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"Ghostbusters Proton Pack"

From Blueprint to Finished Pack in 24 hours

To be honest, this is a project to make a 'down and dirty' replica of the Ghostbuster Proton Pack. The proverbial 'corners' had to be cut to make the deadline of 24 hours.

I also did not work 'non-stop' on the project. I slept, ate, and went to the hardware store a couple times. But ultimately, I did complete this in one weekend.


Before working on the physical parts of the project, I needed to do some research on what makes up the proton pack. I found an excellent discussion board resource at the "A Site About Props" Forums" and I found blueprints and photo references at gbfans.com. One of the key things I found was some very accurate looking blue prints for the proton pack. A guy by the name of Stefan Otto was nice enough to put his blueprints online for the rest of us costumers, and this sped up my proton pack making project immensely.

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I printed out Stefan's blueprints and highlighted the most important measurements with a yellow marker. Highlighting was key in quick reference as I worked. I taped all the printed pages to a large board which I propped up in an out-of-the-way location in the workshop.

NOTE: Collect as many images of the screen-used GB proton packs as you can. Not fan made proton packs, but the Movie Used proton packs. Mainly you are looking for Screen Captures from the movies, and images from Museum Displays. GBfans.com has some of the best reference photos on their site, buried in the equipment section.

Once you have the photos, print them out and compile them into a 3 RING BINDER. This allows you to easily reference the images as you build your pack. To me, going back-and-forth to the computer/laptop to look at reference gets to be a pain, but maybe you know a better way to scroll through the images? Let me know. :)

Printed Reference photos save you time!

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The next thing I did was print out the "TOP DOWN" blueprint in 1:1 scale, this way I could compare parts quickly to a physical reference, therefore double checking my work and limiting error. I used the Adobe Illustrator program to layout the 1:1 blueprint, and I am sure other desktop publishing programs could work for making a 1:1 blueprint too.
I taped multiple 8.5x11 sheets of paper together to make the finished blueprint.


5:07pm

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The GB proton pack is mainly made up of a series of boxes that are painted black and have electronic wiring attached to them. I decided to make my boxes out vacuumformed plastic, keeping the final proton pack light weight, but, I needed to make my vacuumform plugs (molds) out of wood. In the image above you can see my initial layout for the boxes that make up the upper part of the proton pack. I am comparing the box layout to the 1:1 blueprint.


6:55 pm

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Once I am happy with the layout, I secured the wood walls to a master plywood base (from the bottom of the plywood of course).


7:31 pm

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I screw a 1/8th inch wooden top to the wooden walls, then router the top smooth.


9:50 pm

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Next I make variable height tops for the final box shapes. Basically these are fabricated from 3/4 inch wood boards and screwed into place. A 2x4 baord, cut diagonally on the bandsaw, is used for the slanted 'booster pipe' tower.


10:43 pm

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I added/glued 1/4 inch wooden edge trim to the sides of the boxes for detailing.


11:11 pm

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Detail closeup. Notice the wooden piece inbetween the two boxes. I custom cut this from a 2x4 and shaped the curved top with a power sander.


12:02 am

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Now it's time to work on the lower half of the proton pack, The Cyclotron!
I screwed two pieces of plywood together and drew the shape of the cyclotron on the top.


12.15 am

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Using a bandsaw (or a jigsaw), I cut out the shape of the Cyclotron. The screws keep the two sheets of plywood together and that ensures matching cuts.


1:25 am

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I now separate the two pieces of plywood and slip blocks of 2x4 wood in between them. I make sure the plywood plates line up vertically and screw the plates to the 2x4 spacers.


3:59 am

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I cut a 48 inch strip of sheet metal with tin snips and walled the cyclotron with it. The bottom curve of the cyclotron is faceted and I bent the facets into the wall a vise, prior to attaching to the cyclotron. I screwed the sheet metal wall to the plywood in various places. This wall took 2.5 hours to fabricate.


4:27 am

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I place and screw the cyclotron to the master plywood base of the proton pack via the bottom side of the master base.


Sleep/Lunch

3:24 pm

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I used a metal "baking pan" for the raised circular part of the cyclotron. The 4 donut looking detail pieces are the parts of wire spindles, epoxied into place (a year later I replaced these with circles cut from 1/8 inch thick wood using a drill mounted hole-saw). The "cyclotron filter" is made from the bottom part of a blue plastic drinking mug, also epoxied into place.


9:47 pm

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I trim the master base of the proton pack with a bandsaw. and prepare the mold for the vaccuumtable. Coating the porous wood with a mold release is crucial for getting the plastic off the mold once vacuumformed.

Mold release notes: Vaseline or petroleum jelly works in a pinch, but clean-up is laborious later on. Stoner makes a nice dry-film mold release called E455 Thermoset Mold Release, which is what we use.


2 hour Dinner break

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The first vacuumforming does not suck down too well.

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The second vacuumforming is better. The Cyclotron gains good detail and the edges are crisp.

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The top of the proton pack is a little soft in detail, but it will work for our needs.


1:50 am

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I trim with a knife/blade the excess plastic off of the vacuumformed plastic, leaving what will be the main body of the proton pack. I also cut the master "mother board" which will make the back side of the proton pack.


3:28 pm

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I start attaching the hoses and cables that will detail the final pack. I should have 'dry brush' painted the "distressing and weathering" onto the proton pack prior to this stage, but forgot to and had to paint that detailing on after the cables were attached.


4:39 am

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Here you can see the military "alice pack" and the cyclotron bumper attached to the proton pack. "Distressing and Weathering" paint is applied.

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I attached the alice pack to the 1/4 inch wood "mother board" plate. At this point I remembered I had to attach the proton pack energy cable to the mother board too, for the stress of the cable being pulled and twisted while being used would be too much for the thin vacuumformed shell to hold up to by itself.

Notice the tall wooden blocks screwed to the mother board also. These are what the vacuumformed shell screws to, keeping the plastic shell secure on the motherboard.


5:00 am

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The final proton pack.
See images below of more advanced proton packs I made the years following this intial project.


Tools Used

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These are all the tools I used in 2009 to assemble a proton pack for a client. I will list these tools later on.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do you still have a copy of the blueprints for the proton pack you could e-mail me please?
As stated above Stefans Blueprints are at gbfans.com. currently resinding at... http://www.gbfans.com/equipment/plans/stefan-otto/
 
Where can i get an alice pack from?
Ebay.com seems to be the best place to get the best price on a used alice pack. They run about $25.00. You can purchase new alice pack frames for $40, but the newer ones have nylon straps that will need to be weathered before you can be a hardcore Ghostbuster
 
How do you make the gun?
Once again, GBFANS.COM is the best place for info on how to make a lot of the parts for the Proton pack. They have a pseudo tutorial for the gun in the Reference Section of the EQUIPMENT area.
 
Where can you get circuitry bits and bobs from?
If you are talking about working lights... I use bakatronics.com for all my moving lights. Mainly the FK116 Circular Chaser Kit, 10 LED and 16 LED Chaser Module. They are 85%-100% accurate lights, and are simple to install and give the pack quality moving lights, and that's key.
 
Any tips for quickly assembling a good looking, but not so accurate proton pack?

For a rudimentary proton pack that will pass at Halloween parties, you'll want to :

  • mount the shell to a motherboard (custom cut from 1/8th inch wood/hardboard)
  • mount an Alice Pack frame to the motherboard,
  • attach the red, blue and yellow hoses to the pack in the appropriate spots,
  • attach a multicolored wide ribbon of sorts to simulate the computer cable.
  • attach 3/4 inch flex loom to the shell (both upper section and the hose to the particle wand
  • attach a cyclinder of sorts for the Clippard Valve.
  • cut out and install the blue power cell window area.
  • cut out and install 4 red cyclotron windows.
  • build and attach the particle wand

This is the bare minimum I would recommend, and very similar to the pack i built my brother (see tutorial above)

Installing lights into the pack is a bonus and the very next step above the bare minimum.

For the clippard valves, You can get away with using old medicine bottles for the base cylinder, then screw a segment of wooden dowel rod painted silver to the top of that. Worked like a charm on my first pack no one in the dance clubs ever knew the difference.

Try to have some sort of lights in the pack. Even if they are static (non-moving) lights make the pack come alive and give the pack legitimacy. I use battery-operated Christmas lights for most of my "rush-job" props that need lights.
I recommnd the bakatronics.com "chaser lights" for a non-accurate pack.

The vacuum lines used in the real packs are tough to get quickly, so colored electrical wire works in a pinch. You need red wire, blue wire, a short segment of yellow(~6 inches), and a short segment of green wire (~6 inches). I list the real lengths a couple questions below.

Hmmm.... The particle gun. While it looks like a complicated item, the particle gun is actually a simple box shape with the back end cut off at an angle and a huge ledge cut into the front of the block.
http://www.gbfans.com/images/equipment/plans/sean-gun-plan_1.jpg
http://www.gbfans.com/images/equipment/plans/sean-gun-plan_2.jpg

A number of fans cut their particle wands boxes from blocks of wood, and then use lag bolts to attach the fore and aft 'hand grip' pipes.

I have seen people use glass test tubes for the clear cylinder barrel the adorns the front end of the particle wand, but a wooden dowel painted silver will work in a pinch, as the general public does not remember what the particle wand looked like, they just remember it looked "spacey", so black and silver work in making it look "spacey". :)

Can you list the lengths of Hoses and Flex Loom needed to make my GB Proton Pack look authentic?
HOSES
Blue hose (ion arm)    16.0 inches
Blue hose (HGA)15.0 inches
Blue hose (powercells) 10.5 inches
Red hose (small dia)
   Particle wand5.5 inches
   HGA-to-Cyclo29.0 inches
Red hose (large dia)10.5 inches
Yellow hose (ion arm)4.5 inches
Green hose (particle wand) 5.0 inches
 
CONVOLUTED FLEX TUBING
3/8 inch diameter loom : 25 inches total
   Ion Arm 1.5 inches
   Powercells1.5 x 4 = 6 inches
   PPD2.5 inches
   HGA15.0 inches
3/4 inch diameter loom : 63 inches total
   HGA15 inches
   Patricle Wand48 inches

The Proton Pack in use

Mike at work sporting the latest in Spooky Ghost Removal Equipment

Above is a picture of the proton pack being used by my brother during halloween . The whole costume cost about $100.00, most of that coming from the cost of the flight suit and alice pack.
Even on a budget, a good looking costume can be expensive.

The two images above are from the following year , after I made my brothers protonpack. This pack cost about $150 to make, and then the rest of the costume was about another $85 for the clothing items (flightsuit, elbow pads, white pistol belt, GB arm patch).

The images above are an 80% accurate pack that I built the NEXT year . The pack took 23 hours to build, $238 in parts, after I already had the vacuumformed shell. :P

 

... and in Oct. 2011, Grant Imahara of Mythbusters tweeted, "I built the(my) proton pack in four days using vacuforms from Studio Creations and a Hyperdyne Labs lighting kit. #Ghostbusters"

 


FOR SALE

We are offering vacuumpulls of our 85% accurate, .080 guage, black ABS plastic Proton Pack Shells. Email us any questions you have. These are "rough cut" from the vacuumformed plastic and come in two pieces that you have to sand the edges smooth and assemble.

$85.00
USA

$105.00
International

shipping cost is included in the prices above.

Current wait time is 10-21 days, before shells ship out. Travel time is dependant on your location. Plan for these time delays if you are wanting to finish a proton pack for a specific event. We are shipping pack shells all the way up to the day of Halloween, so you still have time to be a Ghostbuster. :)

Photo of the proton pack shell that we offer for sale

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