This year I wanted to make my own Proton Pack. It is actually a project that I have been working on from the first time i watched the move as a little kid. Back then it was lego built and trying to get it looking kinda right.
Unfortunately I did not think of taking pictures until I was halfway through the build, but I would be happy to answer any questions that I can.
Step 1: General Construction
The whole thing is made primarily of insulation foam that comes from the big hardware stores for about $15 a sheet, and foam/poster presentation board. I used polyurethane to keep the spray on primer from eating the foam, and once sanded it has a nice worn out look to it.
Each piece was cut from layers of the insulation foam and then stacked and glued together. At first I used plain Elmer's glue to keep everything together with three inch push pins to keep the layers aligned. I found that hot glue worked just as well, but did not take one to three hours to dry.
Any holes or gaps in the layers was filled with light wall putty which has the consistency of cake frosting. Once that dried, I sanded everything smooth and then applied a layer of polyurethane. Each layer of polyurethane got a once over with 320 grit to smooth it, and then another layer of polyurethane. Each piece got between two and five coats. The polyurethane drys to an almost plastic consistency and each layer makes the piece stronger.
Step 2: General Construction Part II
Most of the top half of the pack is made from one inch Styrofoam insulation found at most hardware stores. I found mine at Lowes for about $15 for a eight by four foot sheet.
The gear box was made with four layers of foam and a piece of PVC pipe in the center for the hose to come out of. The knob on the gear box is made from a prescription bottle top a pen cap.
The Cyclotron's lower layer was made with two pieces of the presentation board cut in the correct shape and the one inch foam just placed in between the two layers. Thin cardboard from a soda can box was cut into strips and glued around it. The second layer where the lights are is a cover for plates in the microwave. The bumper that goes across it is just more presentation board that was bent over the edge of my work bench and then glued in place. The bolts on the side are simply for show.
The ribbon cable is actually off an old computer and it hides the battery box and switch for the lights.
The various valves and cylinders around the pack are empty bottles that came from a local craft store that had various types of glitter in them.
Step 3: Proton Wand
I tried to get the wand as accurate as possible. I got the shape correct along with the handle and the grips. I was out of time and didn't get the end tip built.
If you look at the real prop (in one of the Planet Hollywood restaurants) the handles and the business end of the wand looks like they were welded on. Being that this was just foam, I used hot glue instead and then spray painted it. It looks like a painted weld to me.
I did find out that a high temp glue gun will melt the foam very quickly.
The line from the pack to the wand is just black split tubing used to keep wires together behind a computer. I ran 550 cord through the tube for stability.
I looked for weeks to try and find handles for a bike or from a garden rake that would work on the wand. In the end, I could not find anything that looked right so I made the grips from foam. I just took a strip and measured out where my fingers would go. I glued sand paper to a piece of one inch PVC pipe and just sanded down until I got the grip shapes. I also sanded out a grove on the back with the same pipe as the handles are made from one inch pipe as well. I attached it with hot glue and painted when done.
Step 4: Lighting
I would have loved to lay out a set up where the lights blinked in a clockwise sequence like the movies did in a fade in - fade out pattern. But I really did not have the time to set up and build one, so I cheated and found a blinking light set from the hobby store for $5. There were ten lights in the set and blinked two at a time in more or less random order. I drilled out four holes in the plastic on the top of the cyclotron and used the reflectors from four cheap flash lights. The red came from plastic bottles.
The remaining six lights were mounted to a plastic piece and placed in the middle of the pack. Even though it is not movie accurate, it still looks good. If I had planed it out better (lights were a last minute item and not really thought of in the beginning of this project) I would have placed the lights in the Power Cell to the left of the pack. As it is, that is just solid foam as is the rest of the upper pack.
Step 5: Final Thoughts and Things I Have Learned
Here are a few things I found during this project.
Most spray paints will eat Styrofoam like acid. Found this out after taking two hours of sanding and carving and gluing on a piece and was about ready to paint it. Thankfully I decided to test the primer out on a scrap piece first. It wasn't pretty.
Foam Dust from sanding and cutting makes coffee taste terrible.
Using hacksaws, puzzle saws, and files to cut foam is to much work and mess. The best way to cut is to use an exacto knife and several cuts. Next time I do this, I will build a hot wire cutter.
The flight suit is new and never worn, there for never washed. This is why it looks like plastic. I should have washed it first.
I never got the GB patch for the arm or the name tape (It would have been Venkman). There is a tailor shop near the local Air Force base that will hand make patches for about eight bucks. So about $16 for both. Every Military Post or Base I have been to has one near by for uniforms. Or I could just order a set online.
For added realism I was thinking about using detergent as slime stains on the arms and legs.
The light kit was from a set that is used for lighting up t-shirts or hand bags. I would have loved to set up a proper light set, but time and money was a factor. Other things I looked at were light sets that were in the auto detail department of Wally World and my local Auto Part store. Almost everything was either 12V or ran off a battery pack. Plenty of light sets that chased or flashed in order. Also with the holidays now here, LED Christmas lights seem to be the rage. I have seen a number of small sets for wreaths ect. This would work nicely also
Spray Paints, Primers and Polyurethane are highly flammable. Use in well ventilated areas and avoid smoking cigars while applying to any project. (poof!)
I did the whole thing in about three weeks and under fifty bucks. Even though time was a factor, patience is a virtue and I ended up having to redo pieces because I just could not wait for something to dry or I wanted to make one more piece late at night.
Oil based polyurethane takes up to five hours to dry. Next project I am going to use the latex version. Less fumes and quicker drying time, also clean up is done with soap and water instead of mineral oils.
I didn't get a trap or PKE meter built but they were in the planing phase. The PKE meter was going to be built from a lint brush with the same basic shape. The Trap was just going to be a foam box with hinged doors and a flashlight inside. I was also trying to figure out how to add a bit of dry ice in the trap to make it smoke a bit.