This set of instructions on how to build a Roller kite assumes you know absolutely nothing about kite making. You might already have some
of the simple tools and materials required.
Anything you don't have is easily bought. If not exactly what I used, then at least something pretty similar!
The MBK 2-Skewer Roller Kite is a medium-sized Roller 58cm (23")
across and 58 cm tall. That makes it somewhat smaller than the the original design that was flown in Europe many decades ago.
Some 'dihedral' on the upper spar gives extra stability. Somewhat more dihedral on the lower spar plus a rear keel enable the Roller to fly without a tail.
This 2-Skewer Roller is a reliable light wind flier.
Take it out when it's not very windy, and you won't be disappointed.
Thinking of something a little bigger? Try a similar kite in wooden dowel and plastic. See the e-book up there on the right, which is handy for nicely-formatted printouts. You don't need an Internet connection either, when working from an e-book on your lap-top or other device.
Have you read the page on kite materials? If you haven't already, do it now to see what's needed for building a Roller kite.
For this Roller, you need to glue skewers together to form the 3 spars. Since this kite has plenty of sail area for its width, there is no need to worry about selecting the lightest skewers! In fact, stiffer and heavier skewers would be good for the vertical spar. As for any kite, it's best to try and match the left and right horizontal spars as well. Having said all that, just using any old skewers at random should not present any real problems. The wind range of the kite might not be as good as it could be, that's all.
The template shown above represents one side of the kite sail. You will now transfer these measurements to the sail plastic as follows...
Note: Arranging the spars on the plastic by eye is quite accurate enough, as long as you take some care. Since both sides of the sail will be identical, any small error in judging the 90 degree angle has almost no effect. I have made the dots big just so they show up easily in the photo.
Note 1: I pull off the length of tape required, plus a bit extra on each end, then lay it down in one motion, pressing to the plastic at both ends at once - then I smooth along the tape with a finger, making sure it is stuck down firmly along its entire length.
Note 2: Don't worry about overlapping lengths of tape at the corners, it will all look tidier after the cutting is done.
In this photo, pieces of clear sticky tape are indicated by yellow rectangles.
At this point you need to make sure the glue is dry on the frame. If it is...
During test flying, it might be necessary to slacken off one of these lines to get the kite to fly straight. Once you are happy with the trim, you should add more tape to make sure the line never slips during flight. It should still be possible to pull a little line through by hand though.
Firstly, attach the keel...
These knots must never come loose, so use tiny drops of glue to keep them secure.
Next, attach the bridle...
At this point, you've pretty much finished making the 2-Skewer Roller!
As a final check, lift the kite by the knot on the end of the bridle line. Shift the Prusik knot along the bridle line until the kite hangs at about a 30 degree angle from the horizontal.
Also lift the kite with a finger under the nose and a finger under the tail, balancing it on the vertical spar. Try this a few times, and if it's clear that one side of the kite is heavier, add small bits of electrical tape to the spar caps on the lighter side, to balance it up.
Assuming there is some breeze outside, just dangle the kite at arm's length until the wind catches it. As long as you feel the kite pulling, let out line slowly by letting it slip through your fingers. If it refuses to climb despite pulling on your hand, shift the Prusik knot towards the nose a bit, and try again. Keep going until the kite behaves itself!
Another approach is to get a helper to hold the kite up and let it go, with maybe 10 or 20 meters of line let out. This way, the kite soon gets high enough to make it easy to let more line out.
Finally, if the kite doesn't seem stable enough, looping around in both directions even in light wind, just add a simple short tail and try again. However, if you have put the correct dihedral in both spars, this should not be necessary!
If the kite flies ok, but tends to hang to the left or right, try pulling some tether line through, on the opposite side of the main sail. For example, if the kite always seems to want to loop to the left when gusts hit it, pull some line through on the right side, as viewed from the flier. Make very small adjustments until the kite flies noticeably better.
Here's a picture of the MBK 2-Skewer Roller Kite being launched, down at a local flying field.The vertical spar had a slight bend in it, can you tell? It was fixed later, and the kite flew much better.
Have fun flying, and I hope you've enjoyed learning how to build a Roller kite!
The "Making Skewer Kites" e-book
has this design and many others in bamboo skewers and plastic. A handy approach is to just print out the pages for the kite you want to make next. The e-book is also handy for working off-line on a laptop or other device.
That's great value already, but "The Big MBK Book Bundle" is even better! This includes the "Making Dowel Kites" compilation e-book, plus several other handy kiting e-books.
Now, just in case you have actually made and flown this kite at least once already...
You've probably read a kite-flying story or 2 of mine, after they appear under the "what's new?" link on this site. I sometimes wonder if anyone else has made and flown this particular design...
If you feel your efforts really paid off when the the kite finally got airborne - please type a few paragraphs in here telling us all about it!
P.S. I can only accept stories of at least 300 words. Just mention a few details like the weather, onlookers, the kite's behavior and so on - 300 words is easy!
Click below to read about various kite-flying adventures, contributed by other visitors to this page...
Never made a kite?
Child wants one?
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MBK Beginner E-course
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A closer view
Make all the Dowel kites, including the one above...
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Are the e-books good?
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'Simplest Dowel Kites'
(wait for cover page to appear)