Then I got to thinking it might be fun to make a chronological list of the things I've gotten caught up in. And even more fun than just a list would be a little synopsis and post-mortem on each. This has been going on for a long time (like "spent most of freshman year of high school on a BBS playing a text MUD, going so far as to learn Basic so I could keep my character gaining experience by running scripts while I was at school"), but working backwards from today I only got as far as...
Trebuchet Design and ConstructionSome time in the winter or spring of 2007, a coworker brought the mini trebuchet kit that someone had gotten him for Christmas into the office. A largish contingent of the programmers proceeded to build it, tweak it, create innovative targets and projectiles for it, and generally have a fun time. So fun, in fact, that more than one of us started talking about building on a bigger scale. Since the Punkin Chunkers have made it extremely hard to break new ground on size or power, I was content to set myself the goal of making an effective and fairly elegant water-balloon-scale trebuchet.
After tons of thinking, drawing, and running finely differentiated simulations on trebuchet modeling software (it looks like there are a few more options now than there were then. I went through one or two before finding one that had all the options I needed and was reasonably usable), I built!
Then I learned some more things, like that the stresses on the cable holding the counterweight were greater than I had expected, and that it's kind of hard to get water balloons to stay in a sling rather than squeeze out the side and burst when they're being whipped around in a really fast arc.
And finally, in the glorious conclusion of the project, at our family Thanksgiving gathering in western Pennsylvania, I learned that I'm not a good skeet shooter. But between the handful of us, we got a few good hits. I found it rather magical.
|That's my dad pulling.|