Introduction: Ghostbusters Proton Pack With Arduino and LASERS!

About: depotdevoid is short for The Depot Devoid of Thought, the place where you go when you lose…
Last year, I was a Ghostbuster for Halloween. It was pretty cool, but I had some problems with the costume. I decided to do it again, but get it right this time. I picked up a khaki flight suit instead of blue coveralls, built a trap and some ecto goggles, and made some major refinements to proton pack. Here I will share with you how I went about the various improvements to my costume.

***UPDATE 5/4/10: If you make your own ghostbusters proton pack, post some pictures in the comments below, and I'll send you a patch!***

***UPDATE 9/22/11: Check out the October 2011 issue of Popular Science (which is out right now) to see a brief blurb about me and my proton pack!***

Step 1: Make a Ghostbusters Costume

I've seen a bunch of ads this year for a Ghostbusters costume with an inflatable proton pack.  These costumes are crap!  I don't care if you don't want to spend the time and effort on building a good quality costume, if I see anyone dressed up in one of these turds when I go out on Halloween, I swear I will glare at them disapprovingly!  ***Oh, looking off to the right, I see that I'm insulting the sponsors!  I would just like to point out that this paragraph is what is known as HYPERBOLE and should not be taken literally.  I worked my ass off building this thing and it rocks so much harder than those costumes, but I won't really insult anyone wearing one.  I'll just upstage them with my awesomeness. 

There are many resources for building a proton pack out there.  I've got my slideshow from last year, as well as a more detailed instructable on how to make a kid sized Proton Pack, which could easily be scaled up to full size.  I also recommend this instructable, as well as

I picked up the flight suit from ebay member direct-pb.  This company really came through for me.  The suit was good quality and very inexpensive.

Step 2: Wire the Pack for Arduino Control

This looks more complicated than it is, I swear!

I built a simple Arduino shield that lives in the wand (see pictures). All of the LEDs had a common negative ground, and each positive lead went to either to a digital pin (if it was going to flash) or to the +5v pin if it was going to be on at all times.

I also built an on/off switch into the wand and installed a 9v battery clip to power the Arduino.

Step 3: Program the Arduino

I am very new at this whole microcontroller thing, so I'm sure all of you veterans out there could have written a much more elegant piece of code for this.  My simplistic idea for how to make this work does however have the advantage of being both very easy to understand by the uninitiated and very simple to change if you want to alter the way the lights flash.

The basic concept behind the code is that it runs a loop 6.4 seconds long, broken into 64 100 millisecond "ticks."  At each tick, I can have a light turn on, turn off, dim, brighten, etc.  After it's gone through it all once, it goes right back to the beginning and repeats until the battery runs out.

Step 4: Install the Lasers!

Lasers are awesome!  I don't even care that if you aren't in a fog or a haze of tobacco smoke the beam isn't visible, it's still super cool!

I got these lasers from a couple of broken pen-style laser pointers.  They stopped working, I took them apart, and then I found out there was just a loose battery connection in both.  I was never able to get everything crammed back in the housings though, so I harvested the electronics for my costume.

I originally wanted to power everything through the Arduino, but I found that the two lasers running along with everything else drained the battery VERY quickly, so I installed them on a separate power source (2 AA batteries) shoved into the handle of the wand.

Step 5: Make More Junk You'll Have to Lug Around With You!

I also built a trap and a pair of ecto goggles for the costume this year.  These are simply boxes cut to size, painted black, and with a bunch of doodads and widgets glued on.

The trap has a 1/4" plywood base and a 1/4" plywood mounting plate on the belt.  They connect with a wedged shape hunk of sheet metal I cut out with my dremel tool.  The handle of the trap is also wood, but nearly everything else is just cardboard. 

The ecto goggles are made out of a small cardboard box with one side cut out in the shape of my forehead.  The straps were harvested from a broken headlamp.  Everything on them was simply junk from my stuff drawers or screws from my screw jar.

Step 6: Marvel at Your Own Awesomeness!

Look how rad I am, not like a dork who's nearly thirty and playing with toys at all!  All the cool kids are sitting in their darkened shops late into the evening building props from 80's movies that they'll wear for one day and then put into storage!

Step 7: Final Thoughts

Thanks for reading!  I hope you enjoyed my little 'ible and found it useful and/or amusing.  I am very tired and feeling quite silly at the moment.

Please take the time to vote for me in the Arduino contest!  Also, please leave me a rating or some feedback.  It's pretty late right now, and I know I wasn't too descriptive in the technical details this time, so if you need some clarification, don't be afraid to ask. 

Also, if you post some pictures of your own home made proton pack, post 'em in the comments below.  I'll send you a DIY patch!

Arduino Contest

Runner Up in the
Arduino Contest

Halloween Contest

First Prize in the
Halloween Contest