The weather was crummy and I was feeling rather bored, so I said to my self,” hey Matt, why don’t you build a medieval siege machine,” to which I responded, “Hell Yes!” In case you don’t know, a trebuchet is an advanced type of catapult. Whereas ye olde catapults relied on torsion, trebuchets rely on large counterweights (which you are likely more accustomed to seeing). In addition traditional catapults generally have a fixed basket in which to place the projectile of your choosing, be it a rock, or a giant ball of fire, or a severed head, whatever. Trebuchets on the other hand use slings, which are much more efficient at utilizing properties of angular momentum, and all that wonky physics.
Like all important projects I started out with a bit of research. I had to determine how big I wanted to build my trebuchet, out of what materials to build it out of, what kind of projectiles to launch out of the thing, flaming or otherwise, and most importantly what to call the beast. After some internet searches, some crappy drawings, and 3 gallons of iced tea later (I’m not really a coffee person) I had arrived at my conclusion. I would call the trebuchet: B.A.S.I.C. or Body Actuation System It’s Cool (That’s a NASA level acronym right there). And as far as a design I figured I’d wing it.
From my research I was able to determine that I would need three key sections. First a base on which to build my war machine, secondly a pair of upright supports to hold the throwing arm, and thirdly a throwing arm, complete with sling, and counterweight. I found an old wooden tool box that someone had made, and figured that would be a good enough base after I put some legs on it, so I moved on to the supports.
I found a nice long plank that I cut in half, and drilled holes in to fit the crossbar. Luckily the board was just wide enough to fit within the confines of the toolbox, so I was well on my way to castle crashing. However, I was still in need of a crossbar. Unfortunately the largest drill bit I had was 1/2 and inch and I had precisely zero 1/2″ rods, so I set about searching my garage for something that would do.Well I searched and I searched, I even considered sacrificing one of my old Guitar Hero drumsticks, but even that was too fat. Until at last I found an old broom handle. It also was too fat, but it made one hell of a lightsaber, so I took a break to practice my saber skills.
You thought I was kidding weren’t you.
Nope, I don’t kid about Star Wars.
Aaaaaanyways, one slightly embarrassing montage later, I resumed work on my death contraption. Since I couldn’t find a crossbar I just skipped that part and got to work on the throwing arm. Starting with a 4 ft long 2×4 I drilled a hole about 6 inches in from one end.
Then I took two rings, and affixed them one on each end (the larger ring going on the end closer to the hole). Lastly I took a nail and hammered it into the end farther from the hole at 45 degree angle (or at least near as I can tell). And boom my throwing arm was done. All that remained was to find a crossbar, and assemble all the pieces.
After digging around in my shed I managed to find a wooden stick that was the perfect size. Finally I was ready to assemble my trebuchet and lay siege to the nearest white castle. So I got some nails, blasted some MC Hammer and put that bitch together. I also added the sling and a lower platform for the sling to rest on. And it came out alright if I do say so myself.
Now there was only one thing left to do, get a bunch of tennis balls and start launching them. So I headed out to the bomb range (aka my backyard) and had a little target practice with the squirrels.