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Trebuchet habeo.

Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.




Next weekend is the Florida Poly Retreat. I am signed up to do two workshops: one on jealousy management, and one on the design and construction of a trebuchet, a type of Medieval seige engine capable of throwing 300-pound boulders through a castle wall.

Trebuchets are cool.

This weekend, I'll be designing and constructing hte trebuchet that'll be used in the workshop. Originally, I had planned to build a six-foot trebuchet with an eight-foot throwing arm, capable of hurling a projectile the size and weight of a bowling ball about fifty yards or so. Shelly and serolynne both, sadly, nixed that idea--Shelly because she was horrified at the safety implications of such a device, and serolynne because the facility evidently doesn't have enough space to be chucking bowling balls around.

So, alas, I've had to scale back a bit. I'm designing a trebuchet about three feet high, designed to toss golf balls or tennis balls around. Which is very sad, because tossing a golf ball is so much less fun than tossing a bowling ball. I think it would be fun to use an old-fashioned steel lawn dart as the projectile, but I don't think you can buy those any more. (I certainly haven't seen them in years...which, now that I think about it, is probably a good idea. Who the hell thought that throwing five-pound, sharp steel darts high in the air was a fun family game? No way THAT could go wrong...bit I digress.)

There's actually a bit of accidental history behind this particular workshop. During the first Florida Poly Retreat in 2003, Shelly and I and some various other people found a pile of scrap wood at the facility, and I decided to use that and duct tape to make a quick, improvised trebuchet.

Well, actually, that's not quite true. The device we ended up making was technically a mangonel--it was powered by a combination of a small counterweight and human muscle, a design first pioneered by the Mongols, who used caputured enemies as slaves to operate their mangonels, and built versions that could be disassembled quickly and carried on horseback which they used as antipersonnel devices rather than as seige engines...but again, I digress.

Anyway, the FPR in 2003 was arguably the first nationwide polyamory meeting to arm itself. We test-fired the mangonel by using it to fire the flashlights that were giveaways at the retreat, that projectile being necessitated because (a) it had a lanyard designed to be worn around the neck, removing the need for a firing sling on the weapon, and (b) it was dark by the time we were finished, so we needed a projectile that could be seen at night.

The finished engine worked far better than I had anticipated; by the time we got the firing mechanism worked out, it was hurling the flashlights about three times farther than I'd estimated. Which was great fun, as you can probably imagine.

Anyway, it's been something of a standing joke since then--Florida Poly Retreat, the only polyamorous gathering to have seige equipment! So when serolynne approached me with the idea of doing a formal workshop this time around, hey, who was I to say no?

The trebuchet workshop is being billed as a workshop on communication. Legendary cynic Ambrose Bierce described war as "untying with the teeth a political knot that would not yield to the tongue," after all.

I plan to do a packet for the workshop that contains the plans, plus a writeup on the physics, theory of operation, and history of the trebuchet. For anyone who cares, this will be a HCW (hinged counterweight) design with a fixed throwing arm, and I'll probably put it on wheels. If there is enough interest, I'll probably make the packet available as a PDF from my Web site.

And now, off to Home Depot, the "Toys R Us" of the mad scientist and pervert communities.

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Comments

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
polydad
Mar. 18th, 2006 07:07 pm (UTC)
The one I'd built back at Windmaster's Hill used a 30-gallon drum full of old machine parts and sand for a counterweight, and threw a brick about 500 yards. A bowling ball would've had much better aerodynamics.

Don't know if I can be of help, but if not-entirely-ignorant advice is useful, give a holler.

best,

Joel
jenniferm
Mar. 18th, 2006 09:00 pm (UTC)
Next weekend is the Florida Poly Retreat. I am signed up to do two workshops: one on jealousy management, and one on the design and construction of a trebuchet, a type of Medieval seige engine capable of throwing 300-pound boulders through a castle wall.

Why not combine the two into one seminar? There are lots of interpersonal issues, including jealousy, that could be solved via trebuchet.
serolynne
Mar. 19th, 2006 03:39 am (UTC)
I origally proposed that the workshop should have been entitled "Conflict Management" :D
tacit
Mar. 19th, 2006 03:59 pm (UTC)
You know, "conflict management" would have been a better title, now that I think about it....
kiwitayro
Mar. 18th, 2006 09:09 pm (UTC)
i want one of these for my dog:

http://www.ripcord.ws/intro.html

i'd be interested to see your notes or an outline of your jealousy management workshop. josiah (my live-in partner of 6+ years) is doing a week-long "adult empowerment" workshop at a conference in june. the tag line/ original concept of the workshop is "how to live your life the way you want to" - a lot of the group (which consists of our friends and whatever friends they find to drag along - about 50-60 people total) is poly or poly-friendly or poly-curious, and his workshop grows out of a one-shot 3 hr workshop on "non-traditional relationships" he and i led last year.

you'd like Spring i think...
peristaltor
Mar. 18th, 2006 10:04 pm (UTC)
"Anyway, it's been something of a standing joke since then--Florida Poly Retreat, the only polyamorous gathering to have seige equipment!"

Expecting protesters?
serolynne
Mar. 19th, 2006 03:37 am (UTC)
It's to fend off the zombies, actually.
datan0de
Mar. 20th, 2006 01:40 am (UTC)
Hey! Zombies can be poly too! :-(
violet_tigress1
Mar. 18th, 2006 10:50 pm (UTC)
Hurling handfuls of marshmallows or sticky plastic frogs could be fun too... probablyalso not as fun as bowling balls.
serolynne
Mar. 19th, 2006 03:36 am (UTC)
We will have LOTS of marshmallows available ;)
sacredchao
Mar. 19th, 2006 12:52 am (UTC)
Anyway, the FPR in 2003 was arguably the first nationwide polyamory meeting to arm itself.

If ever there were a sentence that cried out to be quoted out of context...
alchmst
Mar. 19th, 2006 02:51 am (UTC)
If somehow, you missed this in my journal, I reprint it here for you:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=0I0WfnhVs2s&search=volkswagen

This has YOU written all over it!

:)
tacit
Mar. 19th, 2006 04:00 pm (UTC)
Cherie set me the pointer to your post; I haven't actually read LJ in..oh, about a zillion years.

I love that ad! Pity I can't make one that big for FPR. :)
serolynne
Mar. 19th, 2006 03:34 am (UTC)
We actually almost got you lawn darts :D (We found some in the UK when we were looking at other FPR goodies.)
tacit
Mar. 19th, 2006 04:04 pm (UTC)
Wow, they still sell lawn darts in the UK? That's insane!

There's an outfit in California called Survival Research Labs that started doing robot battles back before robot battles were cool. They stage huge "performance art" festivals where they build and show off all kinds of insane machines, like a cannon that fires four-foot flourescent light tubes. A while ago, they made some kind of catapult that can supposedly put a lawn dart through two inches of concrete.

All things considered, maybe FPR isn't the right forum for that kind of machine... :)
datan0de
Mar. 20th, 2006 01:39 am (UTC)
I've seen their videos before. Awesome and inspiring stuff. I want to be them when I grow up!
nekidsteve
Mar. 19th, 2006 05:34 pm (UTC)
yeah, lawn darts havent been sold since i was a kid. which i admit wasnt that long ago
zaiah
Mar. 19th, 2006 05:42 pm (UTC)
If there is enough interest, I'll probably make the packet available as a PDF from my Web site.

Yes please. And pictures?!? Yes! Pictures!
zotmeister
Mar. 20th, 2006 06:22 pm (UTC)
I'm designing a trebuchet about three feet high, designed to toss golf balls or tennis balls around. Which is very sad, because tossing a golf ball is so much less fun than tossing a bowling ball.

Split the difference - use billiard balls. :) - ZM
indywind
Mar. 21st, 2006 02:44 pm (UTC)
Tallahassee SCAdians (including some polyamorists) operated a trebuchet (hinged counterweight) in rural Mississippi last weekend. It threw projectiles made of a)4 tennis balls taped together or b)1 lb compressed foam, 30-50 feet. They were soft because they were intended to hit people.

Please do not fire cans of soda or other carbonated beverage from any seige engine, especially in unsecured areas at night. Voice of experience.
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )