PolterBuster Project: Lighting

The clear compartment on the original vacuum contained a lot of white foam balls that got blown around by a fan when the toy was turned on. I decided that I was going to install lights here. The Poltergust from the games had one light… but this is an imprecise mashup piece. I decided to go with 4 lights, in homage to the proton packs, but green to match the aesthetic of Luigi’s Mansion.

Here’s what I was working with:

What I started with

I removed the foam balls, and originally I was also going to chuck the fan in the trash too, but I hold onto parts like that just in case, and I’m glad I did. This will be important for later.

Motor parts kept for later

For the lights I ordered some 10mm green LEDs (I like my tech chonky, especially for a cartoon character), and the accompanying resistors.

Chonky 10mm LED vs standard 5mm LED

I 3D modelled and printed a piece to hold them into place in the spacing I wanted, and after a lot of frustration and soldering I got them into the installed. I put a solderless connector on the end so that I can separate parts when troubleshooting and/or if I decided to mount the board on the other half of the casing. I really need to spend some more time practicing crimping those connections correctly.

Light array prototype for test fit
Hmm… a bit messy
Eh, good enough for a rough build
Installed in casing

To control the lights for a blinking pattern, I used a knockoff arduino nano and modified some simple code for it. Gotta watch out for those knockoff boards, though. I had to go find special drivers so I could use the board, which can be nervewracking. You never know what people are going to include in code from an obscure website.

Prototyping the simple code on my Uno
Nano board mid-construction… I forgot to take a closeup when I finished the soldering

To power the board, I decided to use a phone power bank, as I hoped it would be an easy solution… I should know better.

Early Tests

Hooking the board to the phone bank powered the lights…. for less than a minute. Then the power-saving features on the bank determined there wasn’t actually enough of a load on the circuit, and cut out. After a lot of fiddling with resistors, I added a bundle of 4 resistors in parallel to the circuit to add a little bit of load, which makes the power bank stay on.

And this is why we have breadboards and alligator clips.
Resistance is… helpful

Once I had verified that the power bank would stay on, I went to permanently install the components. I continued cannibalizing the cable I was using, and wired the resistor into the circuit. I also added the toy’s original power button into the circuit as it would be a conveniently accessible button already built into the casing.

There was a originally a casing on the resistor bundle, shown here, but I removed it later due to heating concerns

Of course, the one segment of the wire I HADN’T messed with turned out to have a short. I had to cannibalize another wire end to bypass it. (Not shown, just annoying)

Then I had to figure out how to mount everything so that it would stay in place and function reliably. I went by my old standby for mounting things: hook-and-loop-backed command strips.

Circuitry mounted on the back of the red shell
Power bank mounting location

I used the modified USB cable to connect the two halves together for closing up. I also added an extension cable for charging the power bank without opening up the case, and a cut a hole for checking the display of the power bank to determine the charge status.

Charge port at the top, status display in the middle

With that all wrapped up and functioning, here’s the light sequence. Pay no attention to the other changes for now.

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