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Snap-together catapults and ballistas that are perfect for gifts, office warfare, or annoying your roommate.
693 backers pledged $59,987 to help bring this project to life.

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Less than 24 hours to go!

Posted by Michael Woods (Creator)
4 likes

Hey folks,

It's that post-Thanksgiving, oh wow it's almost Christmas feeling. It's also that only one day left feeling! We've got a lot of laser cutting to do over here, and we've been getting going on it for the past several days. I'm hanging out in the workshop getting a few more runs of parts in, and I wanted to share a photo. Here's about a day and a half's run:

A mix of Ballista, Trebuchette, and Skallops parts, fresh off the lasers!
A mix of Ballista, Trebuchette, and Skallops parts, fresh off the lasers!

As you can see, we're cutting a little bit of everything here - we rotate the production of each of the pieces so that we can lock in completed sets. We can do this because it's so easy to switch cutting jobs on the lasers. In that sense, it's a lot more flexible than plastic production, where it takes hours or days to reconfigure a molding line for a new part.

By the way, our other product line Skallops is on sale through the weekend and Monday. Check out our E&M Labs website for free USA shipping on all our products!

Build nifty 3D structures out of playing cards with Skallops!
Build nifty 3D structures out of playing cards with Skallops!

We're all really excited over here to get going on shipping out your Siege Toys rewards, and we're thankful for your support to get as far as we have. We'll keep posting about our progress, and we'll be back with an update on what happens next.

And if you know anyone who was on the fence about getting some desktop siege weaponry, remind them that this is their last chance to get in on the Kickstarter project!

Laserly yours,

Evan.

Ballista Design Update

Posted by Michael Woods (Creator)
8 likes

Hi Kickstarter! We're back again with another video update: this time it's all about the design improvements we've been making to the Ballista over the last couple weeks. Check out the video above for demonstrations and in-depth discussion, and the images below for a close-in view of what's new.

First, we've got a close up of the new elevator arches, letting you support your ballista at a variety of angles, to better dial in your target.

Here are the new "speed-bump" bar stoppers. The Ballista has two speed-bump stopper positions on each rope bundle, giving you control over winding the rope bundle in 90-degree (π/2! or τ/4 if you're so inclined!) increments.

Finally, here we have the slick new delrin carriage, the auto-locking trigger, and the new tail piece. One of our engineers, Marshall, spent a ton of time working on the trigger to get its action just right. It's actually a really tricky problem, because not only did we have to design the trigger piece to perform correctly, but its action had to be smooth no matter the humidity conditions (humid conditions make the wood swell and expand in thickness).

Finally, those are all the functional changes to the design we've made. There's a handful of other changes, though, that we haven't talked about yet. Most of those other modifications were made with an eye towards improving the manufacturing process for the Ballista. Can you find any of the other changes? And if you can, do you have any guesses as to what the purpose of those changes is?

We hope you enjoy getting an inside look at our design and engineering process, and we hope you'll enjoy your Siege Toys when you get them! Meanwhile, there are still some Christmas-delivery sets available, so keep spreading the word about our project to your friends!

Cloudy with a Chance of Paintballs

Posted by Michael Woods (Creator)
3 likes

Hi everybody! 

It's getting down to crunch time, and we don't mean the sound of accidentally biting into a turkey bone. Only 4 days left! 

We had a great suggestion from Steven Lord, a backer hailing from Natick, Massachusetts (hey, isn't there a Twinkie factory there?). Also, fun Wikipedia fact: A "natick" refers to any square on a crossword puzzle grid that a solver cannot fill in correctly except by a lucky guess, because the solver does not know the answer to either the ACROSS clue or to the DOWN clue (generally proper nouns). 

Anyway, Steven wondered whether the catapult and ballista have enough clout to burst a paintball. That was enough for us. Check out the results below:

Look at 'em all!
Look at 'em all!
Sweet boots, Amy.
Sweet boots, Amy.
Locked & loaded.
Locked & loaded.
Oops.
Oops.
Don't worry, we cleaned it up.
Don't worry, we cleaned it up.
Safety first!
Safety first!

There you have it folks. Steven, I hope this answers your question. Happy holidays!

Catapult Design Update and More!

Posted by Michael Woods (Creator)

Hi everyone!

It's been an exciting couple of weeks over here: we've had a whole bunch of awesome new backers join us, and we've had a couple great mentions in the press, including a hilariously-headlined Fast Co. Design article.

While we've been getting the word out, we've also been refining the design for both the catapult and the ballista from the versions we showed you in our initial videos and photographs. The ones we started with were a good starting point, but we discovered a few things we thought we could improve as we and others played with them more.

Today we'll tell you all about our changes on the catapult, and tomorrow we'll have another update about the ballista. Here's Amy and Forrest to walk you through the design changes we made.

And here are some closeups of what they're showing in the video. In this first photo, you can see the two machines side by side.

The original catapult on the left, and the new catapult on the right.
The original catapult on the left, and the new catapult on the right.

 The new machine has the same length arm and the same height of stabilizers, so the power is the same, but because we decided to move the stabilizers to face backwards, we were able to shorten the base rails, which also has the nice benefit of cutting more consistently, for less wood waste.

You can also see that the two vertical supports now interlock, rather than laying one on top of the other. This is a little easier to assemble, and it's more efficient.

The new trigger and back brace.
The new trigger and back brace.

One thing we found while we were playing with the catapult is that if you get a little too enthusiastic about pulling the trigger, you can twist the trigger piece and pull the rails out of parallel. We added a piece in the back to stabilize those rails, and make sure the trigger doesn't get stuck.

Left: old twist bar stopper, with slider. Right: new twist bar "speed bump" stopper.
Left: old twist bar stopper, with slider. Right: new twist bar "speed bump" stopper.

Finally, we updated one important little detail around the twist bars that hold the twisted rope. The bars used to be held twisted by a sliding piece. To change the twist, you needed to move the slider with one hand and twist the bar with the other.

We discovered as we worked on the ballista that having a "speed bump" that sticks through the base rail holds the axle in place, but you can twist and push over it when you want to change the amount of twist. It's much easier to use, and a little more elegant, too.

That's part of what we've been up to the last few days. But before you go, I wanted to point you to two other Kickstarter projects from friends of ours.

The first is Toymail, from Gauri Nanda and Audry Hill. Gauri is a friend of ours from the MIT Media Lab. Toymail's Mailmen are toys that kids can physically play and interact with, and relay voice messages from friends and loved ones. Her earlier project, Clocky, is an incredibly cute alarm clock that runs away from you, and Toymail looks like just as much fun.

The second project is the Wrap Wallet, from Dave Jackson of Coffee Joulies fame. We've been helping him out with some laser cutting for the wallet, and we're really excited about the project.

Finally, please take a moment to tell your friends about us! The best way for more folks to find out about our project, and to help us reach our stretch goal, is through you. If you have anyone you know who would like to see a little more siege-ing in their lives, help them out with a link to us!

We hope you all are enjoying this update! If you have any questions, post here and we'll answer you.

Awesome, glowing projectile paths!

Posted by Michael Woods (Creator)
17 likes

Whenever a conversation over here at E&M Labs starts with “You know what would be cool?”, you know things are bound to get interesting, so a couple days ago, when we had the idea to do long-exposure, night time images of launching glowing projectiles out of the catapult, I was excited.

First, we had to figure out how to make our ammunition glow. We had two competing ideas for this: cracking open some glowsticks and using the chemicals inside them as paint, and building a small cluster of LEDs and a battery that we could launch, so naturally, I went out to Radioshack and a local army surplus store and bought materials for both. We figured we’d start with the glowsticks, and if they didn’t work well enough, move on to the LEDs.

If you try this at home, be careful! Glowsticks have glass inside that can cut you, and the chemicals can irritate your skin and eyes. Read all the warning labels and be safe!
If you try this at home, be careful! Glowsticks have glass inside that can cut you, and the chemicals can irritate your skin and eyes. Read all the warning labels and be safe!

For our first projectile, we emptied the chemicals out of a single glowstick, and loaded the glowing ink into a tiny ziplock baggie, as full as we could get it, and ready for flight. Then we went outside, took some practice shots, and rocked your world.

If you think that projectile path looks a little funny, though, that’s because it does. It’s not a perfect parabola like you learned about in school. Instead, our tiny ziplock baggie is being affected by air resistance (exactly the same stuff you ignore in high school physics problems). In particular, since our ziplock baggie has a low mass and a high surface area, it’s affected by air resistance quite a bit.

For our second projectile, we wanted to get better looking parabolic arcs, so we knew we had to go to a higher mass projectile. We started off trying to paint some of our usual rubber balls with the glowstick chemicals, but that didn't work very well. Instead, we ended up wrapping one of the rubber balls in gauze, soaking that gauze in glowstick chemicals, and tying the whole thing up with thread so it wouldn’t unravel.

 This let us get some absolutely gorgeous shots:

 And one of my favorites, where we bounced the projectile off of a nearby wall:

 Finally, what would this post be without a glowing catapult glamour shot?

 Stay tuned soon for more updates about the work we’ve been putting in to improve all of the designs, and more science-ey stuff, and remember, if we can get to $75k, we can include a free ammo cart with extra ammunition with every siege engine, so spread the word!