Siege Advice for Prospective Siege Engineers

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Advice for Prospective Siege Engineers
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Ancient Advice:
Take Pictures of your machine.
Despite having a nifty engineering section on this web site, I still get lots of email asking for advice. This is a repository of all interesting bits of wisdom our team has gleaned over the years that doesn't fit anywhere else.

Traction Trebuchet Advice
Juggernaut flinging with the History Channel

  • Your counterweight needs training. They know it's dangerous, and it makes them feel better.
  • Devise and use a `keeper line' for your sling. This keeps your counterweight from being whacked in the head.
  • Make sure draw-lines are affixed to the arm securely. If they fall off, the arm will konk someone on the head.
  • Advise your counterweight to not bend their arms. Use gravity instead. (It's more efficient and stronger.)
  • Make sure everyone on the counter weight team knows how to count to three.

Trebuchet Advice
Juggernaut 2

  • Counterweight should be created in manageable chunks. 400lb blocks seem cool, but are instead lame.
  • Never stand under the counterweight.
  • Never put body parts where the throwing arm wants to go.
  • Take advantage of all mechanical advantage available to modern hobbyists.
  • If nothing breaks, you don't have enough counterweight.

Torsion Advice
Roger and the Stubborn Trigger

This advise is for any torsion machine with three inches or more of rope.

  • Never use a wooden Epizygis.
  • Never use a mild steel bolt for an epizygis.
  • Never use a wooden modiolus.
  • Your first machine should use the cheapest rope you can get. It will be trashed.
  • Consider buying a trigger. Crafting your own results in many repairs.
  • Never Ever put a body part in someplace the arm may like to be some day.
  • Bring a spare spanner (torsion tightening beam)
  • Bring a spare throwing pouch.

Centripital Advice
Human Powered Centripital

Centripetal machines are surprisingly complex.

  • Make your throwing pouch as simple as possible.
  • Balance your machine well, but make sure it works ok unbalanced.
  • Place your trigger or actuator as close to the axle as possible. This reduces the shock load.
  • Tune your machine with many practice shots before any competition throw.
  • Do not expect any mechanical gizmo to work as expected when spinning at high speed.

Competitive Advice
Torsion and Youth Lineup, 2003

Once you have built a large machine, it must go to a competition!

  • Your catapult design must account for double-duty. Chunkin and fast assembly at a remote site.
  • Follow the rules! There aren't that many. It would be embarrassing to forget one.
  • Keep it clean when TV cameras are around. You may never live it down.
  • Don't use "compressed air helium". Dat is 'gainst the rules.
  • Don't expect to win your first year out. Assume failure and have fun mocking those who missed this advice.
  • Study as many other machines as you can while you are there. Before they break is usually best.
  • Keep your prize punkins in a "Punkin' Safe"

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Last Modified: 05/10/09