Topic: Uncategorized

Building an Arduino Nano Lightsaber – Part 1

lightsaber
(This blog post is a work in progress)

Come on. You KNOW you’ve always wanted one. I certainly did. I bought a rather high end lightsaber several years back from Saber Forge, which only lights up red, but is really amazing and everyone is always impressed with it. It’s customized and combines several Star Wars based sabers except for the grip. I haven’t ever taken it apart to see what was in it as far as components, but the speaker is extremely loud and it always sounds great.

13119970_10103191884844203_5870625522556344812_o 13047819_10103191884854183_443946423984511142_o

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m in the middle of building an Arduino Nano Stormtrooper E11 blaster and my wife asked me if I thought I could build the kids some lightsabers so we could feed their new obsession with Star Wars. My initial reaction was “Wow…..my wife just asked me to build a lightsaber for my kids!” I was pretty sure I could, but hadn’t looked much into it yet. I knew there were places to get Arduino lightsaber setups so I started researching and found that there were MANY ways to build a DIY lightsaber. There are so many videos of people building them. There’s actually a pretty nice open-source community for lightsabers.

Arduino Nano’s are super cheap and all of the components for the lightsaber could probably be purchased for around $25-$35 dollars. I’ve seen a lot of people using Proffieboard which is a custom board just for making lightsabers. These usually run $40 – $50 on the internet, but there is a big community for them. Eventually I may try those out, but for now, and since I have a bunch of Arduino Nanos, I want to try a Homebrew board.

Let’s get to it!

Parts list:

  • Arduino Nano
  • MPU-6050 Accelerometer
  • DFplayer
  • 2-16GB SD Card
  • Neopixel light strip (assignable WS2812B RGB)
  • Two momentary buttons, non-latching type (my example uses non-LED buttons)
  • 2W 8 Ohm Speakers
  • Resistors (haven’t figured out all the types yet but I’m using some 15k and 150k in various places)
  • Wire
  • 5v power supply
  • 18650 battery

A Few Notes

For the most part, I followed the Wiki on FX-SaberOS but I kept hitting a LOT of “gotchas” and small issues here and there. Here’s a running list of the things that I’ve worked through. I hope it helps someone.

  • One thing that I didn’t see documented anywhere is that you can not power this setup with a USB from your computer. You can get part of the way there, but the speaker and Dfplayer will not have enough power from your USB to make all components work. Normally I just use the USB since you have to use it to transfer files. I try to avoid plugging and unplugging a lot of the time because I want to avoid accidentally pulling a wire out.
  • Make sure that you get a 5v power supply. Without it, your speakers will not work and you’ll likely get a “bep bep bep bep bep” sound. This took me a long time to figure out because it’s not really stated in the documentation but it’s “implied” by showing a battery connection in the FX-SaberOS wiring for the homebrew pixel blade saber. I found a 5v power supply in a junk box and just cut the ends off and it worked perfectly.If you have a 18650 battery on hand (which I did not and still do not), probably best to try to prototype with that.
  • Several people have reported having buzzing or other sounds coming from the speaker. Putting a resistor on the RX pin solves that problem for me. I found that listed on a few DFplayer forums. They actually said to put a resistor on both the RX and TX pins, though just the RX worked for me. The same forum also mentioned that using both of the grounding pins on the DFplayer module can also help.
  • The FX-SaberOS schematic is well done, but I found it a little hard to follow and not easy to tell which things need to be connected together, or to resistors, or how to power it with just standard buttons. I like the LED buttons, but I don’t have any and don’t really care to spend the money on them right now, so I’ve made a new schematic (below) showing standard momentary push buttons. These sabers are for my kids and, well, they already light up. They won’t miss an LED button.
  • For the LED strips, I’m just using one right now for testing, but once you have both (installed back to back), you can wire them up exactly as the schematic shows. Otherwise,  just pretend the one on the bottom doesn’t exist.
  • When you connect the 5v power, connect it straight to the Dfplayer first, and then bridge over to the positive power line on the breadboard to power everything else. You’ll find that your setup runs much better if Dfplayer has enough power. This will also prevent you from having issues with the sound while you trying to figure out the config menus. For a while my sound kept cutting out because I wasn’t getting enough power to it, and setting it up this way fixed that issue.
  • For Mac users, make sure that the SD card doesn’t have metadata files and dot files on it as you are moving files over. The only way I could get this to work properly for me was to manually create the folders and put the files in them one at a time. The sound files have to be perfect or nothing will sound right and the config menu won’t make sense. You’ll need to go to System Preferences > Spotlight > Privacy and add your Sd card to this list so that your computer will stop creating these “Spotlight” files on the card. If you don’t do this, it will create them again as soon as you remove them. If you’ve already removed them and thy reappear after you add your card to Spotlight, use rm -rfv .Spotlight-V100 to remove the file in a terminal window then rm -rfv .Trashes to remove the files you just deleted. The other “dot” files can be deleted the same way just be sure all that is there is the soundfont files and directories.

Schematic for Prototyping

lightsaber

Downloading the Code

If you haven’t already gone over to FX Saber OS’ github repo, go ahead and check it out.  There are some really good resources out there for this part. I stumbled on this video for transferring the files (which hopefully you know how to do) and a walk through of some of the configs that you can change for your setup.

 

Setting up the MPU

This step must be done before wiring up your components. The Wiki on FXSaberOS is pretty straight forward. I found that the jumpers for my breadboard didn’t work that well with my MPU so I went ahead and soldered wires to it. The startup will not move forward if the MPU is not configured or if it doesn’t connect to it and detect it working properly. The below directions are directly from the FXSaberOS page:

To use the calibration tool (either one):

  • simply download the tool
  • upload to your DIYino or Aruduino compatible board through the Arduino IDE with the Serial Monitor open
  • Ensure that your DIYino or MPU6050 is level to the ground in the position it will be in your saber
  • press any key to execute the script
    • make sure the board is stable and do not touch the board while the board is being calibrated
  • once the calibration is complete, press “y” to automatically write the calibration values to your board

It took several times for me get a “connected” reading on my board and that was only because the jumpers weren’t connected well. There should be an LED lit on the MPU when it is connected. In the serial monitor, you’ll see a running log of random numbers. That means it working.

Initial test troubleshooting

Once you get it all wired together, start trying to ignite the blade and see what happens.

Here are some troubleshooting hints that I worked through:

  • Once your connect your power, you should hear an announcement saying “DIYinoLightsaber”. If you don’t hear that, either your speakers aren’t working or your sound files are not setup correctly on your microSD card.
  • If you have a two button setup, you should be able to hold down the Aux button and entire into the Config menu while the saber is off. once you enter into the config menu, you should hear “Config Mode”. If you don’t hear that or hear something else, check your SD to make sure your files are in the right order and that you don’t have extra files there.
  • I’ve already mentioned the “bep bep bep bep bep” sound. If you’re hearing that, you probably have a power problem between the DFplayer and your Nano.
  • If you connect your setup and nothing happens, make sure you have an LED lit on all of the components. Check the MPU and make sure that is connected properly. If the Nano doesn’t connect to that, the software will not boot properly.

I’m in the middle of 3d Printing parts for these lightsabers, but here is the general idea of what they look like so far:

img_20210112_102321 img_20210112_102250

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is basically the top part of Darth Vaders saber hilt. The body is a 1 1/2 inch sink pipe. I’m working on a chassis and grips for it right now. I’ll cover the assembly in the second part.

Star Wars 3D Printed E11 Stormtrooper Blaster with Arduino Electronics – Part 2

(This post is a work in progress)

I’ve spent a few days looking over the two Arduino blaster plans that I’ve found and listed in my first post. While they are really well done and have some amazing features, I’ve found that I want parts of both of them and want to exclude other parts. So the best way to do that is to just do it myself and make this from scratch.

Here is my first attempt at a blaster light with an Ardruino Nano:

 

Basically what I wanted was something simple that was just a trigger and a light. I went a little further after this video and added a sound as well. The thing is, I haven’t found any plans anywhere on how to do any of this at its basic level. Fortunately, I’m a web developer and Arduino code is simple. But I can tell for other, this would be confusing and hard to figure out.

So what I’ve decided to do is make a few different files and repos that people can download that gets them “click and light” with no sound, “click and light” with one sound, and then the full build that I’m doing with lights, sounds, and all kinds of effects.

This the full schematic that includes lights and sounds.

nano-blaster

 

 

Parts list:

  • Arduino Nano
  • 3w speaker
  • Momentary button or push button switch. This will eventually be replaced by a limit switch on the actual gun.
  • Two 2K resistors
  • DfPlayer
  • A 2GB micro SD card (minimum of 2GB but can be bigger).
  • A NeoPixel strip or any assignable WS2812B LED strip. I used this one.

You’ll notice there isn’t battery yet. I haven’t gotten that far yet, so I haven’t figure out which battery I want to use. I may have to change out the resistors as well.

Code for click and light with sound: https://github.com/jasonglisson/nano-blaster/blob/click-light-sound/nano-blaster.ino

Code for click and light (no sound): https://github.com/jasonglisson/nano-blaster/blob/click-light/nano-blaster.ino

 

Star Wars 3D Printed E11 Stormtrooper Blaster with Arduino Electronics – Part 1

Stormtrooper

Since I was a kid, the Imperial Stormtrooper has always been the ultimate bad guy. I used to have two original late 70s Stormtroopers that I would always stage being the bad guys with my GiJoes or really any other scenario. I’m a huge Star Wars fan and I’ve always wanted to own a set of Stormtrooper armor and weapons. The Empire always did have the cooler vehicles and weapons to me.

I decided a while back that I had to build a Stormtrooper blaster, called the E11. I’ve started printing the parts today and it seems relatively straightforward. The blaster is based off a British made sub-machine gun called Sterling. It was altered for the film slightly and given a little more character.

After looking through tons of different models, and there are a lot, I settled on the one that most of the serious cosplayer use:
https://www.myminifactory.com/object/3d-print-star-wars-storm-trooper-blastech-e-11-blaster-rifle-by-blaster-master-72283

E11 Blaster

 

While there are probably more accurate models, this model looks like one of the better ones and has been hailed as one of the most accurate. If you really want to get very very accurate to the screen used models, you’d need to print out a full Sterling model, and then use the modify kit with the E11 accessory kit just like they did for the movies. That’s a lot of printing, so I’m settling for the one that I’ve mentioned above. One thing that I like about this particular model is that they give alternative parts depending on how you are building. In particular, the magazine casing has a port for a speaker and the alternate print is without this port. I’ll likely print both since I don’t know where my speaker will go yet. My blaster is going to have an Arduino Nano, speakers, and well as an LCD and bar graph. I’ll get into the specifics of the Arduino parts in a bit.

I don’t know that there is a model exactly like the one that I’m building on the internet, but it’s going to be pretty close to this one.

There are also some other modifications that I’m going to make, but that’s going to be a awesome when I get to it (in another post) because I don’t know that anyone else has done it and it’s going to be a ton of fun when I get it finished. I’m planning on adding a laser tag option. My kids are going to love that. I’ll make it play R2-D2’s dramatic sound (like when he gets shot) when someone gets hit three times or something. I’ve already started on the Arduino code for that.

This is really where I’m getting the Arduino plans and reading the discussion. It goes back years and you have to read all of the details:

https://www.whitearmor.net/forum/topic/19322-arduino-a-cheap-board-for-e11-blaster-effects/

This is a newer post about it:

https://www.whitearmor.net/forum/topic/46692-blaster-electronics-fx-blasteros-goes-open-source/

Essentially it looks like this in circuitry:

E11 Arduino Blaster

There are some big differences in the way that I’m doing it but this is basically how it will be connected. I may only have room for one speaker, but we’ll see. The speakers in his kit are much larger than mine, but from the reviews, my speakers are so loud that it shakes the gun. People have been using them as Lightsaber speakers as well, so that should be cool.

This second schematic has some additional things that I’ll be doing. I’d like to highlight the Neopixel that is in the barrel and the LCD display.

E11 Blaster Arduino

 

Arduino Project – FX-BlasterOS

Here is where it gets very technical. I’ll say that Arduino programming is pretty simple, but I’m a web developer so I understand how code works. It’s basically like Javascript and things are just a little more, well, clunky if you has me. But it’s still just basic code.

The project that I’m using is called FX-BlasterOS. I don’t know that a ton of people have been using it, but I’m planning on making a wide range of weapons using this. I may even start selling them on the side. Pretty fun side project to be honest.
https://github.com/Protonerd/FX-BlasterOS

If you interesting in this project specifically and don’t really want to learn all about Arduinos and what you can do with them, there are some pretty detailed instructions on setting up the project, though you’ll still need to learn quite a bit on the side.

There is also a full shopping list here, which I’ll likely update on my own site when I find the parts I’m using. Most of these parts will be the same.

Here is the beginning of my Arduino setup, though I’m also testing it out for the laser tag part. So far so good. I’ll have to figure out how to focus the beam for the IR transmitter. That might end up taking up the scope and I might just drop the idea of the LCD in the scope.

Arduino

 

The first part of my blaster is almost done, and then I’ll start trying to figure how the layout for my circuit.

E11 magazine holder

 

I’ll update when I get a little further along in this project. I also still have more to do on my Ghostbusters proton pack.

3D Printing A Ghostbusters Proton Pack – Part 3

I’ve got most of the 3D printed pieces put together now.

To keep them all together, I’ve glued them and then melted the edges together. For some of the parts that won’t be see on the outside, I’ve melted holes through the sides to join them a little better. The goal here is to minimize movement between pieces.

I’ve started to attach the brass fittings and hoses while paying careful attention to the color and how the hoses are positioned. Some of the close ups of the real, screen used packs from GB1 and GB2 have revealed differences in the hoses and brass fittings. So I made sure that I ordered the correct fittings for a GB1 pack.

I had ordered a package of hoses that were supposed to match the hoses on the proton pack from GB1, but noticed that the yellow hose was way too bright and not the right brand. So I found one on Ebay that is the right brand and shade.

To attach the hoses, I felt like simply gluing them into place with hot glue wasn’t going to hold very place very well if something got snagged on them (and I’m sure they will). So I used a screw inserted into the hose and screwed as tight as I could get it without breaking the hose. Then the end of the hose with the screw fits inside the fittings nicely. With some hot glue, it holds really well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using my soldering iron, I was able to melt the holes that we in the 3D prints so that I could screw the brass fittings into the part really easily. As it the melted part cools, I can slowly start turning the brass fitting so that it forms a screw hole for the fitting itself. For the most part, I just hand tightened these and they feel like they’ll be secure enough to the pack where they won’t budge. I may dab some glue on them just to make sure.

The Proton Pack Wand

There are few Sci-fi movie pieces of equipment that are as recognizable as the Proton Pack. The key part of the pack, the wand, has many intricate parts, knobs, dials, tubes, etc. I started printing and buying aluminum machined parts for the wand probably before I even started building the pack. Eventually I realized I had the bulk of the parts and started laying them out to assemble the wand.

Proton Pack Wand parts

Proton Pack Wand parts

The first thing I did was start planning the placement of all of the knobs and dials. And there are A LOT. The wand was way more complex than I was expecting and just figuring out which knob goes where made me look at reference images for quite a long time.

dav

Sided knobs

Front knobs and Clippard

Front knobs and Clippard

Front knobs and Clippard

Back panel knob

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next I screwed the handle on the main grip of the wand after painting the grips black. They were originally a brown resin that I had specially made since the originals were brown resin with a black finish. I haven’t decided if I’m going to “age” the pack yet or not. The way that I’ve painted all of the parts, if there is a scratch or a chip in the paint, it should look natural and like normal wear and tear similar to the screen used packs.

Wand Handle Grip

Wand Handle Grip

Inside gun box attaching handle tube

Inside gun box attaching handle tube

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next I needed to assemble the wand tip, clear tube, and secondary grip. But there were a few things that I noticed after looking at the screen used wand. First, there is a wire running under the grip the entire length of the tube. Next, there is a bit of electrical tape here and there. I decided to loosely fit these items together because I’d likely need to take them apart when I install my electronics and when I finish my wand pop mechanism which I’ll discuss next.

Clear tube assembly

Clear tube assembly

 

Wand Pop Mechanism

If you’re going to build a Proton Pack Wand, there is a big question you have to answer first: are you going to have a wand pop mechanism. First, let me explain what the wand pop mechanism is. There are really only two scenes in the movie where they show the clear tube extending, The first is where Ray steps out of the elevator at the hotel on their first real call. The second is in the scene before they fire their wands at Gozer.

Here is a video of someone demoing the wand pop mechanism on a machined wand prototype.

As you can see, there isn’t much to it. The wand extends a few inches after pulling a green tube-covered brass lever. It’s not much, but if you want your pack to be screen accurate, this has to be done. The problem is that there are only really a hand full of people making these kits, and it takes a bit of work to get them setup in your wand. I guess the bigger problem is that not all wands are the same. Some are 3D printed and some are machined aluminum. Some are even resin or molded from other things.

So, because I love a good challenge, I decided to start modeling and designing my own pop-mech for my wand. And as with everything on this pack, it’s much more difficult than I expected. I’ve spent probably 50 hours modeling, printing, fitting, adjusting, and breaking parts for this but nothing solid yet. I’m close, but just not there yet. Part of the reason I’m taking my time with this is because I’m waiting on the electronics for my pack (which should be here in a few weeks!). After I get the electronics, I’ll have a better idea of how much room I have in the gunbox area and how long the wires are that I’m dealing with.

Here is an image of basically what I modeled my wand-pop mech on:

extending-clear-tip_throwerprogress0138dq

 

 

The difference here is that my gunbox opens differently than this one, so the parts need to be engineered slightly different. It’s the basic idea at least.

There are a few concerns that I have with the wand-pop mech that I’ve designed. First, there is a massive BANG! inside the gunbox when you release the trigger. I’ve broken a few parts just testing things. If my gunbox broke, that would really set me back some time on finishing this pack. So I have to design this so parts don’t break and if something does, it’s not my gun box. The other concern is that the wand-pop mechanism may not be very easy to assemble for others or retro-fit to wand gunboxes that aren’t setup like mine.

Here is the Thingiverse page for my wand-pop mechanism: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4343260

Wand Pop Mechanism

Wand Pop Mechanism Prototype

Stickers

I finally got around to putting on the stickers I got a while back. Some of them I’m going to hold off on putting on. I need to apply some kind of clear coat on them to keep them from coming off. They are chrome stickers on very thin metal of some kind and look great. I got the ones that are “worn” looking.

dav

Stickers look good

Here is a side by side of a screen used pack and mine. The dimensions and layout are very close. It’s looking really good.

Side by side with screen used pack. My pack is on the right.

Side by side with screen used pack. My pack is on the right.

3D Printing A Ghostbusters Proton Pack – Part 2

Well…..

Some time has passed since my last post. In that time, the entire country has locked down because of the Coronavirus. I’ve switched from working on this to 3D printing masks for people to wear. I’ve not made many of them, but the ones I did make turned out really nice.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to work from home for my normal web development job. Many others have not been able to work at all. My wife and I have tried very hard to support local businesses and shops to keep their employees employed and, hopefully, keep them in business through this trying time.

On the flip side of this, I’ve had a little extra time here and there to tinker with the parts for the proton pack and assemble them. As it stands right now, I have all of the parts 3D printed for the entire main body of the pack. The wand is a different story which I’ll cover in a bit.

proton pack parts

3D printed Proton Pack Parts

I’ve started sanding and priming all of the parts to try to remove the print lines out of them. Some parts were easier to sand than other because of angles and curves. I started with an 80 grit and then went up to an 400 grit. Some parts that will definitely be visible or examined up close I sanded with 1000 grit. Afterwards everything was coated a minimum of two times with grey automotive primer and sanded again.

Automotive Primer

Automotive Primer

To join parts together I used several methods. The easier way of joining parts is to super glue them. I used Gorilla brand super glue gel and found out very quickly that you have to have the parts perfectly aligned the first time because they join quickly.

A second method I used to join parts, mostly on the back of the back and in places less visible, was to melt them together using a soldiering iron. I found this to be a very strong join with little effort, but beware…..you’ll completely ruin your soldering iron tip. A soldiering iron is also really useful for melting PLA to make screw holes or enlarging holes for nuts and bolts.

For some of the parts that needed to be put together, and then sanded with filler added, I used a combination of both of these methods. An example here of this is the bumper arm that goes around the cyclotron. This printed in two large parts that needed to be assembled. I started out with glueing them together very carefully so that they were perfectly aligned. Next, i used a soldiering iron to melt them together

Cyclotron Bumper Arm

Melting together Cyclotron Bumper Arm

Cyclotron Bumper Arm

Super Gluing the Cyclotron Bumper Arm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For most of the main parts of the pack, I drilled small holes through the parts and secured them together both with glue, a bolt and nut, and melted them together. The pieces feel solid now and don’t give or pull away from each other. Here are some examples of bolting them together:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After sanding some of the melted areas and making sure any of the excess PLA is removed from parts, I took them out to coat them with layers and layers of primer. Then sanded them again. Then primed them again.

Primed Proton Pack Parts

Primed Proton Pack Parts

After priming, sanding, filling, priming, painting, sanding….it was finally time to paint some of the parts. Using a tip from a fellow Proton Pack builder I met online, I decided to try out Truck Bed Liner Spray. The particular person that mentioned that to me said they loved the texture it left, and I have to 100% agree. It feels industrial and rustic.

Truck Bed Coating

Truck Bed Coating

I’ve started making “fake” weld lines as well on some parts. I kind of wish I had a larger “bead” glue gun, but the one I have will have to do. You’ll be better off getting a glue gun with a low heat switch on it so the glue actually doesn’t melt or warp parts. Once you get a weld line the way you like it, don’t prime over it. Just put a quick coat of paint over it, otherwise the weld line looks a little dull. Or at least that’s what I thought.

Weld line on the booster

Weld line on the booster

So far things are looking good!

Getting it assembled

Getting it assembled

 

I’ve got most of the parts now including the ribbon cable, Clippard, hoses, and all of the brass fittings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll post part 3 in a few days hopefully.

Here’s part 1.

3D Printing A Ghostbusters Proton Pack – Part 1

screen-shot-2020-03-11-at-1-04-57-pm

My home office has become a bit of a shrine to movies, music, and general things that I love.

I’ve got props from Star Wars that I’ve made or bought. Lightsabers, figures, and small X-wings and Tie fighters. A large model of the Millennium Falcon and a Darth Vader Helmet.

I’ve got a real metal reproduction of the catspaw dagger that killed the Night King from Game of Thrones along with some really nice custom artwork that I had printed for the display.

I have parts of the screen used Delorean from back to the Future (part of a Kickstarter I helped fund to restore the car). I have replica props from the Indiana Jones films. An arcade machine that I built a few years ago. I’ve got a Disney monorail system that goes around the ceiling of my office as well.

There are a few things missing from my office that I think about a lot and have always wanted to make.

Since I was a kid, I have always wanted a “real” proton pack. I used to walk around with this suitcase that I had with backpack straps on it and put a garden hose out of the side of it….pretending that I was Spangler or Venkman battling Zuul and Gozer.

As far as movie props go, the Proton Pack is one of the most iconic pieces of equipment in all sci-fi movies.

Research & 3D Print Files

To start out, I began reading everything I could on other pack builds and ways of constructing them. And there are A LOT of blog post and forums about the subject, with GBFans being one of the best resources. I’ve seen proton pack builds where people carved everything out of insulation foam. I’ve seen wood builds that must weigh a ton!

Then there are people that take the easy way out and just buy pre-fabricated shells and dress them up. To be honest, I don’t blame them at all for doing that because what I’ve realized is this is a time consuming project for almost everything. I’ve read several blog post that concluded “this took way more time that I was expecting”. So give yourself a lot of time. Don’t rush it either because you’re gonna want this to look awesome and be something you can display in your home.

Something else that you’ll find a lot of is that people are buying these “Spirit” brand Proton Packs and simply upgrading them with parts. The issue here is that the Spirit packs are only 80% in size and don’t have all of the real things like the ribbon cable or full sounds and things. But I want as real as possible so I’m not interested in them at all.

Since I want to 3D print my proton pack, I started looking through all of the different proton pack designs and files that are on Thingiverse.com. One thing that I noticed, but not after I had already printed some parts, was that there are a lot of proton pack designs that have been reduced by 10% or so for kids or for smaller framed people. They aren’t full size designs, so stay away from them!

I ended up settling on a design by DancinFool82: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1128019
screen-shot-2020-03-11-at-12-44-00-pm

He does all kinds of cosplay designs and prints, some of which are incredible. Overall, he had the most parts that I could print on my smaller 3D printer and I liked some of the details in his design. But before I start printing parts, I decided to contact him via his Facebook page and make sure it was a full size design. He quickly wrote me back and confirmed that it is a 100% full size proton pack design. So here we go, I found my design!

Proton Pack Parts

The proton pack is actually very intricate and composed of lots of different parts. It was designed to look cobbled together and homemade, or at least made by someone that knew what they were doing. I started learning the “lingo”, if you will, and thought about how I wanted to approach my build.

proton_pack_part_name_diagram

It wasn’t long before I realized in all of my research that the proton pack from the first Ghostbusters Film and the second one are different. The image posted above is actually a GBII (Ghostbusters 2) Proton Pack. You can tell this pretty easily by looking at the ribbon cable and the crank generator.

The ribbon cable on the original GBI Proton Pack is made up of some rainbow colored cables, some grey cables, and appears to be custom made as no one has been able to locate an original one. The GBII Proton Packs have an all rainbow colored ribbon cable.

GBI Ribbon Cable on top. GBII Ribbon Cable on bototm.

GBI Ribbon Cable on top. GBII Ribbon Cable on bottom.

After looking at Ribbon Cable suppliers and comparing the cost of the two, it was surprising that almost no one supplies ribbon cables that look like the first GBI Proton Pack. I only found one source and they are selling them for $50+ and the cable is only 30 inches long. Right now, I can’t justify spending that kind of money on it. So for now, I’m going with the GBII style Ribbon cable called a Spectra model #132-2801-060. Here is a page all about these ribbon cables: https://www.gbfans.com/equipment/proton-pack/ribbon-cable/

The Crank Generator Knob on the GBI Proton Packs are grey, while the GBII Generator Knobs are grey. Here is a good page about the knob: https://www.gbfans.com/equipment/proton-pack/crank-knob/ There are actually a lot of people selling resin cast knobs for way to much just to cater to the GB Fans that are building their Proton Packs. But, you can find several distributors selling the real deal part online and on Ebay. I would caution you to look for parts that aren’t marketed towards Proton Packs or GBFans and you can probably find them for cheaper.

Aside from those differences, most visible differences aren’t apparent and most people won’t notice.

What I’m planning on building is a hybrid Proton Pack with a GBI crank and a GBII Ribbon Cable. Eventually I’ll try to upgrade my ribbon cable to make a GBI pack but, as I said before, I can’t justify the $50 that is being charged for it. I’ll probably feel differently once I get the pack done.

HUGE Parts

In terms of 3D printer beds, the Proton Pack files are huge. I know a lot of people that print and have all kinds of sizes of printers, but not as big as some of these parts. There are particular parts of this build that I’ve seen sliced up different ways; mainly the Cyclotron (round part at the base of the pack), so they can be printed on smaller printer beds.

Since I have a smaller printer (Monoprice Mini) and these parts are already huge, I decided it was worth my time and money to send off these prints to be printed completely in one piece instead of printing them individually and in pieces, then gluing them together. I went with the website TreatStock to find a printer since they have reviews and a lot to choose from. When you load in the prints, it will try to find fabricators that have printers large enough for your parts. Some of these parts are so large that there were only a handful of people that could print them in the country.

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I found that these parts were more sturdy, smoother, and generally better quality than I could produce if they were glued together. I had them print the entire Cyclotron, the Crank Generator Case, the arms for the bumper, the wand grips, the wand “gunbox”, the ion arm, the boosters and the power cell box. This might seem like a lot of parts to have printed for me, but I assure you, there are MANY more parts that I’m printing myself.

The Motherboard

As with a computer, the motherboard of the Proton Pack is what everything connects to that makes it run. There are blog post where I’ve seen people make these motherboards out of old aluminum signs, wood, particle board, plywood, MDF board, and even cardboard.

I’m on the fence with this one and stuck between cutting this out of sheet aluminum, or MDF board. I feel like aluminum would be more realistic (the originals used it) but also harder to work with. I already have MDF board from my arcade machine build, but it would also be heavier.

The first thing I needed was a template though. This was harder to find than I thought it would be.

I found this PDF of a template for the motherboard posted by Bextia on GBFans. I’ve printed it out and the upper left corner of the template seems misaligned or not correct. That particular page didn’t fit the rest of the template once I cut it all out.

So after reading a lot of blog post on this subject, I’ve made the decision to get all of the parts printed, fasten them together, trace them, and then cut my motherboard. Almost everyone that makes the motherboard first or orders one has issues with their parts not fitting right or being misaligned.

I’ll stop here for part 1.

Here’s part two.