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This set of instructions on how to make a Sode 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 Sode is a large tail-less design based on the traditional Japanese kite. Like the other Japanese design in this series, the Rokkaku, this kite is a light to moderate wind flier. However, it can take a little more wind strength than the Rok.
The Sode scoots around the sky in very gusty moderate winds. In smoother and lighter winds, it is a very efficient and steady 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. Also, the upper bow-line is connected to the nose of the kite and the lower bow-line connects to the tail. Thus, the horizontal spars are tensioned away from each other.
Then, when the flying line is attached to the bridle, 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 Sode, if you haven't already.
The template shown above represents one side of the kite sail. You will now transfer these measurements to the sail plastic as follows...
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 Sode, you need long lengths of 5mm (3/16") wooden dowel. Enough for the upper and lower horizontal spars of 1.0DL (120cm, 48") each, the 0.96DL (115.2cm, 46") vertical spar and the 0.5DL (60cm, 24") bottom spar. They are easily cut to the lengths required with a small cheap hack-saw.
You might find it handy to make a mark both horizontal spars to quickly
tell them apart, when they are lying straight. For example, a 'U' on
the upper spar and an 'L' on the lower spar.
Prepare 11 lengths of electrical insulation tape, each one about 4 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.
After the upper horizontal spar is all capped and wrapped :-) do the same for the lower horizontal spar.
The bottom horizontal spar is very similar too, except that you can get away with only 1 piece of tape over each tip instead of 2. With the tabs folded over, the vertical spar sticks out a little, but that is correct.
Finally, you should have one piece of tape left. Use it to cap the upper tip of the vertical spar, attaching it to the small triangular piece of sail.
At all three crossing points, lash and glue the spars together, using short lengths of flying line. Fix each knot with a drop of glue so it can never come undone or shift along the vertical spar.
Finally, take a length of flying line about 0.2DL (24cm, 10") long, and tie one end to the bridle line with a Prusik Knot. Tie a small Double Loop Knot into the other end, just to get a large knot. There's a photo of this further down, in the section titled First Pre-Flight.
To keep the bowed horizontal spars from flopping back down to the sail, they need to be tethered with short loops of flying line. Firstly, let's look at the upper horizontal spar...
Note: These loops stay attached to the bow lines from now on.
this point, you've pretty much finished making the Dowel Sode! However,
there is a short Setup procedure to go through before it will fly...
Suspend the kite from the knot at the end of the bridle. Shift the Prusik Knot along the bridle line until the kite hangs at around a 20 degree angle from the horizontal. To lock the Prusik in place, take the 2 bridle lines in one hand, the flying line in the other, and pull tight. To unlock it, you just pull the bridle line straight, with the knot in the middle.
Check the bridle slip knots on the horizontal spars.
Re-tighten if necessary, and 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 Sode 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 maybe 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 Sode 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...
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