As part of our Ghostbusters theme one Halloween, I needed an interesting Proton Pack. I briefly thought about making a movie accurate replica, but ultimately decided on just letting my imagination run wild.
Step 1: Source Parts
I wanted lots of blinky lights to give the impression of a nuclear device, so I found the following on eBay...
- EL Wire, various colors
- 2.75 inch Plasma Disk
- 6 inch Plasma Disk
- Programmable LED Belt Buckle
- Red rotating party light
- 12v home security strobe light
- Glow sticks, various colors
- Assorted LEDs and gauges controlled by an Arduino UNO
- 8.4v (or higher) Airsoft battery pack(s)
The pack components are everything imaginable sourced over months of just putting aside whatever caught my eye.
Step 2: The Build
The pack was assembled on a plywood base mounted to an ALICE Pack Frame. This load bearing frame is excellent for the intended purpose.
The pack components are everything imaginable sourced over months of just putting aside whatever caught my eye. I just kept adding oddball plastic containers, plastic tubes, electronic parts gutted from old dead devices, and styrofoam shapes to the plywood base, and moving things around until I had something that I thought looked cool.
Keep in mind every component you add increases the weight. Trial and error will allow you to arrive at the best size and weight for you.
Once I was happy with the look, I permanently attached everything using screws and epoxy, and painted flat black. Make sure you use Styrofoam safe paint... if you use regular paint you might melt the foam! Ask for advice at your paint store.
After painting you'll be amazed at how the ordinary odds and ends that make up your pack take on a mysterious look. See the silver tube at the bottom left of the pack? ... it's a refrigerator water filter with a couple of old gauges stuck in it.
Step 3: Decals
Decals add authenticity to the components on your pack.
These aren't my work... I found them on a Ghostbusters website somewhere. I include them here to save you time searching.
Just print them on "sticker paper", cut out, and apply.
Step 4: The Blinky Lights
Fortunately, you can do a project like this without any electronics knowledge. The red rotating party light, small 2.75 inch plasma disk, and programmable LED display (belt buckle) all contain their own batteries... just turn them on.
The EL Wires also have their own battery packs, and have a few different settings so you can run them at different blink rates. To give them "more substance". I ran the EL Wires through translucent tubing.
The glow sticks are just "crack 'n glow".
The 6 inch plasma disk gets power from one of the Airsoft battery packs... I wired a switch between them, but if you didn't want to do that, just connecting two wires to the battery plug will do.
For those of you with a little Arduino knowledge, you might want to add additional functionality. I had an old dead DC Power Supply I gutted and mounted at the top of my pack. It became an "empty box" that was ideal for putting my simple circuitry. I mounted my Arduino board in there, mounted my switches for the Arduino and the 6 inch plasma disk, put my battery packs in there, and stuffed my excess lengths of EL Wire.
I mounted some LEDs in the front, and then ran the LEDS, the two gauges, and the security strobe from the Arduino using a simple program I wrote. See attached file for code.... it's easily modifiable to any other configuration you might want to do.
Check your local educational institution for old dead gear from the last 5 decades. Some teacher probably would love to give away some of that stuff that's collecting dust in some back room.
If not, check eBay for LEDs and DC Analog Gauges... cheap, plentiful, and easy to wire. Little details like these give your project a bit more "bling".
Step 5: Power Up!
Remember not to cross any proton streams!
Step 6: Happy Hunting!
Bustin' makes me feel good!