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Maker builds his own Ghostbusters proton pack

Arduino TeamJuly 14th, 2016

Anyone who has ever watched Ghostbusters is surely familiar with the iconic proton pack–a handheld wand connected to a backpack-sized particle accelerator used for capturing ghosts. With a remake of the ‘80s flick about to hit theaters, what better time for a DIY prop equipped with full-featured user control and Hollywood-like effects?

That’s exactly what John Finocchiaro has done using a bunch of household items, including a five gallon bucket for the cyclotron, a garlic powder container for the N-Filter, a hairbrush for the PKE meter, spark plug wire, cardboard tubes, pill bottles, handles from power tool cases, a couple electrical boxes, and some other miscellaneous parts.

The proton pack is based on an Arduino Uno along with a Seeed Studio SD card shield containing .WAV files. The Arduino supplies all of the sound and light effects, except for the cyclotron lights which use a 555 timer and 4017 decade counter. The sound is amplified through an old computer speaker board, while two homemade boards control the lights.

The red lights on the cyclotron area are supposed to be asymmetrical. This project took two weekends to make, one for the pack and one for the gun. It is attached to a homemade  PVC “ALICE” frame. I tried to make it as light as possible, the whole unit weighs just 13 lbs. Its not fully “screen accurate” but more like a “Model 3″ version. The addition of a bunch of actual electronic components make it look more like it is a  functional unit instead of a prop.

The power meter on the gun and pack are synced to show an accumulating “charge” while a generator sound plays. When armed, the lights on the gun blink and the generator sound intensifies. When it’s fired, the barrel lights and the blast sound plays as the charge meter decreases to zero. It then shuts off and recharges.

It came out so well I also made a PKE meter (ghost detector) that also functions with lights and sound. The arms are powered by a small gear motor. The lights are a blinking LED and 10 green LEDs that sequence via a 555 timer/4017 decade counter. It’s crammed into a hairbrush.

I also have made a ghost trap and pedal that opens and closes via a servo mechanism. The interior of the ghost trap is made from an old laser disc lit with a row of LEDs, so it looks “deeper” inside than it should. It works with the pedal as it does in the movie. It’s not full height, I am trying to keep all this stuff compact. Anyway, after 30 years I’m sure there would be some miniaturization in the equipment by now!

And what would a full Ghostbusters getup be without some Ecto Goggles? Finocchiaro constructed his own pair from scratch using foamboard and paper with aluminum strips for strength. The outside is textured to resemble a military-type finish, while the lens tubes illuminate green to add a “glow,” and a red LED blinks on the side.

Whether a fan of the movie, a fan of cosplay, or simply a fan of making, you’ll want to check out the entire build here.