Introduction: Face Shield Space Helmet

I have the wonderful job of teaching elementary art for students in grades K-6. Most years my work attire consists of a button down shirt, tie, slacks, and an art smock that comes in very handy for keeping paint, clay, and ketchup of off me, (I have lunch duty too.) This year, like most of you, I added a mask to my work wear. Knowing that the kids would be a little scared/unsure about returning to school I wanted to have a little fun with my mask to give them a reason to smile and see that masks can help to keep us safe while being awesome at the same time.

This is a very accessible project. Although it involves lighting and battery packs, the only wiring you need to be able to do is plugging in a USB.

My space helmet started as a handful of different elements including a heavy duty workshop face shield, strip LEDS, an old battery bank, and some spray paint. Check out the list below to find links to the tools and materials I used as well as a rough estimate of prices.


Step 1: Disassembly and Painting

Take apart the Heavy Duty Face Shield by unscrewing the adjustment knobs on either side of the helmet. With the knobs undone, you can remove the head band assembly. To remove the lens of the face shield locate the small indexing pin on the bottom of the shield that holds the lens in place. Simply apply outward pressure and the lens will unseat from the indexing pin and come free of the helmet. Set the head band assembly and lens safely aside as they will not be needed until we are ready to reassemble the helmet.

With the goal of keeping the inside of the helmet in its original black unpainted state I applied masking tape over the opening where the lens had just been removed from. If you want to paint everything white then you can skip masking, but I think the black interior of the helmet fits the aesthetic better, and helps to hide some of the LEDs and wiring we will be adding in upcoming steps.

I used 3 coats of Rust-oleum Flat White to cover the outside of the helmet. A great tip to help with adhesion when painting plastic is to apply your first coat of paint as a "dust coat" which means that you don't go for full coverage on the first pass, but instead go for a light dusting of paint and allowing it to try before moving on to your next coat. The "dust coat" gives subsequent layers of paint something to hold on to which helps with adhesion and works to keep drips from forming.

Step 2: Adding Decals

With the White coats of paint applied and dried the next step was to add the "NASA" and "YEOMANS - 1" decals to my helmet. I found a great free font package on entitled "Best Tease" which matched the standard NASA logo very closely so I utilized it to create my graphics. Then I uploaded my graphics to my vinyl cutter, adjusting their size so that they would fit along the jaw lines of the helmet.

Once the vinyl stencils were ready I carefully removed the letters leaving the outline. I then applied the outline of the letters to the helmet and used red spray paint to paint in the letters as you can see in the photos above. If you didn't have a vinyl cutter I'm sure you could free hand this step with good success, but the vinyl cutter was and easier and faster option for me so I made use of it.

Step 3: Creating the Side Mounted Flashlight Holder

The side mounted flashlight mounts directly onto the threads used to join the head band assembly to the face shield. To make the flashlight mount I used a thermoform plastic called Kydex which is most commonly used for making things like holsters. Using a straight edge and a utility knife I cut a 1" wide and 6" long rectangle of kydex. Then I popped the Kydex into an old toaster oven that I keep specifically for the purpose of heading Kydex and other types of plastic, setting the temperature to 325 degrees, and the Kydex often. When the Kydex bent like a cooked noodle I removed it from the toaster oven using gloves to protect my hands from the heat and quickly wrapped it around the body of the flashlight as shown in the pictures above. After the Kydex cooled into shape I used a drill with a 5/16" drill bit of drill a hole for the purpose of mounting the light to the helmet.

Although I added the side mounted flashlight for aesthetics and for cool factor, it has come in ridiculously handy. Power outage during lunch duty where the lunch room has no windows? No problem. Heading home in the dark with your hands full of art projects and supplies? Boom! Instant hands free light.

Step 4: Adding the LEDs

I'm aware that lights inside a space helmet are super impractical. And I know that the only reason they do it in movies is so you can see the actors face more clearly. Never the less, they look cool and I wanted them. Adding the LED lights was amazingly simple. Inside the face shield there is a lip created by the channel that holds the face shield lens. This lip was the perfect place to mount the LEDs. It was wide enough to provide the LEDs a solid surface to mount onto, it was situated in such a way as to hide the LEDs from view, and it's orientation allowed for the LEDs to wrap neatly around the inside of the helmet without pleating or puckering in the corners. I did have a bit of LED strip left over after wrapping it around the inside of the helmet so following the instructions included with the LEDs I trimmed them to length with a pair of scissors.

As for powering the strip, I considered adding an old fashioned battery pack. In order to get enough volts to power the LEDs I would have needed a 4 AA battery pack and the bulk/weight of such a large battery pack did not sound appealing. Rummaging through my old tech bin I found a power bank rated for the correct voltage, (5V) and gave it a try with success. The power bank was an awesome solution as it was lighter than the alternative, Offered the ability to recharge, was a more manageable shape, and didn't require me to buy additional parts as it was something I already had and wasn't using. I mounted the battery bank to the head band assembly using a zip tie as shown in the pictures above. This section of the head band assembly sits slightly under the top of the face shield while still providing easy access to the power banks power button which allows me to toggle the interior lights on and off with ease.

Step 5: Reassembly

Reassembling your helmet is pretty simple, just do what you did to take it apart in reverse order. Take note of house the side mounted flashlight assembly attaches to the threaded shaft that is used to join the head band to the face shield.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

To finish this project off I added a bit of light weathing around the channel that holds the lens and then carefully added an American flag decal to the top center of the helmet as shown in the pictures.

Thanks for taking a moment to check out my Face Shield into Space Helmet Instructable. I hope you all are finding fun and creative ways to stay safe and make awesome things no matter where you are in the world. Keep on making!

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