Daniel Von Fange

Life, Code, and Cool Stuff

The Little Trebuchet

I’ve always wanted to build a trebuchet. This spring, while playing with the kids, I cobbled one together out of plastic tube, metal chairs, bricks, and duct tape. It would throw a golf ball about ten feet high and two inches forwards.

Two weeks later, while in a hardware store for unrelated reasons, I decided to try again. I pulled out a pocket notebook, and started drawing dimensions and boards, based on the rules of thumb from The Algorithmic Beauty of the Trebuchet.

The kids and I bought the boards, and that night we had a trebuchet about three feet high standing in the living room.

I designed the trebuchet to fire golf balls, but I switched to a much less aerodynamic projectile, a partially filled water bottle, to avoid breaking neighbor’s windows. The real beauty, though, is in launching glowsticks up through the night sky.

The Atlas Tyrolensis, Old School Map Artistry

One of the greatest mapping achievements was the 1769 map of the Country of Tyrol.

The government of the Habsburg Empire ordered that a new map of the country be made, and that no data from old maps would be used. Now the Tyrol is in the Alps - it was country full of glaciers and mountains and thousands of villages tucked into hidden valleys. Distant villages inhabited by suspicious peasants who habitually attacked outsiders.

Given this extraordinary challenge, it is amazing that every single village and valley in the entire country was mapped by two men in only three years, using surveying tools they built themselves. Their finished work is beautiful in detail, and epic in scope. Thousands of villages, mountains, glaciers, castles, bridges, rivers, and farms were personally visited and plotted.

The shaded area is the size of the area shown in the previous map.

I’m in love.

You can download the whole map here: Atlas Tyrolensis (jpg, 53mb).

Now There Are Four

When I last posted on this blog, it was just my wife and I. Now we’ve got two kids and a third on the way. This is Lydia.

Not All Conform


A selection of belts at a thrift store in Rock Hill. I was photographing the store for a friend.

Sail Away

Destination: Bermuda






Hamilton, Burmuda





House decorated with Gatorade bottles, along our 50 minute bus ride into Hamilton.




Telephone company


We found a shop with many great notebooks. The small 3x5 notebook on the right was $153. It was made in Italy with leather and old paper wonderful to touch. I didn’t buy any of them. But I did admire much.