is a problem with the WeMos motor shield: After a few seconds it stopped working. And in addition the MPU9250 stopped working, too. Hours and hours we tried different configurations, changed the libraries … The problem was the motor driver shield itself. Fortunately there is an easy work around. Read here.

Another issue is the battery shield. It has an extra USB connector for charging the battery. So you have two USB connectors (one for battery charging and one for uploading). Two USB connectors are not handy. Fortunately we can do without the USB connector for uploading as it is possible to update the software over the air (OTA) using WiFi.


As the body interaction philosophy uses motion for controlling the device we have to add the MPU. Again we use the MPU9250 which has an accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer.

Another insight was that you need at least a switch for rebooting. As we want to mold everything the switch must meet the IP67 requirements, which means it is water- (and silicone) proof. If you don’t want to mold the electronics you can use the RESET button on the WeMos mini board.

A perfect basic node has a wireless charging option, too.

Material list for the basic node:

  • Wemos mini board
  • Wemos motor driver shield
  • Wemos battery shield
  • Wemos prototyping board
  • Wemos set of pins
  • LiPo battery (eg. 3,7V 650mAh, 2C, JST plug, available at ebay)
  • MPU 9250 board (for motion control)
  • 1 or 2 encapsulated vibration motors, 3V, available at Alibabaexpress
  • Optional: Switch IP 67 protected (eg. Cherry Switches DC1C-K8AA IP67) – for molding
  • Optional: Wireless charging receiver 5V eg from Seeed Studio

Material: battery shield, Wemos mini ESP8266, motor shield, MCU9250 (first row), LiPo battery, switch, vibration motor (second row)


Soldering the basic node

We use one connector (part of the Wemos set of pins) to connect the Wemos mini with the battery shield and the motor shield. This is done to save space. If your application has enough space you would use one connector for every shield.

Battery shield, Wemos mini ESP 8266, motor shield (from top to bottom)

Now have a look at the bottom side where the motor shield should be. We can connect up to 2 motors. Solder motor 1 to A1 and A2. Motor 2 has to be soldered to B1 and B2. In addition we need input power for the motor. We just use the 5V provided by the Wemos mini battery shield. Connect 5V to VM and GND (from the pins) and GND. But you could use other (more powerful) power sources, too.

Wemos offers a prototyping board. We use it for mounting the switch and for the MPU9250. Connect the MPU9250 to the bottom side of the prototyping board. Therefore 4 pins have to be soldered

Solder pin (1 row, 4 pins)  on the top side next to TX, RX, D1, D2


Now look at the bottom side of the prototyping board. Put the MPU 9250 so that VCC, GND, SDA, SCL are connected to the pins.

Next, solder the MPU 9250.

Then add more pins to the prototyping board at both sides. The picture shows the bottom side of the prototyping board.

Now wire the prototyping board. The picture shows the top side.

Now you can add the switch. Place it in the middle of the board on the top side. Connect GND and RST to the switch. Now you have a switch for rebooting which can be molded.

Now we have both parts ready and can stack them together.

Stack them together!

Now add the LiPo battery, which should have a JST header. Now your basic node is ready.

Wireless charging option

Especially for sex toys a wireless charging option is reasonable as this is a requirement for silicone molding of the toy.  And when the toy is molded it is safe and washable.

The wireless charging module consists of a sender (or transmitter module) and a receiver module. You have to solder the receiver module to the battery shield. Don’t mix the modules.

unfortunately there is only  a USB connector. If you don’t want to remove the USB connector you can solder the red (+) wire to the R330 resistor as shown on the pictures. The black (-) wire can be soldered to any pin labeled (GND).

Now put the receiver module on top of the battery module.

Now stack the protoytping board on top of the battery shield.  And connect the battery.To charge the battery connect the sender (or transmitter) module to 5V. To power the sender module you may use a USB port power source which has about 500mAh or more. Place sender and receiver coil about each other.  For a more professional charging solution you need a charging station. The making of a charging station using 3d printing is described here.

Learn how to construct the mold form:

part 2: Molding the basic node

part 3: Software for the basic node

More Sex Tech Projects

fellatio_dildo_for_women_w_vacuum_feedbackThere are at least a few (new) open source or DIY projects. Future of Sex reported about a Strap-on project named Dildo It Yourself.

They created a website for sharing designs for strap-on dildos. In addition the strap-on dildos is part of a harness. Some parts can be 3d printed but the harness must be made by leather or other material which could be out of scope for most DIY people. The inventors say that their toys are made for ecosexuals which practise sex in nature.

insertableAnother project is very impressive as it offers a touch surface for a “insertible toy” eg a penis. This could be used for teledildonics application for capturing and transmitting haptical experience. The construction of the capacitive surface is very impressive. In addition algorithms are introduced for gesture recognition. Gestures? The author explains: “Well, I want to be able to tell what the user is doing with the device (e.g. blowjob, licking, hand job and penetrative buttsex)”.

Another exciting project is a masturbator demonstrator which was molded using 3d printed forms.


gesturecontrolFinally there is a very interesting website from the “mad scientist” Franklin. He has made a lot of stuff like a gesture controlled vibrator, a brain controlled vibrator and a Bionic cock.

For commercialisation a Company Tacit pleasure was found. That was back in 2014, but the work is still interesting.

Although these projects are very different in aspects like audience, technical elaborateness and motivation they show the richness of sex tech projects.

Open source dildo the MOD is cancelled

modopensourceComingle – the only open source sex toy company so far –  announced the cancellation of the MOD. The Mod is an open source hardware dildo based on the Arduino platform. In their Indiegogo campaign they gathered 60000$ to produce a dildo made of silicone. The reason among others are patent trolls Comingle says. Read hear and  here about the background of the proclaimed patent infringements. These are bad news especially as Comingle is the only sex toy company based on open source software and hardware. In addition they were active (or maybe part of) the US DIY and Maker scene – eg they offered free workshops for everyone.

20150112132005-Mod-DiagramYou can still find a lot of great tutorials about tinkering dildos, programming the MOD, interfacing with Nunchucks and a lot of more real innovative ideas on the Comingle website – in some aspects much more advanced than anything available on the commercial market. Hopefully they will continue to produce the Dilduino development board – look here and here for a review.

Another interesting aspect is the crowdfunding of sex toys – some companies were quiet successful:

If you are interested in this topic, look at metafetisch – the best source for sex tech state of the art:

French article about comingle, master-beta kit and bodyinteraction

Tu sais où tu peux le mettre, ton Arduino ?

Do you know where you can put your Arduino? –  Francois Mocq reports about three Arduino vibrator projects: comingle, master-beta kit and body interaction. Even more interesting he queries whether Arduino or Raspberry Pi is the right platform.

raspberry_pi_logo_rgb_552x650-212x250Raspberry Pi offers much more computing power and connectivity, eg. you could add a camera, do video processing and add more hardware.

On the other hand programming can be more complex and it may take more time to run you first script.


And there are more platforms out there like the very cheap ESP 8266 module with the NodeMCU software. The ESP8266 can connect directly with the internet via wi-fi.


Follow the discussion

Review of vibrator development boards

Designing your own sex toys with advanced technology is becoming popular. Although the community is still very small the interest is rising. In this article we will introduce for open source vibrator development boards including our body interaction 1. We will see how the design of the development boards determines the design space – the possibilities of sex toys which can be realized.

Comingle may be the most successful open source sex toy company. They invented the Mod – an Arduino based vibrator with 3 vibration motors. They also offer the Dilduino – a development board based on the Atmel ATmega342U4 (similar to the Arduino Micro). The board can drive 3 vibration motors. They have developed a great library for programming vibration pattern (“OS sex“). You can use arbitrary function like sinus or cosinus to define pattern. You can upload programs via the USB connection, but there is no wireless radio or WiFi connection on board. The board lacks battery charging support, so you need external power. As the board is quite large it is only suitable for larger toys. Available at Tindie.
Pro: supports 3 motors, full Arduino compatible, great library, superb tutorials
Cons: no wireless connectivity, no battery charger, quite large for being part of a sex toy

pen15_smallPen 15 shield is a shield for the Arduino Uno.  So you need an Arduino Uno in addition to the shield. The shield must be connected to the Arduino board. It has one driver for a vibration motor. This pioneer work was announced in 2011, but it is probably not available any more. The price is quite low. There is no battery charging option and it is very large compared to the other boards.
Pro: full Arduino compatible
Cons: no wireless connectivity, no battery charger, too large to be part of a sex toy

Master Beta Kit from Orgasmatronic Inc. is another shield for the Arduino Uno. It can control two vibration motors. The power source for the vibration motors could be different though you may control motors with different input voltages. Easy assembling and support with online tutorials.

Pro: full Arduino compatible, different motor input voltage
Cons: no wireless connectivity, no battery charger, too large to be part of a sex toy

Assembled boardThe body interaction development board can drive one motor. It has a LiPo battery charging option. It can be controlled by motion – a 3-axis accelerometer is build in. Using motion you can control the vibrator – no need for further peripherals like switches or slider for controlling the vibration speed. The main advantage is the wireless radio especially if you like to use more than one sex toy at once. You can transmit data between your toys, control your toys or even synchronize them. The form factor is very small, though it can be part of a small toy. As the board is only 20x36mm there is not much space for further functionalities: It has no serial interface. To upload a program you need an ISP programmer (eg USBtinyISP). And it uses a microcontroller from the ATMEL ATtiny series. Although the tiny microcontrollers are getting more and more popular they have some disadvantage compared to the standard ATmega328p: There is not much memory on the chip (8K instead 32K), some libraries may not work, less I/O ports. Available at Tindie.
Pro: small form factor, LiPo battery charger included, wireless radio, motion tracking
Cons: some libraries don’t work, programmer needed for uploading programs


From Gideon, Paris, City of Love, License: CC BY 2.0

Most probably we will see more boards arrive and we hope that there are Open Source, too. But for a breakthrough for open source DIY sex toys an open standard would be helpful like the Arduino helped physical computing becoming popular for nerds, SIGs,  artists, scientists, hobbyist, industry!
But open source sex toys are not only a technical endeavour. It is about our relation to love, sex, partnership, about taking responsibility. Open sex toys are about getting a deep and well-founded understanding of our personal sexuality and the sexuality of our loved ones.


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