Picture of Build your own Aperture Science Portal Gun
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!)

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eswanson220 days ago

So, I read through all the comments and didn't see anyone address this, but where did you get your 1" diameter glass lens? I'm having a devil of a time finding one. Thanks!

ThePropNerds (author)  eswanson220 days ago

Hi! You're totally right, that's not addressed well at all, and we apologize for that. We got the 1" dia glass lens by dismantling a frou-frou fridge magnet! I've attached a picture of the kind we used. Just search for "1 inch glass fridge magnet round" and you should find lots of options pretty cheaply!

Good luck!

Qdog4011 month ago

Yes truly i am blessed to have seen such a dog. very woof. much furry. wow.

IsraelP22 months ago

You copied volpinprops DIDN'T YOU?

Boxador2 years ago
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.

Sure! Personally, I powered my LED's with a 9v battery, so they are much brighter :)

Bring on the questions! And good luck :D
Hey again,

Just curious Cpt, what did you end up using for the clear 2.5" 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.
I'm talking about this by the way : http://ak.buy.com/PI/0/500/229037683.jpg
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", 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?

Do not look at the operational end of the device. Do not touch the operational end of the device.

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! :)

Here is the organization of the LEDs:

2 LED Cutout - Top of gun, LEDs facing outward

4 LED Cutouts x 2 - One at each end of the plumber's tube (facing each other/inward)

12 LED Cutout - Inside the barrel, LEDs facing outward

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.

HarpoMaster10 months ago

I love portal! I beat the second one not too long ago.

About how much did all of this cost total?

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

nerd122 years ago
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?
ThePropNerds (author)  nerd122 years ago
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?
rvijulie2 years ago
And how did you make it? what did you change? could you make an instructable or something.. ^^'
sam_duvall2 years ago
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...
nerd122 years ago
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.
any suggestions? thanks.
apace34 years ago
So I may have missed this, but how much did making this cost overall?
ThePropNerds (author)  apace34 years ago
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.
ryan12712 years ago
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.
Shine6022 years ago
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
DrewJM3 years ago
the five 1/2 inch rings what are those? is it from another 4" 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 "paper." 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 :)
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