The Ballista aka ” Pumpkin Chunker”

Newton's Attic. Photo by Tom Eblen | teblen@herald-leader.com

Photo by Tom Eblen | teblen@herald-leader.com

The Ballista in an ancient missile weapon that launched a large projectile at a distant target. It was first developed by the Greeks and then modified, enhanced and widely used by the Romans.  Many say it is akin to a giant crossbow.  This ballista was the brainchild of Robert McGillivray and Michael Halwes when they were pre-engineering students in the MSTC program at Dunbar High School in Lexington.  They found a design they liked in a book and proceeded to build a small replica.  Once the design was proven Bill Cloyd worked with them over a three month period in 2012 to complete the full scale example you see on this page.

Newton’s Attic uses this ballista year round at schools, STEM events, fundraisers, field trips and birthday parties.  Finding a happier purpose than war, this ballista is a great tool for teaching physics or just having fun.

 

Newton’s Attic Ballista IN ACTION

BALLISTA STATISTICS

Dimensions

10 feet long, stands 6feet 8 inches high, center box is 4 feet wide and 3 feet tall

Weight

750 lbs

Draw Weight

more than 1500lbs

Materials

1 inch plywood laminated to 4 inches thick, 1/2 inch thick steel tensioning system, 600 feet of nylon rope, 12,000 pound test cargo strap, 3,200 pound winch

Record Launch

525ft with a pumpkin