Five months ago, two college students got it into their heads to begin building a costume prop. Not just any costume prop, mind you – a costume prop to rule all other costume props and, in fact, the WORLD! Not really, but we did want to participate in the GenCon Indy 2011 costume contest and didn’t have any ideas for what to do!
Portal came to mind. Valve is a long-time favorite when it comes to awesome games for us, and so it then became a question of which Valve game to work from. Zoey from Left 4 Dead? Gordon Freeman of the fabled Half Life series? Or perhaps… could it be? Yes! Chell was our woman, and our own epic tale in the quest of a Chell costume began.
Of course, the first thing that any Chell costume needs is an Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device (or ASHPD), and in looking around on the internet, we couldn’t find that many tutorials (or even people who had actually done it in the first place). What we did find was severely lacking in either finesse, materials, or dedication. As we soon found out, if you weren’t willing to sink about $350 and four months of your waking life into the project, the end result wouldn’t be worth the sacrifice. Then we found the exception.
This instructable is going to start a little differently than most – with a word of thanks. Without his work and documentation (little though there is), none of this would have happened and we would have given up from not even knowing where to start. Harrison Krix of Volpin Props created the first real ASHPD, and his work also served as the basis for ours. His lack of real numerical documentation actually made the process much more fun and interesting as it forced us to rebuild his methods through guesswork and a little luck. It allowed us to create our own path, loosely based on his, that arrived at approximately the same place.
(We also didn’t have as much money to throw into it.)
We studied his pictures and made sketches as though studying for an upcoming test and slowly began our own journey into the world of Portal.
(Though first of all, we need a quick introduction! I, Joe, [the one writing at the moment] was responsible for the electronics, and my partner, Shelley, was responsible for the carving and for things requiring a steady hand, which I generally lack. For the rest of the gun, though, our efforts and skills were combined in such a way that we could probably refer to our creation as our nerd-child. And what a lovely nerd-child it is…!)
(Thanks to everyone who voted for us in the LED contest!! We managed to walk away with a Kindle, and for that we are incredibly pleased. Thank you again for showing your love!)
Step 1: Ingredients!
We bought and used a lot of things to make this project, and it was worth it all. Here's a more or less complete list:
4” diameter PVC pipe
3” diameter PVC pipe
2 4” PVC couplers
Lots o’ Cardstock (We managed to use about a 30”x24” sheet over the course of the gun)
About a gallon of Bondo + extra hardener (We blew through two quart containers and then gave up and bought a gallon. It’s still holding us)
Florists Foam (The largest we could find was about 3’x1’x4”, and it worked pretty well once we cut it in half and glued the halves together)
Gesso (a very bright white canvas primer)
Craploads of sandpaper, from grits 80-600. Trust us, you’ll need them.
Spraypaint: flat black, pure white, and clear coat gloss.
Plexiglass – amount unknown; we didn’t keep track because we had a near unlimited source.
1” glass lens
¼” black tubing
9 screws and nuts
20 gauge beading wire
Clear toilet plunger handle (preferably an adult sized one if you can find it – we used a child sized one ‘cause that’s all we could find, but there’s no room for error)
2 ½” diameter clear plastic tube
11 blue LEDs
11 orange LEDs
3 red LEDs
4.5v power supply (3 AA’s)
25 68 ohm ¼w resistors
about 6 feet of CAT5 cable
some method of prototyping
A willingness to get your hands dirty
Working knowledge of various power tools
A large work space (in our case, a living room, kitchen, and front yard gave their lives for this project)