There are few things better than a good, hearty soup. Although you might have a winning argument if you said, “A good, hearty soup served from the BUCKET OF A CATAPULT is way better.” Oh, you meant launched from the catapult. Well, of course, that’s better. And whether it’s soup launching, cow launching, or sending wads of wet paper over your cubicle wall, a catapult is the obvious weapon of choice.

We’ll scale it down today and look at a catapult that can launch at least one of those items. Oliver Chatwin has taken his inspiration from Leonardo’ Da Vinci’s catapult design, and while Da Vinci’s is nothing short of ingenious (using a pawl and ratchet mechanism to incrementally tighten the firing system), Ollie’s version has some fun improvements and mods.

As Ollie explains, the catapult is, “more powerful than a simple desk toy,” and even better, it’s “Easily printed within 24 hours”. He released the build as a prototype for a universal project and as a challenge for all:

“Design a catapult that can fire a certain distance. The catapult has to be adjustable and fire from 1 meter up to 5 meters. Most accurate design wins.”

He first published the design in February and since then has put out seven updates, including some interesting add-ons, with the latest update adding a new version that lightens some parts and reduces the hardware needed. Add-ons introduced with the 5th update include aiming sights, a triple-shot bucket, and a quintuple shot bucket – imagine the soup. Mmmm.

Ollie used Fusion 360 to model the catapult and a Creality Ender 3 3D Printer for the print. There are nine parts for the MK1 and six parts for the MK2 along with the bucket and four additional add-on parts.

How did Leonardo’s catapult design work?
Well, as the system was tightened, the energy added to the catapult by a soldier is transferred to both the ropes and tension arms of the catapult. When the firing pin (the pawl) is released, that stored energy is instantly transferred from the ropes and tensioning arms to the swing arm which held the lead ball or cannonball.

This project requires some extra hardware you’ll have to pick up along with some elastic bands to fine-tune your launch distance. You can download the files from Thingiverse. (Bonus! See Jörn Kessler’s remix of Leonardo’s Catapult with some nice improvements here!)

Have a model you think everyone needs? Share the link and details with us here!

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Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.