Sunday, December 31, 2006

How to Build a Catapult

I don't know how long ago it was, but I can remember when I used to be wild and spirited and carefree. I used to have a crazy voice in the depths of my being telling me to do things like "make goals" or "try new things." I used to think I should get out there and be somebody. Take chances. Live a little.

There is some shadow of that person still inside of me and it drives me accomplish things. I am actually quite proud of myself even for the few and small things I am able to get done with the little time I seem to have. One thing that I did as a teenager was to build my own catapult.

Building a catapult just seemed like something I should be able to do. I had seen catapults on TV where the weapon is simply a teeter-totter with a large boulder on one side but that didn't seem good enough. In fairness, a catapult called a "Trebuchet" was basically a teeter-totter with a bucket on one side that could be filled with rocks. The arm of the Trebuchet also had a sling-like device to throw the projectile and the Trebuchet is considered superior to nearly all other forms of catapult from midieval times.

Anyhow, I wanted an easy-to-build catapult with some oomph to it. I asked my step-father if he knew how to build such a contraption and it turned out that he did.

Before I give you an idea of how to build your own catapult I feel I should probably put in a disclaimer that the use of the catapult is your own responsibility and that you are at fault for any damage or harm that may be caused by your project. If you are looking to hurl plague-infested corpses into the fortress of your enemies, I suppose it might be possible but mostly I am demonstrating how to build a machine to just toss stuff across your yard.

This is a bird's eye view of the machine. The brown rectangle is a simple frame. The purple thing is the arm used to toss your cookies or whatever. The black bar is built higher than the mainframe and the red spot is where the arm strikes the bar, stops, and lets fly your sapphire bullet.

The green thing is a loop of rope that is strung through two holes drilled in the mainframe. The blue sticks are blue sticks but you can choose whatever color you like on your actual catapult. The loop of rope goes around the blue sticks and you twist and twist and twist the sticks toward the front of the catapult until the rope is very tight. The purple arm is also inside of the looped rope. After a lot of twisting, there is a lot of tension on the rope and the rope wants to untwist itself really bad. This is what causes the arm to fly up. When you pull the purple arm down, you effectively twist the rope even more and increase the tension and when you let it go it relieves a little of the tension and subsequently makes your garbage your neighbor's problem.

There you have it. Your own seige engine. I just think people should do more things just to see if they can.


Anonymous said...

Not to mention that if you'd built yourself a teeter-totter style catapult you would run the risk of launching the boulder just far enough to squash you Wil-E-Coyote style.

slimysculpin said...

Maybe you can put up instructions for a dry ice explosive next. Just watch out for campus cops. I think the first ingredient is a wart.

Kris said...

I had a co-worker that used to have a pumpkin launch and every year after Halloween, every one brought their pumpkins and he's launch them the 1/2 mile to the dump. It became quite popular. I wish you luck with yours.