#257449
So Halloween is upon us and most of my gear that I used last year is ready to go. However, the belt gizmo was something I was definitely missing last year and I really wish I had the time to build one then.

This year, my lovely wife has decided to join me on my ghostbusting campaigns. So I'm planning on getting her set up with a uniform, belt and a custom proton pack (that thread coming soon). So my plan was to build a belt gizmo that was cheap and easy to make knowing that I would be making two. I also wanted to add LED lighting to give it that extra "neato" factor.

The first step, as most of you who have built these know, is the circuit board. Now, this budget doesn't allow for me hunting down an vintage calculator and ripping it to bits. I've got some 1/8" polystyrene plastic sheets and some adhesive printer paper.

I started out by putting together the following image to be printed (based on Exoray's image that can be found on these forums):

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The adhesive printer paper is simply a full sheet shipping label (found at Walmart in office supplies).

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First thing I did was print this off on regular paper to make sure the size was correct (I'll also use it as a template for cutting the plastic later):

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Cut just one side and test fitted it into my measuring tape holster (found at Lowe's Hardware):

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With the fit confirmed, I cut off the bottom of the front hook of the tape holster.

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Obviously, you won't need to do this if yours doesn't have one of these. I couldn't find one with the correct shape locally, so I settled for this one.

Next, I had to figure out what to use for the nixie tubes. in my travels around the forums, I found somebody who had the idea to use clear pen cases. So I went with that idea (pens found at the Dollar Tree - Also pictured: Battery holder & slider switches from Radio Shack - Red/Blue/White LEDs I already had):

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Since the package contained black, blue and red ink pens, I decided to use the colored endcaps in the build. They will be arranged as such:

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Next, I remove the ink tubes and end caps:

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Then just wrap them in painters tape and cut them with a dremel at the length of the tape's width:

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Now we have some nicely cut and (nearly) even length tubes! I cut a rectangle of polystyrene and a square dowel to serve as the nixie holder (dots on the styrene are markings for the holes):

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Now after I cut holes in the styrene, I can show you how the tubes will be held in place with the pen caps:

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This solution works out surprisingly well! Next, I'll work on the circuit board...
MRblahface, MonaLS liked this
#257455
The Circuit Board.

I cut a piece of polystyrene to the size of my circuit board template (non adhesive paper) that I printed out to check the size in the measuring tape holder.

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Then, I tape the template to the styrene with painters tape while leaving the edges exposed.

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Take the mighty dremel and cut away the extra white:

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And we're left with this:

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Since I am using a sticker to cover most of the board, the edges will still show up in blazing white. So we must paint it so they won't stick out. I chose a flat black (instead of the dark green most use) since it's what I had on hand. Notice I used a spare pen tube to hold the board while I painted.

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Now with the paint dry (I left it to dry overnight) it's time to print out the circuit pattern on adhesive paper:

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And cut them out:

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Then line up the bottom and overlay the front and back decals:

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Now we have this pretty fellow (showing the back which I did first to test the decal placement procedure)r:

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For the poop of it, let's draw some lines for the IC leads with a silver sharpie:

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Next I cut some styrene IC's which are basically just recangles:

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Painted the tiny ones the same flat black as the board. Also painted the nixie tube holder the same color. Then just superglued them all to the board:

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Since we're doing LED's, I wanted a small (2xAAA) battery pack to be concealed behind the front of the holder. I installed a battery holder clip to the inside of the measuring tape holder:

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Next I installed the nixie tubes and place the LED's (bent at 90 degree angles near the head) in place. Small holes for the LED leads had been drilled already so I just needed to feed them to the back of the "circuit board".

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Next, I'm going to cut small wires so I can wire the LED's in parallel.

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Next, I just take a strip of painter's tape (HANDY STUFF) and tape the LED's to the tubes to hold them in place. Then plug the holes (which are small enough for the wires to be very snug, thus forming a connection).

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On the reverse side, I twist each wire set together to make sure they have a firm connection. I also add a pair of lead wires for the LED's:

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Since I really don't like to solder, I just used hot glue to hold the wires in place. Now let's test the lights:

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Ooooohhhh....pretty.

Next, we'll work on the measuring tape holder...
#257462
Something I noticed right off the bat was that this holder was for a HUGE measuring tape. That left too much of a gap between the circuit board and the holder for my taste:

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Yeeeeaaaah...So I decided to drill out the rivets on the sides, cut down the holder and redrill some holes:

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Also, it's disturbingly the wrong color. Let's fix that with my trusty can of flat black all purpose paint:

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While that dries overnight, let's make the daughter board that will connect to our motherboard. For that I just cut at 1.75" x 2.25" rectangle of polystyrene plastic like so:

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Since I decided to connect the mother and daughter boards with a coiled telephone cord, I got some RJ-11 (telephone) circuit board sockets from Allied Electronics (just a few cents each). I drilled some mounting holes for the socket (which will be glued in place later).

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Now, to make it so I can clip the daughter board to my belt I need a clip. The easiest way I found for this was to get a cheapo tape measure from the Dollar Tree (2 for $1) and remove the clip from the back to use:

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In order to hold the clip in place on the daughter board, I decided to go with a short pop rivet. I had to grind down the sides a bit for it to fit past the sides of the clip.

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Now, to get a circuit pattern onto the daughter board, I just printed off another adhesive motherboard decal set:

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Then cut out a rectangle large enough that I can fold the edges over to conceal the white styrene on the sides:

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Now that that's done, let's mount the RJ-11 (phone) jack and belt clip:

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Now that that's done something is missing:

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NOT BUSY ENOUGH! So let's add some bits of wire like we did to the motherboard:

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Next, I take another RJ-11 jack and grind off the bottom leads. Then, just superglue that bastid to the lower right fake IC:

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Now we wire the electronics up (adding a small slider switch to the side of the holder), bolt the motherboard to the back of the holder (hiding the wired behind), and re-riviting the front of the holder on.

LIGHT EM UP!

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Here's the finished product all together (oh yeah, also found a small knob to cover the pop rivet):

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A few pictures of it on my belt:

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And that's it. Very cheap to make and I think it turned out well. On the next one, I'm sure I'll pay a bit more attention to details like the angle of the "nixie" tubes.

If anyone has any questions, please feel free to let me know.

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(Refused to get on the belt)
#259911
joeghostbuster wrote:that is boss!
+1

I definitely like this tutorial. Very coherent step-by-step instructions and the finished project looks great.
#259918
Bassgod76 wrote:Where do you get styrene?
I bought two big sheets along time ago from a plastics supplier in South Carolina. Don't remember the name, but I know there are several vendors out there that could help you get your hands on some.

You can also substitute with wood if you have it in roughly 1/8" thickness, it would just be a bit more difficult to shape.

Also, try checking your local hardware store for thick plastic "for sale" signs. Every once in a while I'll run across one made of thick plastic that I think would work well for ya.
Bassgod76 wrote:I assume you did the lights in parallel?
Yes, the lights are indeed wired in parallel.
#265283
First off, great post!! ^_^ I love the use of the pictures to show each step of the process. I only have a couple of questions.

is there any way you could put together a shopping list and a general cost for each of the items? not exact numbers, but something of an idea as to how much we're looking at spending for everything.

ou didn't talk about the LEDs very much. What brand and kind did you use and how much do they normally cost?

also, for those of us who don't know much about wiring LEDs, can you explain how you wired the battery pack up to the LEDs? was it a split wire to each of the LEDs (one wire per + and - leading back to the battery pack) or was it just the main red/black wires wired to one, then extra wires on the back connecting the + to the + and the - to the - ends to the others in the row?

Thanks again for this awesome post! ^_^ I'm going to be working on this for my uniform pretty soon. ^_^
#266244
i made mine on the cheap as well, but perhaps even more cheaper then what rockman did lol. here is mine. this is the first time ive attmempted to make some like this mind you, so its not gonna be anywhere near as cool as rockmans but still it will look cool with my outfit. only have to get the black phone cord but its pretty much finished. what do you think?

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#267973
Very nice work!!! Looks great!!!!
#354789
Nice Job! I'm going to try my hand at making one like yours. Thanks for posting the steps and what you used. :-D
I'll have more questions later, but I started today getting the parts, here's what I have so far:

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Going to Radio Shakc tomorrow. Have to buy color ink for my printer too. :wink:

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