Introduction: Giant Flying Jellyfish

About: A lowly geologist who likes to build stuff.

I am a bit of a Halloween nut: just look at some of my previous projects. This was an idea that had been bouncing around in my head for several months, and I finally got around to trying it. I can't say that it is a success, because I won't take the risk of flying it around my neighborhood on Halloween night due to the risk of crashing it, and also getting arrested for public mischief. It was a super fun project to do with my girls and I've learnt a few lessons that I'll try to pass on to you.


  1. A drone (DJI Phantom 3 or 4 or better): I was surprised to see some of the payloads YouTubers were lifting with these. They are not made for this purpose, so there is a risk you will cause irreparable damage. If you can't afford to lose your drone: then don't try this.
  2. A light-weight ring: I used some framing from a kids pop-up tent.
  3. Drapery: a few bucks from a thrift shop.
  4. Tentacles: I spotted these from the Dollar Store: they were cheap, light and very long.
  5. Fishing line and a few leaders.
  6. Tape, cutting tools, Stapler.

Step 1: The Body

I initially planned to make a dome shape, but this required so much sewing, and I wasn't convinced that I could get it to fly in the first place. This is why I simplified the shape to a cylinder. We sacrificed a ratty kids tent for this project because we needed the rings for the shape. We extracted the steel rings with scissors and I was glad to see that they were attached in the most simple way (as opposed to welded). This made it so much easier to adjust the length.

After threading the curtains through with the steel strips (top and bottom), I stapled them together to keep the shape, and we cut the excess length with snips.

Step 2: Tentacles

These long tubes are meant to be used as garlands, and were perfect for this application. I had the girls figure out how to divide them equally in quarters then thirds without measuring them out by folding, I did get them to calculate the optimal spacing between tentacles with division. We attached them to the jellyfish by stapling them just above the steel ring. We then closed the steel rings and used a piece of box tape to keep them from exploding in flight.

Step 3: Harness and Long Line

We used fishing line to tie the jellyfish to the drone. I first threaded fishing line through the curtains and below the steel ring to make a 3 point attachment around the top ring. I put a piece of packing tape at the center of the 3 point harness and pulled a 60 meter length of line. I wound the line onto a piece of wood (can identify the where this came from) and attached a fishing leader for easy attachment. I then made 2 point attachment to the center of the feet on the drone. I used a strip of packing tape to keep the line from getting offset on the feet and also the center point from sliding. It is important that the load is centered as closely as possible with the drone.

Step 4: Conclusions

I hesitated to call this a fail. But technically it flew and it would definitely work to get attention of an unsuspecting crowd. I was going to make the shape more jellyfish like and add some lights to make it more impressive in the dark, but I am holding off for now.

This project is stalled for a few reasons:

  1. The drone flying laws are quite strict and I would be breaking them if I fly them in my neighborhood (500m from a residence and daytime are clearly deal breakers)
    1. There is a risk someone will call the police and I could get more than a ticket for flying a drone without a license.
  2. This craft is extremely unwieldy. There was barely any wind, yet I was struggling to position it where I wanted it. It is like flying a kite but in reverse! Except that it is a very expensive and fragile kite.

This was a very fun project and it was great to see the girls continue to invent after helping me, building forts and doll hammocks with the scraps left over. I will keep it in my shed until I think of an opportunity to fly it, or cannibalize it for something else crazy.

Halloween Decor Contest 2016

Participated in the
Halloween Decor Contest 2016