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Making a Real-Life Iron Man Helmet

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We recently stumbled upon an interesting video on YouTube uploaded by a Canadian techie known as the Hacksmith where the team managed to incorporate a heads-up display (HUD) and night vision into a ready-made Iron Man helmet. With the screening of the Avengers: Endgame still in its first week at the cinemas, this topic and video couldn’t have come at a better time.

The Hacksmith team are well-known for their Make It Real series of videos, where they take fictional ideas from movies, comics and video games, usually the weapons and gears featured in such media, and make real working prototypes of these items. These interesting videos are produced as a way to engage and inspire young minds into the beauty of science, technology and engineering.

make an iron man helmet
James Hobson a.k.a. The Hacksmith (left) speaks to host Ben Mulroney on the programme Your Morning on some of his recent creations, including Thor’s Mjolnir, Captain America’s Shield, the Wakandan Shield, and of course…the Iron Man Helmet.

James Hobson takes the lead and as revealed in one of the videos, he left his engineering career to work on his passion of building these prototypes instead, and apparently, this has been the more rewarding path of the two.

“While I’m a long-shot from being a real Tony Stark (I’m not a billionaire-inventor-playboy-philanthropist…just yet), I do love building gadgets and I really do plan on making some form of an exoskeleton suit… someday.”

James Hobson, the Hacksmith

In past videos, we have seen what James Hobson is capable of. He has built Thor’s mighty hammer the Mjolnir, its replacement the Stormbreaker, Captain America’s shield, and a host of other prototypes that go way beyond surface-level replicas.

Upgrading the Iron Man Helmet

In souping up the Iron Man helmet with a HUD and night vision, the Hacksmith has brought a commercially-available Iron Man helmet closer to its fictional reality (and I just formed an oxymoron!).

The project kicks off with first acquiring one of the few metal Iron Man helmets available – a Mk 42 to be precise. These helmets are equipped with servo motors to allow the frontal faceplate to open and close just as how Tony Stark built them, and on this feature alone, the realistic helmets are already cool enough and well worth their asking price.


In the video below, we watch how the Hacksmith team incorporate a HUD (meant for glasses) into the helmet. According to James, these HUDs are pretty affordable and can be purchased off Amazon for a couple of hundred bucks. A makeshift helmet was first used to get the dimensions right.

make an iron man helmet

make an iron man helmet
The Mark 42 Iron Man Helmet, with servo motors for motorised opening and closing of the frontal faceplate.
“This would be great on the motorcycle. Riding at night, no worries about deer popping out…”

Due to space constraints within the helmet interior, the HUD had to be disassembled from its original plastic casing before it could be mounted inside the helmet. The long-term goal eventually is to incorporate virtual reality (VR) into this helmet by making use of multiple cameras and existing augmented reality technologies. An infrared (IR) camera are also added onto the helmet to give it night vision capabilities. Everything is then made operationally possible by a Raspberry Pi Zero computer.

Let’s watch and see how James Hobson and Team Hacksmith did it in their 26-minute video:

make an iron man helmet
James Hobson putting on and testing out the features of his completed Iron Man Helmet.

“This is my best work yet. A real life Iron Man helmet. What should we add next? It currently has a HUD, and nightvision!”

James Hobson, the Hacksmith

levitating device

levitation device
James testing out the anti-gravity propulsion unit developed by Gravity Industries.

Specifications and Building Your Own

For the techies who wish to undertake building the features into an Iron Man helmet on their own, the Hacksmith provides the information on his channel. The specifications for most of the components as given in his video are:

  • A ready Mark 42 Iron Man Helmet
    Lightweight metal alloy design cast, machined and polished, complete with illuminated eyes and high-torque servo motors for automated fast actuation of the frontal faceplate opening and closing.
  • Near-Eye Display
    A virtual screen that appears as a 4-inch display 12 inches away from the eye.
  • Infrared Camera
    5 megapixel camera sensor with 1080p at 30 fps or 720p at 60 fps.
  • Voltmeter
    This monitors the main battery pack voltage and provides the readout to the user on a 7-segment LED display.
  • 3.7V Lithium-Ion Batteries
    High-Discharge 3500mAh capacity, fused with battery protection circuitry.
  • Raspberry Pi Zero
    1GHz processor with 512MB RAM, 128GB solid-state storage, USB expansion ports, 802.11n wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.0 LE.
  • OS: Friday 1.01
    Alpha build by Hacksmith Industries.

Testing and Version 2.0

The HUD and night vision capabilities in the Iron Man helmet turned out to be a success and with the amount of work and tech they have put in, we are quite sure the Hacksmith can bring this helmet to the next level in a future iteration. The Hacksmith has come up with a list of planned upgrades to be implemented in the next version:

  1. Rear Camera with intelligent camera processing to detect incoming threats
  2. A.I. Processor with deep learning
  3. Thermal Vision provided with a heat-sensitive camera for enhanced night vision capabilities
  4. “Ok Google” assistance

We couldn’t help but add some other suggestions to the list above. Here are some inputs from us here at Modest Pie:

  1. 1000mW 450nm burning blue laser easily powered by the 18650 Lithium-ion batteries (subject to legal compliance), or 30mW 543nm green laser just for effects.
  2. Air intake and exhaust outlet powered by USB fans for ventilation for longer comfort use, triggered by a thermostat, space permitting of course.
  3. Infrared floodlights installed as inconspicuous as possible on the helmet, so that the IR torch could be done away with.
  4. IR thermograph (which has been included in the planned upgrades), for detecting hot pipes and surfaces, although this may be slightly gimmicky and serves little use, other than being able to detect lifeforms at close quarters Predator-style, daylight or night.
  5. GPS capabilities for self-navigation (it probably won’t be legal riding a motorcycle with this on, but hey…what the heck!) as well as searching for tagged objects like Spider-Man’s Training Wheels Protocol disabled.
  6. SIM card slot for on-the-go wireless data connectivity.
iron man suit
Gravity Industries co-founder Richard Browning putting his anti-gravity propulsion unit to its paces whilst trying out an Iron Man Helmet presented to him by the Hacksmith.

Looking Forward

We do not know when the Hacksmith will be ready with the Version 2.0 of this Iron Man helmet, but if you have some fantastic ideas that could be incorporated into the next version of this helmet, do let us know in the comment section at the bottom of this page.


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