Most people rip open the box of a new hi-tech sex toy excitedly, keen to get down to the fun part. Others just can’t help but fiddle. And these are the ones that rip open not only the box, but the toy itself in search of new ways to alter, adapt or otherwise hack the technology.

At least, that’s how it goes down at Gary’s house.

Gary (surname withheld) is the founder of Deviant Designs, a BDSM sex tech engineer and designer with a penchant for the aforementioned tinkering.

At Raspberry Dream Lab’s most recent Do It Yourself event, Gary explained how relatively simple making custom BDSM toys can be. But why would anyone want to go to the lengths of creating it at home, when you can avoid the hassle and buy ready-made gear?

A fair question.

BDSM and sex tech come together

Similar to some of the vibrator hackers we’ve previously spoken to, Gary initially felt bored with pre-made ‘DIY’ tech kits. After buying a starter Arduino kit and learning to code a light to switch on and off, he set it aside and forgot all about it, until his interest in kink sparked a more perverse lightbulb, so he decided to combine the two.

“Technology in BDSM opens the door to so many new experiences,” Gary told SEXTECHGUIDE, while explaining that no one sells the devices he wanted to make. “In order to scratch that itch, I had to learn to bring my ideas to life.”

Specialising in ‘predicament bondage‘ as a form of escapism for his submissive, named K, the shocking method is a “deterrent to keep them focused on the task at hand”, particularly after a stressful day at work.

Making “slightly cruel, yet enjoyable, scenarios”, Deviant Designs utilises the BDSM elements of control. “I think there’s a certain thrill to be had by giving control over to a machine.”

Aside from the creativity aspect of things, it can also work out cheaper in the long run, as investing in high quality BDSM tools adds up.

A puzzle that delivers a shock to the genitals if you cannot complete it.

“BDSM equipment can be quite expensive – rightfully so with the craftsmanship involved – but I can’t afford the toys I like to play with, so it’s cheaper for me to make them myself. It’s also rather rewarding,” Gary adds.

Another kink tech creator, Greg, told 3DPrint.com:

“I’ve quickly learned that I’m not alone in my disappointment with the lack of innovation and creativity in many categories of the BDSM toy market. As an easy example, manufacturers have basically been selling the same half-dozen, tired designs of nipple clamps for decades.”

DIY kink devices

One example of these DIY kink devices is a maze attached to two handcuffs (pictured above). If you can’t complete the puzzle, you get punished with a shock to your genitals.

Deviant Designs has also taken things a step further, connecting the technology to live Web streams.

“We recently did a scene that has K locked in some electro-magnetic locking cuffs. These were on a 30 minute timer, and once it ran out the cuffs would unlock. However the cuffs were also linked to Twitter. Every time someone favorited a specific tweet, it would add 30 seconds to the timer,” Gary explains.

“To make it more fun I also hooked an E-Stim unit to K and every retweet would send a shock to a random part of her body. If someone really wanted to shock K they could also donate money and every £1 donated would be another second of shock for K to receive.”

In another experiment, Deviant Designs connected the shocker to an eye-tracker, forcing the submissive to watch porn. If they blink or look away, they are shocked.

Deviant Designs, vulva clamp

How to ‘DIY’ your own kink devices

Input

First things first, you will need an input. The simplest method is the Arduino. Costing around only $5, this clever piece of technology allows you to upload an input – using as little as 6 lines of coding – through a USB to create an output.

“At its most basic form an arduino is a device that allows you to take inputs (E.g. a switch, light detector, pressure sensor) and depending on what the input is doing you can control outputs (E.g. LED’s, motors, pumps, or in my case things that shock people).”

Gary, Deviant Designs

For simple on/off operations, you won’t need anything complicated, but if you want to experiment a bit further (and deeper), you might want to delve into the Buttplug.io framework, created by QDot. It’s a recommended open-source standardisation software project that provides the tools for anyone to control “intimate hardware, including sex toys, fucking machines, electrostim hardware, and more.”

Output

Once you’ve got to grips with the input, you can start to think about what you would like your output to be. Simply, what do you want to turn on?

Within sex tech, this could be a vibration, or a thrusting motor – something you could experience with your sex toy. Within the BDSM arena, things get a little more intense, crossing over from pleasure into pain… with the most obvious choice being an electric shock, or locking devices.

Design

When creating your DIY kink device, you could use household items, or you could take it one step further by printing your own.

Using free programmes such as Fusion360, it’s easier than ever to design a product and print it off. Take into consideration that the average 3D printer costs $700, with cheaper ones starting from about $200. It’s a significant outlay, but one that might be worthwhile if this is likely to be an ongoing hobby, rather than a one-off project, and once you have one, the sky’s the limit. If you don’t want to buy a 3D printer, but still want to make use of one, there are loads of places online that will send your 3D printed designs out to you.

With your input, output and design in mind, let your imagination run wild. For Deviant Designs, Gary took inspiration from BDSM stories, where “some of the crazy contraptions I read about really set a fire alive in me.” Now he spends some of his spare time “experimenting with different technologies trying to bring my fantasies alive.”

Learn

Ok, so you’ve got your kit, but it’s likely you’ll be stuck.

For beginners, this is an easy hurdle to overcome with a plethora of online resources and YouTube tutorials at your fingertips. There are also various forums that are ideal for more specialized help.

You can learn Arduino in 15 minutes.

Aside from having the equipment, learning the method, and adding your personal creative flare, Gary reminds us that “simplicity is key – no one wants to spend 30 minutes programming a computer in the middle of a scene. Make the controls simple and never stop debugging.”

Safety

Most importantly, when experimenting with tech – just as in the kink scene – is safety. First of all, make sure you have a safe word when playing with a partner, this will ensure the consent of a scene.

In regards to the technology side of things, most 3D printers will print in material, which is not safe for bodily insertion. It is fine for external use, and especially if the product has been sanded down. However, if you are looking to make a dildo or buttplug, it would be wise to use the 3D printer to create a mould for silicone or other body-safe materials.

Additionally, ensure the technology has a safety release feature. No-one wants any hazards to ruin their fun.

The future of 3D printing is predicted to include silicone, stainless steel, and MIM (metal injection moulding), so if you’re inclined to undertake these sort of projects, now is a great time to start learning with the existing tech.

DIY Kink Tech Community

If you are excited about the prospect of DIY kink tech, and would like to try it out with someone, or just share your enthusiasm, seek out a community that can support you.

Online platforms such as Fetlife and Fetish.com are filled with like-minded ‘kinksters’, and kink-led dating apps such as NoGrey can help you find a willing partner for your future experiments.

Read Next: What would happen if I shoved a sensor in here?’: The hackers trying to make sex toys better