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Episode 86: Superhero Hour

  • Batman's Grappling Gun: busted. Jamie was able to build a plausible ascending rig, but Adam couldn't build a gun that would secure the cable into a concrete wall.
  • The Batmobile can deploy a grappling hook that allows the car to do a quick 90-degree turn: busted
  • The Phantom's Ring Punch that would leave a skull-shaped brand on the evildoer: busted
  • Time to change into a superhero costume in a phone booth: 33 seconds

Grappling Hook

Myth: Batman's Grappling Gun

Grappling hook experiments

Adam and Jamie went out to an abandoned buiding to test their grappling hook skills. Adam went with a collapsible grappling hook, which he was able to get secured on the rooftop after many throws. Jamie went more technical: he used a Battelle Tactical Air Initiated Launch (TAIL) system that's used ship-to-ship scenarios and can fly 100 ft up. Jamie's shot went quite well -- Adam: "You cleared the whole building Jamie, nice work" Jamie, "The Inchworm", was then able to scale the building with much, slow work using a prusik knot. It took him 10 minutes to ascend the 20 ft wall. Adam never made it up.

Cable-gun build

They broke the grappling gun into two separate builds: Jamie worked on a handheld ascending rig that would pull you up the cable while Adam worked on the gun to shoot the cable.

Jamie's ascending rig strapped to the arm and used a powerful 30,000rpm motor ran through gear reductions to get more torque at 750prm.

Adam's design involved launching a nail gun from a spear gun. When the nail gun hits the wall, it uses a .22 caliber blank to fire the nail anchor into the wall. The first test fires of Adam's guns were pretty pathetic, with it not even reaching the wall.

Cable-gun test

Adam and Jamie took their contraptions out to Hamilton Air Force base in Novato.

Adam: "While it may look like an abandonded aircraft hanger, in fact it is a supermodern superhero training facility"

Ascending rig: Jamie's ascending rig got him halfway up before the line snapped. Adam went flying into the air as he held onto the safety line for Jamie. With a heavier line Jamie made it all the way to the top, 27 feet in 20 seconds. There was one major oversight: after Jamie reached the top, there was no way for him to get back down, and the ascending rig was strapped to his arm. Jamie decided to cut the line with a knife, which sent the rig flying into his nose and opening a gash.

Nocturnal echo-locating mammal man's cable shooter: Adam shot repeatedly into the concrete until it finally penetrated the hardened concrete at the military base. Adam tried to swing across on the line, but it immediately pulled free.

busted: Jamie seemed to leave out hope that this could be reversed in the future, but for now the faiure of the cable shooter leaves this one busted.

Ring Punch

Myth: The Phantom's Ring Punch that would leave a skull-shaped brand on the evildoer

Grant built a robot to punch to do the punching while Tory made "Porkloinio", a evil skull wrapped in pork skin. Kari carved up some various ring designs and got them cast in sterling silver by Michael Binnion of The Crucible.

The testing was short and to the point. They first set the machine to Tory's strength (the strongest of the build team) and worked their way up in srength:

  • At Tory's force: contusion, but no imprint
  • Heavyweight fighter (4000N): still no imprint
  • Superhero (120psi): a hole was ripped in the skin and the skull was crushed

busted: a superhero would more likely crush a skull than leave an imprint

Phone booth change

How fast can you change into a superhero outfit inside a phone booth?

  • Kari: 33 seconds
  • Grant: 1:01, partly due to his inabilty to get out of the booth
  • Tory: 1:20, on the account of many accessories

Batmobile 90 degree turn

Myth: The Batmobile can deploy a grappling hook that allows the car to do a quick 90-degree turn


  • Cannon to fire grappling hook: Grant used a 3000psi nitrogen system that was 60 times more powerful than the Chicken Gun
  • 10.5lb grappling hook strong enough to hold car
  • Myth Mobile: They took the car from the Knight Rider myth tests and decked it out batmobile style to become the "Myth Mobile."
  • Cable: Had to be strong enough to resist the 7000lbs of centripetal forces involved

Cannon test

Grant: "This is the most dangerous thing I've built, in a long line of dangerous things"

The 2/3 power test (2200 psi) went seriously wrong. The cannon launched itself backwards and took out the highspeed camera.

Tory: "You know what? We didn't take into consideration the mass of the hook."
Kari: "Oh, Newton's Laws! We forgot the Newton's laws!"

Tory: "You know, we did a lot of experiments on the show, things have gone wrong, but that's the first time that I've ever felt that much danger."

With the cannon secured better, they were able to retest successfully.

Turn test

They ran their test at 30mph, which was the top speed that Kari was able to pull off the 90-degree turn at without assistance.

First test: the grappling hook hit the target and started to pull the car into the turn, but then the line snapped. The car almost made the turn, but it nicked the outside carboard wall.

Second test: they replaced their line with steel cable, which has a higher breaking tension, but is more inflexible. The cable again snapped -- this time at the hook and at the car -- and the car went careening into the barrier.

busted: they could not get a cable both light and strong enough


the phantoms ring made a mark because of dye the ring was dipped in, it did not make an indentation in the skin.

Hmmm if they had hooked the hook line to the front of the Batmobile, then the rear tires would just had to slip a bit to position the car properly for a quick 90deg turn. The force needed to do the slide is far less than that needed to actually keep the whole car turning around the structure with the cable.
They missed this one.