Last November (2002), some of my co-workers and I started talking about one of those Discovery Channel-type shows we saw where these people build catapults and such to throw pumpkins. Somehow or other, we came up with the brilliant idea of trying it ourselves.
|Here's the assembly process|
So I got to building. The plan that I came up with was for a trebuchet (a type of catpult that works like a see-saw, with a heavy weight on one arm, and a sling on the other) about 11 feet tall. I had a problem, though. At the time, I lived 20 miles from work, but drove a Saturn -- not quite the SUV that a 11-foot catapult requires. So I had to come up with a way to build a sturdy machine, but hopefully not have to spend hours dissassemling and then reassembling.
|And the more-or-less assembled trebuchet.|
My solution was to build the whole thing using 2x4s joined together at some of the joints with door hinges. That may seem a bit odd, since hinges are made to swing back and forth, which is not what you want the frame of a catapult doing. However, once I had all eight of them mounted perpindicularly to one another, the movement was minimal. Then I could just pop the pins out and disassemble the whole thing into several components, and then re-assemble at the "launch site".
|Here's the trebuchet loaded and ready to fire.|
The rest of the catapult was just made up of a six inch piece of copper pipe as an axle, and a sling made out of twine and a piece of fabric. The counterweight was a set of freeweights from a weightlifting set. This worked out really well, since the weights were compact, easily adjustable, and I would know the exact weight without having to use a scale.
|This picture was taken right after the trigger|
was pulled. You can see that the rope on the sling
is already tightening.
The result was a pretty efficient little catapult which weighed about 100lbs (not counting the counterweights), and which fit into a skibag when taken apart. Total cost was about $50 (again, not counting the weight set, which I already had. You know, cause I work out. Right....)
Scott (in the vertical striped shirt in the photo below) built the other wooden catapult that you can see in these pictures. His was much more heavy-duty than mine. I gave him a run for his money, but in the end, his out-threw mine by a bit. He also has a trebuchet page.
|Oh man, what a great picture. The weight has dropped, and the sling|
is about to release. Ideally, it would have let go by then. That was a
kink that I didn't get worked out in time.
also made a catapult. You can see it toward the right in this picture. He made the whole thing out of PVC pipe, a napkin, and some duct tape (how MacGyver of him), which is impressive. He didn't even have to use glue, and he was actually able to return the PVC joints to the store. Smart. Unfortunately, his PVC didn't have as much spring as planned, so the pumpkins didn't go far. But he gets points for ingenuity.
|We ran out of pumpkins, but we had a couple squash/gourd things. You can see it in the air here.|