Although I didn't make my goal, I'm convinced that it's possible to make a reasonably accurate pack for free. I know that there were several parts on this thing that I'd pretty much given up on finding when a great substitute would land in my lap. (Of course, having a job this spring and summer as a janitor didn't hurt things!) If you've got the patience, luck, and connections, I know you can get pretty much anything for free, or at least at a very reduced cost.
I began scouting for parts on this thing right after Halloween last year and I had enough bits and pieces assembled that I could start building in March 2006. I decided to tackle the wand first, since I figured it would take as long to do the wand as it would to build the entire rest of the pack. (I was right.) Working off and on during weekends and breaks from school, the wand took from March to July. The rest of the pack took from July to October, with the final details being added on October 26th. I didn't have time to finish the booster frame and the 3 pieces of cosmetic plating, but I don't even notice when I look at it.
All in all, this pack has been a real learning experience and I'm glad I had the patience to see it through. However, it wouldn't have been possible without the photos, plans, and helpful folks here at gbprops.com. Thank you, AJ, for running this site!
Before the pics, here's a breakdown of my costs (including tax):
Push Switches - $3.59
Split loom - $3.21
Cake pan - $3.00
Glue - $3.44
Glue & Washers - $3.53
More glue - $2.00
A.L.I.C.E. frame - $38.00
Toggle swithces - $3.94
Total - $64.71
(In some cases I forgot to save my reciepts so I had to round off, hence even dollar amounts in some prices.)
Getting it all together...most wood was old 1/4" panelling...
The frame's on!
FINISHED! My only major gripe is I cut the window on the powercell WAY too big. The powercell is a floppy disk case (found in the trash) that actually opens up so I can stick a blue glowstick inside for lights. For this reason I didn't color the window, which fogged up after getting super glue on it. A similar lighting "system" was used for the cyclotron. It sounds hokey, but it worked pretty good! The booster frame and cosmetic plating is missing, but as far as I'm concerned this project is finished.
A closeup of the ion arm. I had the resources to scratchbuild accurate resistors but not enough time, so I used the base of a broken headlight (found in a parking lot) and 2 doodads from a 1978 Pontiac Grand Prix 8-track player. Most of the wire came from a computer monitor and the fittings are painted headphone jacks. (I took some liberties in wire length here.)
The ion arm itself is a dowel rod from a Nashville Sounds pennant.
The gun tip. Those Nycoil Banjo Elbows are made of wood with screw heads glued to the sides. The red button is a painted wood glue cap, while the plastic tube once held an expensive ink pen. The trigger is also wood.
I used the eyepiece track from an old camcorder my cousin gave me to secure the gun onto the pack. It's trickier than a normal V-hook but it was also free. The pack's female piece got the crap beat out of it when I had to stretch it open a little after painting it. Many of the detail pieces on the gun came from the cannibalized camcorder.
A closeup of the gunbox. There's a little bit of everything on there. The Clippard is an ancient RCA radio tube (with a Clippard label) and 3 of the "lights" are the bases of clear pushpins recolored with Sharpie magic markers. I thought SLO-BLO sounded lame so I replaced it with my in-house OVERLOAD label.
The cyclotron area. The bumper is weather stripping from some windows, the N-filter is a Pringles can, the cyclotron is a cakepan, the red lenses are a CD case colored with red Sharpie, the ion knob is an old ceramic insulator, and the ribbon cable is a seatbelt colored with markers. (Sharpies figured pretty heavily in the creation of this pack!) Here you can tell how the label ink ran after getting rained on en route to a party!
No crank knob? No problem! I took the volume knob off an old computer speaker and surrounded it with part of a plastic insulator from an electric fence. It's not perfect and doesn't look truly functional, but it takes up space and looks OK. The connector with the green wire came off the aforementioned camcorder, while the fins on the crank box (and everywhere else) are made with 1/8" cardboard made by gluing 3 cereal boxes together, then cutting out strips. It looks sloppy in these super-closeup photos but in person it's fine.
On patrol with the finished product!
Heat 'em up!
All questions and comments welcome!