By Radar
Man...what a long, strange trip it's been. For those of you who remember, I joined this site a little over a year ago and was obsessed with doing the impossible: putting together an accurate proton pack for no money. Needless to say, I didn't quite make it, but I think I came pretty darn close, considering most folks here have dropped anywhere from $100 - $1,000 on parts alone. Due to substitutions, dumpster diving, access to scrap materials, and just plain luck, the proton pack and wand in the photos below were assembled for approximately $64.71.

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 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! :D
Last edited by Radar on March 23rd, 2008, 11:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
By prototype7
Well, this settles it. Ghostbusting does NOT have to be such an expensive hobby! It just takes patience and creativity!
Let me say your pack and thrower are AMAZING! I had no idea something so cool and dare I say, something so accurate, could be had for such little money!
I think your thrower is your best success! That thing looks amazing! I think everyone learned a little something today!

So what's up next for you, a 2$ trap? :D
By Faceofthejester
No it doesn't have to be expensive and thats what i love, i didn't spend over $80 for either of my movie packs and i think they look pretty darn accurate minus a few little bobbles and do-dads lol I love you the idea of making them in expensive but look good, I think its a little expensive to have to pay a couple grand to build one and you still have to do a ton of work. I love the pack radar! and it looks more a like a couple hundered dollar pack with out a doubt!
By Dr. Ray Stantz
Damn....I hope that's not your first pack...I really hate it when people just start off and end up making props better than my third or fourth. These are the people that have money to spend and havn't undergone the sweat and blood that goes into cutting each little individual peice from cardboard, or wood, or foam or whatever...but that's just my rant. Good pack man.
By Radar
Thank you all for your kind words.
Dr. Ray Stantz wrote: Damn....I hope that's not your first pack...I really hate it when people just start off and end up making props better than my third or fourth. These are the people that have money to spend and havn't undergone the sweat and blood that goes into cutting each little individual peice from cardboard, or wood, or foam or whatever...but that's just my rant. Good pack man.

Thanks. This is my second pack but don't think for a minute that it was made the easy way. If I'd kept track of the hours it took to build this thing it would easily be well over 100, if not more. I experienced the sweat firsthand (but luckily not much blood). It's almost entirely scratchbuilt. As I said before, I had very little money to blow on this thing and came out spending about as much as many people would've dropped on a pair of Clippards and some tubing. If I hadn't bought a new A.L.I.C.E. frame it would've been less than $30 in materials.

prototype7 wrote: So what's up next for you, a 2$ trap? :D

Y'know, I almost built a trap to add an extra touch when entering Halloween costume contests and such but decided against it since it would've been a rush job. I had enough stuff left over from the pack that I wouldn't have needed to buy anything else. I had all the materials laid out (including yellow spray paint I'd found unopened in the trash) but in the end didn't. $2? Please, you overprice me! :D
By GBFreek83
Awesome and VERY CREATIVE work man!!

I like the seat-belt idea for the ribbon cable, that's really neat!! I like your wand too that sucker turned out really nice for being made the way it was.

Haha to the picture of you wearing it unpainted "frame attached", you look really really excited...I remember the first time I put my pack on, it was just all black and just the body of the pack itself, MAN IT FELT F***IN AWESOME!!! Sorry for the word there but man it was just incredible...

Congrats again on such a badass pack!!

By Dreamstalker
That is extremely awesome.

I haven't started my pack yet, but this gives me some great ideas (gods know I have enough dead computer parts around here to scrounge stuff from). I like the OVERLOAD label on the gun (I seem to recall that in RGB the packs did have an overload trip switch)...I may adopt that for mine.
By Radar
Dreamstalker wrote: I like the OVERLOAD label on the gun...I may adopt that for mine.

You're welcome to use it after paying the standard licensing fee, plus attourney costs, filing charges, etc., and you must have "OVERLOAD" LABEL (c)2006 RADAR in size 18 font (minimum) in the margin of the sticker. Once all that's taken care of, go for it! :P
By irricanian
Awesome job Radar! it's great to see packs being scratch built and how creative you were with your found items, looks really great!! Packs like this should inspire the new guys and show them it CAN be done for little $$$.

$64.71 is a long way from $647.71 :lol:

By secrecyguy
Not too bad! Excellent work! :)
By ab5olut3zero
You have restored my hope!
Yes- we poor, broke college students CAN have a proton pack of our very own for very little money! It can be done! :o
By bigjuan2001
Damn it looks kick ass! I should make 3 more cheap packs like that. That way I have them for other people to wear.
By Dreamstalker
Looks like it wouldn't be too terribly hard to add an electronics kit to that...if that can be done I'd be all set (just have to coordinate the shipment of parts; my ALICE frame and base is in NM).
awesome look for little money! I used wood paneling for my cyclotron and motherboard as well. The ribbon cable kicks ass ...
You could also use a rainbow nylon guitar strap for the ribbon cable; it doesnt look near as good but its a quick $5 fix...

Great job brotha
oh wow. I wish I had the skills for that. Having to wait for the guy on ebay to list his kits again so I can build my first one. Maybe after the first one I will look into something a little cheaper, but I have to applaud this one. looks great. Can't wait to see what you do next
Wow, and I thought I did pretty well on a low budget (I made a wand, pack, ectogoggles, and trap for my nephew (age 9) and my son (age 5), ectogoggles, trap (well my portable ectocontainment unit that works like a trap), trap holster, utility belt, uniform w/patches, combat boots, elbow and knee pads, genuine Geiger counter from the 60's (sans Geiger coil), Ghost Bomb (took the idea from RGB boogieman), neutrona cannon, proton pack, PKE/Gigmeter combo (including Radioshack microphone and Iona shoe polisher), all the electronics and sound from mp3player for about $500. Great job! Can't wait to see your next project! : )
oh my FREAKIN' gosh.....dunno how i'd missed this post in my history searches, but KILLER JOB!!!! the found parts and pieces are awesome! i was really wondering how i was gonna make the bumper, but i think you just gave me an answer!
madmannc wrote: You could also use a rainbow nylon guitar strap for the ribbon cable; it doesnt look near as good but its a quick $5 fix...

and then madmannc chimes in with my next question, I LOVE THIS THREAD!!!!

Wow!!! Great pack and amazing resourcefulness!

I'm scratchbuilding my pack too, but when I started I wanted it to be very movie accurate, so I bought some resin hard to make/find peices; the ladder, the clippard valves, and the brass barbs/elbows. That said, I have still managed to keep the cost at the $90.00 mark and am determined to keep the cost under $100.00

Great job, very inspiring, keep up the great work!

ps: your particle thrower is amazing, looks like it cost you $200.00 alone!!!
Bo Holbrook wrote:This just goes to show you Bradboss has no excuse for that horrendous thing he made.

Good job on the pack, I may have to use your technique. Did you use plans or just eyeball it? Also, I think it'd be easy to go a step further and start adding on some of the hotter items like lights and stuff now, especially since you saved so much.
LordVego wrote:Did you use plans or just eyeball it?
I used a combination of Norm's, Venkman71's, and Stefan's plans. No way could I have eyeballed this thing! :) As for adding electronics, I found a string of battery-powered LED Christmas lights at Hobby Lobby a few months back for under $2. I tested them out behind the cyclotron lights and they work great! I plan to add them when I'm out of school for the summer and get a little more free time.

Thanks to everybody for the compliments. I just noticed that the font size in part of my original post got screwed up somehow, making the photo captions unreadable. They're all back to readable size now and give some more insight on the making of this pack.

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