Advantages of Box Kites


What are the advantages of a box kite?


A fairly short straightforward question on the face of it, but it got me thinking...

For a start, you might just have a traditional square box kite in mind. So, I'll stick to kites like that, or any others that are fairly similar. In other words, any 2-celled flat-panelled box designs, that fly 'on an edge'.

The first advantage which springs to mind is that a strong-wind kite is so easy to make. The structure is rigid and enables the panels to take a lot of air pressure. Relatively thin dowels still give you a kite that holds its shape well in fresh winds.

A simple box kite stays stable at very forward towing points. This lets the kite ride out strong breezes by reducing its 'angle of attack' in response to increases in wind speed. Less angle means less drag force and less stress on the structure. A simple box kite will fly with no bridle at all - just attach the line near the leading edge of the upper cell!

Another advantage of the box kite is that it is quite a versatile design. My moderate-wind Dowel Box is so lightly built that it has been known to go almost overhead on a 'light wind and thermals' day! By decreasing the size of the panels, and decreasing the length of the cross-pieces, but leaving the length of the kite the same, I created a new kite which could tolerate much stronger winds. The fresh wind Dowel Box. I also shortened the bridle and shifted the towing point forward, past the leading edge of the upper cell in fact. This kite recently flew in 40 kph+ winds.

To sum up that previous paragraph, you can have fun experimenting with endless variations on the basic traditional box design. Stability will vary. Wind range will vary, as will tolerance to very strong wind. But, they will all fly well in the right conditions, with the bridle adjusted somewhere forward of the trailing edge of the upper cell.

Even if you do accidently push a box kite too far (ahem, have you read all my flight reports?!) it's usually just a matter of fixing or re-making a cross-piece or 2. Everything else survives.

Simple home-made box kites are quite quick to rig and convenient to store. Not as quick as some, but it only takes a minute or 2 to locate all 8 cross pieces in the right spots, before lifting the kite up to launch. When de-rigged, even a large box kite doesn't take up much more space than a broom handle.

Box kites lend themselves to simple, bold graphic designs. Even a non-artist like me is capable of selecting 2 contrasting colors, and making the upper cell from one color and the lower cell from the other, for example. Or, you could alternate colors around the kite panel by panel, the same on both cells. In general, areas of color bounded by straight lines work well on a box kite! With just a little thought, almost anyone can make an eye-catching and colorful box kite.

What else... Well, if you are the attention-seeking type, a nice large box kite will certainly pull a few interested onlookers! These kites are a fairly rare sight in the 21st century. People are familiar with Diamonds, Deltas and even those little Pocket Sleds. But a Box will get a double-take or 2 in most countries.

Finally, a large well-made Box kite makes a good reliable, stable platform for all kinds of kite-related activities. Put a light camera in it, raise an arial, attach 'kite-laundry' to the line, send up a 'kite messenger' and so on. Box kites make good lifters.

Hang on, just one more. After whetting your appetite with a simple Box or 2, it's logical to start thinking about more advanced ideas. Like making a Hargrave or a Cody perhaps! Or at least, simple box kites with a bit of extra wing-span, which fly flat, on a 4-point bridle. Have you seen one of those?

Here's a disadvantage of box kites - you could get addicted!

Comments for Advantages of Box Kites

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Jul 06, 2012
Box Kites - Pros And Cons
by: Tony Sangster

Dear Tim,

1. I like the variations one can make with a box kite with more cells, or by adding delta wings.

2. There is nothing so fantastic as setting a box kite on end for a long line launch in a reasonably strong wind and releasing it and seeing it shoot up in an arc with a rapid roar of a sound.

(Hey - thanks for that! Must try it... T.P.)

3. Weight is often quoted as a disadvantage with box kites because of the need for so many spars and a strong construction. I like the idea of a pair of cross spars placed centrally in each cell protruding some centimeters beyond the longerons with either a cloth or string tensioner to each end of the longeron/cell to support the cell - as in Bobby Stanford's Stone Mountain Kite construction. That way the number of cross spars is reduced by half and the weight reduced.

(See my 1-Skewer Box design for how to halve the number of cross-pieces yet again - down to just 2! Might only be practical for bamboo and perhaps carbon fiber - T.P.)

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What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    Dowel Barn Door Rides Inland Gusts

    Sep 17, 14 06:33 AM

    Well, it was the same reserve and a similar time of day. A bit closer to sun-down perhaps. Only the kite was different - the Dowel Barn Door kite this time, chosen to suit the 'gentle' strength wind gusts of between 15 and 20 kph.

    The first flight went well, with the kite soaring straight up on around 45 meters (150 feet) of line. The late afternoon sun glinting off the panels as the kite moved about at steep line angles. In the gusts and lulls, the kite had a tendency to pull to the right at times.

    As I was taking the kite down to do a bridle adjustment, the main problem became apparent. The horizontal spar had pushed through the tip-tape on the right corner of the sail, drastically reducing the sail area to the right of center. It was actually surprising how well the kite was still flying, given the gross problem with the sail!

    On a second flight, with the tip repaired, there still appeared to be a slight pull to the right. So, after taking some video footage of the Barn Door's antics, it was brought down once again. This time the bridle knot was taken across by about a centimeter (1/2"). That was better! The 1.2 meter (4 feet) span pale orange kite shot right back up, showing much less tendency to pull across when under pressure.

    After some more video was taken, with the kite soaring around almost directly overhead at times, it seemed safe enough to let out more line. It was surprising to feel the flying line touching my jeans while it was anchored under-foot! How much rising air can there be at this time of day? At the time I was concentrating on keeping the wandering kite in-frame as I took video.

    Finally, after enjoying the kite doing its thing on over 60 meters (200 feet) of line, it came time to pull the Dowel Barn Door down. When within 30 feet or so of the ground it started to float and sink face-down. Then it was an easy matter to pull in the remaining few meters of line, keeping the kite flying until the bridle lines were in hand.

    Weather stations were reporting around 10kph average wind speeds with gusts almost to 20kph.

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