Ghostbusters Proton Pack




About: Nuke Compositor and Lighter working in the VFX industry

This is a semi step-by-step guide of how my girlfriend Jess and I built our Ghostbusters proton packs for Halloween 2008! We ended up spending just under a month and just over $200 on each pack. Not including random tools here and there that we needed.

No expensive lightboards or sound packs here. This is 100% homemade and on the cheap.

Here is a couple stills of the final pack.

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Step 1: Costumes

The costumes themselves were simple as hell and only took a night to do.

Flight suits off of
Paratrooper Belts off of
Boots off of

Then a couple custom patches off of Ebay to read 'Hogan' and 'Morrison' and of course the No Ghost symbols and we were pretty much good to go!

Just a few details needed adding like the gloves, circuit board (which were junked old sound cards) and some random tubing which can be found easily at Home Depot.

But in making a Ghostbusters costume remember...90% of the work in the pack.

Step 2: Cutting the Motherboard

To start off we cut the 'motherboard' out of masonite board we found at Home Depot. This is the same stuff you'll find clip boards made out of. Just a much bigger sheet of it. We then downloaded the blueprints we needed from [] and cut away using a Dremel. This made a HUGE mess by the way, so do yourself a favor and either cut it outside or in a space that's easily cleanable like a bathroom.

Step 3: Sculpting the Parts

Once again we started out by looking at stills and downloading the blueprints we needed from [] But the site was also great to find out how most people went about constructing their own packs. We found that most people seemed to cut their parts out of wood and/or vacuum form them. We on the other hand didn't want an all wood pack because of the weight, and vacuum forming was just going to be too complicated and expensive.

So we cut our parts out of insolation foam. This stuff is very dense and very pink. And perfect in terms of weight and ease of use. Jess and I had both used this stuff while at art school (SCAD) and with a little work you can get some great results.

But we also went one step further to really get things smooth and the corners sharp by coating each piece with spackle and then sanding it down. This really is the key to getting a foam pack look like machined parts. It even leaves a very nice and subtle texture that really feels like steel machined parts.

Then by adding a couple pieces of PVC you start to really get down the shapes needed for an authentic Proton Pack.

Again Home Depot was the store of choice.

(These are obviously just a couple of the parts we made, and don't include the battery pack etc.)

Step 4: Dollar Store Heaven

Another great place to find parts is the Dollar Store. That's where we found a perfect plastic Tortilla Bowl and a few colored document folders that we used for gels in the battery pack and Cyclotron.

Step 5: Bumper

This was made by simply bending a piece metal window siding we found at Home Depot.

Step 6: Getting Ready for Paint.

We used Gorilla glue to join all the parts to the motherboard. And now we're pretty much all assembled and it's time to get the packs ready for paint! And a BIG part of getting them ready is by putting a heavy coating of Gesso over the entire pack. Why you ask? Well foam has an odd reaction when exposed to the chemicals found in most spray paint.

It melts.

So to prevent that we gave it a protective coating for Gesso.

There are some water based spray paints out there made by Krylon, but we had a hell of a time finding Matte Black. This stuff tends to spray on kind of runny anyways, so this is the preferred method we found.

(Other random parts on the packs include a Radio Shack project box for the mounting of the Wand, and craft wood ribbing glued onto the appropriate parts)

Step 7: Back in Black

Now that the packs are all painted we then started to attach the ion arm and the black ribbed tubing (electrical department Home Depot).

Step 8: Light 'em Up!

Now here's the really fun part. Making the LED circuits.

This should be treated as a separate project as it did take quite a bit of work, and should only be taken on by someone who has soldering experience.

The battery pack is a simple chaser circuit, and the Cyclotron is just 4 blinking LED's daisy chained together each with a slighly higher capacity capacitor.

To make life easier I went ahead and just purchased ready made kits at [] Just dig through their LED and Kit sections and you'll find tons of fun stuff to play with.

We then put them into the pack and were ready to move onto most expensive part of the pack...

Step 9: The Gunbox and Wand

To start out I sculpted it out of clay based on the dimensions of the blueprints. I then made a silicon mold and casted it out of resin.

I ended up needing around 7 lbs of silicon to make the mold which ran me $125 for 10lbs. That was the big expense since I had to order it online. The resin you can find at pretty much any craft store and was only $25-$30.

Then with a little sanding this puppy was ready to go.

The grips were handles found in the gardening department at Home Depot, which we then spray painted matte black and wrapped in standard electrical tape.

All the little parts on the gun were made out of sculpy. And the same approach was taken on the pack as well.

Step 10: Alice Packs

We ended up attaching our motherboards to the ALICE packs using simple zip ties that we pre-drilled holes for. Then just added a couple pieces of Pipe foam for added comfort.

Step 11: Wiring It All Together and Finishing Up.

All of our electronics made their home inside the Gunbox. And each circuit had it's one closed power source of a standard 9v battery. This was done to keep things simple and extend battery life from 3 hours to almost 9.

This took a few hours to wire up each one and resulted in a rats nest of wires inside, but it got the job done. Electrical tape and hot glue is your friend during this step to prevent any shorts.

I added in a LED Bargraph that lights up and also a tri-color LED in the gun tip, which was made out of a turkey baster found at the Dollar Store.

Step 12: Demo Video

And that was pretty much it! All the stickers were found once again on GBFans. Here's a demo video of it all working!

Step 13: Random Stills

Anyways, I hope this instructable helped you out. And good luck in building your own pack! It was a much bigger undertaking then either Jess or I thought it would be. But it was so much fun to do together, and we're both so happy with the final result.

Plus it finally fulfilled my childhood dream of owning my very own Proton Pack!

To end here are just some random stills of the other parts of the packs not mentioned in this instructable. Oh and also my cat because she's awesome.

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57 Discussions


8 years ago on Introduction

2 years later and I'm still blown away by how much you all like the packs! I'm currently working on a "part 2" to this instructable on how to add arduino controlled lights and sound...and even a rumble pack for the gun! Schematics, code, the works. So keep your eyes open, because I should have it up just after Halloween with pictures and a new demo video!

1 reply

Reply 1 year ago

I cant wait for part 2! Would you say this is screen accurate?


2 years ago

Where did you get the dimensions for your pack. Specifically the wand


2 years ago

While I did not follow the exact specs off of GBFans, I wanted to post and thank Zombie Dug for helping me put together a great pack for my kid. It was _WAY_ more work than I planned on when I simply told my wife "he wants to be a Ghost Buster? Sure, I'll build the pack" ... I had no idea what to do and Z.D. here gave me all I needed really.

One key thing from this was actually the wiring of the All-Electronics blinkenlights for the cyclotron. I bought some of the tiny kits off of their site but without the notes on using both a daisy chain AND increasing capacity capacitors, I would not have achieved a reasonable effect. Also the turkey baster for the thrower tip was key.

I made a couple of minor improvements (perhaps) I'll share.

1) The baster for the thrower tip is not crystal clear. I think this is key because we don't want to see the LEDs faking the proton effect. Second, the "Frosted" plastic basters tend to really pickup the color from the light and make it visible... like fog and flashlights.

2) I made the gun modular from the backpack. I used RJ45 connectors on the pack and inside the gun handle, and used a standard-wired ethernet cord (albeit I custom made it to the right length) as the wire between the two. I used cat6 cable that is rated for vertical runs which means it has a plenum inside that gives it extra strength. When I want to store or work on just the pack I can disconnect the thrower from the pack. Likewise, I can unplug the gun from the cable and work on just it. For an active five-year old, being able to remove the potential complication of a thrower and cable from him running around is a bonus, too. The jacks I used are just Home Despot-acquired Leviton cat6 wall jacks ... so they use a mini-punch-down on the back of each jack. This gives you a max of 4 possible circuits that run through the thrower... I used three. Also, I still ran the cat6 cable inside of a ribbed hose (one used for hiding... cables), so it doesn't look like cat6 cable.

3) Because the pack and thrower are connected by up to four circuits, I stored the 9v batteries (one per circuit, like Z.D. had) in the back pack. I used a hinge on the "battery box" to let me open it up (secured by hidden velcro) for when I inevitably will need to change batteries.

4) For a five year old, I did not feel the "masonite" (AKA hardboard, aka lots of other names) suggested by Z.D. was sufficient. It feels too weak and certainly too flexible. I used 1/4" basic MDF from Home Despot. It _is_ heavier, but tougher, and ... this is key for those doing a backpack for a small kid... you will have trouble finding a cheap actual pack frame for a small kid. You can try making one from PVC pipes. I just bought olive-drab webbing from Amazon, and plastic clips, and Gorilla-Glued the webbing to the MDF to make the pack. I doubt it would be good for an all-day hike, but for a couple hours of tricking and treating, he can carry it. If I had done this with Masonite, it would have flexed too much and probably broken some of the parts of the pack.

5) All Electronics is a cool site and I appreciate Z.D. pointing us there. However, I bought their "chaser" circuit kit and feel that the circuit used on my son's pack is far superior... he had already put together the Larson Scanner kit from Evil Mad Scientist. It is a _much_ smoother display that is also more compact. I've been informed that the best way to run the Larson Scanner on a 9v battery is to put 3 regular red LEDs in front of it in the circuit to drop the voltage, because the Larson Scanner kit runs on 3v. So again, for a kid costume that is not movie accurate, more lights is better.

6) My thrower uses two, not one, of the fast-color changing 10mm RGB LEDs from Spark Fun. As far as. I can tell Z.D. used 1 LED? And I am not sure the intensity. Unlike Z.D. I did not cut my baster-tip short (I wasn't going for 100% movie accurate). The brightness of these LEDs both lights up the sides of the frosted plastic, AND when pointed at a wall in a dark place, makes a clear image on the wall where it is pointing. Not quite laser-pointer, but neat for a kid to feel like he is actually shooting something. I didn't plan this... it was just a bonus find.

Like Z.D. I am very interested in improving the pack with an Arduino or something that can playback sounds... specifically, I feel like the pack REALLY needs to make the power-on and humming sounds from the movie. It is an unlicensed nuclear accelerator, after all! But time and budget stood in my way... mostly budget.

Thanks Z.D.! I'll leave a couple of YT vids here of my son showing off the pack.

Hadrian Ghost Buster #1

Hadrian Ghost Buster #2

1 reply

Reply 2 years ago

Thanks for such an awesome comment!!! It made my day to see those videos. I'm really glad that this little instructable helped make an awesome costume for your son this Halloween! He's one great looking Ghostbuster!


2 years ago

What did you use for the externally attached red and blue wires on the pack? And the L connectors they seem to plug into? Those are nice detail. Did you also do any connected tube/wire thing that runs from the left hip in the front to the pack?


9 years ago on Step 10

I'm trying to build a proton pack using your instructions, and I was wondering if you could think of any more "wallet-friendly" alternatives to the ALICE pack.

3 replies

Reply 2 years ago

I picked up a Molle II frame (only) for $13 off of Amazon. Used but in good condition. It may not be as authentic looking as an ALICE frame at first, but with some decoration, it should be barely noticeable.


Reply 8 years ago on Step 10

You could probably make a similar frame out of PVC fairly cheap and pick up a used backpack at your local goodwill-type store fairly cheap and find a way to attach the straps to the PVC frame, after you have painted the frame of course.


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

Sorry, not really. That's kind of the one thing that's an absolute necessity for this project. The best thing I could offer would be the check your local Army surplus store though. They might have it for cheaper than what you're finding online. Good luck!


2 years ago

Hi, can you talk about the "metal window siding" you used for the bumper? I can't locate anything like that at my Home Depot, so I might be asking for it by name incorrectly.

1 reply

Reply 2 years ago

I asked about this at HD as well. At first they had no idea but this old dude who had nothing better to do kept wandering around looking. Finally when I thought he had gone for good he showed up with a great thing that looks _similar_ which came from the air duct section... but the goal is thin metal that can be bent. I'd be more interested in knowing now how the OP bent his bumper.


3 years ago

How much would you charge to make one of these for me?


3 years ago

awesome! My girlfriend and I were thinking of being ghost busters this year


3 years ago

I'm attempting to build my own based off of this design with a few minor changes, the only major change is that I'm using a raspberry pi to control the lights so I need to know how long does each light in the cyclotron stay on before the next one turns on?


4 years ago

Would you want to sell it?


4 years ago on Step 3

what kind of insilation foam did you use? It looks a lot thicker then what I'm finding in my area.


7 years ago on Introduction

dear zombiedug some guy that works for placement says that is his proton pack so can you help me out from beleving him please thank you sincerely cody sucena who ya gonna call?