Even though it is easy to print out prototypes and replicas using the miniFactory 3D printer, this Ghostbusters project is really something.
Summer – and No.1 summer event, the Provinssirock festival – was about to begin, and we had nothing to wear. In case of more official summer festivals, this must be a familiar situation, but this time there were three men pondering in front of a pint of beer. At summer festivals, you can often see Supermen, Borats and even walking bananas. This time, we decided to go one step further. Since our team included a 3D-modelling aficionado with a miniFactory 3D printer in his living room, a person good with paintbrush, and a person with a number of great ideas, we called it open season for ideas, so to say.
Eventually, we decided in favour of the Ghostbusters – a dream team that influenced our childhood! We started looking for detailed images and remembering the equipment that these fighters against supernatural forces used. They had Ecto Goggles for some ghost spotting, Proton Gun for capturing the otherworldly nuisances, and Ghost Trap for long-term spook storage. Additionally, there were the PKE Meter or ’ghost radar’ and Utility Belt – and the legendary Ghostbusters overalls with nametags. There was a lot of work to be done, but we were ready and willing!
Stage 1 – Ghost Trap printing and painting
Projektin alkuvaiheessa ajateltiin, että mallinnettaisiin vain Proton Gun ja Ghost Trap, jotka olivat haamujengiläisen perusvarustusta.
In the first stage of the project, we considered modelling only the Proton Gun and Ghost Trap, the basic equipment of a Ghostbuster. The Ghost Trap was completed first; we modelled it in Solid Edge and printed out right away using the miniFactory 3D printer. It was merely a model of the original device, without any functionality. However, after some painting and taping, it could have been mistaken for the original. Suddenly, all of us realised that ‘the project really has it’ and the hunger started to grow. Should we equip the next units with some buttons, perhaps even with lights? The idea started to grow.
Stage 2 – Proton Gun printing
After the Ghost Trap, we concentrated our efforts on clearly the largest challenge of the project – the Proton Gun. The Proton Gun model began to take shape after we checked a dozen of different models using Google image search. We decided to start modelling our own version, which had our favourite features from all models.
In this stage, we also considered possible LED lights and electronics, for which reason their positioning and wiring was included under the 3D model design. Another special feature was a PVC pipe used in the Proton Gun in place of the tubular parts. The parts remained hidden and served as a good fastening surface for other components.
Prototype No. 1 was soon sent to miniFactory for printing of the modelled parts. ‘Well, yes…” The comments suggested there were some doubts about the Gun’s appearance. However, now that we had the prototype, we were able to test how it feels in our hands, is the size about right, and where can we fit the future functionalities.
We had to make a number of changes in the next prototype in order to fit all of the functionalities desired in our Proton Gun. LED light locations, wiring routes, central housing lighting, the feel of the handles, push-button locations… Plus a lot of tuning and upgrading, all the way from basic design.
Prototype No. 2 was extremely close to the final version – only some filing was required for installation of the LEDs and wires. Inspired by such success, we decided to continue with the next unit and paint the Proton Gun sometime later.
Stage 3 – PKE Meter and Ecto Goggles
By this time, it was safe to say that the project was running wild. There was a constant inflow of ideas on all the things we could do. However, we had to set the limit somewhere, and so we decided that after PKE Meter and Ecto Goggles, we’re done! Of course, this was before the next great idea came along…
PKE Meter was a rather quick project, once we reached a consensus regarding its appearance. We also had an excellent idea on how to make the meter look more vivid and truly stylish. We modelled a space for two white LEDs in the cover, which were located at a distance of approx. 1.5 cm from the cover top surface. To cover the LEDs, we printed out a 0.5 mm thick white plate serving as a reflector/display.
It was possible to activate the PKE Meter using a momentary switch on the front panel. In other words, the lights are turned on by pressing the button and off by releasing it. This way, it was possible to make the LEDs flash energetically whenever required! We installed the rest of the LEDs in front of the gadget, on the sides and inside the handle. I have to admit that it works – and looks clever!
We stumbled on the Ecto Goggles idea by accident, since we had acquired some Bundeswehr gas protection goggles with lenses of real glass from Supernova. However, we were discouraged by the thought that the glass could be shattered in the heat of the festival. We were already considering the option of using lenses cut out of Plexiglas to replace the glass ones. All of a sudden, we had an idea: since we have the 3D modelling software and miniFactory 3D printer right under our nose, why not print the lenses out by ourselves? Naturally, transparent lenses were not an option, but striped lenses would be a perfect start.
As can be expected, a flood of ideas followed, and we decided to modify the goggles to look a little more like the original Ecto Goggles. We created some space in the goggles to fit in a 9V battery and two holes for some LED lights for a more lively appearance. These looked really cool in the wee hours of the festival night!
Stage 4 – Proton Gun painting and finishing
After some extra filing, the Proton Guns were fully functional, but had to be painted and equipped with electronics before being glued together. First, of course, we had to print out a pile of parts so that all three of us could wield a Proton Gun.
We used water-soluble spray paints by Maston and RAL9005 matte black paint for priming. It was a good base for all the future decorations and the like. Learning to apply the paint in several thin layers took some work indeed.
Once we reached an understanding that it takes more than one go to finish the task, the remaining layers went quite well! After the painting, we used acrylic paint (for scale models) to finish the details. Silver-coloured paint was good for some nice surface effects, other colours/mixes for other details. Here is a picture to give you the feel.
After the painting, we assembled the Proton Gun with all of its components. A well-planned thing is half-ready, or how do they say? The components snapped into their places just fine – no lie, we only had to use a tool once, for cutting a space for wiring into an end of the PVC pipe. The prototypes really helped a lot!
We installed the LED lights. We managed to hide the wires inside the housing and hot glue all the components together – the cannons were now ready for some real action.
‘The gear’ started to look pretty good. Everything was painted, electronics installed and even functional, blocks glued together, strap loops in place, etc. Clothing and accessories were up next.
Stage 5 – Clothing
Of what use would the Proton Guns and Ghost Traps be to us if we were not properly clothed for the occasion? We managed to find some British RAF overalls of perfect colour and appearance. We based the entire package on them.
Now, we only needed to find nametags, Ghostbusters patches, equipment belt, gloves, boots, and some face paint. We ordered almost everything from Supernova and Varusteleka. We found the tags and patches through eBay – it was possible to order them embroidered with your name.
Stage ‘at last’! Project completed
You could say that it was a close call, since the last filing works were completed the night before the festival. Nevertheless, the project was awesome, and if we had more time, the possibilities for adding equipment were almost limitless. Ideas were definitely not the problem.
We learned quite a lot from the project, and the gear for the next masked party has already been completed. We learned some things about 3D modelling, 3D printing, painting (spray/paintbrush), soldering, calculating LED power, hot gluing. If you have the interest and the tools, everything is possible!
The number of 3D printed parts (including prototypes) amounted to approx. 50 pieces. We used up some two spools of PLA printing filament and some Taulman Nylon 645 Filament for the whole project including the prototypes. The total printing time, prototypes and parts included, was around one week. Yeah! To round it up, a glimpse of the feeling and a larger gallery of pictures taken during the project in random order.
Gallery of pictures taken during the project in random order
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