Fresh Kite-Making And Kite-Flying News

Hello <>,

"A-Frames, Boxes And Sleds" could mean a number of things, but of course if you are reading this you probably recognize at least one of those as a type of kite. Last month and early this month I gave the 3-Skewer A-Frame kite some workouts in a variety of weather conditions. More on that in a short flight report, later in this newsletter.

Winter is here with a vengeance. Cool air, rain squalls and masses of cloud cover. No snow, this is Adelaide, SA! Still, the sun comes out enough to allow the occasional kite flight.

Perhaps you have noticed something new recently, on the website... An eCourse. If you happen to be something of a beginner in this hobby, or are just looking for a cheap and quick solution to a child wanting a kite, why not check out the MBK Beginner eCourse. Or perhaps you know someone who would like to try out this free resource for themselves. 5 installments, 3 days apart, leading the subscriber through materials, construction and flying of the Tiny Tots Diamond kite. My discerning wife gave it the nod of approval, so it can't be too bad :-)

Latest project has been a revamp of the 2-Skewer Sled kite. After some prototyping out on the field, a final version is about to be made. The existing web pages for this kite will be updated, not to mention the 'Making Skewer Kites' eBook. The next project is a 3-Skewer Allison Sled, which will become the second bonus design for the eBook (only). The 3rd bonus design is a secret for now, to be revealed in the fullness of time ;-)

Tim P.

"Every new kite is an adventure!"


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Table of Contents

  1. Visitor Contribution Of The Month
  2. Flight Report Of The Month
  3. MBK Kite Making News
  4. MBK Books

Visitor Contribution Of The Month

OK, 'the majority of the contributions this month were actually questions'. Let's get that out of the way first! However, a nice little anecdote about kites, 'messengers' and paper planes did surface this month...

I'll let Les share his experience with you via this newsletter, with his Glider Flight story. As an ex-sailplane pilot myself, the title sure captured my attention when the submission first came through!

Flight Report Of The Month

This one was actually the last report for the month of May. However, as such, it came well after the last newsletter which was published, so I feel justified in using it here. Besides, it's a more interesting yarn than anything that happened this month. Featured is the 3-Skewer A-Frame which is currently the only bonus design contained in the eBook 'Making Skewer Kites'. Here's the short-form report...

3-Skewer A-Frame Soars In The Sun

"A rare sunny day with moderate winds provided another opportunity to get out with the 3-Skewer A-Frame again. I was hoping for some fresher-strength breeze to really push the kite hard and give an opportunity to trim it properly.

Firstly, I let the kite out at about 30 degrees of line angle. Just for fun, I let the line out just fast enough to hold the kite at around 30 degrees all the way out to 60 meters (200 feet) of line. Then, I stopped and the A-Frame rose to around 45 degrees. The stronger gusts kept bending the kite and pushing it down to lower line angles, so I brought it back down by anchoring the line and walking out with the line slipping through one hand. The towing point was easily shifted forward by a centimeter or so (1/2") by sliding the Prusik knot and then locking it again in the new position.

This time, the kite was much more comfortable and rose right up to 60 or 70 degrees. Even after letting out another 60 meters of line! For 15 minutes or so I just enjoyed seeing the 3-Skewer A-Frame flying steadily at high altitude, the loop tail rippling just slightly in the breeze. Orange plastic brightly illuminated by the late afternoon sun from behind. No sign of leaning, strangely, despite the good moderate airflow at that height. Perhaps unwinding the tail to its original state had made quite a difference. Can't complain!

On the ground, the wind meter recorded an average strength of 5 kph and a maximum gust of 14 kph. Towards the end of the flight, the fresh gusts had died down quite a bit. As a result, the kite hung lower from time to time during lulls.

Full instructions for this kite have recently been added to the Making Skewer Kites downloadable book, as a bonus design."

MBK Kite-Making News

2-Skewer Sled Prototype

The New 2-Skewer Sled Prototype

Over on the right there is a photo of the decidedly rough-and-ready 2-Skewer Sled prototype. A bit of a Frankenstein don't you think? The fiddling about did pay off though. By the way, I used ordinary polyester sewing thread for the bridle. At #40 weight, it's so thin you can't really see it in the photo. And it didn't break throughout the test flights!

Subscribers to the website's RSS feed will have read my recent short-form flight report on this kite. For others, here's a quote of some relevant bits...

"Firstly, the side flaps were drastically down-sized to similar proportions to my other Sleds. I also tried slanting the spars so the leading edge was wider than the trailing edge. Finally, the leading edge cut-out was done with 4 straight lines rather than 2. Hence it was more like a curve than a shallow V. To compensate for the extra missing sail area, the towing points were shifted upwards a little.

This version launched OK, but was very prone to a leading-edge collapse. It never got above 20 degrees of line angle! Back to the drawing board. Actually, just back to the car seat where I slit the kite up its center line, and removed about 3cm (1 inch) of sail width. The narrower kite behaved better, but still had trouble when accelerating fast or when it reached high line angles.

Back home, I decided to add a little sail area back onto the leading edge. At the same time I simplified it back to the tried and true shallow V shape... The extra area would force the kite to fly at slightly greater angles of attack to the breeze most of the time. Back out at the flying field, the Sled immediately flew much better. Super stable and only suffering a leading-edge collapse in the strongest gusts, which might have been over 15 kph in strength."

Fresh Wind Dowel Box Kite Post-Mortem

After a little pondering on the fate of the Dowel Box kite for (not too) fresh winds, a couple of points emerged...

For one thing, a multi-point bridle can be a disadvantage right up near the top of a kite's wind range. It prevents the kite from flattening-out to a very low angle of attack when hit by a strong gust. Instead, drag forces cause the kite to sink down to lower line angles and therefore even greater angles of attack to the breeze. This puts enormous strain on the structure. Sometimes resulting in a shower of shattered dowels!

I will never forget one windy day when my wife was flying her Tiny Tots Diamond, with its 1-point bridle. The little kite was coping with ease with the rather fresh breeze, while my 'more sophisticated' larger dowel kite was struggling! 1-leg bridles are great for riding out excessive wind force, as long as the kite is otherwise well-stabilized. A nice long tail in the case of the small Diamond.

So, if you have a multi-point bridle, the shorter the better for windy weather. It's a matter of compromise though, since longer bridles do make for smoother flying characteristics! Less bobbing up and down in rough air, and so on. So, I chopped about 30cm (1 foot) out of the box kite's bridle, and re-adjusted the towing point back to the original position.

One other thing was amiss when the kite broke - I hadn't bothered to adjust the towing point well forward as I should have! This alone might just have saved the kite. Not to worry, new cross pieces have been made and this intrepid box kite is going to get another go in wild weather some day :-)

MBK Books

These are advertised in the right hand columns of the My Best Kite website, and occasionally referenced in the body text of some pages. I'm sure you have seen them.

In recent months, the number of people accessing eBooks has exploded, thanks largely to the Amazon company and its increasingly popular Kindle e-reader. In fact, the term 'eBook' might soon be so well known that I can stop referring to mine as 'downloadable, printable books'!

Of course, my books are of the PDF file variety, which you can view and / or print off from PCs, Macs and other computers. A bit 'old-school' now, but still pretty handy. There are even ways to access them on the Kindle. But the way of the future is with hand-held devices that are as easy to read as paper. Color graphics are also on the way. Good news for my series of The Dowel XXXX Kite ebooks ;-) You might find them one day on Amazon, instead of on the MBK website...

A little reminder...

An MBK book is a PDF file containing text and photos which can be downloaded to your computer's hard drive. These 'eBooks' are handy for either reading on-screen, or printing off to paper, which is preferable for some. With a PDF, it's very easy to just print out the pages you want. For example, a couple of Appendices plus the instructions for a single kite.

Almost the entire book-published content of this site is contained in the MBK Book Bundle. Of course, the cost is much less than buying all the books separately. Also, as time goes on, the value will increase as new products are added or existing ones extended. For example, the recently-added 3-Skewer A-Frame.

Why not tell a friend about this kiting newsletter.

Issued on Tuesday, June 26th 2012 Issue #0059
My Best Kite
12 Muscatel Cct, Old Reynella, S.A. 5161, Australia

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