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)
Drywall Spackling
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.
Electrical Tape
1” glass lens
¼” black tubing
9 screws and nuts
20 gauge beading wire
dowel rod
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
Packing foam
Painter’s tape
Plastic wrap

Electronics (Optional):
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
2 switches
some method of prototyping

Steady hands
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)
<p>I WIll MakE thIS FoR My tEsTING FiCCILTy </p>
<p>So, I read through all the comments and didn't see anyone address this, but where did you get your 1&quot; diameter glass lens? I'm having a devil of a time finding one. Thanks!</p>
<p>Hi! You're totally right, that's not addressed well at all, and we apologize for that. We got the 1&quot; dia glass lens by dismantling a frou-frou fridge magnet! I've attached a picture of the kind we used. Just search for &quot;1 inch glass fridge magnet round&quot; and you should find lots of options pretty cheaply!</p><p>Good luck!</p>
<p>Yes truly i am blessed to have seen such a dog. very woof. much furry. wow.</p>
<p>You copied volpinprops <em>DIDN'T YOU</em>? </p>
Where is the plexiglass used?
On the claws. I also used my leftover plexiglass for my LED's :)
Can you teach me how to do a portal gun
Thanks, Cpt! Next question (I am getting full on ready to make this so there will probably be many questions to follow) - They used a modified 4 battery holder, can I just go with a 3 battery holder? I didn't really think there would be a problem with that, just making sure I'm not missing something. <br> <br>Thanks!
Sure! Personally, I powered my LED's with a 9v battery, so they are much brighter :) <br> <br>Bring on the questions! And good luck :D
Hey again, <br> <br>Just curious Cpt, what did you end up using for the clear 2.5&quot; plastic tube?
A tennis ball container! It fit perfectly :D The plastic from the one I found was strong too, unlike the flimsy smart bottle I gave a try at first.<br>I'm talking about this by the way : http://ak.buy.com/PI/0/500/229037683.jpg<br>Hope it helped!
I did it! I finished it with just an hour to spare before the Halloween party! The funny part was that no one knew who I was. :P I will post a victory picture later...once I recover from the massive amount of blood, sweat, tears, and time that went into this project. Thanks for all the help Cpt!
Hoozah! I'm so happy for you :D It's been awhile since I made mine, and I still have little battle scars from it! I can't wait to see pics! :)
Another thing I should mention is that it wasn't perfectly 2.5&quot;, but still fit inside very nicely.
I am unsure in how when you look at the front of the gun it looks totally illuminated even when the leds you used for the barrel were in a ring with none in the center of the piece of card board?
<p>Do not look at the operational end of the device. Do not touch the operational end of the device.</p>
<p>I was COMPLETELY confused about this at first... I don't know if you're still looking for an answer, but I'm preparing to build one of these bad boys and have been studying several tutorials for days. Hopefully this will help you or anyone else who came along and was confused about this! :)</p><p>Here is the organization of the LEDs: </p><p>2 LED Cutout - Top of gun, LEDs facing outward</p><p>4 LED Cutouts x 2 - One at each end of the plumber's tube (facing each other/inward)</p><p>12 LED Cutout - Inside the barrel, LEDs facing outward</p><p>Then, some sort of diffuser is placed in front of the LEDs to even out the light so they glow instead of looking like a little set of lights. I've seen foam used, but I imagine any type of scuffed up plastic would work just as well. I was thinking about using one of those cheap plastic cutting boards from walmart, myself. </p>
<p>I love portal! I beat the second one not too long ago.</p>
<p>About how much did all of this cost total?</p>
<p>Ummm....yea I/m about to start making this thing and I kinda lost u when u when to the part about the grate so if u could just go over that again it would be nice. And now to rust but could someone answer fast I have a specific date for this so thanks in advance! :D</p>
guys, you forgot some important things like how you attach the shells onto the gun. if you just glued it on, the underlying foam would tear off, so how did you get them to stay on?
Nope, glue was it. Well, for the front shell, anyway. The larger one just sat on top -- we needed to be able to remove it so we could access the electronics.
oh, ok. Would using bondo on top of carved polystyrene work rather than using florist's foam? I can't get florists foam, but polystyrene is sold in thick sheets. Then again, I think polystyrene dissolves in acetone, so bondo might react. Would sealing it with PVA glue then using bondo work out?
And how did you make it? what did you change? could you make an instructable or something.. ^^'
Hey guy's! Love this project! But I have one question. On the tips of the claws what are the black things? Their not a template piece and there not in the picture of the claw pieces laid out...
i am planning to make the shells out of pepakura, plaster the inside with bondo, then spend the rest of my life sanding the shell. i have a few questions though, is there any good way for mixing bondo in the right proportions? i have used similar things such as resin before, and it is an utter pain to get the proportions right. to top it off, the manufacturers like to skimp on the hardener, which can result in soft/weak results. i once waster a quarter a bottle of resin due to not enough hardener. <br>any suggestions? thanks.
So I may have missed this, but how much did making this cost overall?
About $350 in raw materials -- thousands of dollars in time and angst. :D
What contributed most of that cost? The bondo?
Thanks for making this. I learned from your mistakes and others to make this for around $60. And Again Thanks SOOOOO much for this :D
Is there a way for me to get small pieces of PVC? I'd rather not buy in 10 foot lengths from Home depot or Lowe's.
How did you cut the acrylic sheet? I tried cutting it with a jigsaw but it promptly cracked horribly. Maybe I need a different blade.
hi im having a problem with the barrel. i cant get it to look anything like yours. and i cant find any flourist's foam or whatever it is? thanks for your help and for the great project in advance
the five 1/2 inch rings what are those? is it from another 4&quot; pvc or what?
So where would one buy this card stock? all the card stock i have is really thin.
Honestly, cardstock is a fairly generic term for thicker &quot;paper.&quot; I'd look for something like a foam core board. You can find those in most craft stores :)
Ok so you just rap paper around it?
No no, there's no wrapping here. Just get some thick cardstock such as a foam core board for the rings :)
Haha Ok i got it Thanks :)
No problem! Let me know if you have any other questions :)
Ok will do!
in step 6, the front core looks much thinner than the couplers. <br>you used 4 in pipe for the outside of the front, and the couplers are also 4 in, so why is there so much side diffrence between them? the couplers look like 5 in.
I think that this is going to be my summer project, but i need the tmp files to work, why can't i get them to work? I've looked online for a tmp file reader, but haven't had much luck so if you have any knowledge of why, then it would be greatly apreciated.
Download the tmp files and change the .tmp to a .docx. Ta-da!
A tmp file is unfortunately a temporary one, which would only work on their computer. Fortunately, they have pictures of the pieces on a ruler/measuring board, so I used that as reference to make mine!
Thanks for the instructions! I just completed mine today :D Here's a picture: http://distilleryimage0.s3.amazonaws.com/fc48f90c102a11e28c3c22000a1fb85a_7.jpg <br>Took me two and a half weeks to make, and cost me under $100, so those of you who saw the maker's 6 months and $350, no worries! It's totally doable with the money and time I spent/took to make this :D If you have any questions, you can go ahead and ask. <br>The spackle tuned out to be my worst enemy. I had an issue with the paint eating it away, thus causing these soft spots to appear throughout the shell. It was a very painful discovery, since I thought I was finally done, but I found some magic sculpt resin &amp; hardener thats FIVE THOUSAND times better and more reliable than spackle. It's so easy to use to fill holes and cracks, and easy to sand afterwards. <br>Anyway, PEOPLE- ASK ME ANYTHING! I've got this thing fresh on my mind. :)
Thanks it did also I'm in the process of making the shells what did you use to sculpt these and what did you use as a model?
Well, like in the instructions here, I made my shells out of florist foam and bondo. I had to glue several blocks of florist foam together to get the size I needed. After making my own blueprint of the gun, I copied the shape of the shell to another piece of paper, cut it out, and taped it to the side of the florist foam block. I just did the sides first before doing the front and back. Since there were no blueprints for the front and back, I just got my pvc pipe (the one that will eventually be underneath the large shell, the two couplers that are glued together) and carved the outline of where it would be on the front of the large shell, then carved away. I kept checking back to make sure the couplers fit in the shell. Personally, I had to carve a little more than the size of the pipes, since I ended up bondoing the inside as well. <br> <br>When sculpting the basic shape of the shells out of the florist foam, I used a regular kitchen knife, but when I started doing the curves, I used one of these: <br>http://www.creativecoldsnow.com/prodimg/KEMFW11.jpg <br>which made it easy to carve out the shape. <br> <br>I'd list you the dimensions of my shells, but unfortunately I don't have my portal gun with me at the moment. Personally, I didn't really go for any specific dimensions; I just made sure the shells had enough space around the pvc pipes. :)

About This Instructable


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Bio: Two college students who like to make awesome stuff.
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