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Testing Day

Testing day for Team Urban Siege is in the books. It took until early afternoon before the Safety Committee started inspecting machines, but we got off 3 solid shots before deciding we were ready. Medieval Postal Service is firing great just as it was the last time it fired, at last year's chunk. We reverted to the pre-chunk tuning from last year which was firing at roughly 25 mph faster than we got at during competition last year, and the distances looked great. The pumpkins were falling beyond a drainage area well down field, but we are not sure exactly how far out that is this year, it was around 1200 feet last year though.

Punkin Chunkin Time Has Come Again!

Quick update for everyone wondering if we are still alive. Yes we are. We traveled down to Delaware yesterday (Monday) and set up Medieval Postal Service today for the 25th Annual World Championship of Punkin Chunkin, which is this weekend. As in previous years, we will try to post daily updates about how the day went, where teams stand, etc. Tomorrow (Wednesday) is our testing day since we have not fired the machine since last year's chunk. Stay tuned for more!

Imagine RIT a Huge Success

Imagine RIT was a giant success for Team Urban Siege! We brought both the Melon Felon and Janus to demonstrate to the thousands of people coming to this event to see what students are up to at RIT. In fact, the official total was 32,000 people for this one-day event, and we saw many hundreds, probably well over a thousand, at our location alone, which was well away from the other exhibits (for reasons that should be obvious). All three members of Team Urban Siege are attending RIT currently, and while in past years we discussed doing it without really pursuing it, this year we went for it, especially since two of us graduate in two weeks.

Janus Fires, Outshoots 850-Foot Range

It's a week old now, but here's what has happened recently. Last Saturday (3-27) we took Janus out to a new field. Since analysis with Working Model and our videos from the previous week, we knew that using only 50 pounds of counterweight was a recipe for disaster with a 20-pound arm, the arm is just way too heavy and will over swing and hit the hanger at anything less than 100 pounds. So we upped to 100 pounds. We also made a pair of 1 pound projectiles, they were tennis balls slit open some with a few small (3/8 ounce) chunks of lead and lots of steel BB's thrown in. With the outside wrapped up with a few layers of duct tape, they weighed in at 1 pound, 3/8 ounce each, and were full (no room for more BB's!).

Janus Fires for the First Time!

So Janus has been completed. Well, mostly, the details of triggering the FAKA mode have yet to be fully ironed out, but the FEW mode is ready to go. In fact, Chris and Matt went to our old launch field on Saturday (3-20-10) to test the new machine. The purpose wasn't so much to launch great distances, but to verify that our winching and triggering systems would work. We had to reconfigure the winching system, and there are still some bugs to work out there, but after a quick reconfiguration of the triggering system, we were able to attempt 2 shots. On a side note, the complete set-up only took just over 1 hour, as was planned for when we have the full 3-person team present! This is good news.

Medieval Postal Service Joins the 1000 Foot Club

Sunday is traditionally break it Sunday at the World Championships of Punkin Chunkin. Everyone adds more counterweight, torques up their ropes more, etc. And today did not dissapoint. After the 2000 foot shot on Saturday, Yankee Siege shot a high 1800's shot, 1870 or so. We will post final distances later. Pumpkin Hammer, still stuck as a HCW this year, did not improve their distance. Hokie Hurler added even more weight to their machine, causing it to lean noticably, but they did not get any more distance. The machine did survive the shot, however.

Yankee Siege Breaks 2000 Feet on Way to New World Record

That's right folks, you heard it here first! Yankee Siege shook off their troubles from yesterday, whatever they were and FINALLY broke 2000 feet with a 2034 foot shot! Needless to say, they are in first place after two days with that shot. More interesting is where the rest of the field placed. Pumpkin Hammer shot a shorter distance than yesterday, but Hokie Hurler broke 1300 feet! Congratulations to them. Great Gourd Experiment looked to improve their distance, but we did not get the actual number. First in Fright finally got off a decent trajectory shot and broke 1100 feet!

Merlin in First, Medieval Postal Service Breaks 900 Feet

Day 1 is in the books with some very interesting results. First Yankee Siege only shot around 1295 feet after some very impressive-looking test shots yesterday. Pupmkin Hammer fired as a standard HCW as expected and went 1100 feet or so. Hokie Hurler followed up with an OUTSTANDING 1187 feet! Great Gourd Experiment bombed one out around 600 feet or so, and First in Fright had a massive pop up that netted them 350 feet roughly. Then Medieval Postal Service shot one out there to 916.04 feet, but it was a very flat trajectory and our sling may have rotated in midflight causing the pumpkin to come out slightly sideways, likely robbing us of some distance. Unfortunately it is not clear in the video if this happened for sure or not. What is known is that our trajectory was fairly flat, though not terribly so. We can only try again, we know we have much more distance. Morganna shot a decent shot, but only 500 feet or so probably and Fred the Treb was in roughly the same range, maybe a bit shorter even.

Medieval Postal Service Set up and Ready to Roll

Well we finished setting up Medieval Postal Service today with fairly little incident. Really the only issue was that it took a while for us to get inspected, as the inspector likely forgot our request with all the other stuff he was undoubtably having to deal with. No big deal, we got inspected and got our first shot off around 4:15 PM (though we were ready to start firing ops around 2:30). A decent shot, but the one 25 minutes after it was even better, certainly a 1000+ foot shot. We are expecting stiff competition this year, as several teams from last year have made massive improvements to their machines, First in Fright and Hokie Hurler being among them. Shenanigans II should also be right in the mix, assuming they can get off reliable shots. They are there and set up, but we have yet to see John or Tom. Pumpkin Hammer is on site, unfortunately firing as a standard HCW this year due to some major problems that cropped up during their testing this fall. Yankee Siege looks pretty strong, and Merlin showed up late in the afternoon. This year Chris Gerow also brought the 3-time World Champion (albeit a few years removed) King Arthur, which historically shot right around the distances we are probably looking at. Like I said, it should be and interesting competition.

Medieval Postal Service is Ready for the Chunk!

Well, Medieval Postal Service is done with testing for 2009. We had a fairly successful testing period, despite the constant rain which washed out several days that could have been used to test even further. Nevertheless, the machine is firing at full capacity, and so far is not trying to destroy itself on each shot like last year. This in itself is good news. This weekend we will be packing up the machine for transportation to Delaware. The plan is to leave early Wednesday morning so that we get down to the field around 3 or 4 PM, and get our pit assignment and a few other little details sorted out before we begin to set up on Thursday. This year we ought to be able to shoot some test shots on Thursday, which will be good since we will be able to make sure we are in shape to compete starting Friday.

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Use "common sense" when operating trebuchets and catapults. Even little ones can be dangerous. Do not place anything you are not willing to lose in the plane of the arm rotation (this includes yourself, body parts, car windshields, cameras, etc). These catapults and trebuchets are capable of throwing just as far backwards as forwards, and the use of a backstop of some sort is recommended, though the use of one does not make the region behind it safe.

Also, just because the throw got away safely downrange does not mean the end of the danger. The arm is likely still swinging wildly along with the counterweight, and there is a sling whipping around. One thing many people fail to take into account is this sling; some people put a metal ring on the slip end of the sling and this ring can HURT when whipping around!

Have fun hurling, but please KEEP IT SAFE!!!