A Dowel-Delta-Kite Success Story!

by Craig E.
(Lebanon, OR, USA)

In flight at 100 feet

In flight at 100 feet

In flight at 100 feet
Needs some trimming to fly straight.
500 feet
gliding down to the grass

After several years of searching for a kite that is capable of flying on even the lightest of breezes, I have finally found it! The MBK Dowel Delta was soaring at nearly 500 feet in a very light breeze!

Once again, the build was a fairly easy 3 hour project. There was one occasion where I misread the plans while cutting the plastic sheet. This goof left me with a 33 1/2 inch sail from top to bottom. I think we all know the adage - "measure once, cut twice." Oops, I think it's actually "measure twice, cut once."

This time, I followed the plans when it came to spar thickness. However, I left out the doubler on the spreader. The flying weight was just 3.5 oz.

It is an outstanding kite for those of you who want to build on the tightest budget imaginable! I have a grand total of $2.07 worth of dowels! The rest was stuff I already had.

Today was the first flight of my MBK Dowel Delta kite! It flew very nicely up to about 470 feet AGL at a 70 degree angle! I don't think the FAA would've liked that, but I was keeping a sharp eye out for any air traffic that could be an issue.

I did find that it needed some extra drag to keep it from gliding into the wind. One tail on each wing tip helped quite a bit. Also, I can trim these tails to fix a droopy wing.

I was also pleasantly surprised by the light pull on my reel. Since most of my flying is at the beach, I spend a lot of effort making sure nobody can get hit by the wreckage when my kite breaks and falls to the ground. It was a nice change of pace being able to set the reel on the grass and play catch with my son.

Seeing as how nothing really bad happened other than having to bring the kite down and go home for dinner, I don't think there is much else to say about this kite.

Although I am VERY pleased with this light wind kite, I will bring a lawn chair next time so I don't get a stiff neck from staring straight up for most of the flight!

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Regarding material cost per kite
by: Craig

Yes, Tim the spars are very abundant in the Pacific North West. In fact, Oregon is the Nations largest supplier of Douglas Fir. Sitka Spruce is not far behind as well.

While these are very popular woods, I usually end up using Poplar. It's grown here in Oregon as well as China. Wal-Mart sells Chinese Poplar for 27 cents per three foot stick (1/4"). Poplar is used mostly in home construction because it grows very fast, I have even seen it used in homebuilt aircraft. I would never use poplar for that application, but that's just me. Either way, it's strong enough and very affordable.

So, while they are cheap, the spars are the biggest cost in my kites, followed by the sail plastic which is about 25 cents per kite. It may be even less if I cut my sails to get the maximum use of a 9' X 12' sheet.

I think the Dowel Delta cost just over $2.00 to build. If you think about the dollar-per-hour value of building and flying one of these designs, I can't think of anything at this moment that provides more FUN per dollar.

double dowel delta/PLT box kites
by: craig

Will the double dowel delta be available on your site as well? I am on a very tight budget and can't justify purchasing such a luxury. I do plan on a 200% scale delta in the future.

(T.P. - Over here, the e-book price would be way less than the cost of materials for this big kite! It would be the bonus design in the Dowel Delta book for $8.80US. But it seems you can get very cheap dowel over there...)

Right now I'm toying with the lure of a Peter Lynn Box Kite made with MBK supplies. I haven't decided on either 48" span, or 72" (two X36" spars with a splice joint) I can get spars in either size for a reasonable price.

My only concern is the attach points on the sails. I don't know if you are very familiar with these kites, but mine pulled waaay harder than I expected.

My P.L. Box is made from high quality fabric and it has never ripped in flight or while being "forcibly disassembled" during it's big crash while trying KAP on the Oregon Coast.
As far as my new design goes, I don't think plastic would hold up to the stresses it is subject to in flight.

Any input on plastic sails for this type of kite would be a big help.

(T.P. - Later this year I might be trying a cheap tarpaulin as a kite sail. I've seen one that appears to have cross-threads in a rip-stop construction. As such, it could be a perfect choice. Extra heavy duty kite sail material for a bargain price! Made in China of course. Let me know how it goes!)

Dowel Delta
by: Tim Parish

The Delta is one of my very favorite 'light wind and thermals' designs. Even the tiny 1-Skewer version does a reasonable job sometimes. In fact, on polyester sewing thread I wouldn't be surprised if the 1-Skewer Delta could make it all the way to 500 feet, in the right weather.

Going to the other extreme in size, sometime this year I'll be putting out an e-book on doing a Multi-Dowel Delta. At twice the wingspan of the Dowel Delta, it should be twice the fun!

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For the greatest chance of success, I make recommendations regarding the materials. For example, the type/weight of plastic, type/width of tape and line type/strength. Close enough should nearly always be good enough, since the design is well-tested and should be tolerant of small differences from my original.

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Wind Speeds

Light air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2    

Gentle breeze
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3    

Moderate breeze
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4    

Fresh breeze
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5    

Strong breeze
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

High Wind
50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7