Monday, October 27, 2014

We've GOT ONE! - A Ghost Trap Build

Many children of the '80s (and most adults) longed for a ghost trap and a proton pack. Since I never got either, combined with my son who loves Ghostbusters, I'm building us both traps.

ghostbusters ghost trap
Top of the line in paranormal containment.


ghostbusters ghost trap model
The 3d model of the trap.
Every good build starts with a good plan. I modeled the trap in Sketchup based on plans from Sean Bishop.I model everything before I build it so I know how every piece and joint will fit. My goal for the trap is as accurate as possible on a limited budget.

Materials used:
1/4" MDF, 1/2" MDF, 3/4" poplar, 1/2" wood dowel, 7/8" wood dowel, 1" wood dowel, aluminum sheet, #6 button and socket cap screws, #8 button and socket cap screws, #10 socket cap screw, pilot light, micro switch, and assorted buttons.

I sourced a mini toggle switch and Linrose pilot light from amazon. They aren't 100% accurate, but they are close.
The knob on the resistor side is from a 1988 Nissan pickup radio.The knob serving as the tear drop shaped dial is the volume knob from almost any '90s GM vehicle.

The button head and socket head screws were sourced from the local hardware store and big box home improvement store, as was the aluminum. The hardware store saved me 30% on the screws compared to a big box home improvement store, though the hardware store did not carry #8 button heads. I went thin on the aluminum as making two traps meant thicker aluminum was a substantial cost increase. I may fix this discrepancy one day (though I may not).

There is a lot of contention on which screws are accurate, since the original traps mixed and matched. I did some research and looked at a lot of images. The final screw count and location used in this build:

#6 Socket Cap Screw - 20 - small side plates, heat sink, resistor, display plate, door hinges
#6 Button Head Screw - 5 - battery top
#8 Socket Cap Screw - 6 - front plate, cartridge ears,
#8 Button Head Screw - 8 - large side plates
#10 Socket Cap Screw - 1 - top of handle

My dials use #6 socket caps so that they will turn. The screw is fed from the inside, and the button is glued on. I'm sure there is a better way to do this, but this is my method.

Tools used: 
Table saw, jig saw, drill, drill press, file, rasp, belt sander, pneumatic saw, and lots of clamps ranging from 1.5" to 12"

I built using wood, which makes for a durable, albeit heavy trap.
I started with pieces of 1/4" veneered MDF I had  on hand.
The veneer was later sanded off.

The overall shape of each side cut with a table saw.
ghostbusters ghost trap
The details were cut out using a jig saw.

ghostbusters ghost trap
The trap takes shape.
The vertical portion of the handle is solid poplar for strength. The battery is also solid wood. I hollowed it out slightly and am making it removable to access the switch and pilot light. I should have used 1/4" MDF for less weight and easier access. The same applies for the cartridge. The cartridge is held into the trap by tension alone.
ghostbusters ghost trap
The pieces for the cartridge box cut out.

ghostbusters ghost trap
Test fit of the pieces. The top trim will be recessed.





ghostbusters ghost trap
Test fit of pieces.
ghostbusters ghost trap
The aluminum side plates were easy to cut with a jig saw and metal cutting blade. I then filed all the edges of the aluminum to make them even/level and remove roughness, I slightly rounded the edges with the file so they weren't sharp.

A hole was drilled through the display plate and a pneumatic saw cut the rough opening. A little bit of filing trued the hole. When drilling through aluminum, use a wood backer to support the aluminum so you don't bend or dent it.

Holes were marked and drilled onto the aluminum plates, then the plates were clamped into position and used as a guide for the holes into the wood.

ghostbusters ghost trap
I added paint early, I just couldn't wait.
A drywall screw through the 3/8" NPT air hose fitting hole attaches the battery to the handle and allows me access to the light and switch.

The side bars are 1/2" wood dowels, with the ends chamfered on a belt sander. A plastic rod through the trap body and into the dowel holds it in place better than if it were just glued on. If I were doing it again, I'd probably do a bolted connection.

I decided to make the dials able to turn, and had to recess screw heads in the already assembled box. This makes for holes that are ugly as I had to drill at an odd angle. If I had planned ahead, I would have drilled all holes prior to assembly.

I used drywall compound to knock out the wood grain on the handle, battery, and side rods. MDF doesn't have a grain so the rest of the trap was okay.

I test fit the pieces and screws multiple times, increasing the depth of some of the holes when the screws didn't insert completely.

ghostbusters ghost trap
Make sure screws and accessories fit.
I then removed everything from the trap and painted it flat black. I had thought about using a hammered metal finish and misting it with flat black to knock the sheen down, but instead only used flat black.
ghostbusters ghost trap
A little bit of paint goes a long way.

There are a few sand marks on the trap from sanding edges or sanding the veneer off of the MDF, I actually like this and it will help with the weathering (when I get to it).

I ended up with a few stainless screws, which will need to be painted black. You can leave them in the trap to paint them, or punch them  through a sheet of paper to paint them.

The trap doors are 1/8" acrylic sheeting. I cut the rough shape on the table saw and used the pneumatic saw for the recess. A rasp was used to create the radius. I painted the doors gloss black.

ghostbusters ghost trap
ghostbusters ghost trap
I used clear scotch tape to tape off for the gloss yellow paint. Plastic tube from my scrap box, glued to the acrylic, creates the hinges. The #6 socket screws into the tube on the battery side, and the tube extends past the edge of doors into a recessed hole in the ears.

For the stickers, I just printed them off from HProps, cut them out, and used spray adhesive to attach them.

ghostbusters ghost trap
Did somebody see a ghost?

While I opted to forgo the accurate knobs, resistor and, side plate, that was due to shipping taking too long for Halloween. I plan to order the parts later and focus my time on trying to finish as much as I can for my uniform and proton pack.

I also plan to weather, later. Weathering helps a prop look real instead of a toy. I will use brown washes- spraying and rubbing paint on and off. I will also do a lot of silver dry brushing at edges and corners. Sand marks will be key spots for the silver.

This is my trap build. If I were doing it again, I'd use 1/4" MDF to lighten the overall weight. I also should have marked all screw holes prior to assembly. With that said, I like the end result and I had a lot of fun creating it.
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