Are you troubled by your obsessive desires to become a Ghostbuster? Do you experience feelings of dread when building a pack looks daunting or expensive? Have you tried in the past but hit a brick wall? If the answer is 'yes,' then don't wait another minute. Read below. We're ready to relieve you!
Welcome to my budget Norm Gagnon (Paranorman) build. My goal is to build a budget pack that will pass for semi-authentic, without major expenses and unrealistic building efforts. I believe it's possible!
I had a few minimum requirements to consider first:
1. There must be no major woodworking or large tools. I don't have large power tools (other than reciprocating saw).
2. Cost must be kept as low at possible, or at least being able to space out the costs over time.
3. Serious electrical knowledge (including soldering) is not an option.
I will be cutting corners where it's not obvious, and I will be departing from Paranorman's guidelines where availability becomes an issue or where I have a better idea. I found myself referring back to Stefan's plans when I felt Norm was off a little, particularly around motherboard dimensions.
This thread will be really pic heavy. I apologize in advance to you phone readers.
I intend to have SOME basic cheap light effects, but no sound effects. The purpose of this costume is mostly for looks, rather than performance. Trick or treating with my kids, cons, that sort of thing.
I also wanted to thank all the pack builders who have gone before me and documented your work. I can't do it without you! I won't be able to reference every inspiration (I will try), but you guys are the Real Ghostbusters. Thank you!
And so here we go...
Here's a running table of contents of my progress in the thread below:
I know some of you are against it, but I chose to use MDF for my Motherboard. The deciding factors were cost, ease of cutting, and ease of sanding.
I don't have a lot of pictures for this step, but I followed most of Norm's measuring guidelines. The height is shorter by a half-inch, and I left off the bottom two tabs (for the wood blocks), as it's a nightmare to cut around those and it won't be noticeable when I add the blocks.
My initial rectangle cut was done by request at Home Depot, and then I used a combination of the reciprocating saw and a hand-saw to rough-cut the rest. Being MDF, the refinement of the curves was done with sanding.
My circle is not perfect, as the reciprocating saw cut a little too deep into the circle on one side. But I will compensate for that when I glue on the generator piece later.
I'm pretty happy with the overall shape, and sanding really made it possible to get it quite close!
RUNNING PARTS COST:
$6.42 - 2' x 4' 1/4" MDF piece (Home Depot)
Last edited by Astyanax on August 24th, 2016, 9:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.
First off, per Paranorman, I picked up a large for sale sign and cut my plastic strips:
After that, I taped and scored the numbered strip. I also picked up two 12" embroiderer's hoops, got rid of their inner rings, and glued them closed with E6000. I did not remove the screw hardware, as it was too difficult to do so without damaging the hoops. I ruined one that way. I figured the screw section can be hidden in the build very easily.
NOTE: It was at this time that I noticed that Norm's 1-12 segments didn't seem to line up with Stefan's blueprints. I'm sure many of you have noticed this, but Norm fits in 12 segments where Stefan does 14. It doesn't seem to want to meet up with the long angled strip on the left. In order to keep this simple (and because it seems accepted to do so), I rolled Norm's segments counter-clockwise up the left side by one segment, thus making segment #6 the bottom one and #9 the angled one where the larger blocks will go. This seems to look better.
Next, I hot glued the bottom (not the top) of the numbered strip to the first hoop. Going with the bottom first made it easier to keep my bearings as I positioned the screw hardware in an inconspicuous spot. I made sure to position segment #6 to be the very bottom of the pack. After hot gluing, I drizzled E6000 into the cracks and crevices, and waited overnight for it to cure.
I then repeated the process with the top hoop, flipping it all over to keep it aligned, and again securing with E6000 after the hot glue.
Next, I hot-glued the 14" strip of plastic onto the right side of the hoop.
For the 10" strip, I did NOT follow Norm's instructions to heat and bend the plastic. Far too risky and I damaged a lot of plastic. Instead, I went ahead and hot glued the strip all the way around the hoop, again securing later with E6000.
The end of the strips that come into contact with the numbered strips needed a little extra attention, so another application of hot glue and E6000 was necessary to make sure they lined up just right.
After this, I cut a 3" piece of 2" ABS pipe (Home Depot sells them in 2-foot lengths). During test fitting, I found that the 14" strip was about a half-inch too short, making my ABS pipe piece 1/2" too low. I decided not to worry about it and glued the edge of the strip onto the pipe.
Next, carefully aligning the whole assembly onto a diagram, I cut a 2" wide plastic strip down to about 4" long, and positioned it so that one end attaches to the pipe and the other end intersects the curved strip at just the right angle. It came straight down. I secured this with hot glue and a little E6000.
There is an ugly bead of glue there at the attachment point, but I have a solution for that.
Once everything had cured, I took the whole assembly, flipped it over, and traced it onto the front of a no-parking sign from Home Depot. The straight lines I cut with an x-acto knife, and the curves I cut carefully with lexan scissors. It's best to err on the side of being a touch too large here, as the top can be sanded down.
Using Gorilla Glue brand superglue gel (blue cap), I glued the top onto the entire assembly.
I don't have a picture to show this, but my next step was to carefully sand the edges of the top piece to line up perfectly with all those plastic strips. I used 400-grit sandpaper on a wood block for the entire process. Taking it slow, it came out quite nice, and I feel confident most of the seams will disappear when painted.
For the transtion of the strips to the ABS pipe, I filled the area with an application of Bondo Spot Putty on both sides:
I also applied a little putty to clean up the seam where the longer strips come into contact with the numbered strips.
Note: I like the Bondo spot putty, because it is relatively soft, and sands very easily. The down side is that it can crack if flexed too much.
My transitions here required two applications of the putty, sanding between them.
For the transition where there was supposed to be a plastic "bend", I caulked that seam with Dynaflex 230. This covered up my bead of glue and helped secure it further.
Note: Dynaflex 230 is an easy-to-use caulk that comes in a tube. It cures relatively quickly, is water-soluble before curing, and is paintable afterward (the biggest selling point). It is NOT sandable, so I used a wet fingertip to help smooth it before curing.
Next, it was time to glue the whole thing to the motherboard. I did this with E6000, since I have some working time before it cures. Again, I was careful to point segment #6 straight down.
As you can see from this next pic, this is where you can see where I messed up the curvature of the circle in cutting my motherboard. But it's no big deal; I will fix with Dynaflex in a moment.
Assembled motherboard and generator:
Finally, some touchups with the Dynaflex caulk. Here, I cleaned up that gap in the motherboard:
And here, I added a bead of caulking where the generator meets the motherboard. I feel after painting, this will smooth everything out.
Yes, I know this may cause some issues with other parts and cosmetic plating later, but I will cut and remove the caulking where necessary.
Anyway, lengthy step. Thanks for reading, cyclotron is coming next (in the next few days)!
RUNNING PARTS COST:
$2.50 - 12" embroidery hoop (JoAnn)
$2.50 - 12" embroidery hoop (JoAnn)
$8.96 - 18" x 24" For Rent sign - for strips (Home Depot)
$5.38 - 19" x 15" Handicapped Parking sign - for topper (Home Depot)
$3.85 - 2" x 2 ft. ABS pipe (Home Depot)
$6.42 - previous total $23.19 - this stuff
Last edited by Astyanax on August 12th, 2016, 7:31 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Yes, I promised a cyclotron next, but I felt this step was crucial to get done first. This will be a shorter post, where I complete the cosmetic plating around the generator, as well as the painting of the full assembly as it stands now.
Before I start, I wanted to account for my chosen paints. In this case, I'm going with Rustoleum 2X Paint+Primer.
I know it's not a favorite on this board, but I've used Rustoleum for years with no complaints. The whole trick is only to spray if the humidity is 50% or below. That way, the propellant in the cans evaporates quickly enough and I can achieve many light coats. My typical paint process is to use one very light coat, wait 10 minutes, and repeat as needed. In higher humidity, the waiting time increases between coats. At 60%, I wait 15 minutes between. I never spray over 65%. These rules are particularly important for satin or semi-gloss, and even more so for gloss spraying.
Why not save painting for last? Because of all the masking that would be necessary later, of course! I want to minimize masking for this build, so here we go:
First, I cut ten 2" x 2-3/4" pieces of the 1/4" MDF I had left over from the motherboard:
Then I painted all sides but the bottoms in flat black.
Then, I cut the two special "blocks" for the #6 and #9 positions on the generator. The thinner, #6 piece is two 1/4" pieces of leftover MDF, stacked and glued to a 1/2" thickness, and cut to 2" x 2-3/4" like the other plates. The thicker, smaller, #9 piece I made from a piece of scrap 3/4" MDF, but you can also stack and glue three 1/4" MDF pieces to get the same effect. I then cut and sanded it to 2-1/4" x 1-5/8". I also drilled two 1/4" holes on one of the longer sides of this pieces, in preparation for the tubes that will go there later. Because MDF is so brittle, I started with a 1/16" drill bit and worked my way up to 1/4".
These blocks were also sprayed flat black on the five sides (not the bottom).
Next, it was time to glue the plates to the sides of the generator. I found the best way to do this to ensure durability but not have to clamp them on, was to apply a small dab of E6000 on the center of the plate, and then four small dabs of high-temp hot glue on each of the corners. That enabled me to line up the plate and hold it in place for a few seconds, giving me just enough working time to position the plate perfectly. The E6000 then cures overnight, ensuring the plate won't come off.
Once all the plates were applied, I sprayed the entire assembly with about three coats of flat black, to act as a rough primer:
Then, I sprayed 10-12 very light coats of semi-gloss black on the top side only, again waiting about 10 minutes between coats. The back side is mostly not visible, and I didn't want to flip over a sticky-wet assembly, just to add semi-gloss to the back. It was best off left alone.
Looking good so far!
After a closer look, I came to the conclusion that the edges of the plates and blocks were too rough to really reflect the paint properly. It's a challenge to sand MDF edges very smoothly. In order to smooth them up, I applied four coats of white glue to the top side edges only:
I waited a full hour between coats, using a paintbrush to apply each one.
After another couple coats of semi-gloss the next day, I was much happier:
Next post, I will move onto the cyclotron!
RUNNING PARTS COST:
$3.87 - Rustoleum 2X Flat Black spray (Home Depot)
$3.87 - Rustoleum 2X Semi-Gloss Black spray (Home Depot)
$29.61 - previous total $7.74 - this stuff
Last edited by Astyanax on August 12th, 2016, 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
For the shell of the cyclotron, I decided to give up just a tiny bit of accuracy in exchange for keeping the cost down. This means that although there is a base to the cyclotron, it's not perfect.
First off, I picked up one of these 9-inch cake pans at Wal-Mart for 88 cents. Actually, I picked up three, because it took a few tries before I figured out the best way to cut the holes in the metal!
For the base, my local "Daiso" Japanese store had one of these turntables for $2. It's just under 10" across, and is about a half-inch thick. I disassembled the two halves and used just one; trying to go the full half-inch height meant gluing the two halves together and sanding the bottom side completely so that it would sit flush. That's a lot of work for a minimal gain.
I noticed Amazon has the same turntable for a few bucks extra. Still not a terrible deal:
I opted not to use the white Wal-Mart lazy susan, because it makes for a very oversized rim when you put the cake pan into it. And it's over seven bucks. Not worth it. The cake pan fits the Daiso turntable perfectly.
Using a pair of lexan scissors, I cut a large circle out of one of my turntable halves, leaving a ring.
Next, it was time to work on the four "washers". Real washers not only add a bit of weight, but they're as much as two bucks each sometimes. My local Home Depot and Lowes did not carry the exact size I wanted, so I decided to break out the leftover sign plastic and cut my own.
The one tool I did invest in was a cheap 2-1/2" hole saw from Amazon:
I already had a smaller hole saw for the inner holes, but a spade bit or forstner bit could have done the same job, so I'm not factoring that into the cost. Alternatively, sharp scissors would have worked, but I wanted to get as perfect a cut as possible.
So I stacked eight layers of plastic and clamped them down very tightly onto a block of scrap wood. Then, I carefully drilled a pilot hole with a tiny bit, followed by the inner circle, and lastly the outer circle. It mangled much of my plastic pretty badly, but I was able to get four decent rings out of it.
Sanded lightly, they were perfect for my needs.
For positioning, I first printed out a scaled-up version of Stefan's cyclotron blueprint, roughly cut out the four inner circles, laid it on the bottom of the cake pan, and traced the circles onto the pan with a Sharpie:
Then I used my own rings to trace the outer circles.
To start the cutout of the circles, I poked a box cutter through the cake pan in the space between the inner and outer circles, and finished the rough circular cut with my trusty curved lexan scissors. I did this slowly, so as not to bend the metal. Once cut out, I used a hammer to lightly tap, re-flattening the metal where the cuts were made.
Precision is NOT important here, so long as the circles being cut are larger than the inner circles, but smaller than the outer circles.
Next, I glued the cake pan onto the turntable ring using E6000. You can't really see it in most of the pics, because it is almost exactly the same size as the rim of the pan. I think it really looks nice, because it raises the whole thing a quarter-inch or so.
I then painted the whole thing pan with two coats of flat black, followed by three light coats of Rustoleum "Hammered" finish:
I then taped the Stefan blueprint to the inside of the cake pan, lining up the circle cutouts so that they were completely uncovered.
After painting my rings with a couple coats of flat black, I glued them onto the cake pan with E6000, carefully lining up my rings with the holes of the blueprint.
After a few very light coats of semi-gloss, the cyclotron shell was done!
Next post, I will document my light-up solution for the cyclotron, as well as my tubing elbow and remarkably high-tech "removable mounting" solution. Hint: it rhymes with "smell-crow."
Thanks for reading!
RUNNING PARTS COST:
$0.88 - 9" cake pan (Wal-Mart)
$2.00 - 10" turntable (Daiso Japanese Store)
$3.47 - 2-1/2" hole saw (Amazon)
$5.76 - Rustoleum Hammered black spray paint (Home Depot)
This will be a looooooooooong post, so bear with me; I hope you'll enjoy. I'm pretty happy with my lighting and mounting solution for the cyclotron. Turns out I did not use velcro as predicted, but more about that later!
First, I realized with my lighting solution, I was going to need to add some recesses behind each of my cyclotron holes. I did this by rough-cutting some scrap MDF and drilling out 1-1/4" holes in each. I then sprayed them flat black and glued them to the inside of the cyclotron using E6000:
After another quick couple coats of flat black from the inside, my recesses were done:
For the lights, cost was my biggest motivator. I got this battery-powered 30-mini-light red string on Amazon for just over seven bucks:
I had hoped I would be able to find something affordable and battery-operated with a "chasing" light effect and controller, but it turns out this is not the case. There are eight different modes you can choose from, but all lights must blink at the same time. I know that's a deal-breaker for a lot of people, but these really do blink nice in some of the modes.
I decided Mode #3 is pretty cool for my cyclotron, as I'll show later.
At my local Daiso Japanese store, I picked up these flashlights for $1.50 each:
I was after their parabolic mirrors, and needed some that were about an inch across. These did the trick.
At Home Depot I picked up two packs of reflectors in the signs section:
After ripping the mirrors out of the flashlights and discarding the other color reflectors, my light parts were ready to go.
This diagram below shows how I planned to put it all together. There is NO WIRING in this process. My plan was to bunch up the lights in groups of six, with an unused light between each bunch. Unused lights are covered in black electrical tape.
To get started, I first drilled a 1/4" hole in the motherboard, off-center about an inch. Why off-center? I wanted the controller box to be on the outside, but I knew I'd have to leave room for my Alice backpack frame.
Then, I carefully fed the string of lights up and into the generator body through the hole, from the outside.
Next, I carefully bunched up the lights in groups of six, leaving an unused light between each bunch. I was careful to try to get the lights all at the same height (level with each other), and then tied up the bunches with small zip ties.
Then, I carefully inserted the bunches of lights into the back of the flashlight mirrors and used hot glue to hold them in place. There was a little trial and error as I looked for the perfect height to place the bunch into position:
I must say, these mirrors make all the difference in the world when it comes to brightness, and I can't recommend them enough!
Next, I glued the reflectors onto the mirrors using E6000. I knew to avoid superglue, as its fumes can frost up the clear plastic of the reflectors.
The cool thing about these reflectors is that they are translucent, and they give off a lot of reflective light even when the lights aren't turned on.
Then, I glued the reflector into the 1-1/4" holes using just a tiny bit of E6000 placed on the rims with a toothpick. They fit perfectly! When this had cured, I slathered a lot more E6000 on the backs of the mirrors to firmly fix them in place.
Before attaching the control box permanently to the motherboard back, I figured I'd better be sure that I avoid any contact with an Alice backpack frame. So, using Stefan's plans, I built a quick mockup out of foam core (posterboard or paper would have been fine) and laid it in the correct position, again using Stefan's blueprints for guidance.
Then I glued the control box on the motherboard with E6000, using a few dabs of hot glue also in the corners to help hold it in place while the E6000 cured.
Time to attach the cyclotron! I wanted it to be removable, so that I could service or change the lights if necessary, or get inside when I need to attach other elements to it, such as the bumper.
I first tried velcro, but that stuff doesn't hold for long, nor in high temperatures. Also, it created issues with the cyclotron not sitting flush on the motherboard. After agonizing over different hanging mechanisms, I considered magnets. Neodymium magnets are crazy strong, and you can increase their strength by stacking them. I picked up two sets of 20mm x 2mm N35 neodymium magnets on eBay for $7.50:
I figured the magnets could not simply be glued onto the surfaces facing outward, or else the magnets would be ripped off every time I lift the cyclotron off the body. Also, I realized I needed to be able to align the cyclotron while gluing if I didn't get it placed perfectly right the first time. A little tricky, but doable.
Being careful to keep the magnets' polarity correct, I started by hot-gluing (high temp) four of the magnets onto the underside of the rim of the turntable ring. Positioning was not crucial. I clamped them down for the few minutes it took the glue to cool.
I then stacked a magnet underneath each one under the rim to make them doubly strong (not pictured).
After this, I added a third layer of magnets (temporarily) on the exposed side of the rim:
(I marked my magnets with a Sharpie to keep track of polarity)
I then removed the temporary magnets.
Next, I needed to transfer a pattern of the magnets' positions to the generator body for matching up, so I held down a sheet of paper over the magnets and rubbed their shapes onto the paper with a pencil. I also figured out the center-line of the cyclotron and marked that as well.
Again, although I was trying to get my alignment perfect, I knew it would still be a tiny bit off, but I had a solution for that.
After flipping the paper over (remember, the cyclotron is upside-down!) I lined up the paper on the generator body as well as I could (using the center-line and outside circle) and taped it down. I then used double-sided tape to stick four more magnets in their proper positions, temporarily. This gave me "anchor points" for the final four magnets.
Then, I applied E6000 to my final four magnets, and stuck them inside the generator body (had to cut an "x" in the center of the paper to reach in and do this). These new magnets were opposite the temporary ones on top (the four "anchor points"), which grabbed them to the right position immediately.
I then quickly removed the paper and temporary magnets, and placed the cyclotron on the generator body. Since I had used E6000 for my last four magnets, the increased working time of the glue allowed me to rotate and align the cyclotron the few millimeters I needed to in order to get it perfect. And, of course the magnets now hold each other together as the glue cures! So that's eight magnets stacked in groups of two inside the cyclotron, and four inside the generator body.
This holds the cyclotron flush and tight. So tight, in fact, that I have to work to pull it off! The point here is that when the cyclotron is removed, you don't see magnets anywhere; they're all on undersides.
I was able to turn on my lights right away and see how it looked:
The pictures don't do it justice. The color turned out a nice deep red, but still very bright. The parabolic mirrors made all the difference!
Again, there is no option to cycle the lights, unfortunately; they all have to blink at once. But there are eight blink patterns. I settled with #3, which blinks four times, then eight times faster, then 16 times even faster, then 32 times very fast, and repeats. Kind of like a "charging up" effect. Here's a video of what it looks like (no sound):
Here's a low-light shot and rear view:
Whew, that was a long post! If you've made it this far, you have my thanks for reading. Next post, something short. A dirt cheap Legris elbow alternative.
RUNNING PARTS COST:
$7.25 - 30 battery-operated red micro LED string lights (Amazon)
$1.98 - 1-1/4" reflector pack (Home Depot)
$1.98 - 1-1/4" reflector pack (Home Depot)
$1.50 - 1" flashlight (Daiso Japanese Store)
$1.50 - 1" flashlight (Daiso Japanese Store)
$1.50 - 1" flashlight (Daiso Japanese Store)
$1.50 - 1" flashlight (Daiso Japanese Store)
$3.75 - 10-pack 20mm x 2mm N35 neodymium magnets (eBay)
$3.75 - 10-pack 20mm x 2mm N35 neodymium magnets (eBay)
$49.46 - previous total $24.71 - this stuff
Last edited by Astyanax on August 24th, 2016, 8:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.
What a great thread! I am doing a not-nearly-as-nice cardboard build. How are you attaching to the Alice frame? It looks like the motherboard and pack will be one piece instead of two? I think a lot of builds attach a removable shell to the motherboard via L brackets.
I was thinking of, for sake of ease, have the shell permanently attached to the motherboard and having just the cyclotron be removable. I am going for a "good enough" stunt pack for halloween. This should let me cover up imperfections with bondo or hot glue....should also be a little sturdier, maybe, as everything would be connected by each side?
Yes, exactly, I'm building it all on the motherboard as one piece, so there is no "shell" per se, except for the removable cyclotron, just as you described. This allows me to work on each component as an individual module, similar to Gagnon's and Bishop's instructions.
I will be attaching the Alice frame to the motherboard using bolts and simplified spacers, just like the real thing. That step is coming sooner rather than later, since the frame helps stabilize and support the whole thing and stand it up vertically, and since I need to cover those nuts and bolts with components.
Now it starts to get more exciting! For the frame of the pack, I went with the Alice LC1, which seems to be the most common frame to use these days. At $40 on eBay, this is the single most expensive part of this build, but I really did not want to skimp on this part, mainly because of the padded straps.
Sure, I could have built something out of PVC, but to get decent straps I would have had to pay a bit anyway. This was worth every penny, and I made sure to get the black anodized version, so I would not have to paint.
Using Stefan's plans, I marked the two bottom hole positions on the back of the motherboard, and drilled 5/16" holes in each. I did NOT drill my upper center hole yet.
For the top hole, I drilled a 5/16" hole in the center vertical brace, about 2" above the horizontal one.
Next, I prepared my spacers. Starting with a 1" square dowel ($3.42 from Home Depot), I cut three 2" pieces, and drilled a 5/16" hole through the center of each. Then, I sprayed them flat black.
Then, I got my hardware ready. I have opted for 5/16" bolts (for extra strength over the more commonly-used 1/4" bolts), 2" long, plus six washers and three 5/16" lock nuts. I went with the more expensive lock nuts so that I could be sure it will stay bolted tight, and it gave me less concern about the spacers being able to turn in place.
I next bolted the frame to the spacer to the motherboard, with a washer on each end.
On the inside here, you can see the screw is just the right length, and hidden inside the cyclotron.
For the center screw, I first drilled my 5/16" hole through the back of the motherboard, using the hole in the frame as a guide:
I then bolted on the hardware through the back, following the same order: bolt-washer-spacer-motherboard-spacer-locknut.
You can see on the front side where the screw comes through. This will be perfectly hidden behind the center cover, below the hole where the rainbow ribbon cable goes in. Perfect positioning!
All done! It really looks nice bolted together. Starting to look like a real proton pack! And it stands up on its own too!
Next post, I will move on to the center cover; arguably one of the most difficult parts of this whole build.
I just love this thread! Upon seeing your update, I ordered the same Alice Pack. I am really stressing on the synchronous generator, and starting that is holding me up. I am using mostly cardboard for my build, and need to get going on that part. The frame coming in should be motivation enough to get going again.
My hope is to have the shell done to the point of black paint and attached to the frame for Halloween. The extra pieces and cabling probably won't be done. Thanks for the FANTASTIC posts and info - really helping me out!
Hoo boy, this was a tough one! I tried wood, I tried cardboard, but ended up coming back to my scraps of FOR SALE sign plastic. And I broke out some black caulk. Here's what transpired.
My initial thinking was that I wanted to do a little more than what's in Gagnon's plans; I wanted to use Stefan's measurements to inspire me to get in there as much detail as possible. But I couldn't simply take measurements; the shape of the synchronous generator varies just a bit too much from those plans, I think.
So, to get something to base a plan on, I taped a couple pieces of paper together, taped them onto the generator, and used a pencil to shade the shape of the generator onto the paper:
If I could travel back in time to my past self, I would tell myself not to cut up that piece of sign plastic I had left over when I cut the cover to the synchronous generator. That shape was what I needed.
But anyway, after this, I used Stefan measurements to draw the rest of the cover plating as best I could with rulers and pencil. I then cut it out so it could be traced onto the plastic.
After transferring this pattern to scrap FOR SALE sign plastic, I cut the cover plating out with an x-acto blade (score-and-snap for the straight lines and lexan scissors for the curved parts). At this point, I was still laboring under the illusion that I had to line things up perfectly. I needn't have worried.
For the central part of the cover plating, which is 1-1/2" high, I separated its piece from the other parts of sign plastic, and used a couple of hole saws to drill the holes for the ribbon cable and the filler plugs. One was successful, one not. After a failure with the larger hole (which split the plastic on the right side), I quickly cut a 1-1/2" square piece of plastic, rounded the corners, and covered the hole:
My understanding is that both filler plug mounting approaches (pipe through hole vs. pipe on square) are legitimate, so I opted for the latter.
It was at this time that I agonized a great deal over matching the plastic shape to the synchronous generator body. Lots of sanding, clipping, etc. Let's just say it's not worth it.
Next, I cut a long 1-1/2" wide strip of plastic from the sign, and cut it up further in order to match the exposed sides of the plating.
I then used superglue (the Gorilla Glue blue-capped gel stuff) to glue all the sides onto the top of the plate.
I didn't have to be perfect about it, because after the glue cured, I sanded down all the sides in order to smooth everything out (220-grit followed by 400-grit) and to try to eliminate seams. It worked pretty well.
After a few coats of paint to match the rest of the body, I applied E6000 with a toothpick to place the center piece onto the motherboard:
That's quite a cap in spots between the plating and the generator, but I planned to use black caulk (don't say that out loud) to fill gaps.
For the left piece, I made some adjustments to the plastic and followed a similar approach (but with half-inch-high) walls:
There's an even bigger gap this time, but I'll deal with it.
And for the right side, the same idea:
And to finish it the edges, I picked up Dynaflex 230 in black:
Now, I am terrible with caulk, so I did my best, using a wet finger to smooth the corners. I wasn't thrilled with the result, but it's better than the gaps, to be sure:
My final step was to wrap the Alice pack frame in a trash bag, mask off the cyclotron lights, and paint the whole thing again. This time I used a little more of the Hammered finish, covered that with satin black, and then lightly dusted with flat black. This was the result:
(I also added another plastic square for the other filler plug.)
Honestly, not super great, but I'm going to live with it. The caulking is not really as shiny as it looks in this photo, but there is some sheen to it. Since most of these areas are covered in shadow or blocked by other components, it's less of a big deal and no one is likely to notice. Example:
Overall, it's better than the slapped-on plastic sections I started with. I can live with it!
Next post, I think it's time to tackle the gearbox & crank generator.
Sorry it's taken so long to add to this build; life's gotten in the way, and I've had to start thinking about my Halloween projects (I'm hoping to post a flying-crank-Slimer ghost build sometime in the near future)!
But in the last few days, I have managed to complete several more steps, so over the next few days will come quite a few new posts as I write them and edit the photos.
The position of the gearbox/crank generator relative to the central cosmetic plating is very specific and leaves little wiggle-room, so it made sense to do this part next.
I decided to use more sign plastic, but rather than build it as one piece (which is hard to make square), I figured I would build three separate boxes and glue them together. It took a lot of planning and measuring:
To start, I picked up a fresh "No Parking" sign, and sliced strips of each box's width (in this case 4-3/8") across the width of the sign. Each strip was then cut into each box's top/front/bottom/back piece.
Using this pattern, I was able to come up with enough material from just one sign.
Next, I superglued the boxes' walls together, leaving the sides open. And then I superglued all three boxes together.
I had hoped that I could round some of the corners, but of course the plastic is too thin for me to be able to do much with this. So I thought I could reinforce at least the corners around the sides with some square wood dowels, thus allowing me to sand around the edges.
For square dowels, I found a variety pack at Wal-Mart in various sizes for $1.67. They come in metric, so I opted to use the 6mm lengths:
I cut four lengths at about 4-1/4" and four more using the rest of the 6mm material. I then superglued them to the sides that present edges coming straight out from the pack. The idea here is that when they are rounded, a person looking at the pack straight-on will see this. The other edges are far less important, but can be softened just a little bit later.
I then traced each side onto the printed side of the sign plastic, cut them out, superglued them to the assembly, and then vigorously sanded them with 220-grit and 400-grit sandpaper with a sanding block.
Next, I rounded the corners that had wood dowels behind them, using a sanding block and 80-220-400 grit sandpaper, taking it slowly. Basically the technique is to go at it with the 80-grit first, cutting a 45-degree bevel into the corner until about 1/16" of the wood underneath shows through. Then, the rounding part goes much more easily. I followed up with 220-grit and then 400-grit for smoothing.
After completing this step, I realized that the vacuum pump tube will need to float forward just a bit, so I made a quick "riser" out of leftover sign material, filling the inner area about halfway, and extending left about 3-1/2".
I superglued the riser in, so that the right side is flush (as much as possible), and the left side has the requisite 3/4" gap.
I then sanded down the right side where the riser is supposed to be flush, and then filled it with Bondo spot putty (very easy to use). After sanding again to eliminate seams, I proceeded to round the rest of the corners of the entire assembly (just a little bit) with 220-grit and 400-grit sandpaper for polishing. I touched up the entire module with 400-grit afterward, just to smooth everything out.
Getting there! Time for the details.
I picked up a sheet of thin white craft foam from Michaels for 99 cents. They now offer self-adhesive foam, and this saved me lots of time and helped with accuracy.
Using Stefan's plans as a guide, I drew the shapes of all the foam details directly onto the block using a pencil. This was necessary to ensure accurate positioning.
Then, after cutting out all the rectangles following Stefan's plans, it was a simple matter to stick the foam pieces directly onto the plastic, using the pencil marks as a guide.
Ready for finishing! The foam needs to be sealed prior to painting, so I opted to cover the entire module in two coats of white glue, applied by paintbrush with two hours' waiting time between coats. This had the effect of not only protecting the foam, but also giving a more "molded" look between the foam and plastic.
Then, after two coats of flat black and a very light coat of satin black, this assembly is finished!
I finally glued the assembly onto the pack with a generous amount of E6000, using hot glue in the corners to anchor it while it cures.
Next post, a shorter one, where I will complete the vacuum pump and attach it to the gearbox/crank generator.
The vacuum pump goes right between the gearbox and crank generator. I opted to track it as a separate build, because of the difficulty painting in all of those nooks and crannies between the two parts.
For my first step, I picked up a piece of 1" (inside diameter) PVC pipe, which happens to have an outside diameter of 1-5/16". Home Depot sells it in two-foot lengths for $1.67. I'll be able to use the leftover material for the PPD, Clippard regulator, beam line, and filler tubes. I think.
After cutting a 3" piece of the pipe, I used a 3/4" paddle bit to drill a hole in a piece of leftover sign plastic (I should have cut 1"...more on that later). It's important to cut the inner hole before the outer shape, as I learned from the cyclotron.
Once the inner hole was cut, I stood the PVC pipe on-end over the hole and traced the circle on the sign plastic with an ink pen. After a few more lines, some measurements, and some guidance from Stefan's plans, I had my parts ready to go:
IMPORTANT: When cutting plastic to be used as caps for PVC pipe, I learned it is important to cut "oversize" around the circle with scissors or shears (I used curved lexan scissors). Then, after gluing onto the pipe, you can sand it smooth, eliminating any seams.
So, I next superglued the plastic pieces onto the pipe, using my drawn circles as guides for positioning. You can still see excess material around the curved parts of the plastic:
Then, I sanded the oversize edges of the flat plastic all around the ends of the PVC pipe, starting with 220-grit and finishing with 400-grit, until the ends were nice and smooth. This eliminates the seam entirely when painted.
I also realized at this point that the tubing that will later be inserted into this hole is larger than I'm allowing for. So I enlarged the hole to one inch diameter using a sanding drum on my drill. Problem solved!
Next, time to paint! Same formula, two coats of flat back, followed by a light coat of satin black. I did not bother to paint the underside of the pipe, as it won't be visible, and of course the glue adheres better if it's left unpainted.
Prior to attaching to the gearbox/crank generator, I ligtly sanded the recessed surface in the box (where the pipe will be glued) with 220-grit sandpaper, to ensure better adhesion.
Then, I glued the vacuum tube onto the assembly with E6000, giving it 24 hours to cure.
The final piece was a 1-1/2" x 1" piece of leftover sign plastic, to be used as a "taper" on the left side of the vacuum pump. I spray painted it using the usual formula and attached it, carefully using E6000 on the edges and just behind.
All done! Next post, I scratch build the crank knob.
Although the crank knob is technically part of the crank generator, I wanted to give it its own build section. There were a lot of steps involved, and it was worth giving it its own attention.
NOTE: It was about this time that I realized that many of the choices I was beginning to make have been leading to a some kind of hybrid GB1/GB2 style pack. But I don't mind; I've got things I like about each, so I'll be picking and choosing whichever aspects I like best from each. But this is probably more of a GB2 pack than anything else now. I will try to point out the obvious differences as I go, but I really think the two packs are very, very close.
First, I made a trip to the dollar store to see what I could find. I ended up bringing home some knockoff NyQuil (I was looking for a cap that was 1-1/4" or so in diameter), and a travel toothbrushing kit:
I also picked up a half-inch wood dowel from Home Depot:
After tossing out the parts I didn't need and cutting a 3/4" piece of the dowel, these are my working parts:
First off, I wanted to fill the toothpaste cap, as it will be the crank handle. I used Loctite 2-part 5-minute epoxy, and filled the cap with the mixture. The surface tension of the epoxy is such that I was able to get a little bit of a "dome" of the material without spilling it. I'm not sure I was going for that effect, but I like it.
After sanding the top of the cough syrup cap so that it was smooth, I used epoxy to glue the dowel piece to the side of the cap.
Once cured, I traced the top of this part onto some leftover no-parking sign plastic and cut it out slightly oversized with lexan scissors. I then sanded it smooth with an emory board and 400-grit sandpaper, until it fit the top of the part nearly perfectly.
Next, I superglued the plastic sheet to the top of the part, and then superglued the toothpaste cap to this:
I wanted to see if I could smooth the transition from dowel to large cap, so I carefully taped off the corner on both sides, and used the black Dynaflex 230 as a filler. Using the black (instead of white) caulk made it easier to see its coverage.
I removed the tape almost immediately. Ready for paint!
Painting was simple: two coats of flat black spray, followed by two coats of satin black (I wanted it pretty glossy). The GB1 version of this part is gray; GB2 is shiny black.
All done! Here it is glued (with epoxy) onto the crank generator:
Yeah, it's a little large, but looks good in the grand scheme as far as I'm concerned.
Next post, I'm going to take a step back from the components of this build, and (mostly) scratch build all the fittings: Legris, Clippard, banjo, boots, etc. I need them for the next several components!
In this section I will be going over my lower-cost emulation of the various fittings that appear on the pack. Some are close, and some are close enough. I managed to average less than $3 each for every type of major fitting this build needs. (If you think that's a lot per fitting, understand that the fully-authentic versions of some of these fittings can go as high as $20-$30 each!) Hope you enjoy!
NOTE: As will be pointed out below, some of these parts have been painted or touched up with brass-colored model paint. I highly recommend Testors Model Master brass enamel, as it is bright, shiny, oil-based for longevity, and works well with just one coat. If you have a hobby shop nearby, I recommend trying to get some. It's not worth buying online.
A. "Legris" Elbow (x3, $3.17 each)
The Legris elbow appears:
- On the right side of the cyclotron
- On the bottom of the ion arm
- On the HGA
For my Legris elbows, I found these 5/32" tubing elbows on Amazon:
From Home Depot, I picked up brass #10-24 x 3/4" screws and brass #10-24 nuts, for less than a dollar per pack. I also bought pewter grey paint from Michaels for fifty cents.
To convert this fitting, I did the following:
Step 1: I removed the orange plug from the shorter side with pliers, and then removed the metal "basket" deep inside the fitting with a combination of slotted screwdriver and needlenose pliers. It was a bit difficult; the trick is to keep prying back and forth until it begins to surface, and then grab it with the pliers. The metal ring I left intact. I saved the orange plug for the banjo elbow later!!!
Step 2: I sprayed the fitting with flat black.
Step 3: I hand-painted the whole fitting with two coats of the pewter grey, holding it with a chopstick while painting. I then painted the remaining tubing plug with brass model paint.
Step 4: The screw will now screw in quite tightly with a little elbow grease.
For installation, the idea here is to drill a hole in the wall of whatever component of the pack, put the screw through from the inside facing outward, and tighten the nut from the other side. Holding the screw in place, I can then twist the fitting onto the screw until it meets up with the nut. No glue of any kind should be necessary!
(Okay, so I guess I didn't have to go with brass screws. But they were the same price!)
All I needed for this part were two 1/4" compression nuts:
These nuts come with an insert, which I glued permanently into the nut with epoxy. The 5/32" red tubing can be jammed into the insert, IF the end of tubing is clipped to a sharp point prior to inserting. More tubing details in a later post.
The entire nut will then be glued to the attenuator with E6000.
These discontinued parts can be very expensive to track down. My idea was to use a piece of square dowel. I had leftover dowels from the gearbox/crank generator, so there was no cost for that part. I also picked up a pack of half-inch #8-32 screws and nuts from Home Depot
Remember those orange tips from the Legris elbows? I sprayed them flat black and hand-painted the tips with a couple coats of glossy red acrylic paint. Model paint would work well here also. I used a chopstick anchored in a piece of floral foam to hold it up for painting.
Then, to build the actual fitting, I went through the following steps:
Step 1: I cut a 1-1/8" piece of 8mm square dowel (the pack from Wal-Mart was metric).
Step 2: I drilled a 3/16" hole in one end, about a half-inch deep. I also drilled a 3/16" hole all the way through the side, near the back. Note: These pieces want to split. To avoid splitting, drilling the hole through the side BEFORE cutting the dowel to length can help. So can using brad point drill bits, which cut more precision holes. Splitting or chipping can also be repaired with glue or Bondo spot putty.
I also gently sanded off the corners with 400-grit sandpaper.
Step 3: I primered the piece with flat black spray, held up on a chopstick.
Step 4: I hand-painted 2 coats of brass model paint, again holding up the piece on its chopstick.
Step 5: I insterted the #8-32 screw through one side, and fixed it on the other side with one of the nuts.
Step 6: I inserted the red Legris tip into the end. It was necessary to widen this hole just a little. Glue was not necessary.
All done! The only thing that would have made this better would have been to find cheap hex-head screws. But no big deal.
I will probably attach these to the wand with epoxy or E6000.
$0.98 - 1/2" #8-32 round head combo machine screws & nuts (Home Depot)
$0.50 - Gloss red acrylic paint (Michaels)
Total cost per fitting: $0.74
E. Cable boots (x6, $0.99 each)
As near as I can tell, there are a total of six cable boots at the ends of the following tubing lengths:
- blue tubing attached to injector and cyclotron, both ends (2)
- red tubing attached to injector and cyclotron , both ends (2)
- blue tubing attached to ion arm and PPD, both ends (2)
A lot of people use oversized flexible straws, or even small split loom wire covering, so I went with this NON-SPLIT loom (a.k.a. "corrugated tubing") I found on eBay:
This tubing will come in handy elsewhere on the pack, so it's not as expensive as it seems.
They're not a perfect match, but they still look pretty good. I cut them to about 1-1/4" in length:
The corrugated tubing is not a tight fit over anything, so I will probably secure these boots with E6000 or epoxy.
Total cost per fitting: $0.99 (only using six)
So that's it! Lots of fittings ready to go, lots of money saved! Here's the whole collection:
Before I close out this post: I went back to my cyclotron and installed one of the new Legris elbows. I simply drilled a hole in the right spot, ran the screw from the inside, tightened the nut on the outside, and screwed the elbow right on. No glue, as predicted!
This part is mounted at the bottom of the cyclotron. My version is kind of a GB1/GB2 hybrid, as I liked colors and textures from both. Beause my cyclotron is removable, I had to make sure not to also attach the N-filter to the main body.
Per Paranorman, I started off with a mini can of Pringles from the dollar store. After eating the chips and lightly washing the inside, I drew a line about 3-1/4" up from the base all the way around it. I did this by holding my hand steady on a support with a fine-tipped Sharpie in-hand and rotating the can around with the tip of the pen stationary on it. I then carefully used an x-acto knife to cut it off. A light sanding smoothed it just right.
Next, after much trial and error with pieces of paper, I cut a cross-section template out of cardboard, laying out just how the N-filter can is going to sit on the cyclotron and main body.
Once I was happy with my template, I used it on the can, cutting the step shape, drawing a line around the can where it ends at the top, and then tracing it out in reverse on the other side. It was necessary to hold the can up to the cyclotron a few times to figure out how far around to cut.
I recommend picking up a couple extra Pringles cans just in case. They're cheap, and you can snack on them.
To position the holes, I used Namssorg's excellent hole template. I decided to go with the evenly-spaced holes of the GB2 pack instead of the GB1 spacing. I printed the 3" diameter template, scaled up to 101%. This fit the Pringles can perfectly.
I taped the template on the can and poked holes with a pen where the centers of the holes would be.
Drilling the holes was exceptionally difficult. The problem is that the inner layer of foil wants to tear, causing ugly, torn holes. After much testing on spare pieces of Pringles cans, I came to the conclusion that the best drill bit to use was a step bit. Using this bit and almost no pressure, I cut 1/2" holes all the way around. The foil still tore badly, but at least the holes were pretty clean on the outside.
To clean them up, I lightly sanded the outside with 400-grit sandpaper. For the inside, I really aggressively sanded them using a sanding drum on my drill (dirt cheap at Harbor Freight). The process was repeated a few times until the holes were pretty clean inside and out.
I also used a 1/2" dowel to help with the smoothing and sanding. Holding the dowel where its tip is just beginning to come inside gave the sanding drum something to cut against as it took off the inside foil pieces.
Next, I painted the whole thing with my usual formula of two coats flat black and a very light coat of satin.
Later on I decided I wanted to recreate the "weld" effect on the N-filter. Although I did it later, masking things off, it would have made more sense to do it now, prior to painting.
Time for the red line around the base. After much thought, I decided that masking and painting was going to be too difficult and imprecise, so I picked up a bag of rubber bands from the dollar store. Inside the bag I found a dull red rubber band of just the right thickness and diameter. I slipped it on and called it good!
There's no gluing for now, as I didn't want to risk leaving residue. We'll see how long it lasts; it'll probably need the occasional adjustment. Maybe the tiniest drips of superglue would help, but I don't want to if I don't have to. The rubber band is going to deteriorate over time, so I need to be able to replace it easily every couple years.
For the details inside the holes, I picked up this stainless steel strainer from the dollar store:
After cutting the mesh out of the frame, I cut some strips, as well as a longer strip of white card stock paper to about 8-3/4". I test fitted inside the N-filter, and then used hot glue to secure the mesh strip to the paper. Low-temp hot glue did the trick, and I smashed it flat right before cooling.
I then rolled it and insterted the strip into the N-filter, using a couple strategically located dabs of hot glue to hold it in place. The "unwinding" tension of the strip also helps it hold its place, so I feel it's pretty secure.
To secure the N-filter to the cyclotron, I took advice from Paranorman's instructions, and cut a piece of a 1" square dowel (left over from the Alice frame spacers) and used E6000 to glue it to the bottom of the can.
It was at this time that I made the last-minute decision to recreate the "weld" effect. I wasn't going to do this (I like a "cleaner" look), but I kind of felt the pack was beginning to look too clean. So I applied a bead of hot glue around the rim of the base of the can, doing my best to fill the little groove.
I should have done this step before painting, so it was necessary to mask off the other surfaces before hitting it with a light coat of flat black.
I'm pretty happy with the result:
Finally, I glued the N-filter onto the cyclotron ONLY using E6000 on the end of the wood dowel. It feels mostly secure; I'll keep an eye on it to see if I need to do anything more.
Next post, it's time to make some nice labels!
Thanks for reading,
RUNNING PARTS COST:
$1.00 - Mini Pringles can (dollar store)
$1.00 - Strainer (dollar store)
$1.00 - Bag of rubber bands (dollar store)
$171.93 - previous total $3.00 - this stuff
Last edited by Astyanax on October 7th, 2016, 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I'm far enough along now that I need to start putting labels/decals on the pack; if I wait too much longer, It'll become more difficult as components get in the way.
I know that sixteen bucks seems pretty expensive just for labels, but considering that I managed to produce high quality labels (including the metallic ones), and considering that labels that are sold elsewhere (when available) can be 3x-4x this cost, I feel it was worth it.
For the "vinyl" style labels, I elected to print onto card stock, and to MANUALLY laminate them. A traditional laminator machine is not acceptable, because the laminated plastic does not actually stick to the printed material. So instead, I decided to laminate the first page of valentino42's PDF using these self-adhesive laminating sheets from Avery. I found a 10-pack on Amazon for six bucks.
Using the sheets was very straightforward. Print the page, stick one side onto a sheet, and then cover it with another.
For the metallic sheets, I tried a few different homemade techniques, none of which I was very impressed with, until I encountered this inkjet printable metallic foil on eBay:
It's sold by the sheet, and I was able to print valentino42's second page onto the one sheet successfully in the first attempt, but if you try this, you might want to purchase more than one to save on shipping, just in case. The instructions say don't print at high resolution, but I had great success doing just that.
The metallic paper is very shiny, and looks different under different lights. Here's an example. Same sheet, different lighting:
Anyway, I had my printouts done and my labels were ready to go:
For sticking them onto the pack, I opted to use Elmer's Spray Adhesive, on sale at Wal-Mart:
For my first attempt at sticking a label, I went with the largest: the big red "Danger" notice on the back of the pack. I cut it out with an x-acto knife, and positioned it by hand until I was happy with it. I then used masking tape to mark the edges. After that, I sprayed the back of the label with the spray adhesive, and used the masking tape as a guide to lay down the label.
Next, I cut out the gearbox label; this one's metallic and has rounded corners, so my technique was to first cut the corners carefully with scissors, and then cut the straight edges with the x-acto knife.
It was necessary to trim the corners just a tiny bit after this, but it came out quite nice. The metallic sheet is peel-and-stick, so I didn't need to use the spray adhesive with that one.
After this, I cut the two labels for the N-filter (non-metallic) and stuck them on with the spray adhesive:
Gaining some confidence, I moved on to the small red "Danger" notices on the cyclotron...
...and the left block on the synchronous generator.
Finally, I applied the yellow filler plug label on the synchronous generator.
That's it for all the parts I've built so far. Going forward, I will apply labels as I make components.
Next post, I will add the neck padding on the Alice frame and the head padding on the motherboard. Yep, these are a couple easier steps prior to tackling that gun mount. It's important to mix it up to keep things interesting!