What I did notice, however, was that the ball had way too much power directed in the wrong direction - so I do believe that with correct geometry, a backward launcher could also be done with just 1 piston like John's. I know it's not clear what I mean by having a forward launcher geometry flinging backwards instead, but it's late, so I'll let Aaron or Ruiqi explain for me if anybody has questions.
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Kids can put on their engineering hats and build the Vex Robotics Catapult, which launches plastic balls up to 10 feet. It comes with more than 100 easy-connect snap pieces and two balls. Once the catapult is assembled, turn the knob to bring the bucket of the catapult however far back you want. Use the launching lever to lock the bucket into place once the bucket has reached your desired angle. You can also change the angle at which the ball will fly by adjusting the T-shaped piece in the middle. Once set up, load a ball into the catapult and press down on the lever to launch. You can also drive the catapult around on its real-rolling wheels.
Three teams in my club (mine included) are currently working to perfect our forward intake catapults which we've dubbed our rampapults. So far, none have had much success. The two teams that started working on them a few weeks ago have struggled a bit but I hear they've had some success in making them work over the break. I just got my pneumatics in the mail today so my team hasn't built ours yet but we have it designed and ready to build, so we'll see how it all goes once it's built and running.
My 8 year old built it in less than 20 min without my help. I didn’t even know he opened it. I was doing laundry and next thing I knew we had a catapult at the kitchen table. Didn’t ask for help or anything, no extra pieces. Too simple but worth the price I guess. It was one of the cheapest options I could find. With our local team going to worlds competition again he wanted to see what VEX was all about. 

For our catapult design, we actually took inspiration from Aaron and 7090 in order to create the same degree of rotation as the forward catapults, but backwards. It was also designed to only catapult large balls, as many times it was more useful to keep the buckyball and only fling the large ball. Our season has ended until March, but we ended up not having enough space to have the actual deflection we wanted (60 degrees), and went with something more like 80 degrees, which was not optimal. To add to that, the trajectory was not tuned, so the ball would go much, much higher than we intended. As a result, we just decided to throw pistons at the problem (we had 5 single action pistons, equivalent to 4 double actions), to solve it quickly before our last competition. It worked well, but obviously not as well as we wanted it to. 

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Hexbug is a brand name of toy automations that have been developed by Innovation First. Hexbug was initially inspired by BEAM robotic, which is why you find lots of components of it in the toys. They were originally released in the United States through RadioShack, but today, you can find that it is sold in the majority of significant retailers. The original was based upon 6-legged arthropods, but now, today, you will find them being offered in many varieties. The name “Hexbug,” nevertheless, isn’t truly used to explain the variety of legs the toy has– the name has more to do with the shape of the product packaging.
HEXBUG® believes in using the fun of robotic toys to teach kids important STEM principles through hands on learning.The VEX® Robotics Catapult™ feature two alternate builds for more robotic fun! All Catapult's™ construction pieces are compatible with educational VEX® IQ pieces to create your own custom VEX® robot and explore unlimited possibilities.
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