The Dowel Rokkaku Kite

Test Flight In A Light Gusty Breeze

For once, the day this new Dowel Rokkaku kite was finished, the weather outside was perfect for a test fly! This is the most impressive MBK kite so far, in terms of sheer size. To save some time, we just walked up to the nearby vacant block with the kite neatly rolled up like a Sled. The sun would be down within the hour.

First test flight for the Dowel Rokkaku kite.

A rather light breeze was coming through, gusting to a barely moderate strength from time to time.

The Rok went together quickly and easily, although I still have a bit of trouble with those tiny bow-line toggles. Bigger toggles would be easier to attach, but they would also add some extra weight. Tsk tsk tsk, can't have that on a light-wind kite!

A quick pull on the line as a puff of wind came through didn't do much for the kite.

The Rok just sat there at waist-height and strained. OK, shift the towing point forward a couple of centimeters and try again.

This time, the kite willingly sailed up, stable as a barge. However, the nose would pull to the left with every sudden increase in wind speed, so something was out of balance. You can see this happen in the video down at the bottom of this page, a couple of seconds in.

The problem was small, though, so I continued to fly for a while. With some tension on the line, it was easy to slowly let it out so the kite climbed away from me, maintaining a constant angle in the line. Since the vacant lot was small, there was no point in letting out more than about 30 meters or so. There were people's back-yards on one side and power lines on the other, so it paid to be safe!

The big Dowel Rokkaku Kite was an absolute pleasure to fly in the smooth light winds above. It seemed to be very efficient on its 50 pound line, maintaining between 50 and 70 degree line angles. At those high line angles, the moderate gusts that affected the kite caused quite big changes in the tension on the line.

The left-leaning tendency was slightly annoying, but then I noticed that both bridle knots on the bridle loops were a little to the left of center.

Aha! Easily fixed, that's exactly why the knots are shiftable!

Because the conditions were so ideal, it was possible to give my 3 year old son a brief fly too. I wouldn't normally recommend letting a 3 year-old fly a 1.2 meter kite though! The tension can come on very suddenly.

Soon after this we brought the kite down, so I could adjust those bridle knots.

A brief flight up to 5 meters or so confirmed that the left-leaning problem was fixed. A firm pull on the line just accelerated the kite straight up! Beautiful.

It might be a while before the weather is suitable again, but it should be a blast letting the Dowel Rokkaku kite right up to 400 feet, in very light to light conditions! I think this Rok will handle moderate winds OK, but basically, the lighter the better for flying pleasure.

The story above was an actual flying experience with the described kite. My write-ups are definitely warts-and-all since things don't always go totally as planned. However, half the fun of kiting is anticipating the perfect flight. When it happens, it's magic!

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  1. Flight Report:
    Carbon Diamond High Wind Experiment

    Sep 23, 14 01:22 AM

    This day's flying had been anticipated for at least a couple of weeks. A 'drag bucket' added to the tail end of the 2m (7ft) span Carbon and Tyvek Diamond was an attempt to raise the upper limit on the flyable wind speed for the kite. From earlier experiences it seems the unmodified Diamond becomes unstable at around 30 kph.

    The first flight was done with the drag bucket adjusted for fairly minimal effect. As half expected, the kite soon started to fly way over to the left and right. So, the wind speed up there must be at least 30kph! This was down at Brighton Beach, but all thoughts of doing KAP soon evaporated, due to the high wind speed. Not to mention the turbulence coming from some high buildings directly upwind.

    For a second attempt, the Velcro fastener was re-adjusted to considerably open up the intake of the bucket. The bucket being two Tyvek flaps which come together over the tail-most region of the sail. This had an immediate effect. More stability! Unfortunately, the extra drag also helped keep the kite at a lowish line angle in some of the fiercer gusts. Lots of line tension ensued, with a huge amount of distortion apparent in the sail.

    At this rate, something was going to break pretty soon, so I struggled to get the kite down to the sand. After shifting the towing point forward by about 3cm (1") the kite seemed a little more comfortable. When the sail of a Diamond distorts badly, it reduces the amount of effective area below the towing point. This is like shifting the towing point back - adding to the problems of too much wind!

    And then the inevitable happened. The already broken-and-repaired horizontal ferrule gave way and the kite promptly folded up and sank to the sand. But not before I had carefully observed every second of the kite's struggles, trying to learn more about Diamond kite behavior in high winds.

    Just an hour after arriving home, the weather station at the nearby airport was reporting gusts to 50kph! It was less further down the coast, but I suspect the Carbon Diamond felt the brunt of around 40kph for at least a few seconds at a time.

    "Simplest Dowel Kites": A free but very useful kite-making e-book. Make a super-simple Sled, Diamond and Delta - step-by-step with photos. Sign up for the e-book and get an emailed series of messages called "MBK Tips'n'Ideas". If you don't need the e-book, consider signing up anyway... You won't believe the value on offer in that message series!

    Read More

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