Fresh Kite-Making And Kite-Flying News
Finally, after a long string of windy days, the weather settled down enough to allow me out with the new 2-Skewer Diamond. The online instructions for this design are ready right now, but the eBook might have to be updated tomorrow. By the way, those windy days were a good excuse to get out with the Fresh Wind Dowel Box kite a few times. Had some great flying with it!
You might remember a couple of issues ago, I hinted at some 'look and feel' changes to the website. This has started already, with the book covers for the individual Dowel kites getting a professional make-over. Had you noticed the sharp-looking covers down the right column of the kite-making pages yet? The artist did a really nice job. Next in line for this treatment will be the 2 main books, 'Making Dowel Kites' and 'Making Skewer Kites'.
Also, next week the website will be taking advantage of some major new improvements to the software tools which are used to create and publish the pages. I have nothing to do with this technical side of it - although I did work as a software developer in earlier years. This coming week, a lot of website owners on the SBI platform will be converting their sites over and gleefully taking advantage of the new features!
Don't expect a total site re-design but the left hand nav column will soon look a lot better, and a few of the links will be moved to a small horizontal nav bar at the top. A few other things will be shifted around to give a cleaner look to the site 'above the fold' as well.
Oh ... sorry - getting technical again ;-) Hey, wake up!
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Table of Contents
- Visitor Contribution Of The Month
- Flight Report Of The Month
- MBK Kite Making News
Visitor Contribution Of The Month
Most of the contributions this month were actually questions, via the 'ask Tim' link on the site. However, yesterday saw a great piece come in from Gary C., who has contributed many good articles in the past.
Gary has long and wide experience in flying single and multi-line kites in a wide variety of sizes. Read his great discussion of Kite Symmetrics and never put up with a wonky single-liner ever again! Truly useful stuff.
Flight Report Of The Month
Although 'my best kite' is always the one most recently built, I still think an outing with the Fresh Wind Box kite earlier this month is the thing to feature here.
The weather conditions gave the box kite a really good workout, although it was never close to its maximum wind speed limit. To tell the truth, I'm not sure what that is, exactly, for the Fresh Wind Box! One day I'll head out in a freakish wind storm, destroy the kite, and dutifully report the wind meter readings back to you...
Here's the short-form Flight Report for this outing in very gusty weather. It also features my favorite soaring object - the pelican...
Fresh Wind Box Kite In Wild Air
"It has been quite windy here for days on end, with plenty of sun and a little rain. I prefer light wind flying, but the month is half gone and not much flying reported, so...
The Dowel Sode, Dowel Box (moderate winds) and Dowel Box (fresh winds) were put in the car. Down at the reserve the wind fanning my face suggested it might be prudent to go with the fresh wind box for a start.
Here's what happened, in list form...
While bringing the kite down, and walking downwind, the Dowel Box still managed to climb in the gusts from time to time. An interesting flight today, although I had been hoping to put the Moderate Wind Box up instead. Good thing it didn't fly!
- The sun occupied a similar position in the sky to the kite. Hence the kite's shadow on the grass continually shifted around close to the anchor point. Occasionally halting for a second or 2, before moving off in a random direction.
- The kite's light blue plastic often lit up like a neon sign as it passed close to or directly across the sun's disc.
- The wings of numerous flying insects also lit up like fuzzy white specks, as they flew around the flying line.
- The air was wild. Super gusty in strength and vertical movements shoved the kite right down to 20 degree line angles, and then back up to 60 or 70! Enough to destroy a light wind kite.
- Until today, I don't think I have ever seen a box kite lose air pressure so suddenly that it dipped its nose below horizontal and then went into free-fall for a few meters!
- Big variations in line tension of course, and couldn't help wondering how much a couple of frays were weakening the line...
- While observing the kite holding a high line angle I was amazed to spot 4 pelicans riding a thermal at well over 5000 feet, I'm sure. They were so high that their bodies and wings became tiny pale gray silhouettes, barely visible against the pale blue of the sky.
The ground-level wind readings were 3 kph average and a maximum gust of 7.5 kph. Which, as usual, were not much of an indication of the mayhem happening higher up."
MBK Kite-Making News
The recently constructed 2-Skewer Diamond (MkII) should provide plenty of discussion for this section...
I had been a little careless in selecting the skewers for the horizontal spar, and the kite's first flights suggested one skewer might be quite a bit stiffer than the other. So, right there on the field, a filed the stiffer skewer down a bit to make it bend more when under wind pressure. However, this fix did not appear to solve the problem.
Although the skewers were probably flexing a little during the strongest gusts, it wasn't enough for my stiffness-altering efforts to have much effect. Perhaps it would in even more wind strength. Instead, an aerodynamic solution was needed, which would take effect at all wind speeds.
The usual fix here is to to add a little drag force to one side of the kite. Veteran readers of this newsletter will be familiar with my short tail-lets on Delta kite wing-tips, for example. However, I had an idea...
Cut a hole in the sail. Yep, in the brand new plastic sail. I reasoned that it would be much neater to look at than a tail-let. If the hole was too effective, it would be easily patched with sticky tape and some of the original sail plastic. If not effective enough, the hole could be extended with a few snips of the scissors.
The day following the initial test flights, winds had moderated a little, but even so it seemed that the hole was doing a good job. Not only was it creating extra drag by letting air rush through a small square, it was also acting as a spoiler. Spoiling the lift on that side of the kite by bleeding air from a high-pressure region below the plastic into the low-pressure one above the plastic.
After coming home, I cut the hole a little wider since the kite was still heading right more often than heading left. But at least the 2-Skewer Diamond was much keener to climb rather than loll about on its side, low down, when the wind strength crept up a bit!
So, consider this approach if all else fails, when trimming your own home-made kites.
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Issued on Tuesday, Mar 27th 2012 Issue #0056
My Best Kite
12 Muscatel Cct, Old Reynella, S.A. 5161, Australia
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