Ah, yes. The famous DTADS, or Dog Treat Airborne Delivery System. Famous in my house, at least.
I chose to build the DTADS as my second catapult for a fairly simple reason: my dog wanted a snack. Of course, I could’ve just tossed the pooch a few treats. I didn’t need to build a miniature siege engine and launch the things at him from across the house. But doing so was approximately 49 times more fun than feeding him the regular way, and if that’s not a good enough reason to do something, then I’m not sure what is.
Like my first catapult, The Cotton Ball Blaster, the DTADS can be made using only a few, relatively easy-to-find materials. I made mine with just three things, all of which I happened to have lying around the house.
These thin strips of wood are called laths. They’re often used to make lattices, which are then placed along the bottoms of decks in order to keep out critters or set up in gardens in order to get plants to grow in the direction you want them to. I had a bunch of leftover laths from an old project, and as soon as I remembered they were down in the basement, busily collecting dust, I knew just how I could put them to use.
If you don’t have any laths, don’t worry. They can be purchased for cheap at a hardware store. And if you go to one of the really big hardware stores, you can even get them for free! How? Well, most of these stores either offer to cut your lumber for you or leave out the equipment you need to do so yourself. Around these areas, you’ll always find plastic bins, and unless someone has recently emptied them, these bins will be filled with the unwanted, cut-off ends of once much longer pieces of wood. Ask an employee if you can look through and take a few of these scraps off their hands, and unless they’re in a seriously grumpy mood, they should let you.
I knew the pieces of wood I had would be perfect for the two larger parts of my catapult – the base and the arm. The base is the part of the catapult that sits on the ground, anchoring it, and the arm is the part that gets bent back and released, launching whatever it’s got on it. But you can’t just lay the arm on top of the base. You need to separate one from the other using a fulcrum.
What’s a fulcrum?
In this situation, both of the definitions above apply. Because when it comes to the DTADS, the fulcrum is utterly essential. The fulcrum is the thing that turns a couple old pieces of wood into a machine capable of sending your dog’s treats soaring high up into the air, arcing across an entire room or hallway (that is, if it doesn’t slam into the ceiling before it gets there).
For my fulcrum, I decided to use this:
It’s a bouncy ball (a very bouncy one, in fact). But wait – there’s no need to tear apart your house looking for the bouncy ball you got at the dentist’s office that one time he told you, “You won’t feel a thing,” and then proceeded to drill actual holes into your teeth and yeah, maybe you didn’t actually feel all that much, but still it was uncomfortable and scary and I mean a bouncy ball, does that shiny-teethed lunatic really think a cheap little toy is going to erase the nightmarish experience he just put you through?!
Excuse me. Sorry.
What I’m trying to say is that you don’t need to use a bouncy ball for your fulcrum. You can use almost anything. A rock. A stack of quarters. A wad of duct tape. Some pieces of cardboard. A hunk of old, hard cheese. Some fulcrums will work better than others, but the only thing a DTADS fulcrum must do is lift the arm up off the base, and do so at an angle that allows it to be bent back and released.
Now that I had a base, an arm, and a fulcrum, I knew I needed only one more thing: something to attach these three parts together. Ideally, it’d be something strong, yet flexible – strong enough to hold everything together, yet flexible enough to allow the parts to move around a bit (like when the arm is bent back). Maybe you’ve already figured out what I came up with:
That’s right – a rubber band. A favorite material of the EngiNerds. You just never know when one of the things might come in handy.
And now all that’s left to do is assemble the DTADS, and that’s easy. You just have to place your fulcrum, and then bind everything together with your rubber band. But where, you might be asking, should the fulcrum go? The answer is anywhere. You’ll find, however, that certain positions allow for better launching. The ideal spot is somewhere between the middle and end of your base. You’ll have to do a little experimenting to find the perfect spot, as it’ll be different depending on the materials you use.
Et voila! As you know from the Cotton Ball Blaster post, that phrase is French for, “Now let’s go launch some stuff!” But did you know that in Hungarian it means, “Feeding your dog his own body weight in bacon-flavored treats may or may not lead to said dog vomiting on your nice white carpet?” Unfortunately, I didn’t either . . .
Now go do some launching!
I will be! (Once this carpet’s clean.)
. . .
And now for the rundown:
Name: The DTADS, or Dog Treat Airborne Delivery System
Difficulty: if you can operate a rubber band, you’ve got this
Cost: minimal – you can surely find that rubber band and something to use as a fulcrum, and if you don’t have anything to use for a base and an arm, you can get those materials cheap (or for free!) at your local hardware store
Uses: feeding your dog from afar; feeding your cat from afar; making your carpets “bacon-flavored”