Introduction: Leaf Blower Proton Pack Candy Shooter

Not feeling it on my pandemic mood clock but it is the Halloween season. I guess I should make something to disrupt the blahs.

So I saw this 1000th Instructables speed challenge go live. Hmmm, I think I might meet the requirements to enter...

Because of the pandemic, it is necessary to social distance. It is no longer prudent to hand Halloween candy directly to a person's grubby hands so we need to devise alternate delivery methods.

A big thing already is a Halloween themed candy chute but what if we want to ensure that we are far away as possible from the other person? For that, we need a candy launcher.

If you are traditional, you may want to make a trebuchet or slingshot.

Candy cannons/mortars/bazookas require machinery and specialized equipment such as air compressors, chemicals, or dangerous stuff you shouldn't have around.

Welp, that leaves my leaf blower in the garage . (see what I did there?)

Step 1: Layer by Layer...

I think I want to make a candy launcher powered by a leaf blower but Ghostbusters Proton Pack themed.

The first thing when you want to build something is to do some research on what you want to make.

See what kind of details make up the project.

Note the texture, color, shiny, transparent, shape, material(wood, leather, fabric, foam, plastic, metal...), soft, hard?

What parts move?

Does it make sounds?

Does it light up? Does it light up in any pattern?

Think of what you can do to simulate the part of the object.

For practical reasons, will you scale it up or down, make it bigger or smaller? Adapt it to something different?

Figure out what specific things define the piece and need to be included in the build, edit out the smaller details that will not be missed.

Rummage through the junk you have in the house or see what is in the recycling bin.

I found a coffee container and the handle indents seem to fit the leaf blower handle nicely. It would be a great starting point for the circular shaped cyclotron part.

My go-to maker material is cardboard. It's cheap and I have lots of it. I do prefer to create with more simple basic stuff without having to need a 3D printer or laser cutter.

Harvest your stock from plain corrugated cardboard boxes in the recycling bin and remove tape or glossy labels that glue has a tough time sticking to.

From there, it's all a matter of having lots of glue and patience to start forming the object.

Be careful when cutting cardboard as utility knifes and heavy duty shears are sharp and beware of what is under when you cut through.

Step 2: Getting Greebly...

We need to cover up all the rough edges of the corrugated cardboard.

I usually accomplish that by putting on a layer of paper mache. I've found that using pieces of paper towels instead of torn newspapers of scrap paper works better. It is easier to shape and blend together when saturated and applied with full strength glue.

Varying the surface texture adds a lot of detail to your piece. It builds up the complexity of the look and adds to a more realistic object. Random things - called greebles - are glued on. I cut some pieces from textured craft foam to outline the cyclotron portholes and to detail that retaining bar. I also glued on some circular wood and craft foam pieces to look like caps or screws when painted. Note that scrap cardboard was glued on the bigger parts to form a ridged block.

Step 3: It's Lit...

Adding lights seems to make anything better.

Delve into the world of electronics. It's fun and actually easy to get started with plenty of code and tutorials out on the internet.

You need a microcontroller board of some sort to animate the LED lights.

I am reusing an Adafruit Circuit Playground Express board that I had wired up with a strip of Neopixel LEDs from something else so I just needed to reprogram it to animate the lights the way a Proton Pack lights up.

I used CircuitPython as the language but the same effects can be done in Arduino or Makecode.

Step 4: It's Hosed...

Prime and paint.

I painted it with black acrylic paint.

Use a clean dry brush with just a dab of lighter silver color paint to "dry brush" over the contact areas to give it a worn metallic look. The brush strokes will highlight and reveal "metal" underneath.

Pack the innards with the electronics and route the wires. I can switch over power from the USB cord to a battery pack for more portable use.

The neopixel strip is taped along the leaf blower nozzle.

I used wiring loom - corrugated plastic tube to gather wiring - and hot glued it to its connection points.

I no longer have any massive ribbon cables like those used for the old IDE computer hard disk drives so I ran all the loose wires from the board along the side.

You can also go further and add in red and blue tubing for more detail. Maybe stick a stiff wire inside of some paracord to simulate the tubing or paint up some thick cord or rope.

A quick search on the internet will yield graphics of the labels found on a Ghostbusters Proton Pack. I printed out a few to fit and glued them on.

Step 5: Don't Try This...

I didn't have time to really design and work out the candy launching part of this.

The main idea was to have the coffee container as feed container or ammo magazine.

It would meter out a piece of candy to go down the chute and into the leaf blower nozzle.

The candy would need to be sized to fit being blown out of the leaf blower nozzle orifice.

It would need a trapdoor mechanism to block the airflow being lost to the delivery chute.

The piece of candy would then be blown out of the leaf blower nozzle "barrel".

I'm not an aerospace engineer, the may be some venturi mechanics here at work. Science!

I guess for now it is loaded like an old musket from the barrel open end. With blower powered off, drop a piece of candy down the nozzle, point in the general direction away from any persons, elevate business end for greater distance, and turn on the leaf blower to launch. A piece of window screen mesh needs to be installed to keep the candy from dropping too far inside to where it will contact the blower impeller blades.

As always, have real adult supervision when operating, use protective gear, follow the manufacturer's full instructions and heed warnings. Careful! You'll take an eye out!

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