The Algorithmic Beauty of the Trebuchet

On the physics and mechanics of a medieval trebuchet, a type of catapult, its design, working and optimization through improved simulation and mathematical analysis.
Trebuchet Mechanics. is a free manuscript that provides an extensive description of the mechanics of trebuchets. It starts with elementary black-box and "see-saw" models, and builds gradually to the full model that includes a sliding, constrained sling. Geometry, physics, detailed derivation of equations. Energetics; definition of efficiency; tips on design; analysis of the finger mechanism; a monte carlo design method. Plenty of material for the mathematically inclined, but also lots of insight for the guy that just wants tips on efficient designs and to explore how to make his design perform efficiently.

Download it for free here. An Adobe Acrobat (PDF) file; 1.3 MB.


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Onager Physics


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# "Onager Physics?" is another free manuscript that analyzes the physics of the Onager (Mangonel). It concentrates on the properties of the rope bundle, or skein, that generates the torque on the beam, but has some more general remarks on the scaling properties, efficiency and energetics as well. Download the file Onager Physics.

This site was created by Donald B. Siano

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