How To Build A Sode Kite

Step-by-Step - The MBK 2-Skewer Sode

This set of instructions on how to build a Sode kite assumes you know absolutely nothing about kite making. You might already have some of the simple tools and materials required.

Learn how to build a Rokkaku kite like this one.

Anything you don't have is easily bought. If not exactly what I used, then at least something pretty similar!

The MBK 2-Skewer Sode Kite is a medium-sized Sode 58cm (23") across and a little more than that in height.

The 'dihedral' on both the horizontal spars provides some stability. However, this design also requires a short looped tail. Two slightly longer separate tails would also work nicely.

The three-leg bridle allows the lower horizontal spar to bend a little more when the wind picks up, giving a bit more stability when needed. The kite straightens out and stops bobbing from side to side.

This 2-Skewer Sode does well in quite light winds, and is not bothered by a bit of rough air.

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 tablet.




How To Build A Sode Kite
Sail

Now's the time to read up on the 'tools' and materials required for making a Skewer kite, if you haven't already.

Sail template for the MBK 2-Skewer Rokkaku kite.

The template shown above represents one side of the kite sail. You will now transfer these measurements to the sail plastic as follows...

The 2-Skewer Rokkaku - dots marked on un-cut bag.
The 2-Skewer Rokkaku - lines drawn on un-cut bag.
  • Take a light plastic bag that will fit the entire Template shape within one side, and lay it flat on the floor.
  • Mark dots on the plastic, corresponding to the corners of the Template. There is no need to use a T-square, since any small error will be duplicated on the other side of the sail. And it will make hardly any difference to how the kite flies.
  • Using the marking pen, rule lines between the dots to create the Template shape.



The 2-Skewer Rokkaku - bag flipped over and traced.
The 2-Skewer Rokkaku - bag cut on 3 sides.
The 2-Skewer Rokkaku - bag opened out and taped.
The 2-Skewer Rokkaku - sail cut out.
The 2-Skewer Rokkaku - close-up of edge tape
  • Flip the plastic bag over, and trace over all the black lines using your marker pen and ruler.
  • Cut out a rectangular section of the bag containing the kite sail, open it out and lay it flat on the floor - you can now see the complete sail outline, as in the photo.
  • Run clear sticky tape along every straight line, leaving most of the tape on the inside of the sail edges. Don't tape the long edges of the tabs. This will help to save weight.
  • Cut along the black lines with scissors, to create the sail. See the close-up photo on the right.




How To Build A Sode Kite
Making Spars

For this Sode, you need nine 30cm (12") bamboo BBQ skewers. Also, you need to cut off six short 0.15SL (4.4cm, 1 3/4") lengths of skewer. The photos show how these are all glued together.

The 2-Skewer Rokkaku - all 15 pieces of skewer.
The 2-Skewer Rokkaku - skewers glued and supported.

Two pairs of skewers have the pointed ends raised up off the table, forming the upper and lower horizontal spars.

The remaining skewers are just lined up straight, flat against the table top. This is the vertical spar. To make sure there is no kink at the joins, get your head down low and look along the skewers. Do a little shifting, if necessary, before the glue dries!





How To Build A Sode Kite
Attaching Spars

The 2-Skewer Rokkaku - close-up of tip cap.
  • Snip off the point from the glued group of four skewers.
  • Line this end up with the top corner of the kite sail, with the skewers resting along the fold line of the plastic.
  • Attach the bamboo to the plastic with insulation tape, as in the photo over there.
  • At the bottom edge of the sail, snip the side-by-side skewers to length. You can let them overhang by a few mm (1/4") since this join will be glued shortly...


The 2-Skewer Rokkaku - spars taped to sail.
  • Now lay down the other pairs of skewers across the left and right corners of the sail, so the middle joins sit on the vertical spar.
  • Snip off the points of the skewers so the tips line up with the left and right corners of the sail. Take your time - you don't want to snip off too much bamboo...
  • Tape the tips to the sail corners. These are the horizontal spars.
  • Finally, use a few drops of glue to attach the skewers together at the points where they cross each other. I used a few extra bits of tape to temporarily keep the joins in place until the glue dried. The photo shows the kite at this point.

All glued and dried? Now all the tabs need to be folded and secured with clear sticky tape.

Over there is a close-up photo showing one of the tabs.


The kite is nearly complete, as you can see in the photo.

I was a little more sparing with the tape on the upper horizontal spar tabs, to help avoid nose-heaviness.






How To Build A Sode Kite
Bridle

All the construction details for the bridle are contained in the large photo below. Look and read carefully, and you can't go wrong on this rather important bit! Just use 20 or 30 pound flying line for the bridle pieces.

KNOTS:

If you are new to this, you might need instructions on how to tie the following knots...

Loop Knot
Double Wrap Slip Knot
Prusik Knot

TIP: Secure the slip knots onto the bamboo of the spars with a tiny blob of wood glue each, so they can't loosen.

The 2-Skewer Rokkaku - all details of the bridle.

ADJUSTMENT:

Once your kite + bridle looks like the photo up there...

Hold the short bridle line up so all the bridle lines are straight, with the kite laying flat on the table or floor. The Prusik knot nearest the sail should be shifted so it is centered - right over the vertical spar.

Referring to the diagram below, shift the higher Prusik knot to the shown position. It's not necessarily the perfect position for your individual kite, but it should at least fly on the first attempt! Later, you can experiment with shifting the position slightly, just a little at a time to improve how high your kite flies.

The 2-Skewer Rokkaku - bridle adjustment diagram.

 





Cut out a long rectangular piece of dark plastic for the tail. Black garbage bag plastic contrasts nicely with the orange sail. Make it about 0.3SL (8.7cm, 3 1/2") wide and 6.0SL (174cm, 69") long.

As you can see in the photo, the ends of the tail are knotted near the tips of the bottom horizontal spar.

You will need to poke holes in the sail plastic, and then attach each end with a simple Half Hitch.


The 2-Skewer Rokkaku - how the flying line attaches to the bridle.

At this point, you've finished making the 2-Skewer Sode!

To attach the flying line, just Lark's Head the flying line to the short bridle line as in the photo.






How To Build A Sode Kite
Flying!

The MBK 2-Skewer Rokkaku kite in flight.

Up there is a picture of the latest MBK 2-Skewer Sode kite in flight, at the local flying field. It's barely staying up, in very light wind. Hence it is swishing left and right as you can see from the tail!

Out In The Field

My collection of real-life Sode kite stories is worth checking out!

Illustrated with photos and videos, of course.

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 you have been careful to get the bridle looking just like the diagram, the kite should soon be flying high.

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.

Once you have seen the kite fly you can try adjusting the Prusik knot (the one closest to the flying line) just a tiny amount at a time to see what happens.

NOTE: In very light wind this kite will bob from side to side quite a lot. However, a little more breeze will cause it to settle down and climb away.

If you notice the 'wing' distorting a lot, particularly near the tips, then it is getting too windy to fly. Reel the kite in and try again when there is less breeze.

Have fun flying, and I hope you've enjoyed learning how to how to build a Sode kite!




Now, just in case you have actually made and flown this kite at least once already...




Ever Made This Kite?

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!

Please Enter A Title

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For single-line kite fliers and builders, it's always been a good read. But if you are interested in KAP and/or large home-made kites you won't want to miss it!

So sign up today, and download the free 95-page e-book "What Kite Is That?" straight away. Info-packed and fully photo-illustrated.

And there are even more free resources, such as a kite-making e-course, waiting for you in the next issue of this newsletter.

What's New!

  1. Flight Report:
    KAP Mystery Solved

    Aug 25, 14 03:57 AM

    Last week I came home from a KAP (Kite Aerial Photography) session down at Brighton beach, here in Adelaide, South Australia. The photos were a disaster, being totally washed out. Over-exposed, to be a little more technical. At the time I thought the problem was purely the position of the sun, relative to the direction of the camera...

    Well guess what. Down at the same beach today, the photos had the same problem - and this time it definitely wasn't the sun. Camera damage seemed a small possibility since the rig had hit the sand at some speed last time, during a white-knuckle experience with the kite in rough air! Which turned out OK, but that's another story.

    Anyway, once back home today, I did a little investigating with the camera, taking some test pictures from the back yard. It was a great relief to find the explanation for the bad images...

    It seems that setting a fixed ISO is not a good idea for this camera in very bright lighting conditions. It can cause the camera to run out of adjustment room for other parameters, like shutter speed or aperture. When the camera was allowed to set ISO automatically, the exposure problem disappeared. Whew!

    The Tyvek-sailed Carbon Diamond performed wonderfully today. It was, for the first time, hoisting the KAP rig into the air. Never has the rig been so steady for so long. Sway was almost non-existent. But whenever I handled the line the camera twisted back and forth due to the rather steep line angle from the rig to the kite. Without enough horizontal separation, the suspension lines do not provide the maximum resistance to twisting. It might be an idea to separate the attachment points even further, on the flying line.

    The 2 meter (7 ft) Diamond was struggling to lift the camera in the fairly light winds coming off the ocean. At times, people on the beach had to duck under the line from me to the camera! The camera was behaving as a sort of aerial tether point, with the kite flying at a steep line angle from there.

    Measured at shoulder height, the on-shore breeze was about 4.5kph gusting to just under 7kph. More of a day for the Multi-Dowel Sled really, which hardly feels a 280g weight on the line!

    "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 what's on offer in that message series!

    Read More





New! Comments

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