Introduction: How to Make a Jet Pack for $30

Picture of How to Make a Jet Pack for $30
Hey Everyone! Here are the detailed plans for the Jet pack project. Keep in mind that this is just the way I did it. You an always tweak things to suit your movie needs and of course improve my design. If you do make a cool jet pack or figure out an improvement let us know. We might even feature you in our special monthly podcast.

If you like what you see, subscribe to our show on iTunes and for more Backyard FX, check out our site.

Shopping List

1. An old rigid frame backpack. (I got mine at a flee market for $7 dollars.)
2. A fire extinguisher. (Only needed if you want the blast off smoke)
3. A green screen. (check out the Quick Tip at the end of Episode #1)
4. Spray Paint (Whatever colors you want! I used flat black, chrome and primer gray)
5. Some epoxy.
6. Nuts and bolt. (Check the junk drawer in the kitchen.)
7. F.A.A. flight permission.
8. 45 degree PVC joint (1/2" diameter) (Only needed if you want the blast off smoke)
9. 1.90 degree PVC joint (1/4" diameter) (Only needed if you want the blast off smoke)
10. 1/2" rubber grommet. (Only needed if you want the blast off smoke)
11. A bunch of plastic junk! (This is where the real creativity comes in. Go to a Junk store or garage sale and just look for stuff that might look good as jet pack parts.)

Here's what I used:

  • 2 cardboard tubes
  • A plastic paper tray (that sits on a desk)
  • A plastic paper tray (that mounts to the wall)
  • An old cartridge from a slide projector. 2 plastic file dividers. (kind of look like bookends)
  • 2 plastic hide-a-key compartments with hinged tops. (I mounted the other junk to this so I could lift up the shell and have access to the fire extinguisher.)
  • Some wire mesh I got at an art store.
  • A "danger flammable liquid" sticker I got from my friend who works at my local hardware store. (Thanks Elizabeth!)

Step 1: Cut the Frame

Picture of Cut the Frame

Building this prop is not rocket science, even though you're building a "jet pack"�. Sorry folks, I save all the best jokes for the show. Chances are you"re not going to find the exact backpack I did, and your "plastic junk"� is probably going to be a bit different too. So keep in mind these plans are just the way I put mine together. The bottom line, we want this thing to look cool. The first thing I did was cut a part off the frame of my pack. I wanted it to be more streamline, so I cut off these pieces with a rotary tool.

Step 2: Hide a Key Box

Picture of Hide a Key Box

Next I screwed the Hide-a-key boxes to the top of the frame. Making sure to leave enough room in between to fit the fire extinguisher. These little boxes are very sturdy and have hinged tops.

Step 3: The Paper Trays

Picture of The Paper Trays

After that I mounted the other paper tray (wall mountable) and the slide cartridge to the first paper tray. In both cases I just stacked the various parts in different places and decided, "yes, that looks the coolest!" and started drilling holes and adding epoxy.

Step 4: Jetpack Wings

Picture of Jetpack Wings

Next comes the wings! These plastic file dividers were a great find. I saw them and instantly thought "JETPACK WINGS!" All I did was epoxy them to the side of the backpack frame.

Step 5: Ready to Paint

Picture of Ready to Paint

Now our jet pack is ready for paint. I debated painting the whole thing flat white, giving it that futuristic/space look, but decided on an aged metal look. You can see a time lapse of the paint job during Episode #1, but basically I used one coat of primer, one coat of chrome, then a patchy coat of flat black to tone down the shiny-ness.

Step 6: Adding Cardboard Tubes

Picture of Adding Cardboard Tubes

I then added 2 cardboard tubes, which I painted black, to the inside of the jet pack They look like fuel tanks and help hide the fire extinguisher when the cover is closed

Lastly, I added some steel mesh I had laying around (from a previous project) to part of the frame using a hot glue gun.

Step 7: The Fire Extinguisher

Picture of The Fire Extinguisher

As you probably saw on the show, my first exhaust system failed. Below are the details on the simplified set up. It consists of two PVC joints and a rubber grommet. Using a rotary tool, cut a hole at the back of the larger PVC joint just big enough to fit one end of the smaller PVC joint into. Epoxy the two joints together to create your sweet exhaust system. Lastly epoxy the rubber grommet to the other end of your small joint. This should fit snuggly on your fire extinguisher. nozzle. You may have to trim it with your rotary tool to fit whatever brand of fire extinguisher. you buy.

Step 8: Triggering the Extinguisher

Picture of Triggering the Extinguisher

Once your fire extinguisher is taped into place you'll need a way to trigger it. After searching through old NASA blueprints I came up with this ingenious trigger system -- a long string!

Step 9: The Magic of Flight

Now I'm not going to go into detail on how to use a green screen, chroma key, key frames, etc. You might be using a different editing program as me and there are people much smarter then myself who have posted tutorials. So here are some links!
Green Screen and Chroma Key (some good general tips) (another great source)

Believe it or not, I didn't use Motion or After Effects on the Jet pack episode. The rocket effects I found on this great website by Detonation Films.

They have a bunch of FREE stock footage of explosions, rocket exhaust and other cool stuff. They even have tutorials on how to use them with your NLE.

The only other program I used was Photoshop to make a tiny Chris that blasts off the ground and edit some of the backgrounds. A big part of completing this effect is using Final Cut Pro (or Premiere) to animate element you have edited in Photoshop. Here is a good tutorial on animating using FCP and Photoshop.

Good Luck and please post any questions or comments!



docman100 (author)2017-09-25

Really cool prop, could definantly make a good movie with one of those.

TheQuadroon (author)2017-03-22

I feel sorta stupid, but yea, I kinda expected it to fly...

dma47 (author)2015-05-31

I saw that episode!

QuincyDB (author)2015-05-25

Does this thing even fly ?

sodiumcanine (author)2012-05-16

Was that Oceanic Flight 815 he went past?

triforce (author)sodiumcanine2012-10-05

Niiiiiice, I see what you did there.

NYPA (author)2009-05-31


Aron313 (author)NYPA2011-12-24

Mythbusters is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

blrosenberg (author)NYPA2009-06-21

note that he said that it's a prop

Aron313 (author)2011-12-24

That works good! Better then i expected for $30! How high did he get?

nerd97 (author)2011-10-01

(sniff,sniff) How could you?

minijc (author)2011-07-26

two fier extinguishers some pvc pipe a metal frame back pack some string pvc two nozles made of pvc and a bit of patientce and it might be possible

try e how they might have your answer if you realy want to put your life and dreams on the line.

Plo Koon (author)2011-07-25

Wait... It doesn't even fly?

brainiac120 (author)2011-07-19


zac d (author)2009-05-06

how..................did make............................that would it work if I just held on to a plane fire extinguisher...................and where do I get the metal I dont live by a junk yard.IS THERE A MESSEGE BORD on where people can just talk? any.............ways GOOD BUY

imrobot (author)zac d2009-12-13

seriously its a prop! for movie making!  can't even spell bye right grr.

vishalapr (author)imrobot2011-07-19

Its a prop but when you click the button it realeses smoke...
That's what I thoought!

party8754 (author)2009-09-03

does this really work?????

imrobot (author)party87542009-12-13

 its a prop for movie making! 

anth101 (author)2009-06-26

Do you think that you could make me one and I buy it from you???????????????????????????????????????????

alaoeneye (author)2009-05-01

Do you think i could order your jet pack online

willvb13 (author)2008-10-29

this is a very good example of Albert Einsteins quote: "things sould be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler"

bob the builder #1 (author)2008-08-07

actually the fire extinguisher package tells how long it lasts.

kiranshila (author)2008-05-28

little did he know that he was going to become extremely famous and go to sundance. Ahh hes so young.

finnster (author)2008-02-06

funny vid

thejerk (author)2008-01-11

I enjoyed it. BUT, it didn't really show the whole green screen process.

chickenliver123 (author)2007-11-24


BurningApple (author)2007-06-01

I loved the video, very-umm, interesting?

I know me to

X_D_3_M_1 (author)2007-10-15

stupid. post a real one.

Scurl! (author)2007-09-02

there's a f'ing

master-of-chaos (author)2007-06-05


hg341 (author)2007-06-01

got to love the 2ed pic on the frist page

Erik Lindemann (author)2007-06-01

I liked the way your jetpack looked, but the editing on the movie could have used some work.

ewilhelm (author)2007-06-01

Great Instructable and video. Although I hate to admit it, I kind of enjoyed the stupid cliches.

crapflinger (author)2007-06-01

i agree about the length of the video...zaniness is great...but boredom kills also...don't know if it's an encoding issue...but all of your measurements are coming up as complete junk (1 �¼â�� diameter)...and a lot more of that gobbledygook is interspersed throughout.. i used a similar method to make a holloween mask a few years ago...used a fire extinguisher piped out to some hoses coming out of the filters on a respirator....walk around and press the "trigger" to scare the crap out of people with "smoke" comming out of your face....i got covered in the powder they put in those things...and it was a little hard to breath immediately after firing...but it looked cool and that's all that matters right?

PKM (author)2007-06-01

I like the concept, but not so sure about the style. The superfluous "zaniness" at the start grates like a bad children's TV program, and I'm guessing that if your audience are playing with dremels and fire extinguishers they aren't children. It improves towards the end, with a little more originality and fewer cliches, but remember the point of indy TV is that you don't have to be bound by the formulaic confines of actual TV. Use the fact that you can take a risk and try out something completely new without annoying the "network bosses". Finally, I skipped straight over the "break" in the middle- this is an Instructable, not a magazine show. As you don't need to put adverts in the middle, you might consider relegating unrelated material to the end or even cutting it for videos you post on Instructables. (But, of course, what you do with your videos on IndyMogul or elsewhere is of course your own business) Otherwise, nice job and keep up the good work!

trebuchet03 (author)2007-06-01

Great concept.... video too drawn out.... I lost interesting at the "stay tuned" portion and almost stopped watching when the intro was longer than 5 seconds (I stayed because this was the first one).... You'll gain a viewer (and likely others) if the next one isn't drawn out ;)

TeacherOfTheWays (author)2007-06-01

Pretty funny, LOL good job!

About This Instructable




Bio: Indy Mogul is the network dedicated to DIY filmmakers and film lovers alike. Our first show, Backyard FX, is a creative and funny 'how-to' guide ... More »
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