I walked into one of my fav stores in Halifax, Plan B, on Gottingen St. Right in front of me is a large spotlight. What I saw was a Bat Signal waiting to be made. The owner, Rev Bob, and I chatted about it and the plan was hatched.
We were making a Bat Signal.
But not just a prop. It had to be fully functioning, which means projecting into the night sky. Could this be done? No idea. Or at least no idea at that point in time.
First step, get a Batman logo. A quick search online showed dozens of options. Classic Batman? TV show Batman? Dark Knight movie Batman? Batman Year One? And on and on.
A quick poll of my family later and I decided to use the classic Batman logo. So I created an outline in Illustrator and printed it off. One important tweak I made to the logo was to stretch it a bit so when projected onto a wall or ceiling, the logo should have the proper proportions. I spray glued the outline to a 1/16 inch thick piece of mild steel and cut it out with a jigsaw.
Then I welded three bolts to the back of it, so it could be attached to the metal grating on the front of the light. Smoothed out the cuts with a flap disk in an angle grinder and painted it black with high heat paint.
And BAM! We had ourselves the makings of a full scale Bat Signal.
Now to figure out the inside guts of this and decide how to move forward. So we took it over to the wonderful folks at William F. White in Burnside, Dartmouth. They put a 10,000 Watt bulb in it and we turned it on. Holy Smokes, Batman! This was hot. All the dust and crap started smoking right away.
We aimed at the far wall in their warehouse and BLAM! Nothing happened, which is what we figured would happen. The image was too close to the light source. So we grabbed a large sheet of foamcore and cut a small hole in it to make an inpromptu camera obscura. That worked, which means we needed a lens.
Fortunately, my local recycling depot had an old rear projection TV sitting out front. A quick chat with the owner later, and I’m taking out the fresnel focusing lens. It’s flat, and large, and perfect. As a test, I made a smaller bat light out of a 300 Watt worklight.
Here’s the test of the lens inside the house:
It worked! You have to bend the lens to bring it into focus, but it projects with minimum distortion. But would it work outside without a solid surface to project on? That’s the real test.
Against all odds, Mother Nature cooperated and provide a nice blanket of fog. Not too thick and not too light. This is fog Goldilocks would want if she were to test a Bat Signal. It was hard to get anything to show up in photos, but we got something. In person, the effect is much better, but the photos give you a sense of the final result.
Next steps: Rather than risk putting a 10,000 Watt light in a store, we’re going to re-wire it down to use a yellow flood light to give us the real Batman logo effect. This won’t project very far, but that’s okay. It’s not often you’ll actually project it outside. But it’s nice to know you can, if you want.