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Hello Whovians! I'd like to share with you all a little project I'm working on called the "Sonic Screwdriver Operational Manual". Ever since I was young, I was perplexed as to how such a tiny device could do so much with no obvious way of changing what function the Sonic would perform, and the show hasn't really been clear or consistent with it either. This "Manual" will explain how to operate each model of the trusty sonic device, using as much of the canon as I can and filling in the unexplained aspects (like how to change from a lock pick setting to a scanning setting) using my own careful observation of the device in use in the episodes. 

As of now, I only have an entry done on the 10th Doctor's sonic screwdriver used in series 3 - 4 of NuWho, but I plan to add entries for other models to this blog when I figure them out. Feedback and providing your own research on this topic will be much appreciated!


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10th Doctor's second sonic screwdriver

Built by the Doctor after the previous model was accidentally overloaded at Royal Hope Hospital, this Sonic Screwdriver is very similar in design to its predecessor, the only real difference besides minor cosmetic changes is the flatter sliding activation switch, which allows for the sonic to be extended more comfortably while in use.

The black pommel on the bottom of the screwdriver can be rotated to switch between different modes of operation, which are:

  • Manual mode – In this mode, the position of the slider controls the frequency of the sound waves produced by the device. This allows for a dynamic shift in frequency while the sonic is activated should the user need to change it quickly. The manual setting is ideal for situations where one doesn't have a pre-programmed setting suitable for the task at hand.

  • Slider Function mode – This mode allows pre-programmed settings to be mapped to any position of the slider that the user desires. For example, one could program the device to act as a lockpick when the device is half extended, or switch to a scanning setting when fully extended. The user can map their most used settings to the slider in any way they desired, offering a convenient way to switch between functions on the fly.

  • Function Lock mode – Locks the current function/frequency setting so it cannot be changed if the slider is moved. In this mode, the slider controls the power output of the sonic screwdriver rather than the function/frequency setting. This is ideal for tense situations where you only require one function setting, or for lending the device to those unfamiliar with how it operates.


Interfacing the Sonic Screwdriver with the TARDIS allows the Doctor to edit the Sonic's software. This way, the Doctor can add new settings to the device and map them to the Screwdriver's controls any way he'd like, as well as alter the sensitivity of the rotating pommel or slider (The number/degree of rotations needed to change the operational mode as well as how much the slider must be pushed/pulled to change the function/frequency setting, respectively.).