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Flying Dowels & Plastic, Dec 2012 - 2013, Year Of The BIG Kites
December 27, 2012

Fresh Kite-Making And Kite-Flying News


OK, so this newsletter is late - on purpose. As my wife pointed out, why send you an email on Boxing Day?!

Not many flights occurred this month, but there was certainly some variety! From the fresh-wind box kite soaring up in a large thermal, to the very small Tiny Tots Diamond floating around just above tree height on sewing thread. And most recently, the largest ever MBK Rokkaku had its first test flight as the sun went down. KAP (Kite Aerial Photography) here we come!

Now for a few thoughts and comments on the year just past and the year to come...


For the first time, Asian nations are becoming noticeably noticeable in the site's traffic stats! This month, around 1 visitor in 12 was from China. India has been in the top 10 countries too, according to monthly traffic figures. It's probably no coincidence that these 2 countries have very active kite cultures.

The local kite festival here in Adelaide was well attended this year, and Westerly winds let me get in close for all those videos from the jetty.

The first MBK e-course was published and has attracted a steady trickle of subscribers. More will come, but I'm unsure of the timing at this point. So many things to do.

An incredible amount of technical changes have happened behind the scenes. As an SBI webmaster, I have not been directly involved, and certainly won't bore you, the kite-flyer, with any of the details...

Except to say MBK is better positioned than ever to deliver great content to single-line kiting fans in particular. The overall look of the site is much more professional than it was a year ago. But still tasteful and uncomplicated I hope - like most of its visitors! There are more photos everywhere, many of which are of better quality and/or bigger in size on the page. This was partly to help out the fast-growing Pinterest crowd! If you are a Pinner, you know all about it.

On top of all this, Google has been shaking things up by penalizing poor quality sites and sites with bad linking practices. SBI people were alerted and we all had heaps of work to do as a result, whether affected or not. Insurance for the future you see, just in case! Consequently, a lot of my time went into the website instead of making and flying kites, unfortunately.

I think in 2012 the various levels of kite people crystallized in my mind, and it finally became clearer just who was enjoying the site and how. In response, I created or updated pages to suit, and here are some examples...

  1. Those who who want to spend 15 minutes making something for their small child to fly enjoy the Tiny Tots Diamond.
  2. Those who want a very simple but high-flying kite with absolute minimal time and effort are fans of the Simple Series kites.
  3. Those who are keen to try a variety of kite types and don't mind spending a few nights working through step-by-step instructions to make a high-performance kite from the Dowel or Skewer Series.
  4. Those who have made big kites before and only need the plans to get going on an MBK design they find interesting. They appreciate good info and don't mind paying for an e-book. These people will have more to choose from next year!
In 2012 much of the free kite-making info was significantly improved, and this process is on-going into next year. Bridle-making instructions and illustrations have singled out for extra effort, since this can be the difference between success and failure for many people making their first kite!


Now, I'd better not promise too much here, but it's going to be good!

In a nutshell, there should be a flurry of flight reports, photos and videos for 2.4m (8 feet) span kites. These will be 'bonus kites' for which detailed plans will be added to existing e-books. For example, the recent huge Rokkaku will end up in the Dowel Rokkaku e-book. Also, it will be added to the making Dowel Kites e-book and hence the Book Bundle too.

As 'plans-only' kites for especially keen builders, this frees me from the very time-consuming process of preparing step-by-step instructions. And because no new kite-making books are being created, that's a further time-saving. The existing books will gain more and more value.

Hosting video is very limited on the SBI platform which My Best Kite uses. Have you noticed how short most of the videos are? So, 2013 will be the year MBK gains a real YouTube presence. There's a channel up there already actually, but nothing much has been done with it - until next year. The main use will be video measured in minutes rather than seconds, and taken from the air rather than from the ground!

In the next few weeks, steps will be taken to start turning MBK into a hub for small kite-makers all around the world to promote themselves and create a presence on the My Best Kite site. This could flop or it could transform the site significantly over the next few years! We'll see.

Finally, don't be surpised to see me dabbling in KAP services and kite-making workshops through the year. This will only be of interest if you are here in South Australia. Or maybe just over the Eastern border...

Still with me? It was a rather long-winded editorial this time!

Best wishes for the coming New Year. And may most of your kite flights be long, high and sedately enjoyable!

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. KAP Corner
  5. MBK Books

Visitor Contribution Of The Month

This is a slow time of year for MBK as people get distracted from their kites by various things, not the least being Christmas...

But have a read of this short but excited post by a 10 year old kite flier. He managed to make a Simple Diamond kite from this site and keep it in the air for 3 hours! For him, it was an awesome kite flight!

Flight Report Of The Month

As existing subscribers may know, 'The Month' can refer to the time interval between this newsletter and the previous one. Hence, I'm deciding today to feature a flight that took place on the 28th of November :-)

This short-form report describes the Dowel Diamond doing what it does best - extreme light-wind flying!

Dowel Diamond Light-Air Antics

"With the power out for a few hours, it seemed a good idea to walk down to the local reserve with Aren. Not without a kite of course! There was just over an hour of sunlight left in the day and leaves were barely moving. But that's just how the Dowel Diamond kite likes it.

It turned out to be quite an interesting outing with the pale orange Eddy-inspired tail-less kite. A few tows were necessary to contact perhaps the 3kph necessary to stay up there. Very marginal indeed, with the kite sometimes losing height on its face or in the gentlest possible tail-slides, before edging upwards again. In point form, here's a few highlights...

  • Holding altitude at around 150 feet, but pulling so lightly that the 25cm (10 inch) wooden winder could just be left on the grass! Later, I put the kite bag on it, just in case. I could have used the 20 pound line, rather than the 50 pound it was on.
  • Flying face-down in the weakest of thermal air, holding height with the flying line draped almost vertically down to where several meters of it just lay in the grass!
  • Took my eyes off it for half a minute or so while winding it back in. At a very high line angle, it managed to get itself into a vertical dive before I noticed. The Diamond just curved round in a large languid loop before righting itself, well above the tree tops. Whew.
  • With the line length back to around 10 meters (30 feet), I had fun dancing the kite just out of reach of Aren. He tried pelting it with a bark chip, and eventually succeeded in getting the chip stuck in the bottom corner pocket of the sail. Not once, but twice.
  • Checked the wind meter after half an hour or so of flying. Peak gust strength of 4.1kph (batten down the hatches) and average wind speed of ... 0.0 no mistake, 0.0kph! Most of the time the cups weren't moving at all. This was near ground level of course, but I think that 0.0 reading is a first.
To see how to make one of these, just check out How To Make A Diamond kite."

MBK Kite-Making News

The Multi-Dowel Rokkaku

Continuing on from last month, the 2-Dowel Rokkaku was completed and flown. See over there on the right. However, in line with the new strategy for 2013, the e-book draft was abandoned. Instead, detailed plans plus hints and tips will be inserted into the existing 'Making The Dowel Rokkaku Kite' book.

For this kite, I tried using regular-grade drop-sheet plastic. For one thing, it was a similar light orange color to the garden bag plastic used for the Dowel Series kites. Also, I was encouraged by the printing on the packaging which claimed it to be 'tough and durable'. Well, never trust advertising is all I can say. Except the ads for MBK e-books, of course ;-)

So, for future kites I will stick with the pale blue heavier grade drop-sheet plastic that is also available around here. It certainly has worked well for the 2-Dowel Sled kite, which doesn't have any tears or cuts after several outings.

One point I will be making with these big kites is this... Although plastic is a great cheap way of testing the design, keen kiters can and should use better sail material to really make the most of their investment of time. Even dowel, plastic and tape kites take significant effort to build at this size! Plus the dowel actually costs a lot more for this size of kite than for the free designs on the MBK website.

This Rok has classic proportions rather than the square proportions of the Dowel Rokaku. With that huge amount of area, I need to try again with slightly thicker dowel, at least for the vertical spar. The current kite with 9.5mm dowel will require a stiffener down the center piece of the spar before it flies again in anything above 8kph of wind.

KAP Corner

In terms of concrete progress this month, there hasn't been anything extra actually written or constructed. The intention was to at least get in a bit of test flying with a 200g weight suspended from the flying line of the big new Rokkaku. With the big Rok needing a few mods before it flies again, I ran out of time. Not to mention waiting for light enough winds!

The weight tests will also test out the concept of a half-picavet suspension system. Very much simpler to construct, but will rely on good side-to-side stability of the lifting kite.

An intriguing new concept has popped into my head. If I ever get around to making this device, it will offer a cheap way of taking still photos at intervals from almost any cheap mass-produced camera. Perhaps smart phones too. Entirely mechanical, believe it or not, and extremely light-weight ;-) In some situations, lo-tech solutions can actually be the best.

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 e-books on all kinds of topics has exploded, thanks largely to the Amazon company and its increasingly popular Kindle e-reader. In fact, the term 'e-book' might soon be so well known that I can stop referring to mine as 'downloadable, printable books'!

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.

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 'e-books' 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.

Plenty of people are signing up for the MBK Beginner eCourse. Feel free to reply to this email if you have tried it and have a comment or 2. A more advanced course is in the pipeline.

Why not tell a friend about this kiting newsletter.

Issued on Thursday, December 27th 2012 Issue #0065
My Best Kite
12 Muscatel Cct, Old Reynella, S.A. 5161, Australia

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