Thursday 14 November 2019

These guys made an underwater jet pack to let them glide like Iron Man

Ryan Kung and David Shulman are a dab hand at this DIY stuff.

The scuba suit in action underwater
The scuba suit in action underwater

By Edd Dracott

Two engineers have made an Iron Man-inspired underwater jet pack capable of speeds faster than Olympic legend Michael Phelps.

Ryan Kung and David Shulman spent three months building the device on weekends, and it’s more than your average piece of DIY.

Kung, 24, and Shulman, 28, make fantastical contraptions on their YouTube channel Eclectical Engineering – and their latest project is no slouch, clocking a top speed of around 6.25mph (10.05kph) over a short distance.

“We could beat Michael Phelps if such hardware were permitted in a race,” the pair, from San Francisco in California, told the Press Association. “We’d probably lose to a motivated shark (and also be eaten, assuming that’s the shark’s motivation).”

Ryan and David with the scuba suit

The suit’s speed was clocked over just 16 feet (4.9m), but the pair said the jet pack did have more power to give.

“Longer distances are more difficult to keep it at top speed because the engines are so powerful they tend to jump out of the water and lose thrust,” they said. “It’s easy to use when cruising at a comfortable half-throttle, but full throttle really put a strain on our limbs.

“There were a few occasions when we felt our shoulders warning of imminent dislocation.”

The suit in action

Kung and Shulman said the jet pack took around 60 hours of concentrated work to complete – but that’s nothing compared with some of their previous projects.

“This was tough in that it was our first foray into propulsion and motors, but it definitely wasn’t our most difficult project to date,” they said. “The hardest one was definitely our Nerf Gun, which took eight weekends and probably 100 hours in total.

“The difficulty in that project came from using a high-pressure paintball tank in a way it was never intended, so it took a lot of careful development to avoid blowing our limbs off.”

The Nerf Gun

“Our favourite project so far has easily been the GoPro Cannon,” said the pair. “Because it allowed us to focus on many different fields of engineering: pneumatics for the cannon, aerodynamics for the projectile, mechanical design to actually create the projectile, and 3D printing to quickly iterate our designs.

“It was also the first project we put on the internet, so we have a pretty rosy recollection of it.”

So what advice would Kung and Shulman give to others looking to get into some extreme DIY?

“Keep pushing yourself through to the end,” they said. “Without fail every single one of our projects has seen us working through the night to fix an unexpected problem that would have ruined the entire build.

“Being able to admire the beauty and grace of engineering and appreciate how few people in the world were doing something so unique helped motivate us until we were finally done.”

Kung and Shulman said they have “a ton of project ideas” for the future, so check out their YouTube channel or website to see what’s in store.

PA Media

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