Update 11/17/2017


This project is finished and all of the models and code have been released on Github and Thingiverse.

The full size wand: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2334883
The full source code with diagrams, component links, and pack models: https://github.com/CountDeMonet/ArduinoProtonPack

Video of the final proton pack:

Lots of pictures of the build throughout the thread. What a fun project this has been!

Original Thread Text

My PKE Meter came out pretty good so I'm starting in on the proton pack for my son's birthday/halloween costume. There are a number of models out there but none of them were really working so well for me. I didn't want to start from scratch so I chose the model by DancinFool82 on Thingiverse to start my journey.

The original model is very detailed and looks to be quite accurate but there are some issues with it. It doesn't look like it was designed to be very serviceable, some of the models are broken, and some of the parts take a lot of filament to print.

I decided to tackle the hardest part first. The neutrino wand, in the 3d files, is complete but there are a number of issues with it. The original hand grips are too wide for a 7 year old kids hands and I need to make it a bit smaller. I've decided to use a 3/4 inch PVC pipe as my base for the front and rear hand grips. Those parts are blue in the image below. Everything else will be printed.


I've added a mount for the rear handle to the base, redid the front handle mount to work with the 3/4 inch pipe, and I cut out one of the sides to reduce print time/filament used. I added some mounts so I can glue the side in and make it strong but still allow me space to work. I made the base removable so I'll be able to get at the electronics using the existing 6 screw holes.


My plan for the electronics is to use 2 ardunio nano clones (I picked up 3 for $11) coordinated by the wand via a serial connection. The arduino in the wand will control all of the LED's in the wand and talk to the arduino in the pack. The arduino in the backpack will control a ton of LED's and also control an Adafruit audio fx sound board. I've just started playing with this sound board and it's really cool. I think I'll be able to do everything I want with it.


I have one of the cheap XYZ Printing Davinci Mini 3D printers and it's doing a pretty good job printing out the wand so far. The lighting in the pictures is pretty harsh but I will need to do some filling to clean up the parts. I am at about 80% of the parts printed at this point. I keep making changes to the models to make it print easier or be easier to take apart but it's coming along well. I hope to have the wand showing signs of life in the next week or so.



Last edited by CountDeMonet on November 17th, 2017, 12:20 pm, edited 3 times in total.
bradboss12, talem84, Strider61785 and 3 others liked this
Just out of curiosity, has anyone ever made a pack for a lefty before? Any changes that needed to be made other than mirroring the pack? My son is left handed and holding the right handed wand is really awkward for him. Luckily it is really easy to just mirror the 3D parts that need to be reversed and reprint it. Other than the smaller grips I'm planning on keeping the wand to scale. The pack will need to be scaled down some. I'm thinking about 80-85% to fit his back well.
Looks great!

If you need a lot of I/O pins, like you're doing individual LEDs for the bargraph like I am, check out the SX1509 Breakout Board by Sparkfun! 16 I/O pins for $5, communicates to the Arduino via I2C, and you can use I think 4 or more of them (changeable I2C addresses) -- plus you can use it to do things like blink and fade without continuous control from the Arduino. https://new.sparkfun.com/products/13601
Very cool. I'll have to check those out. I was thinking about using neopixels for the power cell animation. That only requires 1 pin and I can control 16-24 led's. For the bar graph I was looking at a LM3914 or a 595 to reduce the number of pins needed. That expander board might be easier though. Thanks!
Thanks! Feel free to PM me if you want to bounce any ideas off of me, I'm still new to Pack building, less so to Arduino (but I wouldn't call myself an expert.)
I should be getting in my bar graphs soon from Digikey. In this model you can see 14 LED's on a standard bar graph through the window. I had a few green ones laying around but wanted the right color. It's easy to find the 10 segment ones but luckily Digikey also had the 5 segment ones in the yellow so those should be in soon. I think I've decided on the 74HC595 shift registers to control the LED's in the bar graph. That should free up enough pins on the nano to handle the rest of the LED's in the wand. I am debating on manually building a pcb to hold the registers and the led graphs or to throw together a quick board at oshpark. So easy and I bet that board would be under $5 shipped for 3 of them
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Similar thoughts here, but I decided to go with individual flat top 2x5mm LEDs: I can fit about 16 of those in my window, and those fit nicely in a 40-pin IDC ribbon cable (which is precisely what Heavy Props and others do.)

I thought a lot about using the 74HC595 shift registers (and ordered some) but then I found the SX1509 breakout, and since multiple of those can be used on a single Arduino and used as both input and output pins, it means all I need inside the wand are two of the SX1509 breakouts and the wiring to everything. That lets me have a single cat5 ethernet (8 wire) connect back to the pack, and I only need 6 of those: SDA and SCL (the I2C pins), 3v3 and 5v power, 3v3 and 5v grounds. I decided to bring both 3v3 and 5v power to the wand because I want to use Neopixels almost everywhere there is a regular LED (the 5mm neopixel is awesome) for future coloration and those run of course at 5v, but the SX1509 uses 3v3, so I'll run the bargraph LEDs off the native SX1509 voltage.

I've been toying with making an oshpark board for all of this, or just attaching both of the breakouts to a 1/2 size Adafruit perma-proto board, which conveniently has 2 sets of power rails, one for 5v and one for 3v3.

BTW, for your LED segments, you're familiar with resistor networks, right? That's going to save me a ton of wiring.
I tried to source some individual LED to do the same but it seemed the smallest amount I could find was 100 on ebay and I don't think I'll find a use for 100 of them :) I usually buy from Digikey but they are really short on supply there as well and I didn't like the form factor they had. I was pretty stoked I could find the 5 segment version and pair that with the 10 segment and only skip the one.

When I first went looking for the SX1509 sparkfun website was down and I couldn't see much info on it. Very interesting option. Seems it would use a similar number of pins as the shift registers but in a smaller form factor. I've never ordered from sparkfun before and they do appear to be the cheapest source for one. I think I'll order one and give it a try. How awesome a time is it that we can find stuff like this for a few bucks and have it in a few days :)

I am familiar with resistor networks but I am glad you brought it up as I was not even considering one (well 2) for this application. That will reduce wiring a lot.

I also really like the idea of the cat 5 cable to the pack. I've got a ton of that stuff laying around and that thought had not crossed my mind either. Thanks!
I got the 2x5mm LEDs from Mouser: http://www.mouser.com/Search/ProductDet ... 4-WP113YDT

They also carry Cliplite 5mm LED covers that are pretty good standins for the non-HAT lights. This one is perfect for the SLO-BLO: http://www.mouser.com/Search/ProductDet ... y593-2800R -- take a look through them all, I also grabbed white transparent versions. I can dig up the part # if you like.

Sparkfun is a great site, highly recommend them! The SX1509 is a hair cheaper (like $1.20) on ebay (clearly a clone), not really worth it IMHO.

Lastly, Sparkfun also carries a nice RJ45 breakout board (https://www.sparkfun.com/products/716) and the associated RJ45 port (https://www.sparkfun.com/products/643) -- hope that helps!
My bar graphs and 74HC595's came in today. Digikey is getting a lot faster with their shipping. Only 2 day turnaround. Anyway I hooked everything up and was even able to finagle Martinus code into working with all of it. The animation arrays were a huge help there. While doable I have really high hopes for the SX1509 now :) The amount of wires was impressive and scary at the same time. If I go that route it's a PCB from OshPark for sure. No way will I be trying to manage that amount of wiring. It did work though.
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non-electronics related I've been on the hunt for a clear nose for the thrower. I purchased what I thought was a good size poly carbonate tube but it ended up being way too small. As I was sitting here I looked over and saw one of my son's old model rockets that had a see thru plastic section. When I was a kid we used to send flys and crickets and stuff up in those things. Anyway it's not very thick but strong enough and cheap enough to use for the end on the wands I'm working on. I should be able to find more of it at the local hobby shop too.
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Let me know how it works out. I bit the bullet and bought the one on ebay for $20. Luckily it's about the same exact diameter as the 7-LED Jewel Neopixel...
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Turns out those little shields are really expensive. Also my thrower handles are a little smaller as I am using 3/4 inch PVC. That has an outside diameter of 1 inch. I found these 25mm plastic test tubes which look perfect.


I got them in today and now I have a ton of them. You can never buy one for 75 cents of course. There is a slight taper from the top to the bottom of about 1 mm but they are really strong. I think it's going to work out well. Now to adjust the end of the model for the new part.
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The adafruit sound fx board is awesome. As a simple trigger board I can see lots of uses but once you connect it to an arduino you can really open up the possibilities. I'm still working on the sounds I want for it but for a an hour or two of tinkering this came out pretty good.

on another note the sx1509 came in yesterday as well as one of the neopixel sticks. I'll get to playing with those shortly :) I'm planning to code everything up with one arduino and get it working how I like then I'll split up the functions between 2 arduinos. One in the wand and one in the pack. I should be able to use one buck converter to send the power to everything. I don't think I'll be getting anywhere near 3 amps but we'll see with the stereo speakers. It is a lot of LED's
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Majorly awesome! I need to go find those sound clips! :)

I can't get the shield I bought to work, I'm having upload issues with Win10 (which I hate.)

Related, I was at Phoenix ComicCon today and hung around with the Phoenix Ghostbusters, an awesome group!
I looked at the wav shield but decided on the fx board because I'm using nanos for the arduino. The fx board doesn't require the arduino to function but once you hook them up it becomes really easy to do all kinds of things. I bought the large 16mb board but I'm only using about 7mb so far. I'm planning to add a lot more sounds as I find them. Since I'm not using the trigger pins I could have saved some money and bought the mini fx 16mb board but I'm really happy with it. Didn't require any drivers or anything with windows 10
The fx board only supports wav and oog. I currently have 10 trigger effects. Most of them are between 2 and 6 seconds long . The biggest effect is the GB theme and I cut it down to 30 seconds. Even still I'm at only 7mb used all uncompressed wav. Most of the triggers will be short sounds so don't take a ton of space.
Figured out the shield! I had 2 issues: one was that I was using too big an SD card (8gb max, apparently) and the second involves the board I'm using -- the Leonardo doesn't play well with Linux because of some issues. I also "found" a bunch of sounds last night after your post - now just lots of programming to do in that regard! Spending the day doing the last of the drilling and tapping of my resin cast wand because it's too hot to paint. :)

How close are you releasing your files?

I may just 3D print the forward trigger block, as the resin cast one I have is really not designed for a working switch and LED - I'd end up dremeling a channel and then figuring out an endplate to hide the wiring.

Lastly, I got my acrylic tube, too, and a neopixel ring/jewel will work absolutely perfectly for it -- definitely something you should think about!

That looks good. Those lights are really making a nice effect. After you mentioned the neopixel jewel earlier I've taken a look and I think it would work for my use as well. Will probably be picking one up soon.

All of the base models that I have are up on thingiverse right now. I'll be modifying the front end quite a bit over the next few days to fit the parts I found. Which part are you looking for and what are the requirements you have for it?
Look at both the "jewel" (7 LEDs) and the smallest ring (9 LEDs) -- one may work better than the other, depending on the size of your tube. You could also use individual neopixel/ws2811 LEDs...there are a couple of vendors who sell them pre-wired, individually they'd be a royal pain to solder, or you could use Adafruit's individuals that are mounted on a tiny PCB. I notice the rings are getting rarer on ebay, I'm wondering if the newer "dotstar" LEDs will start appearing in the ring configuration now.

I must have missed that you'd uploaded your files already -- I went and found them on Thingiverse, thanks!

The part I'm going to rebuild is what you're calling the "Front Handle Adjuster" -- mainly I need to size it for my tube (7/8" dia) and deep enough to fit the switch and LED, with an appropriate hole for feeding the wiring under the forward handle and a bottom plate to hide the wiring. I'll take a look at yours and should be able to modify accordingly.

Today is a day I really love my 3D printer (Printrbot Simple Metal.) My resin Nick-a-Tron kit doesn't have a bezel around the bargraph on the gun box and it's really wide for the flat LEDs, so I fired up Tinkercad (major 3D novice here) and made one. Took me 3 tries to get it to fit perfectly but it does now!

Ah, yeah that piece. I've decided to leave that one static on my build. The original files have the button separated out and it would not be hard to add a channel internal to it for the wires. The original file is here https://www.thingiverse.com/download:1771090. Mine is sized for a 1 inch external diameter tube.

I found the 7 led neopixel jewel on amazon for a little under $10 so I picked up 2 of them. It won't fit inside my tube but it should fit in the piece I'm designing to connect the pvc to the test tube so I can just design a mount for it inside that. These neopixels are awesome.

I also picked up some EL wire. Like 5 meters of it in different colors for $7. I'm thinking instead of the red and blue hydraulic tubes I may use this stuff. We'll see how well it works and how hard it is to wire.

I love my printer. It's the XYZ Printing Davinci mini. I think I've outgrown it though. I need a larger build platform and its missing the heated bed. Makes printing flat things challenging without warping so I've had to get creative or use a ton of glue.

Your bezel looks good. :)
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