Thursday, June 25, 2009

My DIY Proton Pack Writeup

Hey guys! I've decided to rewrite my proton pack build so it's a little easier to follow. There were a few months where nothing got done and i'd like to try and bridge those gaps. So here we go...

Here is the very cool, yet junkie looking, creation from our favorite paranormal investigators. I could get into how it works by throwing a stream of protons in order to entangle and wrangle spectral entities... but that's for another site. Here I'm just trying to replicate the prop itself, so lets focus on that. I'm already a geek, may as well not push it.

After searching the web for plans and reference pictures, I stumbled across This site is quite possibly, at least in my opinion, the best site for Ghostbuster news and prop building. Just about anything you want to know about the franchise, you can find here. I highly recommend them... but i digress. I found several different plans for building this prop, some that were very detailed and some that were for the "weak walleted". Falling into the latter category, I decided on Norm's Plans (found on They included many found items such as a cake pan, flex straws, and even #2 pencils. I love this type of prop building so I printed his plans and ran to the hardware store.

Here are a few early build shots I took in an effort to document it here on this blog. That didn't happen as I would have liked it to, which is why I'm playing catch-up now. Most of the early parts were made with thin plywood. If I were to do this over, I would have invested in a power sander much earlier in the process. Makes a work of difference. The pieces were cutout using a jigsaw, then taped and glued in place. Small wood blocks were placed inside to stabilize the walls and hold the shape.

This is the "synchronous generator" which is a fancy term for "big apostrophe". This was made per Norm's plans using a "For Rent" sign and a couple sewing rings. his design was a really good idea, but I ran into a few problems with it. While it seemed to stand up to the many drops it sustained (happened way more than I would have liked), it just didn't like the paint I used on it. Being in a hurry to get this project done by Halloween, I probably didn't use the right primer (if I used any at all) but the color just didn't look right. That's okay though, I was pretty proud of this thing for holding together at all that night. Navigating a crowded bar with this thing on your back, while praying as hard as you can, is not a easy task.

Here you can see the paint on the generator. Compared to the cake pan, it seemed really gray no matter how many coats I put on it. This was also a very bare bones build. most of the details were left off to get it wearable in time for Halloween.

Here we have some of the best prop building material ever made by man. PVC can be made into more things that you might think. Anything tube shaped that may appear on your prop, go for PVC. It's lightweight, cheap, plentiful, and holds paint remarkably well. Everyone of these pieces made it onto the pack in some way or another. You can just about count on it to always be straight as opposed to wooden dowels. Wood has a tendency to warp which will ruin your finished product. PVC is your friend! =]

Okay! Now we're getting somewhere!
This image is way before the finished product, but it's really starting to shape up. Much painting, gluing, and sanding still needs to happen here. I think the only thing I haven't covered yet, present in this picture, are the mayonnaise jar lid (the blue thing) and the pringles can bottom (the green and purple thing). The latter was present in Norm's plans. This was one of my favorite found items as it was cheap and tasty too! The rings and the bumper plate were made from the same "for rent" sign.

Okay, Lets talk about the nutrona Wand for a little bit...

Here are the gun body parts. These were constructed out of the same plywood (i got by only buying only one medium sheet) and was sanded and painted the same as the rest of the parts. Being the only one I've built so far, I made plenty of mistakes on this. If and when I rebuilt this portion, it will be quite different. I had plenty of plans to add all the lights and sound controls into this body, it just didn't happen (and still hasn't). This is the most incomplete part of the prop. One day...

Here is the (kind of) completed gun. It is still missing quite a few details and all of the lights and sounds. It gets the job done pretty well though. Let's see... The toggle switches are the wrong kind, but that's all Radio Shack had. I think they look just fine. The momentary push button is from RS as well. The heatsink is from an old computer I had lying around. Little paint and epoxy and it was perfect. The clippard and grips were and interesting project. I'll tell you about those...

These grips were made from a couple bottles of Gumout (pictured below). This is included in Norm's plans as well and is quite ingenious. Take the bottle, dump it into your gas tank (dump the other into your friends tank), rinse out the bottle and let it dry outside. Cut off the ribbed section. Now we'll have to size it down a bit. Cut a section about a 1/4" out of the middle. Hot glue the two halves together. Now dip them into another awesome product called Plastidip (also pictured below). This will give the grips a nice rubber coating and will last through quite a bit. Good idea Norm!

This is the Clippard. It is actually an electronic component that regulates the flow of particles into whatever appliance it is used in. Okay, that was untrue. I have no clue what it's supposed to do, all I know is that I couldn't afford the original part or the resin copies that are available on the internet, so I was forced to create something similar. This is, in fact, a product known as an "envelop moistener" (pictured below) from staples. Apparently it prevents papercuts on your tongue, which I can totally understand. Also included on this prop is the cap for a travel bottle of Herbal Essence shampoo. Happened to fit okay, but I convinced it further with a little hot glue. A little spray paint and a sticker (which is found at later, and we had something that was close enough for me.$sku$

Here we have a few more details, which I'll describe for those of you who are even still reading. On the left is what is know as the HGA. What does that stand for? Dunno. Doesn't matter. What does matter is that it's made out of a 2" piece of PVC and some allen screws. Easy Peasy. Next is the PPD. Don't even ask what it means. It's a little tough to tell from the picture, but a few more parts are here. A couple pencils, some sort of moulding, two film canister lids, an insulated clamp, some IDE cable (from a computer), a sticker, some blue cat5 cable,and the flex straw (on the bottom of the blue cable). If you want some more detail on this, ask and I shall tell. The last image is the gunmount. This was an ordered part although you can find them on the bottom of plastic cup dispensers. I never found one, but apparently they exist (i don't buy it). There is another half to this on the bottom of the wand. It's kind of a pain to get them to hook up while wearing the pack, but that's what buddies are for! =]

Here we have the Ion Arm. It's really just some wood and paint, but whatever. The tip of this piece was painted silver as per the movie, but I never really got to detail it. The silver thing is supposed to be a large resistor of some kind, but Norm suggested to use some of the tubing (that connects the pack to the gun) and cut it in half. I think it worked pretty well. Allen screws on the front and cat5 cable and it came out pretty well. The gold fitting is also in the plans. Look it up yourself! Also, one more note on this image, the 2" piece of PVC on the right is known as the booster. The part coming out the top of it was the top of a Glade slide-up air freshener. Man, sometimes I feel sorry for the poor items that happen to be close to me when I go part hunting...

Okay, final part and then I'll just post some pics of the finished product. This is the power cell. It's only importance is that it contains 12 - 15 blue lights that go in sequence. Also the cyclotron has four red lights, but I don't have a pic of that. I have looked far and wide for a cheap and easy way to get these lights going and after many a late night, I've narrowed it down to only a couple of options. Exoray, on the GBFans forums, sells terrific kits. I haven't had one in my hands, but I have seen them first hand and they are amazing. His kits also include the gun lights which this prop has yet to see. This is a good route to go if you have the cash to drop (which really isn't too much). If you don't, R2DEVO on the GBFans forums has created a DIY setup which involves programming microchips and wiring your own LEDs. I went this way and after fighting with the programmer I bought from eBay, and the help of R2DEVO, I got it working and all was well. It was cheap and really easy, after I realised my stupid mistake (that I won't be sharing here). R2 also mentioned selling his own kits, but I'm not sure if he ever got that off the ground.

Here is a video of the light circuit working on a breadboard. I can't even tell you how stoked I was when I got this going. Excited!
From this...........To this!

Wow. What a difference! There is still quite a few details that my pack is missing. One of these days I'll go back an finish it, but for now I have another project to devote my time to. My wife. I really need to dedicate this prop to her as she did everything in her power to keep me going on this. She was my motivation as well as my beta tester. She helped me in many ways to get this done. She listened when I needed to bitch about it, and even pretended to know what i was talking about. Thanks sweets!!!

Well, that's my writeup. If you have any questions for me, just leave a message here, or email me at Here are a few more pics and a video of the lights going. Hope you enjoyed!!!


Halloween and MegaCon 2009!!! W00t!!!


1 comment:

Jill said...

Cuz-Bro - I am so amazingly proud to be related to you. Love ya - Jillian (Cuz-Sis, property of Frat-Boy)