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This set of instructions on how to make a Rokkaku 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 Dowel Rokkaku is a fairly large tail-less design based on the traditional Japanese kite. However, it will still fit into nearly all road vehicles, ready to fly. Either just in front of the rear seat, or flat in the trunk (boot).
Like the other Japanese design in this series, the Sode, this kite is a light to moderate wind flier.
Setting up on the flying field is just a matter of attaching the
bow-line toggles to put some curvature into both the horizontal spars. Then the
flying line is attached to the bridle. At this point you are ready to
launch! The method of attachment is illustrated further down this page.
The "Making Dowel Kites" e-book
has this design and many others in hardwood dowel and plastic. Plus some giant 2.4m (8ft) bonus designs!
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, tablet or other device.
I have chosen to make '1 Dowel Length' equal to 120cm for every kite in the Dowel series. If you are in North America, 48" of 3/16" dowel is close enough to 120cm of 5mm dowel. This will result in a kite with similar flying characteristics to my original.
Now's the time to read up on the kite making tools and materials required for making a Dowel Rokkaku, if you haven't already. For this kite, you will also need some cheap thin shoe-laces.
The template shown above represents one side of the kite sail. You will now transfer these measurements to the sail plastic as follows...
Note: In order to fit the length of an 80 liter garden bag, I made this design shorter than a traditional 4:5:6 Rok of the same wing-span. You see, I'm trying to standardize on a 1.2 meter wingspan for all the Dowel kites!
When doing the following, most of the width of the tape should be inside the kite's outline. Use a single length of tape for each line. Hold it out straight, touch it down to the plastic at one end, then at the other end, dab it down in the middle, then press down all along its length.
For this Rokkaku, you need long lengths of 5mm (3/16") wooden dowel. Enough for the 3 spars of 1.0DL (120cm, 48") each. They are easily cut to the lengths required with a small cheap hack-saw.
Prepare 10 lengths of electrical insulation tape, each one about four times longer than it is wide. Stick them by a corner onto something handy like a table edge. You can remove them one at a time as needed.
At both crossing points, lash and glue the spars together, using a short length of flying line. Fix each knot with a drop of glue so it can never come undone.
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!
If you are new to this, you might need instructions on how to tie the following knots...
TIP: Secure the slip knots onto the dowels with enough wood glue to ensure the knots can never slip along the dowel. They won't loosen either.
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.
Make sure the Prusik knots closest to the kite are adjusted to the middle. Right over the vertical spar.
Referring to the diagram below, shift the highest 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 towards or away from the nose, a little at a time, to improve how high your kite flies.
Check the bridle slip knots on the horizontal spars.
Re-tighten if necessary, or put a small drop of wood glue on each so
they can never come loose. You won't have to wait the full drying time
for this glue to dry, since the amounts are small.
Firstly, if it's very windy outside, stay home! This is a light-wind kite and won't like being launched in a gale or even a fairly fresh breeze. If the wind is too strong, it will deform badly and refuse to fly properly.
My collection of real-life Rokkaku kite stories is worth checking out!
Illustrated with photos and videos, of course.
The Prusik Knot on the bridle line can loosen off a little over time. If necessary, pull on all the lines to tighten the knot up before a flying session.
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 taking loop after loop off the winder.
Be cautious about letting line slip through your fingers. If a big gust hits the kite, the line could burn you! For any kite this big or bigger, it's a good idea to wear a glove of some sort.
Another approach is to get a helper to hold the kite up and let it go, on the end of 10 or 20 meters of line. This way, the kite soon gets high enough to make it easy to let more line out.
Have fun flying, and I hope you've enjoyed learning how to make a Rokkaku kite!
The e-book instructions for this kite include even more handy hints which will ensure you get the most success possible when flying this particular design. They show you how to make the kite more transportable too, so you can remove a spar and roll the kite up into a slim bundle.
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...
Pushing the MBK Rokkaku Kite
Recently, I got the kite bug and again and I had to build something new. This time I wanted success so I set out to build an MBK Rokkaku kite that was …
Dowel Rokkaku - First Try
This is my first kite. I am living in Berlin, Germany and it has started to get windy! I thought it would be fun to build and fly a kite. Here's my …
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