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Thread: [Worklog] Project Unlicensed Nuclear Accelerator (U.N.A.) - QuakeCon 2015

  1. #1

    [Worklog] Project Unlicensed Nuclear Accelerator (U.N.A.) - QuakeCon 2015

    This is my worklog for my entry in the Case Mod contest at QuakeCon 2015.

    I previously won the themed case mod category at QuakeCon 2013 with a modified Koolance case
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    Last year, I re-imaged my winning case and while I garnered a lot of attention, I failed to place with that case
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    For 2015, I am delving into scratch building. This has been a project I've wanted to attempt for a few years now, but haven't have the financial means to try. As a person who grew up in the 80s, one of my favorite movie franchises was Ghostbusters. I bought myself a fan-made Proton Pack a few years ago, and while that one didn't suit this idea, it gave me the inspiration to make a gaming PC into a Proton Pack. So last year, I sold that and set out to make my own gaming PC and Proton Pack from scratch, and I'm calling this project U.N.A - Unlicensed Nuclear Accelerator. I also want to say that I am striving for a high percentage of screen accuracy in this build; from the outside I want this to look and feel just like the packs from the movies. I've obviously had to make some compromises to make that happen, but I think they are acceptable and the end result is going to be amazing.

    So, the story of this work log begins when I finally got my hands on a Proton Pack shell. It's worth noting that there is a small fan community for building Ghostbuster props. For the shell in particular, there are a handful of fans who have built very accurate molds and can produce a strong but thin fiberglass shell. I was able to get my hands on one and then did a "proof of concept" to make sure all the PC hardware would fit entirely within the limits of the shell.

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    Here you can see the basic layout I've identified. The ASUS Mini ITX motherboard fits very well in the cyclotron of the pack, while the upper part supports the Silverstone 450-watt power supply and the EVGA 750 GTX ti. This was a huge step and confirmed the viability of this build. As you can see, I have some depth but not a whole lot to work with, considering the shell also has to house the electronics for the pack itself.

  2. #2
    Now that I had my proof of concept, I set to work on the build. The first thing I had to do was build a motherboard (the backboard of the shell, not a PC motherboard. I'll call it a backboard going forward) that would have windows and an I/O panel. This part is integral because it mates the shell with the ALICE frame enabling you to wear this. I chose to use 1/2" MDF and then use a thin layer of hardboard as the "skin" for the backboard. I secured the two pieces together, got the outline, and started cutting.

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  3. #3
    After cutting out the backboard, I cut out the windows over the motherboard, PSU, and video card. I then had to cut the MDF to have larger openings for putting in the plexiglass windows and for weight reduction. In the next pictures, you can see the windows and how they align with the ALICE frame.

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    The next set of pictures is just to show how the edges of the backboard line up with the pack's shell.

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  4. #4
    This next picture shows the primed and sanded backboard with some filler applied to make the transition from backboard to shell as seamless as possible. Filler was also applied to the pack shell as you'll see in later pictures to help repair imperfections from the molding process.

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    After receiving the resin cast parts for the rest of the shell, I mocked up the pack with them.

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    This is where I start mixing Ghostbusters tech lingo into this build. This particular part of the pack is called the HGA. There are 4 1/4" socket-head machine screws that have to be installed for screen authenticity. The 4 holes had to be drilled and the screws mounted.

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    Next I had to drill holes in the bumper and the shell for mounting. For the rest of the pack shell, 5/32 allen head machine screws are used.

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    For the mounting brackets that adhere the pack shell to the backboard, I bought a length of angle aluminum that's 1.5" x 1.5" x 1/8". I cut 4 2" long brackets from that for mounting the board and shell.

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  5. #5
    Next I drilled the holes in the brackets to mount the backboard and joined the two parts.

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    After the backboard was attached, I drilled the holes for the ALICE frame and mounted that. For the ALICE frame, I used thicker machine screws and went with a flush head instead of a socket head. It should be noted that the screen-worn packs actually had an aluminum backboard and was riveted to the pack's mounting plates. I chose to use machine screws so that the board and pack could easily separate since this instance would be housing a computer.

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    And of course, after getting all of that progress done, I had to strap it on and make sure it felt as solid as it looked.

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    Well, that's all the updates for now. I will post more pictures as the build progresses. Thanks for looking!

  6. #6
    NavyChief's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Arlington, TX

    Looking good, and very authentic! Glad I will not be entering the scratch built category!!

    With only about 6 weeks left till QuakeCon, will you have enough time to get this complete?

  7. #7
    It's not going to be easy, but yes - it'll get done on time. I would have more progress but I have a 4 month old son now and he requires a lot of my time But, the wife and kids are going to visit the in laws in Florida for 2 weeks, so I'll two weeks without distraction to finish this build. My goal before that trip is to have the exterior complete.

  8. #8
    Small update here -

    Monday night I got my V-Hook - the part that allows the neutrona wand to attach to the pack.

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    And of course, had to put it on to see how it feels and functions, and to make sure it holds the neutrona wand securely.

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    Going to start the paint work tonight, will post more of an update after that.

  9. #9
    Alrighty, ready for an update in regards to paint work and even getting some of the fittings mounted.

    The shell is still getting some TLC to get up to standards for painting. In the meanwhile, I've been working on the resin parts that will attach to the pack. After a good rub down and cleaning, they got shot with a couple coats of grey primer.

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    After getting primed, the parts were all sprayed with 2 coats of metallic silver. The reasoning behind this is that after the parts get painted black, they can be intentionally weathered revealing the metallic paint and it will give the whole build the appearance that it's made out of metal.

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    The parts finally get their black appearance with 2 coats of a matte black paint.

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    After getting black treatment, the brass fittings that are true to the screen worn packs get added. As the parts get mounted to the pack once the shell is painted, there will be tubing that goes onto all these fittings.

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    This is all I have for now. Hopefully this coming week I can get the shell in paint and move on to assembly. For those wondering when the computer components will be entering the picture, once the shell is complete, I will be working on that. I really wanted to show the process here and show just how much work is going into this to make it a killer computer case as well as a screen-accurate prop from one of my favorite movies.

  10. #10
    Alrighty, time for a quick update. As of tonight, everything that needs to be is in paint. I should be ready to assemble the shell tomorrow and then by this weekend I'll be moving onto building the PC into the shell as well as the pack's electronics.

    Before the shell could go into paint, there was a bad low spot in the fiberglass that would have been a problem when installing the blue lens for the powercell lights. I applied some filler there and skillfully sanded that smooth. Also, the shell itself had a low spot that had to be built back up and sanded smooth.

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    After getting the shell ready and in paint, I focused on some of the bolt-on parts. First came the HGA. In my last post, you could see that I painted it and got the fittings installed. I also got my metallic labels, so I carefully cut the one out for the HGA and affixed it.

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    I was then able to get the shock bellows mounted to the bumper and cut out and apply the label.

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    At this point, with the shell in primer, I couldn't resist another mock up.

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    After my mock-up, I decided to finish the ion arm by mounting the resistors, tubing, and ion arm cap. The resistors are resin duplicates of the real things, so they had to be drilled out and then have the brass fittings attached first.

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    Then I was able to mount everything to the arm.

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    And to finish off this update, here's a few pics showing the shell being painted up in that same metallic silver as the rest of the parts and then a nice shot in it's final black color.

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    Well, that's all for tonight. I'll be sure to post up more once the shell is finally assembled and then begins the task of fitting a gaming PC into this beast.

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