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This article is about the Engineer's Build and Demolish tools. For the weapon type, see the Weapons page.
I built that.
The Engineer

The PDAs are default weapons for the Engineer, consisting of the Construction PDA and Destruction PDA, which he uses to construct and destroy his various buildings respectively. The Construction PDA is a calculator-type device, whereas the Destruction PDA looks similar to a typical hand-held detonation device with a miniature screen and large red button.

These gadgets are not regular weapons as they cannot be used to attack; they mainly serve as a visual cue to the player and those that see the player's character. Therefore, switching between PDAs and the last weapon active does not result in the usual delay caused by weapon switching. While the player is using the PDA, a unique menu appears on-screen to allow the player to build or destroy available buildings.

Upon selecting one of the PDAs, a superimposed HUD appears in the middle of your view. Though it lists all four available buildings, only the highlighted choices will be selectable. Selection of the buildings is done through the preset numbered keys. Pressing the last weapon used key or primary fire key will cancel the PDA and return to the previous weapon. The Pip-Boy changes the look of the Construction and Destruction PDAs' superimposed HUD.

The selection keys will only function on the appropriate PDA under the right conditions. Should the player have insufficient Metal, they will be denied access to certain buildings on the Construction PDA, yet gathering Metal will re-enable the choices with the cost met. Conversely, the Destruction PDA will only destroy builds that have already been constructed. The Destruction PDA cannot be used to destroy buildings currently being sapped by the Sapper.

If a player chooses to construct an available building from the Construction PDA, the player model will then hold a Toolbox and the player will see a template on the ground in front of them showing the orientation of the chosen building. While the template is visible, secondary fire adjusts the building's orientation by 90 degrees counter-clockwise, whilst primary fire starts the build. The last weapon used button cancels the build.


Console Information

Note: The console versions do not have a separate Destruction PDA. Instead, both are handled by the Construction PDA, serving as a single PDA. After choosing the proper weapon slot to activate the PDA, the player uses the right trigger or 'R2' to construct the selected building if enough Metal is available, and the left trigger or 'L2' to demolish the selected building if it has already been built.

Strange variant

Update history

September 26, 2007 Patch
  • Fixed some truncated strings in the destroy menu.

February 28, 2008 Patch

  • Changed PDA menus to accept keys bound to "slot1", "slot2", etc., and "slot10" cancels.
  • Fixed Engineer being able to detonate buildings that are being sapped.

January 19, 2011 Patch

  • Fixed the Engineer PDA view models (build/destroy) having RED skins while on the BLU team.

March 22, 2012 Patch

  • [Undocumented] Added Construction PDA slot to the Engineer's loadout screen.
  • [Undocumented] Made the Construction PDA nameable.
  • [Undocumented] Construction PDA and Demolish PDA now appear in backpack when viewing stock items.

September 4, 2012 Patch

  • [Undocumented] Fixed PDAs using the wrong animations.

March 12, 2013 Patch

  • Added Strange quality for the Construction PDA.

June 11, 2014 Patch #1

  • [Undocumented] Added a white line above the names of the buildings on the PDA menus.

June 11, 2014 Patch #2

  • Fixed the Engineer's build menu staying open after changing class.

June 18, 2014 Patch (Love & War Update)

  • Converted the PDA models to use the c_models system.

December 10, 2014 Patch

  • Fixed the Engineer PDA being stored as the last weapon used.

Unused content

  • The item schema contains a list of ranks related to 'Health Dispensed', intended to be used by the PDA's strange variant. However, it instead simply ranks up based on Sentry kills and uses generic names and values.


  • If a Strange Construction PDA is equipped in Mann vs. Machine, the Engineer can lose upgrades and the money spent on them if they are using the Upgrade Station at the same time as another player using the Engineer's Dispenser or Teleporter.
  • If a Construction PDA is in use when hit by a object or projectile, the options to build will disappear


  • There is a PDA1 Token in items_game.txt, but it is unused. Internally, the Engineer's Construction PDA and the Spy's Disguise Kit fall under this slot.
    • The PDA2 token is used for crafting the Spy's unlockable watches, which fall into the PDA2 slot, and can be made by crafting together 3 Spy watches. This is the only use for the token.
    • Crafting 3 Unique Construction PDAs together or Rebuilding a slot token with one will not create a PDA1 token.
  • The tf_build_menu_controller_mode console variable can make the PDA act as both a build and demolish tool, like on consoles.
  • The Construction PDA is based off the Texas Instrument's Datamath Calculator that first appeared in 1971.


See also