Every fall I take the boys out to the local pumpkin patch where we pick out festive holiday gourds…to launch across the field! This year we’re saving some cash — and made our own backyard pumpkin chuckin’ catapult.
My hubs helped out with this project. He had some PVC pipe scraps left over from another project of his, so he just went to the hardware store to pick up some joints and a fresh can of PVC cement. He was able to build it about an hour.
This catapult design is based on the table top PVC Catapult over at Storm the Castle. Ours is scaled about twice the size– we used one inch wide PVC pipe and built a catapult that’s just about 3 feet long. It’s very light and can be tossed in the back of my SUV to take to the park or a friend’s house.
Is it Really Cheaper to Build your Own Catapult?
You might spend $20-$30 building this catapult if you have to buy ALL the supplies new–a fresh batch of PVC cement was ten bucks by itself! Plus, you’ll need another couple bucks worth of small pumpkins or a cheap bag of apples to throw.
I’ve been to pumpkin patches where they charge a dollar or more for each pumpkin you get to chuck. Since you now OWN a catapult, you can have many afternoons of fun–and hurl more than just pumpkins!
Launches Small Pumpkins over 40 feet
We used small decorative pumpkins in our catapult. And tennis balls. And apples.
Could this be a Trick or Treat Candy Launcher?
We filled the bucket with a handful of candy and made it rain chocolate! I’m not sure I want to use this on Halloween for trick or treaters — the candy kinda fell all over the place — but I think it would be great fun to take to a backyard Halloween party.
How to Build a PVC Catapult
If you don’t have a random pile of PVC pipe laying around your basement, you’ll need to make a hardware run.
An adult will need to assist with cutting the pipe down to size — my hub’s used his bandsaw, but a simple coping saw will do. He also used a drill to poke a hole in the pipe to add a launch basket.
Once the pieces are cut, your kid can put it together.
Our design takes about 14 feet of ONE inch PVC pipe, plus a 3 inch bolt, a nut, and a couple feet of bungee cord we scavenged from our supply of cargo ties. You could also use a heavy duty rubber band.
The draw strength of the catapult is determined by the thickness of your bungee/rubberband and how many times you wrap it around the catapult. This one is wrapped twice, and takes quite of bit of muscle to pull. But the distance! WOW!
Our basket is a small (15oz) butter tub. Feel free to use whatever is handy. If you don’t have a disposable tub, you can cut the bottom off a milk container and use that.
- One inch diameter PVC pipe (14 feet)
- Five 1 inch T's
- Seven 1 inch 90 degree elbows
- 3 inch screw
- small butter tub
- PVC glue
- bungee cord
- Cut the pipe down to the following sizes:
ONE 27 inch (throwing arm)
THREE 15 inch (front, back, top)
TWO 6.75 inch (center pivot)
TWO 12 inch (uprights)
Sides are made of three pieces, each side needs
two 15 inch, two 5 inch, two 10 inch pieces.
- Dry fit the pipes -- DO NOT GLUE YET
- Assemble the throwing arm. Put the T joint on the 27 inch pipe, with a 90 degree elbow on the other end. Attach the butter tub to the end of the 90 elbow with the screw. Slide two 6.75 inch pipes into both ends of the T.
- Put together the frame sides. Place a 90 elbow on one 15 inch pipe. Then add a T joint, a 5 inch piece, a T joint, a 10 inch piece, then another 90 elbow.
- Form a rectangle by adding two 15 inch pipes to the ends and the throwing arm to the middle.
- Place the two 12 inch uprights on the last T joint. Connect the top with the last 15 inch pipe.
- Cut the hooks off a bungee cord. Tie the cord to the horizontal upright and around the throwing arm.
- Now test! Once you're happy with the placement, glue the pipes together. DO NOT glue the pivot point of the throwing arm.