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Lego Trebuchet 114

An anonymous reader submitted linkage to a trebuchet made of legos. Using australian coins for counterweights, it is able to throw a marble 50 feet or more. I wish they had some photos of it in action, and maybe some schematics for do it yourselfers, but regardless, looks like a fun project if you have a pile of legos and a 4-day weekend ;)
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Lego Trebuchet

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  • by Cow_With_Gun ( 204379 ) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @01:39PM (#3833354)
    If only they made lego cows to throw. This will change my castle wars now though.
  • Now I finally have some weapons with the proper dementions for my weekly 'hamster death match' on the patio.
  • Lego... (Score:2, Funny)

    Now all we need is a lego Guillotine.

  • I guess the scientisits should have built som elego models and saved a bit of cash.
  • looks like a fun project if you have a pile of legos and a 4-day weekend ;)

    I wish I got the 4 day weekend too...
    • Or more to the point- if this was posted at the beginning of the four day weekend, and not when it is already half over for those of us who have it.
  • by Lev13than ( 581686 ) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @01:43PM (#3833378) Homepage
    Of course, a major design flaw is the use of Australian coins, which only go about 56% as far as American ones.

    http://au.finance.yahoo.com/m5?a=1&s=AUD&t=USD [yahoo.com]
  • by Darth_brooks ( 180756 ) <clipper377&gmail,com> on Saturday July 06, 2002 @01:45PM (#3833385) Homepage
    So we've made a trebuchet out of lego bricks, but at what cost? Don't these mad men realise what they're combining? Weapons design, unlimited creativity, and lego bricks!

    A few more rungs up the evolutionary design ladder coupled with another advance or two in mindstorms and we'll be recreating the first ten minutes of Teminator 2. Only this time, instead of a steel chromed skull, it'll be a smiling yellow face.

    We're doomed.
  • ...must be related to these 25 hour days we've been listening about the last few days... oh the horror/happiness (depending who you are...;)
    • Must have spent a couple days in the story submission queue. The 4 day weekend is half over now. Guess I can't build one till Christmas time. Thanks a lot Taco.
  • by brejc8 ( 223089 ) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @01:53PM (#3833422) Homepage Journal
    As a buzy research student currently writing his thesis I have no time to sit about and play with LEGO all day.
    Oh wait no. Thats what I do all day every day while avoiding work.
    Anyway after making a internet controllable camera and an internet controllable robot [man.ac.uk], I have run out of inspiration.
    The research group lego has two motors and I want to make something that people can control over the internet. Any suggestions?
    • That's cool.

      My girlfriend bought me a lego kit, and I'd planned to build essentially the same thing - but I haven't had time to because of my research...
    • I want to make something that people can control over the internet. Any suggestions? -- Lego Pron, Mouse powered Asynchronous computers, remote controlled webcams [man.ac.uk]
      Motorized, remote controlled lego pr0n filmed over remote control webcams. Think about it. It's perfect.
    • OK, a challenge that was issued a while ago to some friends. We're trying in Meccano, Erector if you're American.

      Build a vehicle powered my nothing more than a 1lb falling weight. You can't just build a tower and pull a line in, everything involved has to move along the ground. See how far you can get it in a straight line.

      Or see if you break your Lego ;-)
  • awesome! (Score:5, Funny)

    by herrd0kt0r ( 585718 ) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @01:56PM (#3833429)
    but you can only build the lego trebuchet after you upgrade the lego blacksmithy to make the lego siege workshop.

    and don't forget to defend your lego trebuchet with lego archers and lego knights.

  • by gambit3 ( 463693 ) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @01:57PM (#3833431) Homepage Journal
    It was first broadcast about a year ago, part of a series called "Secrets of Lost Empires", [pbs.org] and also included a nice Construction of a Chinese Rainbow Bridge [pbs.org].

    The Trebuchet episode is scheduled to be rebroadcast on Tuesday, July 16, 2002, in the States.
  • by AgTiger ( 458268 ) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @01:57PM (#3833434) Homepage
    All we need now is the castle and Lego French Knights to taunt the English King and his men below...

    And a Lego Cow.

    RUN AWAY!!

  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @01:57PM (#3833437) Journal
    Given the draconian gun laws that were passed in Australia a few years back, this is what the australian criminal element has had to resort to.

    kinda sad really.

  • Oh that was cool...

    It was a long time ago, in my childhood, our history professor told us to build a catapult, a small one (so small we could carry in one hand)... my group (consisting of me and my friends) did a almost full size one, we needed to ask someone father to bring it to school in a truck, it was awesome, all our little friends hanging around with 20cm catapults when we were getting all the attention from the 9 year old girls with our 4 meter trebuchet... good ol times when my weekends used to last 7 days! :))

    the sad part is that we never had the chance to test it... :((
  • This past year in my one class, Construction Tech.(yes, in school), we built a Trebuchet. Altho ours were limited to 3 feet base (in each direction). It worked out well, some went far, some went short, it was all a matter of how long the sling was and stuff. I have mine still, I gotta fix it up a little tho. I can see it now, a small lego desktop Treb. Brings a new meaning to throwing candy at the guy next to ya :P
    • Re:Neat... (Score:3, Informative)

      by scott1853 ( 194884 )
      The site links to another site [trebuchet.com] where they got some inspiration from. The first product listed is a desktop trebuchet for $49.00.
  • by naph ( 590672 )
    i once stuck all my lego together into a huge brick. i couldn't throw that 50 feet though.
  • wheels (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ubi_UK ( 451829 ) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @02:21PM (#3833512)
    Although the photos section mentiones that the wheels are not quite necesassry, they are indeed:

    The motion of the counterweight falling tries to pull the treb over. A counter to this is to put the trebuchet on wheels. So, as the counterweight falls, the treb rolls forward, allowing the counterweigtht to fall more vertically. This also dramatically increases the distance the treb can make.

    More info on DIY trebuchets here [tasigh.org]
  • This is the twentieth century... build an army of Lego howitzers. Low cost artillery for the masses!
  • by nweaver ( 113078 ) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @02:35PM (#3833564) Homepage

    The "Floating Arm" trebuchet design was used on an episode of Junkyard Wars.

    IN that design, the arm has two wheels, and runs on a track along the top of the trebuchet, while the counterweight drops purely downwards down a vertical track.

    It wouldn't be suitable in midaeval times (due to the wheel on the arm), but is quite easy to do for modern designs, and nicely effective (as you no longer have the big counterweight swinging along, but only going up and down, something easier to engineer for with Legos).

    • It wouldn't be suitable in midaeval times (due to the wheel on the arm), but is quite easy to do for modern designs

      Yes. As we all know, Sir John C. Wheel only invented and patented the Wheel (tm) in 1876.
      Along with Fritz Von Brakes, he was the most important contributor the modern car...

      (Man, I hope someone mods me up as Informative!)
      • ...of this scene from News Radio:

        ---- Dave's Office ----

        [Matthew and Joe are sitting on Dave's couch. Dave is standing and
        lecturing them.]

        DAVE: I don't know. I don't know. I don't know why, but I do know if
        Henry Ford and John Chrysler had spent all their time fighting, we'd still
        be driving around in horse and buggy.

        MATT: Umm ... Who, who's John Chrysler

        DAVE: The guy who invented the Chrysler?

        JOE : [Laughing] There's ... there's no such person as John Chrysler.

        MATT: Oh no. No. Oh wait a minute ... wait a minute ... wait a minute.
        Is he by any chance related to Jack Chevrolet? [Laughs]

        [Matthew and Joe laugh]

        DAVE: Look. You ... you guys get the point I'm trying to make, right?

        JOE /MATT: Yeah/Yeah

        DAVE: Ok, great.

        [Joe and Matthew get up to leave.]

        MATT: [Repeating joke aloud] John Chrysler

        DAVE: Matthew.

        JOE : We're not laughing at you boss.

        DAVE: Yeah ...

        MATT: We're really not ...

        JOE : [To Matthew] C'mon, we gotta get outta here dude. [To Dave] Hey.
        Uh, give my regards to Bill Pontiac. [laughs]

        [Matthew and Joe Exit.]
  • With enough lego parts you can also build a working catapult, although in Canada the government requires you to register it as a hand gun.
  • Lego Arms Race (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Guppy ( 12314 )
    I'd like to see this guy go up against a Lego Machine Gun [silverlight.org].

    I imagine the outcome would be similar to a Civ III game, after you fall out of the tech trading circle.
  • by Shayde ( 189538 ) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @02:55PM (#3833685) Homepage
    Feh, that's nothin! Too many parts, too easy to fail. What you -really- want to do is make a trebuchet out of -tinkertoys-.

    Like I did!

    http://www.stonekeep.com/trebuchet/ [stonekeep.com]
  • In our society, our children now learn to construct siege engines out of building blocks. When they get older, they further sharpen their martial skills by playing computer simulations of warfare. In ancient Sparta, they produced a generation of warriors by training them young. With some lego, some good PC war games, and a membership with the Military Book Club, we can do the same for our children.
  • from the i-think-i'm-gonna-hurl dept.

    Oh god, the humour, it hurts. Stop. Please.

  • This past year my mom went nuts over building a lego trebuchet. When she first heard about trebuchets, she was really interested. She then came up with the idea of building one out of legos. (She wanted to make it into a project for the physics class she taught at a high school). After many months of searching for the instructions and pieces, we finally assembled one. Unfortunately, it never worked very well (but she had her class make them anyways).

    Seeing this article just brought back some of those wonderful memories. I just had to share! :-)
  • Who's has the obligatory mirror with pics for those of us behind the slashdot?
  • I made a trebuchet a couple years ago when I was still tinkering with Legos. I was about fourteen when I built it. It was about two feet high (to the axle) and shot marbles across my living room about 20 feet. I had a lot of fun with it before I dismantled it. My work on a 4 foot high (again, to the axle), stalled when my throwing arm broke (it was flimsy wood anyway). I am going to get a new arm and finish it soon. I have two cheap 25lb. workout weights that I want to use as a counterweight. I know that a bucket would work better, but I'm not an engineer!
  • by Rubyflame ( 159891 ) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @04:04PM (#3833996) Homepage
    I've made some pretty badass weapons with Construx. They shouldn't be too hard to replicate with other building systems, if anyone's interested in doing so.

    | |
    ___| |__
    ________ =====|

    Okay, so basically what this is supposed to look like is two hollow tubes that are connected like a T, open at both ends. Then there's a plunger sorta thing. You insert it into the tube and attach it with a few rubber bands, so when you pull it back and let go it goes back into the tube.

    When the plunger is in its normal position inside the bottom tube, it's blocking the intersection. So drop a bunch of marbles (or whatever projectiles you like) into the top tube. They should be slightly less wide than the tube itself. When you pull the plunger out, one projectile falls into the bottom tube. Let go of the plunger and it hits the marble, shooting it out the other end of the bottom tube.

    I've built and fired many of these. They work very well. The one serious drawback is that there are problems firing them at angles too far from the horizontal.

    Here's how to turn that semi-automatic into a gatling gun.

    | |
    ___| |__
    ________ =====|---( o )

    Okay, if the illustration is a bit unclear, this is a wheel behind the gun. On the edge of the wheel is a small rod. One end of a string is affixed to it, the other to the plunger. Now you can operate the weapon by turning the wheel. The wheel has to be attached to the gun by some structure along the side which doesn't interfere with anything.

    You should put a handle that turns the wheel from the other side. If you use a gearset that allows you several shots per revolution, you'll have something resembling a gatling gun in action.
  • it's /.ed. Too bad.

    It serves them right for using IIS.
  • OT: Pumpkin Catapult (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MacJedi ( 173 ) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @04:52PM (#3834170) Homepage
    Here are some photos [odoherty.net] from a pumpkin launching catapult that I made with some fellow physics students back in college. It's technically not a trebuchet because we didn't use a sling. The pumpkins kept getting tangled in it. Also including one greatly complicated the calculations. ;)


  • by Lorgalis ( 574808 ) on Saturday July 06, 2002 @04:58PM (#3834179)
    a trebuchet sounds cool but this guy [berettaworld.com] took it into modern warfare, and built a Beretta!!
    He even put out a manual [berettaworld.com] so you can build it yourself.
  • hmmmm (Score:3, Funny)

    by Phybersyk0 ( 513618 ) <phybersyko.stormdesign@org> on Saturday July 06, 2002 @05:29PM (#3834253)
    Apparently the guy who's hosting the site built his webserver from LEGO too.

    NOTHING withstands the /. effect.
  • If a trebuchet made of lego will throw a marble fifty feet, imagine how far one several stories high could throw an object! NASA is betting they could use one to launch satellites into space. It will be called the X-4000 Launch Aparatus. [uncoveror.com]
  • Those of you who find this cool, and haven't already read my trebuchet kit review [dansdata.com], probably should :-).
  • >It all started with a documentary we were watching on TV about some history professors and
    >traditional builders heading into the English
    countryside to build a couple of trebuchets.
    >Their aim was to see which design would have been more practical for use in the 14th century.

    The show in question was an episode of the PBS
    series "Secret of Lost Empires":

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/lostempires/trebuch et

    The whole series is very interesting -- they try
    to recreate an item from history for which some
    or all of the underlying technology is totally
    lost, except perhaps for fragmentary text
    descriptions. The two teams use different
    counterweight theories, with interesting results.

    I just wish they hadn't flouted historical
    accuracy by using as a projectile one of those
    big blue things from "Star Wars Episode 1"...

  • This is way cool, I remember being in the first year of Junior school (aged about 8) and doing a project on Romans. I was off school ill and my Mum (Physics lecturer and Chartered Engineer)and I built an Onager using legos and a couple of decent elastic bands.

    For those who don't already know, an Onager [onager.net] was another type of siege engine, using twisted cord to store energy rather than raising a heavy weight. It didn't have a sling, so it didn't get much distance, but it was pretty cool at the time. i'm just annoyed that I didn't get any pictures before I dismatled it.
  • Inspired by Junkyard wars, I built a trebuchet from Legos and Duplos (base and supports) and K'nex (frame and throwing arm, counterweight, etc.) I think there are some bits of Erector set in there too. There are some pictures here [xnet.com] until my ISP yells at me. It also threw a marble but not nearly so far. Very cool job.
  • Here [biglobe.ne.jp] see the Star Wars trilogy legos style!
  • here [ericharshbarger.org]
  • We had competitions to build these at PCS (a children's engineering school) in Nampa, Idaho several years ago. We also had a few Lego "Robot Wars". Frankly, everything Lego related I've ever seen on /. is old hat.

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.