Picture of Portable pumpkin catapult
I built this catapult (actually a trebuchet) based on an article in Make Magazine by William Gurstelle.  It worked extremely well!  Was able to launch basketballs 80 - 90 feet, and small pie pumpkins over 100 feet.  I think fine tuning of the sling release could further enhance the performance.

It is made of plywood, a few 2 x 6's, and a lot of plumbing parts.  The folding design is great for storage, and in my case, the catapult actually went up on the roof of a church for the main launching event.  It fit up a ladder through a roof hatch with no trouble.  (Well, other than the fact that it is bulky and heavy).

The counterweight is two 60 pound bags of concrete, which gave about a 100:1 ratio for the pie pumpkins and basketballs.  After the pictures were taken I also added several bungee cords (2 x 18" and 2 x 24") to assist with pulling the weight down, and it added another 20 feet or so to overall distance.

Just something fun about catapults!
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Dani783 days ago

that's really nice instructable!

I have difficulties with watching the video, could you please upload it in youtube?

Hello this is a great pumpkin launcher. We're looking to build it for a physics project. We have a question: what makes the pumpkin actually launch? Do you cut a string? Please let us know, thank you!!!
meikj (author)  sophiacat157 days ago
Look at step 8. It uses an equestrian panic snap that hooks on to a ring on the catapult arm. Cord is lashed around the panic snap body and pulling that cord causes the snap to open and release the ring. Hopefully that makes sense!
rgnordstrom12 months ago
I built this, it works well. couple of tips/suggestions.
- make the middle plywood section wide enough to allow for sling slide without hitting hinges
- offset the the two posts on the side plywood base so that folding is easier/tighter. It wont look centered but travels easier.
- cut handle holes in outside of plywood
- use a stainless anchor shackel for the trigger, add a safety chain you pull just before firing
- If you make the posts taller say 36 instead of 28, you can extend the weight a bit farther and add some yardage

Great design though. Kids love the thing.
sviens1 year ago
I noticed in your photos you didn't include wheels. Think the MAKE instructions recommended castors. I found a reference to a PBS/Nova article about adding wheels to a trebuchet will increases distance. Here's the reference.
meikj (author) 1 year ago
I think I have about $200 or so in lumber, fittings, pipe, etc. It was a fun build!
agelix1 year ago
How much did it cost to build this?
2 questions:
How well would this work with a bunch of snowballs?
Could you make a video showing it in action?
meikj (author)  willywoozle1 year ago
Should work fine for snowballs. You may need to adjust sling length and release. Sweet spot for this is about 1.5 - 2.5 pounds.

No more video! It's folded up in the garage for now. I'll shoot some vid the next time I set it up.
I meant in the ible.
d3r3k19971 year ago
Actually that is a Trebuchet
Kiteman1 year ago
That looks very nice (I didn't know you could buy branded pumpkins?).

It would be nice to see a video of it in action?
meikj (author)  Kiteman1 year ago
Pie pumpkins are a type of small, sweet pumpkin, usually used for making pies. They generally weigh between 1 - 2 lbs. which makes them the perfect size for this catapult.

I have a short video of a test launch that I'll post soon.
Kiteman meikj1 year ago
meikj (author)  Kiteman1 year ago
Short video of a test launch during tuning phase. Throwing a football, which hits a tree!
Kiteman meikj1 year ago
Nice shot!
Jobar0071 year ago
If you build a proper chute for the projectile to run down you can fine tune your accuracy for left and right... just like they did during historical sieges.
Lorddrake1 year ago
Awesome design. I love that it is collapsible for easy transport/storage.
All your steps are well documented and easy to follow.
5 stars!
im37331 year ago
Very cool. Though this is technically a trebuchet, which, IMO, are more awesome than catapults.