Face it: Batman is nothing without his famous Bat Signal. Without it, how would he be summoned to handle anything amiss? (Forget cell phones. They aren’t cool enough for our buddy Bruce.)
Though Batman may be fictional, his Bat Signal doesn’t have to be, thanks to some high-level engineering and serious problem solving. While you may think creating a real Bat Signal is as simple as shooting a gigantic beam of light into the night sky, it’s actually much more complicated than that. But leave it to the guys behind the ultra-popular YouTube channel Hacksmith Industries to create a functioning Bat Signal that outdoes the “real” thing.
In a YouTube video documenting the project, James Hobson of Hacksmith Industries clarifies that a functioning Bat Signal is largely a thing of farce. Getting a projector-like light to beam up into the clouds isn’t as easy as the comics or movies make it appear. That’s mostly because the light needs to hit something to actually project an image and because light, in general, is finicky.
To make an image appear on a surface, you need to put a cut-out of that image in front of a light source. But even that isn’t enough to project a clear image in the night sky. You also have to place a convex lens a specific distance away from the image to make it visible and in-focus on your final surface — and flip the image upside-down to account for refraction. The Hacksmith Industries guys show this via a small-scale model using a flashlight. But bringing this to Bat Signal levels is harder than it may seem.
The crew uses four mega-powerful LED lights, which give off the same light as 750 household lightbulbs or 12 IMAX projectors, to create their Bat Signal. To house the LEDS, the guys create a custom barrel big enough to fit a full grown man inside, but hit some snags when it comes to creating a circuit that won’t overheat when powering those intense LEDs. In the end, the crew produces a 1,000 pound Bat Signal that rivals the movies, even creating interchangeable logos styles to pay homage to the evolution of the Bat Signal.
To check out the build for yourself, check out the video above.
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