Introduction: Kid Sized Ghostbusters Proton Pack!

About: depotdevoid is short for The Depot Devoid of Thought, the place where you go when you lose…
So last year, I was a Ghostbuster for Halloween, using the incredibly awesome proton pack I built.  There were a couple of problems with the costume, so I decided to fix them and upgrade the costume for this year's Halloween.

While I was sitting around rewiring, touching up, and adding arduino control to my pack, my daughter told me she wanted to be my "Ghostbuster Assistant."  I kind of hemmed and hawed and told her I didn't think I had the time or money to build one this year, but the idea simmered in the back of my brain for a while and later on that week I realized that not only did I have enough time to do it, but I had almost everything I needed already on hand! 

Total cost for this project: $15.88 (under $20!)

Most of the materials were scraps of cardboard and plywood, various doodads and gizmos I had in my shop, and lots of stuff rescued from the recycling bin.  The electronics, tape, and hot glue I already had.  All I had to buy was one tube of E-6000 epoxy (4.99) and three cans of super cheap flat black spray paint (.97/each).  Also, I had to pick up an old backpack from value village (2.99) for the the straps.  Oh, and a khaki jacket from goodwill (4.99).

Here's a brief description of the controls:

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

Step 1: Gather Materials

Okay, as I've mentioned before, user Honus has made a very nice and much more professional 'ible on how to make a Ghostbusters Proton Pack.  I used his instructable for reference, but the main difference was in the materials.  Also, I didn't bother to stay exactly true to the movie props, which I'm sure for "serious" fans is a no-no.  I wanted the pack to LOOK like a Proton Pack, not actually BE a Proton Pack (or to have to run around finding all of the exact parts).  The dimensions I used were based off of several prints available at this website, and I stayed as true to the plans as I could, but I didn't limit myself to them.  I also made my rough measurements about 2/3 smaller, so it would be more kid sized.

I used mainly cardboard, tape, hot glue, and epoxy to make the packs.  Here is a (probably incomplete) list of the materials you should have lying around to make a kid sized (or a full sized) proton pack:

1/4" plywood
Lots of cardboard - big boxes and a variety of smaller boxes is helpful
Duct, masking, and electrical tape
2" thick styrofoam (I used this because I had it, but cardboard would work too)
Flat black spray paint (Home Depot sells cheap cans for .97/each)
Hot glue
Epoxy (I like E-6000)
Strong magnets
Split plastic conduit material
Probably about 10-15 feet of light gauge speaker wire
LED's, perfboard, a 555 timer, switches, buttons, capacitors, resistors, flashy kids toys from the dollar store
1/2" and 3/4" PVC (about 8 feet of each)
Eye screws
An IDE cable from an old computer
Some colored wire
Miscellaneous bottle caps, screws, bolts, zerks, tubes, pill bottles, and any other sorts of things that might look nice once they've been spray painted

Step 2: Cut Out the Motherboard

This is pretty straight forward, get your plans from and roughly trace the motherboard onto a sheet of 1/4" plywood.  I used a jigsaw to cut mine out.  This will serve as the back to which all the components are glued and taped.

Step 3: Add the Rough Shapes

Examine lots of pictures and plans for Proton Packs.  Once you've got a pretty good feel for the basic shapes, start cutting up your styrofoam and boxes to give a general impression of the pack.  Don't worry if it doesn't look good right now, spraypaint makes everything look beautiful. 

I forgot to take a picture of it, but the box on the far right has 3 strong magnets in it that will be used to secure the Neutrona Wand later on.  They are in a line at an angle so the wand's handle will point over the wearer's shoulder.

Once you've roughed out everything except for the part where the four red led's go (mouseover the picture below, I've marked that area), use hot glue to tack it all onto the board, then use epoxy to finish the job.

Step 4: Build The, Um, Cyclotron? Is That Right?

I don't remember what it's called, I'm not that big of a Ghostbusters nerd.  All of these parts have names, there's a gearbox, a cyclotron, an HGA, and a bunch of other bits I'm always getting confused.  It's the part that sits on top of the bottom bit that's covered in duct tape in the pictures from the last step.  This is where you'll keep most of the electronics that go into the pack itself.

If you've got a clear plastic dish of the right size and shape this will be much easier, but what I did was cut out a circle of plexiglass and then glued a strip of cardboard to the bottom to give it the right shape.  Next I cut out 4 washer shaped circles of cardboard and glued them to the dish, and also cut out a section of an old juice concentrate container and glued it to the side. 

Next you'll need to cover the centers of the cardboard washers with masking tape and paint it black.  Also, I cut a couple of toilet paper rolls in half and painted them silver, as places to mount the red LEDs.

Step 5: Prep the Pack for Painting

At this point you'll want to finish everything you expect to be painted black on the pack.  As you can see from the picture below, I've added a few nobly bits (there's the bottom of a solar light, some bottle lids, a couple of plastic tubes, etc.). 

I also added some texture in the form of roughly  3/8" wide strips of cardboard glued along various points on the pack.  Take a look at the pictures below, they're fairly self explanatory.

Step 6: Paint!

This part is pretty simple.  Do it outside or use a respirator!

Don't be afraid to overdue it with the paint.  The pack has a lot of strange angles and it's really important to give it several coats from different directions.

A note on spots you miss:  I've found that if you spray a little of the paint in the lid, you can use a brush to finish up spots you've missed or scuffed.  That way, you won't have to worry about matching colors.

Step 7: Build the Neutrona Wand

Again for this step, I basically just looked at a bunch of plans and tried to make about a 2/3 scale model roughly based on them. 

The box is cardboard cut and hot glued to the right shapes, plus some 1/2" PVC for the business end and some 3/4" PVC (with a little bend at the end) for the handle.  As I mentioned before, I attach the wand to the pack with magnets, so I've hot glued and then epoxied some neodymium magnets to the bottom.  It's really important to use strong cardboard and lots of epoxy, as these are very powerful magnets and will try to rip right off of the wand.

The plan here is to keep the battery and all of the controls in the wand box, so I cut open the box on one side, and used more magnets as a clasp to keep it shut.  After this, I added a bunch more doodads and gizmos to spruce things up, used masking tape over the parts I didn't want painted. 

Finally, I pulled out the flat black paint and went to town.

Step 8: Wand Power!

Okay, now that you've got that all assembled and the paint's dry, cut some holes in the box for switches and LEDs and pull out your boxes and boxes of disassembled electronics (or head to your local radioshack) and start putting things together.  I'm not including a circuit diagram here because (a) it's a very simple circuit, all it has is switches, LEDs, resistors, a 9v battery clip, one 7805 voltage regulator, and some old flashing light toys' circuit boards and (b) I'm lazy and it's late.

I basically just threw everything I wanted in the wand on the workbench and wired it up based on these groups centered around the various switches and buttons:

Main switch:  Connects the battery.
Secondary switch:  Turns on the wand's "Proton Stream," which is just a small group of white LEDs the kid can use as a flashlight.
Tertiary switch:  Turns off power to the whole shebang except for the red power indicator light and the proton stream/flashlight.  Basically, this is just to save on power but still lets you use it as a flashlight.
Button one:  Activates one of the flashing wand lights.
Button two:  Activates the other flashing wand light.

I go over all of this in the video below, watch it and you'll see what's going on.

The lights in the wand are:
3 white LEDs for the Proton Stream at the end of the wand.
1 red LED as a power indicator light on the top of the box.
2 white and one yellow LEDs to light up the inside of the box--basically it just looks nice that way.
4 flickering yellow lights (I harvested from LED tea lights) put into the face of the wand's control area.  I think they're supposed to be power indicators or something.
2 flashing light circuits, harvested from dollar store toys (I had to wire these up through the 7805, which steps down the 9v to 5v, as these couldn't handle the higher voltage.

Make sure that after you've wired everything together you attach a long wire that can go out the handle and provide power to the proton pack.  I like to use light gauge speaker wire for my electronics, as you've got one silver and one copper wire that can easily be used to distinguish positive from negative.

Step 9: Proton Pack Power!

Oooookay, here we go.

To start off, you'll need some sort of plastic or rubber tubing to go from the proton pack to the wand.  I had some split black plastic conduit (about four feet) left over from the pack I made last year.  You can get it in the electrical aisle at your local home depot or lowes or whatever.  I plugged a 1/2" boring bit into my drill and bored a hole at about a 30 degree angle from the middle of the big duct tape covered styrofoam banjo thingy at the bottom of the pack (see the pictures, it's pretty clear what I'm talking about) out the right hand side, near the bottom.  Then I worked the conduit into the hole and secured it with hot glue and epoxy.  The other end of the conduit goes to the handle of the wand, and you can then run the power wire through the conduit and have it come up in the middle of that thingamajig. 

Next, I built a simple 555 timer based "Flasher" circuit.  It is based on the one found here, but modified to have a total of four LEDs (two on at a time), and I fiddled with C1 until I found a capacitor that provided a flash rate I liked.  I glued the circuit to the inside of the cyclotron and one of the LEDs into each of the little windows.

All of the other lights are up at the top of the pack, so I took an old computer IDE cable and ran it from the cyclotron up to a point near the top of the pack (see the pictures).  I plugged a positive and a negative power wire into the cyclotron end, and built a little power distribution board (with the resistors for the various LEDs built in) for the cable to plug into at the other end.  There are a total of 5 LEDs here, two yellow, one white, one blue, and one red.  This is another part of the pack I know isn't exactly to spec for a true to the movies replica, but I think it looks pretty good!

Once you've satisfied yourself that everything works right, start gluing and epoxying to hold everything together.  I went pretty heavy on the adhesives, as the pack is for a child, so I figure she's going to be pretty hard on it.

Step 10: Finishing Touches

There are three parts to this step.

Step 10A:  My favorite step
What I had at that point was pretty much just a flat black proton pack and wand with some lights, so I went to my parts drawers and started pulling out various bits and pieces, and gluing them on.  I used anything shiny, like some old grease zerks, bolts, a collapsible antenna, and some PVC I painted silver.  It's also a good idea to throw in some colored wires that seem to connect various points on the pack, as well as some more of that plastic conduit.  Just be creative, this part is fun!

Step 10B:  My not favorite step
This part isn't as fun as the other two, but really there's nothing wrong with it.  Spray some of the flat black spray paint into the cap and start touching up anything that was scuffed up in the finishing process.  Also paint over all the globs of glue and epoxy, and over any visible speaker wire.

Step 10C:  My other favorite step
This website has a printable PDF of all the labels you'll need (and then some) for both the pack and the wand.  I printed it off at about 75% of normal size so that it would fit better on the small sized pack.  After you've put on all the labels, the pack is essentially done and will look great!

Step 11: Building a Backpacking Frame

I suppose if I had gone out and bought a kid sized hiking backpack, this step could have been avoided, but screw that noise, I'm a cheapskate!

I took a long look at the backpacking frame I'd used for my own proton pack, mentally downsized it to the size of my daughter, and started shaping PVC.  I used 3/4" PVC for the vertical struts, and 1/2" PVC for the horizontal struts.  I don't have a heat gun and I also don't care about my own health (okay, actually I did this next to an open window and wore a breathing mask), so I pulled out a candle, heated up the PVC and bent it into the shapes I wanted.

I bored 5/8" holes into the 3/4" PVC, scraped them out a bit with a knife, and hot glued the 1/2" struts in.  After that had hardened, I absolutely slathered all of the joints in epoxy.  The next morning, after it had cured, I did it again and made sure there was a ton, since I didn't want any possibility of this thing falling apart in the middle of trick-or-treating.

While that cured, I painstakingly tried to remember how to use a sewing machine and made a couple of back supports (see picture).  It's a good thing I painted those over, the seams looked like they'd been sewn by a drunk.  I threaded a heavy shoelace into each, and after the epoxy had cured I strapped them on as tight as I could.  I pulled out the spray paint again and covered up the fact that it looked kind of crappy.  Once the paint dried, however, it looked pretty nice!

Finally, I cut the straps off an old cheap-o backpack from value village and hot glued/epoxied those to the frame.  This part actually worked a lot better than I had originally thought it would, and when India tried it on the next day she told me it was comfortable!  Also, it didn't fall apart!

Step 12: Connect the Pack to the Frame (you're Almost There!)

For this step you'll need four eye bolts and four zip ties.  Place the pack on top of the frame in the position you'd like to have it in, and mark the places you'll need the eye bolts.  Screw those into the plywood of the pack, then zip tie the pack onto the frame.  It's probably overkill, but at this point I again slathered everything in epoxy, just to MAKE SURE!

It's done!

Step 13: Finish Up the Costume

I couldn't find a flight suit or a coverall in India's size, so I fudged a little and got her a khaki jacket, and she's going to wear a pair of khaki jeans.  I think it's close enough, and after my experience using the sewing machine I wasn't about to try to make one myself! 

Add a ghostbusters logo for the shoulder and a name tag, and you're done!

Step 14: Final Thoughts

It took me about two weeks to construct this whole thing, but I did it cheaply and had a good time tinkering out in the shop.  If you enjoyed this instructable, please consider voting for me in the Halloween contest!

Also, any sort of feedback you'd like to give would be greatly appreciated.  Please take a moment to give me a rating, a comment, or both.  Also, post some pictures of your own ghostbusters costume and I'll send you a patch!

If I've left anything out or if I need to clarify any part of this instructable, just let me know.  I'm happy to help you with your own project, and I'd absolutely LOVE to see a picture if you make something like this!

Oh, and make sure you check the picture comments!  I've put a bunch of information in those!
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