DaVinci Catapult fun!

Leonardo Da Vinci was a man of many talents known for his painting, sculptures and various innovations over time. At some point in the 1480's, he designed the dual and single leaf spring catapult, that incorporated a drum axel that would rotate quickly to create the tension on the arm(s). If you look closely at the design, the tensioning arms works much like a bow in the way the energy is harnessed, accompanied by a locking mechanism to store the kinetic energy until ready to fire.

Interestingly enough, while Da Vinci solicited his design, there is no record or proof of the catapult being built and put into combat.

With this, we found a design on Thinginverse that would make a perfect project for you Hatter's to see these concepts come to life from over 500 years ago!

Special thanks and credit to Brian Brocken who recreated this design, bringing a piece of history to life!

You can download and print this model for yourself, or have it printed by Mad Hatter Labs!

Building Instructions


This small scale catapult can contain a considerable amount of stored kinetic energy. Please take caution, stay clear of projectiles and never point in harm's way.

Things needed:

  • String
  • Scissors
  • Cutters
  • Sand paper
  • Glue*

Step One

To get started, we will need to cut out the parts from the card. During this process, it is best to give your parts a light sanding.

Step Two

Once your parts are prepped, we can begin by taking the drum, throwing arm and ratchet gear together

Step Three

Next take your now and cross suppo and connect them inserting the pin to lock it in place 

Step Four

Connect your locking firing leaver to the bottom cross piece as seen below

Step Five

With your three lower cross members laid out, take your offer truss and secure it. 

Step Six

Clip your other truss side in and before securing fully add your previous drum, throwing arm and ratchet gear assebly as shown below.

Step Seven

Tieing your tensioning rope is a bit tricky at first. 

Making sure your throwing arm is all the way forward (bowl down) and looking at it from the left hand side ( as photo above) thread through the drum pulling extra slack while wrapping 2-3 times counterclockwise and tie to the right bow. Take the remaining and go counterclockwise around the drum tieing off on the left bow.

Make sure when you pull your throwing arm back that the tension is building between both bows.

How to use

To use your catapult, pull your throwing arm back until level with the ground, allowing you to place your desired projectile in the bowl. Once loaded scream "Victory amongst the horizon" and pull the leaver back, keeping clear of projectile and throwing arm.

Tip: While spitballs would be considerably gross, wet rolled up paper makes for great projectiles!

Additional Resources

DaVinci Catapult fun! DaVinci Catapult fun! Reviewed by jimdotdev on September 16, 2020 Rating: 5

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