In honor of both DIY Movie Making Month and our ongoing love affair with simple machines that hurl stuff, Jeff DelPapa, founder of NERDS (The New England Rubbish Deconstruction Society), sent us a link to this time-lapse video of a group of teens building a trebuchet. Jeff describes the video as “stone-simple…120x real-time, using a webcam, 8 hours in 4 minutes.” He’s planning on doing another trebuchet build with teams of adults, in late April, early May, as a fundraiser for the Charles River Museum of Industry.

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Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn is a freelancer writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor for Boing Boing and WINK Books. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

  • rjnerd

    I used an ordinary webcam (rigged for tripod mount) and a windows PC. Microsoft provided the shutter finger, with one of their powertoys called Timershot. supplied (freeware) jpgvideo which took the thousands of individual jpg’s, and stitched them into a video file.

    This set of tools could also be used to do traditional animation (using an actual finger for the shutter button), and I assume that an equivalent set of tools exists for mac and linux.

    Note: when using a webcam outdoors, you may well need color correction filters, they tend to overdo the blue end when used in sunlight.

    The NERDS was the first team to appear on the TV competition Junkyard Wars/Scrapheap Challenge. You can read about what it takes to do “reality” TV at

  • rjnerd

    Well this blog page has resulted in me getting a bunch of questions, so I will proactively answer them.

    No, I won’t supply plans. There is enough info in the “credits” for you to design your own version. Don Siano wrote Treb Star (available for both PC and Mac) to help you optimize your design. (I will be happy to run a treb building competition for your company or non-profit organization)

    You can check out to see a wider variety of mechanical flinging machines.

    Ron Toms at sells kits.