A childhood spent obsessing over Batman’s wonderful toys eventually transitions to a disappointing adulthood where you realise those gadgets just can’t exist in real life, even with a billion-dollar budget. That hasn’t stopped many from trying, and JT from YouTube’s Built IRL has come closer than most at recreating Batman’s grappling gun.
The project actually started over a year ago while JT was interning on another popular YouTube channel known for its impressive builds of fictional superhero gadgets: Hacksmith Industries. Building a working grappling gun isn’t easy, and it’s made all the harder when it’s supposed to perform the same way Batman’s does with enough torque and power to physically lift a fully grown person off the ground as the cable attached to the hook is slowly retracted. It’s such a demanding creation that JT has actually dedicated five entire videos over the past year to the build and all the unique challenges and problems that had to be overcome with clever engineering.
The results might not be as pretty or as sleek as what Batman carries on his utility belt, but it definitely works as you can see in this final test video.
Starting with a custom aluminium chassis JT added a powerful electric motor designed for electric skateboards that’s used to reel in 14.02 m of paracord with a 249 kg. breaking point, a custom grappling hook launcher that’s powered by 12-gram CO2 cartridges, almost 50 volts of rechargeable lithium polymer batteries, an analogue throttle wheel to control his ascent and descent, and even a custom-design PCB controller that controls everything, wired up with heavily shielded cables since the electric motor produces a lot of electromagnetic interference.
Does the successful tests mean JT can finally spend his nights fighting crime? Probably not. In its current form, the grappling hook isn’t the most reliable getaway tool, and while the paracord it uses is strong, it can still be easily severed if wrapped around an object — like a metal beam — with sharp edges. But maybe five more videos from now the Dark Knight will finally have some real-life competition.