Siege World Championship Chunk 2011: Mista Ballista

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World Championship Chunk 2011: Mista Ballista
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Mista Ballista returned to Delaware for the 2011 Punkin Chunk. With our big success with bundle pretensioning, we opted to unwind and pretension the bundles a second time just before the contest to optimize our bundle performance.

In addition, Amy made us a new throwing pouch, and Kevin C created bowline separators out phenolic tubing. We started with great confidence on our chances of finally breaking 1000ft this year.

Setup Day

Early Thursday morning, the first half of Team Tormentum show up in Delaware. We crashed at the hotel. We were going to go meet the rest of the crew due to arrive around lunch time. While getting ready to get the the chunk site we get a call from Dave who was towing Mista Ballista. They were running out of gas in New York, and when they pulled off to get gas, that gas station was out of service! Fortunately they had the extra fuel we bring along for filling up the generator and hydraulic pump, and they were refilling Dave's truck.

About an hour later, we get a second call from Dave. They had pulled off to get gas. In the gas station while pulling in to fill up, both leaf springs on the rear axle of Mista Ballista had broken. How does something like that happen? Well, Mr. B was well and stuck right there in the gas station driveway, blocking traffic. The team sprung into action, using our landing gear, usually used for stabilizing during launch to lift the machine off the ground, and removed the rear axle. It was then lowered, and backed into a corner on the remaining axle.

The gas station owner was fascinated by Dave's tale of pumpkins, and immediately offered the info that, hey, there's a trailer fixit store right over there! They unhooked from Mr. B, and drove over, and they had the right leaf springs in stock. Kevin Cheney bought 4 sets (just in case) and came back. The team then torched the old springs off the axles, u-bolted the new ones on. Raised Mr. B back into the air on the landing gear, installed the repaired axle, dropped Mr. B back down again, bought some gas, and was on their way.

Total layover time - 4 hours. Just enough time to allow darkness to settle across the firing line.

Once Mista Ballista was on sight, we dropped the landing gear (3rd time today) raised him up onto the cribbings, and deployed the bundles.

We worked late into the night. Here Dave is driving one of our wedges into the bundle. Due to the extreme pretension, it is quite a challenge to wedge the bundles open enough to fit the aluminum arms in.

We fired up the hydraulics, and our great neighbors with Team Gaul Buster lent us some big lights, allowing us to twist up the bundles. Here you can see that we had already added a quarter twist to the top, and had moved to winding the bottom. We add a 1/2 twist to the bottom, then moved back to the top to add the final 1/4 twist.

Once the last twist was in, we called it a night and went back to the hotel at around 1am.

Friday: First competition shot

Friday morning dawned with a thick fog that delayed the chunk start by 45 minutes. As we were in pit 21, that meant we didn't have a lot of time to prepare for our shot, so the extra 45 was welcome allowing us to finish deployment. Fortunately, the hard part of getting the bundles primed for the competition was done. All that was left was to assemble the bowstring parts we had been working on but never finished assembling before we left.

After putting the bowstring onto the machine, we put in the new throwing pouch. It was made of velcro, a design that fixed the problems we had where different sized pumpkins didn't always fit our pouch. Amy had also sewn seat belt onto the back of the sides of the pouch, as those parts suffered during testing.

In addition, we added separators near the pouch. Last year, the high speed footage showed waves going across the bowline, and intersecting at the pumpkin, trashing it. In our testing this fall, those waves appeared to stop at the separators, protecting the pumpkin. These separators were made from phenolic tubing with dowel plugs in the end, and lashed to the bowline over some rubber tubing (to protect the bowstring.)

After adding separators, we noted that the bowstring rubbed our arm stops, so we added some pinch ropes there to keep things from rubbing.

While waiting for our turn, the Discovery channel came by to ask us questions. Last year they pretty much ignored us except when we were firing, so perhaps you will see more of us this year.

Unfortunately, the machine was wound up more powerfully than when we had set up for testing, and the velcro just couldn't handle the strain. A rather spectacular pie was the result.

Mista Ballista Makes Pumpkin Pie at Punkin Chunkin 2011

A highspeed video of Mista Ballista's first competition shot at Punkin chunkin 2011. The pouch that holds the projectile failed sending the pumpkin into the ...

Torsion Catapult Mista Ballista WCPC 2011 Throw #1 11-04-11

Mista Ballista shoots pie for it's first shot. But things get better later on.

Here you can see the top three straps failed, where the bottom ones we had to un-velcro to get off of the bowline. Velcro was apparently not meant for this sort of task.

Amy then worked late into the night for us, sewing a new pouch. We had thought this might happen, so we packed a full box with all our spare velcro and seat belts. This time she added seat belt backing to all the velcro. We then went into the hallway, and with the help of other team members, fitted our two remaining competition pumpkins into the pouch, carefully adjusting the velcro until both pumpkins fit well. Once that was lined up, Amy used kevlar thread we borrowed from Dave of Team ETHOS (Thanks Dave!) to sew the pouch onto the bowline.

With that, another late night at the chunk.

Saturday: Second competition shot

The first thing we did Saturday was install the new pouch Amy made. here you can see us loading the pumpkin into the pouch, and that Amy has added seat-belt to the back of all the straps. If this didn't hold, I don't know what would.

We also broke the left bowline separator which is now replaced with a new one you can see of the left side of this image.

Mythbuster Kari Byron stopped by to watch us set up Mr. B just before our launch. When her handler said "This is Mista Ballista, it's a ..." she said "I know all about ballistas." How cool is that?

Mista Ballista, just before launch while I try to get the lanyard attached to the Seacatch.

Fire! Mista Ballista launches a pumpkin (see arrow) over 950 ft!

Notice little bits of our bowline separators blowing apart and raining down around the machine. It's a good thing Kevin Cheney had made 3 sets for our competition!

With that success, we immediately set to work cranking up the machine even more for tomorrow. As usual in preparation for a Sunday launch, we cranked Mr. B up to the max until our little hydraulic setup could produce no more pressure. During the wind-up we discovered that our frame holding the hydraulic setup had started to flex in unsafe looking ways. We used our 3-ton come-along to hold the frame in place while we maxed everything out.

Tomorrow will be a great day!

Sunday: Third competition shot

At the captains meeting on Sunday, a tale was told about how Sister Slinger's sling had been thrown into the field (Note: NO part of the machine may cross the firing line.) The high wind, however, blew it back over the firing line into the safe zone. The nature of the issue was that the parts didn't get thrown over the line, so they opted to let the throw stand (Treb slings always swing over the firing line while staying attached to the machine.) They then clarified the ruling that morning, saying that the machine must remain intact during the throw.

Well, with bowline separators breaking and falling off on every shot, we opted to use some gaffer's tape to try and hold our separators together. Here Kevin Cheney and Karl start taping up the bowline.

Mista Ballista while attaching the lanyard to the Seacatch.

We tried a new technique we noticed Dave of Ethos using. After putting on the lanyard, Dave cranked the machine back another foot, and then we launched as soon as we could after that. According to his instruments on his machine, the bundle generates more torque at that time, and we wanted to get that extra couple feet too.

Torsion Catapult Mista Ballista WCPC 2011 Throw #3 11-06-11

Mista Ballista get a personal best of almost 1042 feet.

Here's a handy video of our Sunday launch by Jeff Pappas.
Mista Ballista

Punkin chunkin

Unfortunately, after launch, we discovered that our bowstring had broken. We suspect that the sacrificial rope the sea catch grabs onto may have been slightly off center, allowing the pullback strands to get caught and torn while triggering the machine.

And with that, we managed to finally break 1000ft! We've been working on this machine for years and it was a huge win for us to finally throw 1000ft. I lost my voice from yelling after this throw. We were all super excited.

Thanks Jeff Pappas for the video of the third shot, and Craig Simmons for the use of the two high-speed videos.

Additional Pages for Punkin Chunk 2011
World Championship Chunk 2011 Team Tormentum brought Mista Ballista, our torsion machine to the chunk this year.
World Championship Chunk 2011: Mista Ballista Mista Ballista returned to Delaware for the 2011 Punkin Chunk. With our big success with bundle pretensioning, we opted to unwind and pretension the bundles a second time just before the contest to optimize our bundle performance.
World Championship Chunk 2011: Torsion Class The torsion class had a fabulous year with multiple machines breaking 3000 ft and setting a new world record, with new distance records for every machine in the division.

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