Intro: Build a Bat-Pod (out of Junk)
The challenge on this project was to try and build the coolest prop possible without spending any money. By using recycled materials and repurposed junk, I’m proud to say that the only cost involved with this full-scale Bat-Pod reproduction was a few cans of spray paint. Like all of my projects, there are no special skills or tools needed for the construction.
Some of the scrap items and found parts used were an old workout weight bench, truck tire inner tubes, garbage can, planter, pogo stick, lava lamps, portable heater, broken metal detector, bucket, vent cover, film canister and even a contact lens case. So please enjoy these step-by-step instructions, and I hope it inspires you to make your own epic build.
Step 1: Inspiration
In 2009, I was honored that my recreation of the Batmobile Tumbler won the Grand Prize for the Instructables Halloween Contest that year. However, there were a few things that I wanted to improve with a new build. For example, the Batmobile was really fragile, it took a very long time to put together, it doesn't store easily and it won't hold up against any bad weather (which is a big consideration here in Michigan). So the next logical step was to build a Bat-Pod from the Dark Knight movie series. My hope was to make it sturdy enough for people to get on and "ride" for a nice photo op.
Step 2: Design
There are a ton of photos online where you can study the different structures that make up the Bat-Pod. (It helps to keep a mental inventory of the features so you can keep an eye out for junk that can be used as parts.) Since I knew that I was going use the wheels from my original Batmobile, I designed everything around that. The truck inner tubes were about about 30% larger that the actual movie vehicle, so I scaled everything up accordingly (which I thought would give it a cool, "larger than life" look).
An amazing resource is a site called www.ChicksLoveTheCar.com (which is billed as the most comprehensive Batmobile website in the world), and a member named Shaggy has graciously uploaded 3D computer models of many of the vehicles. I imported one of his drawings into Photoshop to help envision the frame. Since the wheels could not support any weight, I decided to have the front fork go to the opposite side of the wheel to help hide the frame as it goes to the ground (because I needed the "beauty side" on the left in my display).
Step 3: Wheels
The two wheels are made from four 40" diameter (10.00-20) truck inner tubes (that can be purchased used on eBay for $13 each). A garbage can lid "hub" and pvc pipes with bungees creates the framework of the tires. Then the assembly is rolled up with a sheet of Platon Flooring Underlayment (cut to size) and secured a small bungee. The seam goes on the bottom of the wheel to hide it.
Step 4: Frame
I was stumped for a long time about what to use for the frame. Then the "eureka" moment came when my fiancée suggested an old workout bench. The high strength and square shape of the steel tubing made it a perfect choice. So I put a metal cutting blade into my circular saw and started cutting it to size, drilling holes and bolting everything into place.
Step 5: Seat
The added bonus about using a workout bench in the project is that it also provided the seat. With just a little trial and error to find a comfortable angle, it was relatively easy to attach it into place with some scrap pieces of steel.
Step 6: Handlebars
Some 1/2" plumbing pipes and fittings make up the base of the handlebars once they are bolted to the frame. Then an old pogo stick (with a broken spring) was cut up and added to the pipes to extend the handlebars forward and provide the handgrips and "throttle". I then used a Dremel tool to cut up a face mask from an old catchers helmet to create the forearm rests along with a little scrap foam floor mat for padding.
Step 7: Knee Rests and Foot Pegs
The handgrips on the workout bench (used on the tricep dip bar) was added to some larger pipe fittings and repurposed as the knee rests. I then bolted a steel mesh piece (salvaged from the inside of a cargo van) into place to serve as the rear wheel "guard". Finally, I attached the pogo stick's foot pegs onto the frame to make it easy to place your feet into the proper riding position.
Step 8: Turrets
I made the gun turrets for the front wheel by jigsawing a pattern out of some scrap wood. I then attached an old vent cover, some pvc pipes and a couple of lava lamp bases for some added detail.
Step 9: Guns and Cannons
This was the fun part. I drilled some holes in pvc pipes to make the machine guns, and then I attached some empty Yoplait yogurt containers to the end of some longer pvc pipes to create the cannons. The two turrets are attached together with some more pvc pipe which extend around the back of the wheel and then they stand on some steel rods to raise them off the ground (and make them look as if they are attached to the wheel's "axle").
Step 10: Engine, Brakes and Body Panels
This is where you can get creative with any old junk you can find. I used a plastic garbage can and a plant holder as the engine cover beneath the seat. I then used the Dremel tool to cut out the handlebar covers, and was really pleased with the effect. I salvaged a hand brake off of a busted up bmx bike from the junkyard and added it to the handlebars for a touch of realism. The plastic cover from a broken floor heater was attached to the bottom of the frame along with some more pvc to give it some extra bulk. Finally, I extended a bucket to the rear "axle" to make it look like a power transfer to the wheel.
Step 11: Paint and Assembly
The spray paint colors were silver and flat black. I then test assembled the bike in the garage and let my son give it a try.
Step 12: Lights
A cool detail from the movie that you may not have noticed is the red LED light above the right handlebar. I made mine from a nightlight and a film canister. I then took a little creative license after finding a broken metal detector from the junkyard, and turned it into a weapons display panel with a green LED light from behind. I also added the button from the metal detector onto the handlebar as a "trigger" for the guns. Finally, I plugged everything in with the lava lamps in front to round out the effect. By the way, the entire Bat-Pod (plus air compressor for blowing up the inner tubes) breaks down to fit inside the back of a SUV for transport.
Step 13: Sound Effects
I planned to have a sound system playing the characteristic Shepard Tone of the engine in the background, but it was difficult to isolate the distinctive whir from the movie soundtrack. So after searching online for the sound effect without any luck, I purchased the Dark Knight Rises App for my iPhone and was able to get access to the Bat-Pod in the third level of the game. So I went out the headphone jack of my phone while playing, and successfully recorded long sequences of the sound onto my computer as I rode it around the virtual city.
Step 14: Final Display
The Bat-Pod was a huge hit when it was unveiled on October 3rd, 2015 at How-To Halloween in Lansing, Michigan. The event is a family-friendly festival that promotes all of the creative aspects and do-it-yourself spirit of the haunting season, and it was actually inspired by all the fun that we have with the Instructables Halloween Contests through the years (so thanks to everyone at the site).
The Bat-Pod will show up again at local comic cons and shows to raise money for charity and promote our community event. Thanks for looking, give us a "like" on Facebook and please let me know if you have any questions.