Introduction: Be a Ghostbuster for Halloween!

About: I'm a former bicycle industry designer turned professional jeweler. I like working with my hands and am happiest when I'm in the shop building my creations. If you need help with your project just let me know!

I thought this would be a great idea for Halloween (I love Halloween!) so in my usual over the top fashion I went, well -- over the top. A buddy of mine wanted to do it as well. We tried to get his roommate into it too so we could have a third Ghostbuster but he didn't think we'd be able to do it......... :D

I made two complete packs, suits, belts and goggles in just over two weeks working mostly nights and weekends. I also made a ghost trap and pedal- it clips onto the belt just like in the movie. The guns come off the packs and the packs light up, as does the trap. I made two lighting circuits for each pack using a simple homemade 555 timer circuit, a few LEDs and 9v batteries. The trap weighs around six or seven pounds and the packs weigh about twenty- five pounds.

The packs and trap are pretty movie accurate- they were made from plans that were drawn up from one of the original movie "hero" packs on display at Planet Hollywood. The A.L.I.C.E. pack frames are the same as the movie and were purchased from an Army surplus store. Most of the small parts on the pack are movie accurate and were located at a local electronics surplus store. Even our coveralls were from the original movie supplier. The "no ghost" patches were bought online.

I made the goggles from hardboard, Bondo and thin plywood. I turned the aluminum and glass lenses on a lathe. All the labels on the packs and goggles are accurate and were printed on my computer.

Like I said- over the top. But come Halloween it is oh sooo worth it. People go absolutely flippin' nuts when they see the whole getup. They absolutely cannot believe they were homemade.

This is a BIG project so I'll basically outline what I did to make it go a lot faster. Follow on...

Step 1: Gather Materials and Resources

First you need to download all the plans, labels, templates, etc. Give a huge thank you to all the guys that have worked on this stuff over the years! Everything is here:

The main ingredients I used to build my pack are blue insulation foam (available at Home Depot), MDF wood, 1/8" thick pressboard and lots of epoxy. The ALICE pack frames can be purchased from Army surplus stores. Also locate a good electronics surplus store for a lot of the small parts.

Step 2: First the Suit

The suit is a standard beige flight suit. You'll also want black rubber gloves, black boots and a military style belt. The arm pads are actually knee pads from a sporting goods store- mine aren't the "correct" ones but they were cheap.The "no ghost" patches and name patches can be purchased here:

The pouch on the belt is a modified tape measure holder with little lamps glued onto an old circuit board. The actual movie ones used Nixie tubes... Use another old circuit and attach a coiled phone cord to it- this then hooks onto the back of the belt. The clear hose (it's a mystery)goes from the front of the suit (use a hose barb through the fabric) and attaches to the back of the belt. There is also a keychain clip that goes on the front of the belt- they used it to hold the proton wand in the movie. The name patch I used was made with velcro and fabric paint.

Step 3: Start Making the Pack!

This is that hard part. Study all the plans over and over. The motherboard is made from 1/8" thick board and is bolted to the ALICE pack frame. The spacer is made from blue foam as are the gearboxes, Ion arm and bumper- this speeds things up dramatically and really cuts down the weight of the pack. The cyclotron is made from MDF rings and 1/8" thick board. I ended up using flashlight refelectors with red LED's in them for the cylotron lights. The lenses were made from translucent plastic folders.

The powercell is made from 1/8" thick board and is held in place with screws, making it easy to remove for battery access. I used another plastic folder (blue) to make the powecell lense. I made the gun hook from a piece of 1/8" thick aluminum sheet but a lot of people use a Dixie cup dispenser hook. I machined my own knobs and Ion knob but many people use stacked washers for the Ion knob. The N-filter was made from a can.

The trick to working with foam is to finish it properly or paint will melt it. Once your foam is cut to shape sand it lightly and smooth all the surfaces with a lightweight spackling paste. Then cover it with Minwax Polycrylic sealer. This will allow you to paint it with good old black spray paint. It will also make the foam a little tougher.

Step 4: The Proton Wand

This is made mostly from 1/8" thick board. The grips were carved from blue foam and the handles are PVC pipe. The clip that is mounted on the underside of the proton wand body hooks onto the proton pack so it can be removed- just like in the movie. I made the side plate removeable and stuck a lamp in there- it's turned on by one of the toggle switches on the wand body.

I also added lights to the powercell and cyclotron in the proton pack. They are each based on a simple chaser circuit and use LED's and are powered by a 9v battery. They are actually quite bright in person.

Step 5: The Trap and Pedal

The trap body is made from 1/8" wood and MDF and the handle is a dowel. The sideplates are thin aluminum sheet and are epoxied on. The pedal is made from some aluminum door kickplate (attached to the base with a hinge), MDF for the base and has a 2 1/2" flexible ducting hose hot glued underneath it to act as the bellows. The relay and other electronic parts/knobs came from an electronics surplus store and are attached to some plastic boxes that are screwed to the pedal.

The trap lights up ( I used the same LED chaser circuit as the lights for the proton pack) and the trap doors open. The trap has a catch plate on the underside (same as the proton wand) and a matching plate on the belt holster so it can hook onto my belt. The pedal then hangs over the trap by hooking the gray cable on top of the pedal over the trap handle.

Step 6: Goggles

These were made by making the basic frame shape from 1/8' thick board and then making a curved flange on the back by bending some super thin 1/64" plywood (this can be found in some hobby shops.) This was then smoothed with bondo. The lenses were made from old microscope lenses I bought for one dollar each. I made PVC rings to go around them and added the small knobs. I then attached some foam weatherstripping to the back of the frames.

This is a VERY abbreviated tutorial (a step by step could fill a book) but is shows that with a little creativity it's really not that hard to make a great Ghostbuster costume in record time.

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